By necessity, the travel + hospitality marketing team at Criterion Global are WTM-veterans. Trade shows are often as productive as they are trying, and this year’s WTM is sure to be a beast as for the first time ever it will span 3 days as opposed to 2. In the spirit of helping you secure your goal contracts with your sanity intact, we’ve crowdsourced our team’s top tips for navigating the World Travel Market London 2016:
1. Keep an eye on WTM news. Make sure to check on the WTM news page periodically prior to the conference. It will help you decide which events are key for you as well as any important shifts in schedule, so that you can maximize your time at the conference if you can’t attend all three days.
2. First-time exhibitor opportunities. This year, first-time exhibitors will have access to special rates for an all-inclusive package with a stand, use of the WTM platforms pre-show and during the show, and online and print promotion. If you’ve ever considered showing at WTM but never pulled the trigger, this might be a good time.
3. Travel discounts. It’s only logical that a world travel conference would offer ways to arrive in style. Before you even leave for WTM, keep an eye on their travel discount page. The current promo code OW24D15 (subject to change) is good on flights through carriers that are part of Oneworld alliance (basically all the top airlines).
4. Public Transportation. Once you’ve made it to London, opt for the London tube system and transfer to the Docklands Light Railway (DLR) to get to ExCeL (the DLR stop for ExCeL is Custom House). If you have the option of driving to ExCel, be aware that parking is notoriously limited and the parking ticket machine is a trek from the parking spaces.
5. Comfort is key. ExCel London is huge. The 100-acre Centre along Royal Victoria Dock promises a good workout, but not one to be done in heels. The escalators are only programmed to go up, so wear shoes you’d feel comfortable walking downhill with. Additionally, expect a London November to be chilly and rainy (surprise!), so dress not only to impress but also to stay warm. If you plan to check your coat, expect a long queue and £1 fee (and they won’t check laptops, see #6 on our list). Instead, we suggest an anorak, warm and stylish, yet light enough to carry.
6. Leave the laptop at home. Coat checks have a policy of not checking laptops, so don’t bring your laptop unless you’re prepared to lug it. Between your laptop and the numerous brochures, fliers, and freebies your bound to accumulate you might be in for some heavy lifting.
7. Come fully charged. You don’t want to be caught hunting for an outlet to charge your phone, only to be trapped to the wall for the next 20 minutes while you wait. Or worse, you might realize you didn’t bring an adapter for the UK’s 230V outlets. ExCel does have mobile charging stations–£1.50 for 30 minutes and £2.00 for 50 minutes. Not exorbitant, but that’s £2.00 better spent towards a cocktail after the conference.
8. Caffeine. Speaking of coming “fully charged,” if you need a stronger pick-me-up than coffee, Lucozade is the UK’s answer to Red Bull and can be found in most Tesco groceries. Drink responsibly and be wary of the Four Loko effect when also indulging in free liquors (see #9).
9. Food scavenging. ExCel’s food establishments aren’t the most spectacular, but if you have keen senses and are following the right people on Twitter, you may be able to sample a variety of local spirits and canapés from all around the world from the show’s DMO (Destination Marketing Organization) exhibitors. We’re talking Belgian beers, Italian coffee, and Japanese sushi here. Outside of ExCel there’s dim sum at the China Palace Excel, lunch buffet at the Bollywood Brasserie, and old school diners and container cafés at Trinity Buoy Wharf (20 minute walk).
10. Schedule in advance. Last but not least, the World Travel Market is enormous and chaotic, so forge ahead with a goal in mind. To make the most of your time make sure to schedule meetings in advance. Once you’ve registered for WTM you’ll have access to a section called My Event planner which lets you search through exhibitors, promote your products by sending messages, and schedule meetings through the handy calendar feature.