World Travel Market
Well, earlier this week, I went to London for the first time since September 2004 to attend the World Travel Market, a huge annual industry event (It’s bigger than the New York Times Travel Show, where I’ve volunteered the past two two editions). The World Travel Market wasn’t a required event for our course, but highly encouraged.
Like at the New York Times Travel Show, there are numerous panel discussions and one I was (obviously) excited about was titled “Where Next for Japan?” Basically, the panel discussed talked about Japanese tourists and how many locales would love to attract more of them (One of the panelists said Japanese tourists are “the gold standard” as they demand high standards and tend to spend more time than others). Some of the panel discussions were boring, but I found the one on Japanese tourism interesting (Actually, one of the speakers said Europe is a large market for Japanese tourists).
But for the most part, I felt like a kid in a candy shop at the World Travel Market. Mainly because there were so many tourism organizations – whether they be national, municipal or city – working to promote their brand and of course, they had brochures. I took home as many as I could fit in my luggage. Japan was represented, as several JNTO (Japanese National Tourism Organization) employees were present. It was great (trying to speak) Japanese with them.
I spent two days at the World Travel Market (three nights total in London) and on the second night, all of us (well, all of us from the Responsible Tourism Management course) attended a couple of networking receptions. One of which was held at ExCel London (the venue for the World Travel Market) and afterwards, we went to a luxury hotel near the Tower Bridge for the second one. There were a lot of graduates from the RTM course at both receptions, so it was great to chat with them. Unfortunately, I forgot to bring business cards with me. But I hopefully, I will have made some good connections.
My London experience was obviously centered on the World Travel Market but I was able to relax a bit. I didn’t have time to see folks I know in London, but that’s for another visit. Anyway, I stayed with Luna and Donna – two Italian gals from CouchSurfing who live in southeast London (their place is a bit of a trek from the centre of London, but it wasn’t too difficult to find). Not surprisingly, their abode is a 180 from the really corporate atmosphere of the WTM – the lovely smell of weed and incense filled their place 🙂 Actually, Luna and Donna had another CouchSurfer (Filippo) who was working at the World Travel Market. On Tuesday, we watched some funny YouTube videos and listened to some Hendrix and the Grateful Dead.
I had a very good time in London, and I’ll upload some pictures on the blog soon.