For anyone who is connected with the travel industry in all sorts of fields, the first four days of this week had been an incredibly busy affair because the annual “World Travel Market (WTM)” was held at the London Excel Center in the London Docklands area. This year the action packed event was particularly special, not just because it was the 30th Anniversary of this premier global event for the travel industry, but also because it was the first time the event was live on Twitter, enabling millions of people around the world to tune into the latest Press Releases’ by the second; as well as the introduction of new initiatives’ such as the WTM Get Connected and the WTM Hub. Both of the latter activities enabled industry professionals to connect by launching discussions, photos, podcasts and blogs. This was one place where million dollar deals were signed by Airline CEO’s, travel agencies and the various tourism ministries’.
The opening day itself was buzzing with activity all around- it had a true international feeling to the place. People dressed in their native costumes’ could be seen proudly posing for pictures in all corners of the giant exhibition hall- it felt as if one has almost stepped into a world carnival or something similar. All around the exhibition hall one could hear various accents and languages being spoken; and for those who wanted to, could spend the whole 4 days' trying to please their gastronomical interests by trying the various sample dishes on offer. The event’s slogan “Around the world in 4 days” seemed to fit appropriately too.
In amongst the hustle and bustle, one could notice that apart from the extravagant displays and the costumes’, everyone had brought their own cultural habits along to the event too. This “fusion of cultures” created a few misunderstandings and confusions alike. For example it did not take long for one to observe that some people were not used to saying “Thank You” or “Please”; or that some people were not aware that its rude to shout loudly across a hall or answering their phone loudly in the middle of a packed conference (especially when the Mayor of London is speaking too) - but of course the fun of it all was that at least we all got to experience a taste of another person’s culture.
The first day, which is always reserved exclusively for the Media and Captains of Industry, consisted of Press Conferences, interviews and launches. The opening speeches were presented by Fiona Jeffrey, the Chairwoman of the World Travel Market; and Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London. The enthusiastic mayor’s speech was, as always, interesting and full of good news- as one would expect from someone who is the major representative of a metropolis that is going to be host to the world when the Olympic Games arrive in the summer of 2012. I have been informed that the Paris and Berlin Travel markets are generally larger, however, with the 2012 Olympics just around the corner, London's annual WTM is sure to gain more attention in the coming few years. I cannot wait to go next year!