WTM 2015 Preview: It's a small world

WTM 2015 Preview: It's a small world

Stay on top of World Travel Market’s busy programme of events

There’s no such thing as a crystal ball to predict what will happen over the coming year, but World Travel Market might be as close as it gets.

With government ministers, CEOs and head honchos from just about every branch of the travel industry converging on the ExCeL centre in London’s docklands next week, this four-day event is essential for anyone who wants to keep their fingers on the pulse of the travel trade.

Running from Monday to Thursday (November 2-5), the show will see leading industry figures debating the issues of the day, analysing the past year in travel and predicting what’s to come. That’s on top of a buzzing hall packed with delegations from tourist boards, airlines, hoteliers and other exhibitors keen to update attendees on their latest developments.

Read on for the lowdown on what to look out for in the trade show’s busy schedule of seminars.

What lies ahead

Peering into the future is right at the forefront of World Travel Market’s programme, with the WTM Global Trends Report (trade session Tuesday, 12 1pm, Platinum Suite 1) looking at how emerging destinations and demographics will shape the future of global travel.

It’s the 10th annual edition of this report, and draws on data from Euromonitor International to forecast what’s to come in each geographical region, as well as how developments in technology and global branding will affect the industry.

That runs alongside the high level UNWTO & WTM Ministers’ Summit (Tuesday, 11am-1pm, Global Stage AS850) which this year focuses on destination branding, with expert input from Tracey Crouch, UK minister for sport, tourism and heritage, plus World Tourism Organisation secretary general Taleb Rifai and WTM exhibition director Simon Press.

If you’re wondering how all this analysis can help you with day-to-day bookings, Mintel Travel Futures (Wednesday, 12.30-1.30pm, Platinum Suite 1) will be using its first dedicated session at WTM London to present international data on consumers’ appetite for and attitudes to travel, looking at how the changing make-up of households affects the way we go on holiday.

Anyone with entrepreneurial ambitions should also make time for a discussion about The State of European Startups (Monday, 2-3pm, Global Stage AS850). Hosted by Phocuswright, along with the CEOs of Homestay.com and Triptease, it will look at trends in mobile web activity and social networking and their impact on the travel industry.

Sea and sky

The cruise and aviation sectors are central to the business of every travel agent, so all eyes should be on How the Cruise Industry is Innovating to Attract New Customers to Cruise (Tuesday, 12-1pm, South Gallery 15&16).

Helmed by Clia UK & Ireland director Andy Harmer, plus senior figures from Celebrity Cruises, Voyages to Antiquity, Royal Caribbean International and Silversea Cruises, it will focus on the marketing and development strategies that cruise lines have followed to attract a new audience, and what other travel sectors can learn from their tactics.

Up in the air, the Airline Industry Panel (Tuesday 10.30-11.30am, Platinum Suite 1) looks at how airlines are competing for customers – using feedback from the Global Air Passengers Survey – and what challenges they will face over the coming year.

No one can testify better to those challenges than the boss of Malaysia Airlines. He is the subject of the Keynote Interview: Christoph Mueller, CEO Malaysia Airlines (Wednesday, 2-3pm, Platinum Suite 1) and will discuss not only the tragic events of 2014 but also the airline’s wider struggles with inefficiency and lack of profitability, and how his background turning around Aer Lingus could prove crucial to his plans for a relaunch of the airline’s brand.

WTM Bolivia

Taking responsibility

Responsible tourism has garnered an increasingly high profile over recent years and 2015 will be no different, with no fewer than 15 events looking at sustainability in every aspect of tourism. They range from Taking Responsibility for Wildlife and National Parks (10.15-11.15am), to Child Protection (11.30am-12.30pm) and Increasing the Local Economic Benefits of Tourism (3.45-4.45pm). These events take place on Tuesday in South Gallery 19&20.

