Katie McGonagle lines up the top sessions at this year’s event

How much time do you spend thinking about the bigger picture? Five minutes a day? Two minutes? No time at all?

It’s easy to get caught up in the demanding day-to-day business of booking travel, but a lot harder to find time to step back and survey the global trends that – whether we’re aware of them or not – influence where we go, what we do when we’re there, and how we go about booking it.

Fear not: World Travel Market attracts experts from around the world to break down the bigger picture into useful bitesize pieces that can help make sure your business is heading in the right direction. Drawing together tourism ministers, tourist board chiefs, supplier CEOs and analysts from across the industry, there’s no better place to take the pulse of the global travel trade – and keep your sales on track.

If you’re attending the show, we’ve picked out the seminars you won’t want to miss – whether you’re after the global viewpoint, a round-up of fresh ideas, or product and destination updates – and canvassed this year’s exhibitors about what they’ll have on their stands (turn to page 69 for more). And if you’re not going this year, you can still keep up with all the news you need thanks to Travel Weekly’s unrivalled coverage in print, online and on social media.


Tuesday, November 7

Big picture: UNWTO & WTM Ministers’ Summit – Overtourism (11am-1pm, Global Stage, AS1050). Plenty of destinations seek to grow their tourist numbers, but why are some shying away from attracting ever-more visitors? Representatives from the WTTC, hotel brands IHG and Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group, Silversea and the tourism boards of Japan and Sharjah discuss balancing the needs of those in-destination with sustainable growth.

In brief: Entrepreneurship in Travel (2.30pm-6pm, Platinum Suite 4). If you’ve ever had a bright spark of an idea, but not known what to do with it, this afternoon might offer the answer. A series of sessions aimed at travel entrepreneurs will touch on how to secure start-up funding, group mentoring and networking, so you can take inspiration from how other people got their break.

Destination: Top 100 City Destinations Ranking Report (2.55pm-3.45pm, Inspire Theatre, EU490). For the first time at WTM London, Euromonitor International will present research into the top city destinations in 2017, 2020 and 2025, so you can concentrate your efforts on selling the hottest spots right now and those set to sell well in the future.


Wednesday, November 8

Big picture: Can Tourism Be Made Accessible For All? (2.20pm-3.30pm, Responsible Tourism Theatre, AF580). Accessible tourism is no longer a niche sector – it’s a growing, lucrative business that’s relevant to anyone selling leisure travel, and if you want to find out how to maximise that market, this is the place to do so. The roster of speakers includes Christopher Wood, founder of campaign Flying Disabled; Srin Madipalli, co-founder of accessible accommodation site Accomable; and Paralympian Ade Adepitan.

“This discussion will focus on how the human touch and an agent’s expertise can enhance a booking.”

In brief: The Rise of the Travel Agency (12.45pm-1.15pm, Travel Tech Theatre, TT390). There’s no doubting the relevance of this session, moderated by Advantage Travel Partnership managing director Julia Lo Bue-Said. While technology has done much to streamline the booking process, this discussion focuses on how the human touch and expertise of an agent can enhance a booking, and how agents can grow their sales among key customer segments.

Destination: The Changing Face of Tours (12.45pm-1.45pm, South Gallery Rooms 7 & 8). Escorted tours now touch almost every destination worldwide, and encompass travellers old and young. Find out what’s changed in the past decade, how operators have adapted, and what challenges the sector faces over the next few years, with input from Aito chairman Derek Moore, Abta chairman Noel Josephides and Flash Pack co-founder Lee Thompson.