The much anticipated annual World Travel Market, the leading global event for the travel industry, generating more than £2.8 billion of business contracts between attendees, opened it's doors to the media and invited guests in London at the London ExCel with a spectacular display of song, dance and plenty of glamour on the morning of the 6th of November. It's the key event for the world's travel and tourism industry, with practically the who's who of the industry coming together to discuss important issues, close important deals and reveal new product and service offerings in a world exclusive. Below are some exclusive snippets I gathered from the action-packed three-day event.
Here is what I had to say about the importance of attending the event:
BBC News anchor Aaron Haslehurst opened the event for the media with an overview of the year for the industry. He summarised that the industry is more optimistic in 2017/8 than last year with over £3 billion in business and is set to grow. He also revealed that Italy and Greece are actually enjoying the high growth of tourism despite Brexit happening, and this trend is set to continue. Photo Copyright Navjot Singh
Alex Cruz, the CEO of British Airways, gave an inspirational talk on his thoughts and strategy to make the national flag carrier a leading five-star airline while at the same time keep costs down. Despite being a tough year for the airline, Mr. Cruz is optimistic that 2018 will be a fruitful year for British Airways, and that cutting down on certain things, such as free in-flight food & beverages on European and Domestic routes is the correct thing to do because the majority of passengers would prefer that. Aviation experts predict that the introduction of paid services, such as in-flight Wi-Fi could also bring in extra income for airlines. Photo Copyright Navjot Singh
Cricket legends attend the WTM 2017
When the world comes to London!
China's economic growth will see a trend in the independent traveller- whereas before it used to be that group travel was popular in the country. Chinese visitors to the UK will also increase in the coming year. A particular reason is the awareness about global tourism generated in China via digital and social media platforms such as WeChat: Photo Copyright Navjot Singh
Slovenia, one of those countries that deserves more attention than they get. With great food, wine and spectacular views, this is a country that offers a lot for the tourist and is not that expensive either. Foodies delight, Slovenia will be a major hit list in 2018 according to industry experts. Photo Copyright Navjot Singh
THY Turkish Airlines had one of the biggest stands I have ever seen displayed by an airline. The award-winning airline has constantly been voted the best in Europe and offers more routes worldwide than any other airline...will they be the next Singapore Airlines? We shall see. Photo Copyright Navjot Singh
SAUDIA- Saudi Arabian Airlines unveiled new Business and First Class seats and products during the WTM 2017. They have ambitious plans to operate to over 200 routes by 2020 and maybe even plan more routes to London, a traditional destination for them, and to emerging markets such as India and China. Photo Copyright Navjot Singh
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!
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