The title for this post sums up Dxb Blogs visit to WTM Conference this year because it certainly was and adventure. From misplacement of train tickets to getting distracted by the wonderful shopping opportunities of London St. Pancreas to meeting people in the travel industry and networking at the airport! It certainly was an adventure! The World Travel Market is a successful conference that hosts exhibitors from hoteliers to press like us! The conference gives the travel industry individuals, businesses, press and providers a chance to meet, network and do business! It was first launched in 1980, and we thought it’s high time we get ourselves out there now!
The journey began from Derby train station at precisely 9.55AM, the train to London was due to leave at 9.59 and I ran up the stairs to get the train, upon reaching the platform I realised I had been looking at the 10.59 train on the information board, and in fact the 9.59 had left, at exactly 9.59! So I went back downstairs to purchase another ticket, and was expecting to get the 10.59, Until I realised I had forgotten my glasses (I didn’t fancy being short sighted all conference), so I ventured back to my home town and saw I had left my camera, and much more! So as I now had a “SUPER” (If anybody knows what that means please do tell me!) Off Peak ticket, and it was almost lunch time… I sat and ate and had a cup of tea with my mother! Long story cut short, I was supposed to arrive in London at 12.25 and instead arrived at 2.25. So upon arrival I rushed (With all my luggage!!) to the excel to complete my registration and get my official WTM Press Badge! I met a fellow attendee (Exhibitor though) on one of the undergrounds, and did my first bit of networking as we exchanged knowledge and business cards!! When arriving at the excel I was told registration was at the other end of the excel… So a tired and luggage-full maddy trampled on down to the other end! I was greeted by a lovely gentleman who was a hotel manager who sorted everything In a jiffy! (More networking!!). The rest of the evening was spent in my hotel room planning which seminars or events I would be attending, but I managed to meet a few locals at the hotel restaurant! (East Ham is not as bad as people say!!)
There was a direct bus from just outside my hotel, that stopped at prince regent bus station, a 5minute walk up to the excel! The number 300 or 147?
As I walked into the Conference I was greeted by the events team (Which took me back to my Dubai days that I was a hostess in many events). They were handing out information bags and lanyards for badges. My badge was scanned and I was unleashed into the world of travel! My plan of action for the day was to suss out who is where and Attend a few seminars including the “eTourism Dynamics: A smart Tourism”. As it was the first WTM conference for Dxb Blog, we had a few strategies but Day one was all about saying Hi and introducing out blog! So we started with Europe, walking round the stalls was very refreshing as everyone had positive vibes and smiley faces! Occasionally stopping to ask “What’s going on?” “What do you guys do?” People were very friendly!
Then we found home!! DUBAI!! Upon arrival, before I could get to any of the stalls it was time to attend the seminar I had logged and mentioned above, a first it seemed very relative to our needs, talking about how tourism has adapted, but after exchanging tweets with Natalie Preddie from Toronto, I decided I should try sneak out! Both of us were hungry so we set out to find some food! We ended up in a café overlooking the main line and having a lovely salmon tart! We exchanged knowledge and discussed what we both did. Natalie is a very inspiration blogger who is trying to get the people in Toronto and surrounding areas to travel to the east! To explore the rest of the world, she commented on how people were very “stuck in their ways” and “went to the same places next year”. She also mentioned her vlogging adventures, which was very inspirational! We sat and talked about the middle east, America, Canada, and lots of exciting things! Hopefully we can feature an interview or host Natalie on the blog soon for you guys!
After lunch we decided to head out into Asia and see what opportunities lie in front of us! We started our quest in… Sri Lanka? Malaysia? Those kind of areas, talking to tour companies and travel agents, we came across some very open minded people. Delightful indeed! Then we entered a competition together, and had to discuss the custody if we were to win! (An apple watch!). After this we ventured of further into Asia and ended up in INCREDIBLE INDIA! We were greeted by two happy looking travel consultants who offered us a trip to India! With all the top tourist spots, as well as exploring the local culture! They went through some pictures and spoke to us about Indian culture, food and the HOT SPOTS! Many tourists fly out to Goa or Mumbai, but there is a lot more to india! Lucknow is the place to be for food they said! After a short while we departed ur own ways and I ventured off back home (To DUBAI!) where I met a lovely young lady who works with #MyDubai , where all Dubai’s events are promoted, the calendar of Events in Dubai! We spoke for quite a long time about the upcoming events and how Dubai has progressed in terms of events, and I arranged to ask her a few questions in an interview for Day 2! There were all the top hotels like Atlantis, The address and the Hilton there! It was like home away from home! Just as I thought it couldn’t get ANY better… I came across the Dubai 360 stand! It took me RIGHT back home (Literally), with a 360 view of Dubai through a pair of goggles and an app! We were fortunate enough to receive and EXCLUSIVE pair of these goggles (Pictures and videos will be up shortly).
After this I had a vague walk through and a met a few exhibitors in Ras Al Khaima (RAK) and Sharjah. By this time, I was VERY JET LAGGED and headed to the o2 arena to meet a friend living IN LONDON for dinner!
Note to self: Always carry a sensible pair of walking shoes, the end of the day was not pretty for my poor feet!) Thanks for the tip Natalie!
Day two was all about following up appointments and interviews that were scheduled the day before and before WTM. I would highly recommend you go with a plan, listing the seminars and events you want to attend, possibly contacting people you would like to meet or engage with!
So upon arrival, I went back to the to the the middle east and continued to explore the rest of the UAE (Abu Dhabi, Fujairah and Ajman). I also returned back to Dubai and interviewed Ahlam Balooki (PR and communication manager for the Dubai calendar, (which is within the Dubai government tourism department.) This interview will be summed up and posted individually! The interview was very informal and relaxed, although a short interview I enjoyed talking to Ahlam about Dubai Events, the department of tourism and how events effect Dubai and why Dubai is “The Event Hub” of the world, some may say. After this I ventured back to ground level (UK and the Channel Islands). I spoke to many tourism companies, hotel owners, and travel companies. The morning/Early afternoon was very focused on following up on appointments and based on the conference floor. Just before lunch I attended a seminar about “Six new trends that will change the world”. This was a very interesting seminar that was looking to find the best trend, and the floor were the voters! So we listened to the speakers; Ian Cumming, Founder & CEO of Travel Massive, Sarah-Betty Andrews, Founder of Business Betty and Peter Jordon, Senior Tourism Analyst for Toposophy. Each speaker had their chance to portray across their trends and we were to vote which one was the best. My memory is awful but I remember voting the Vlogging was the best one! The speakers were very articulate and precise in their trends (We will have the full presentation info up shortly!). One of the speakers touched on millenniums being a key role in any change. This was particularly interesting!
After the seminar I headed up to the press room for lunch were I cam across many other bloggers who shared their experience and listened to mine, the press room was a great place to network! It was a great opportunity to network, have lunch and publicize our blog to other Press! I met a particularly interest food blogger who I sat and chatted to whilst I enjoyed my cheese and pickle sandwich! Amanda was originally from the states but had moved to the middle east when she got married! She told me about her successful food tours and passion to work from home. Speaking to different bloggers really opened my eyes at the potential of blogging!
After lunch, after exchanging tweets with many of the Tech Travel stalls I headed down to see the fuss myself! Although travel tech was not on my agenda or I had not explored that side of things, I thought it would be worth while just having a look?
So I was lured into the purple section of the conference! My first stop was an international Sim card company that offered unlimited data for the top apps like whats app, viber, Facebook messenger, Snapchat, etc. when travelling abroad. This was particularly interesting and we hope to review the product soon! My second stop was Nexa, an online marketing solutions company. We discussed trends in the market and what they do, they focus on travel companies and the travel niche. Whilst at the stall we met a videographer who was filming a compilation of the conference with the song “I’ll would walk 500 miles” by the proclaimers! So we grabbed the opportunity and it was Nexa ft. Dxb Blog! (We will link the video when it is sent over to us!)
After this is was very general and we met a few more Technological and marketing solutions people for the travel industry. A lot of the travel tech companies were similar but in their own unique way, so marketing companies, web development companies, compare the market companies. It was all very useful to learn and speak to the owners, but not on our Agenda for THIS CONFERENCE anyway!
By the time I had gone round all the Tech Travel section it was approaching 6 and I thought I would try out the emirates cable cars! The images are quite poor due to lack of pre-planning with setting my camera, but it was a great experience that went very high up!
In the evening I read a few of the blogs of the bloggers we met and headed out to meet one of the locals for dinner!
Day three was spent working from our hotel room! I was confined to my own space to read some more blogs and watch some vlogs, look at the business card I had attained and have a bit of a relax day!
At the end of day 3, early Day 4, I headed to London City airport! Bidding farewell to London, as the Driver drove me to the airport I reflected on how London felt like another country, how clever the underground was and how busy it was. The diversity London brings to the UK is phenomenal, I had never felt so out of place and like I belonged at the same time before.
The networking continued at the airport as many exhibitors and attendees were also returning home! I grabbed the opportunity and introduced the blog and myself as others shared their experience and careers.
Overall, the conference was a huge success from our side, we will be posting content and interviews all week for you to enjoy and if you are in the travel industry and have never been? YOU NEED TO GET THERE IN 2016! The conference opened many doors for our blog and readers, that we hope to work on soon.
I will be posting my Top 10 highlights as a separate post soon!
Here are a few more snaps without spoiling our posts to come!