Wednesday kicks off with Responsible Tourism Speed Networking (9-10am, Hall Entrance S10) and ends with the Responsible Tourism Networking Reception (5 6pm, Platinum Suite 3&4), both of which are essential for anyone looking to expand their interest in the sector and make a wealth of new contacts.

In between, the biggest highlight will be the 2015 World Responsible Tourism Awards (10.30am-12.45pm, WTM Global Stage AS850), which not only hands out gongs to some of the world leaders in creating responsible travel experiences, but also includes a round-table on how the industry is responding to climate change, with input from UNWTO secretary general Taleb Rifai, Boeing strategy director Richard Mills, and the global head of corporate responsibility for Hyatt, Brigitta Witt.

Social services

Social media might be the new kid on the block in terms of travel marketing, but it’s not always easy to see what impact it has on the day-to-day business of travel. These sessions should change that, looking at how new thinking in the digital sphere can have an impact on the real world.

Headlined by keynote speaker Lee McCabe, global head of travel for Facebook, the top-notch line-up of guests also includes Anna Chomse, industry head at Google Travel; Andrew Jones, head of search account management at Yahoo; Samir Bhana, UK and Ireland sales manager for Twitter; along with representatives from TripAdvisor and Mr & Mrs Smith.

As well as those high-profile names, Destination 2020 (Tuesday, 2.15-3.15pm, South Gallery 23-26) brings together speakers from the tourist boards for the Costa Brava, Emilia Romagna and Visit Cornwall to look at how their work with bloggers and digital marketing has been used to drive visitor numbers.

Later, The Best Social Media Campaigns of 2015 (Tuesday, 4.45-5.45pm, South Gallery 23-26) presents some examples of best practice with innovative campaigns led by destination marketing firms, suppliers and bloggers.

Six New Trends That Will Change the World (Tuesday, 12-1pm, South Gallery 23-26) promises to future-proof any marketing strategies to put your use of social media ahead of the game for 2016, and anyone looking to raise their blogging profile should make a beeline for WTM Bloggers’ Speed Networking (Thursday, 10 11.30am, Hall Entrance S10).

WTM Colombia

Feeling good

As anyone who’s ever booked a spa break knows, wellness travellers spend more than most, so this is a market well worth tapping into.

Anyone keen to make more of the sector should mark the Masterclass in the Art of Wellness Tourism (Tuesday, 4-5pm, Platinum Suite 1) in their diaries, to get practical advice direct from the likes of Jo Rzymowska, Celebrity Cruises’ UK and Ireland managing director, and Thermae Bath Spa marketing director Peter Rollins on how to keep spa and wellness travellers content.

There’s also advice on how to use wellness tourism to attract the highest-spending clients, and a raft of Wellness Travel Awards (Wednesday, 5-6pm, Wellness Lounge EU3050) organised by Spafinder Wellness 365 to reward the leading lights in the sector.

Redressing the balance

There will be an effort to look at how women can gain more positions of leadership with three WTM Women in Travel events (Tuesday, 1.30-6pm, South Gallery 15&16).

Speakers will include Daniela Wagner, head of international partnerships for Connecting Travel; Nishma Robb, head of commercial marketing at Google UK; Julia Lo Bue-Said, managing director of Advantage Travel Partnership; and Carol Hay, marketing director at the Caribbean Tourism Organisation.

Another underrepresented sector will be given its time in the limelight with LGBT Tourism Unlocked (Wednesday, 10.30am-12pm, South Gallery 21&22), examining how to tap into a $200 billion market with case studies from Fort Lauderdale and specialists Out Now.

And while family holidays might seem to be as mainstream as it gets, the needs of lower income families are often overlooked, with a third of Brits unable to afford an annual break.

The Holidays Matter Annual Conference (Thursday, 10am 3pm, Platinum Suite 5&6) aims to redress that, with expert insight from Lady Cobham, chairman of VisitEngland, and Peter Long, group chief executive of Tui Group and president of the Family Holidays Association.


Travel Weekly at WTM

Travel Weekly will bring you all the news you need to know from World Travel Market, including reports from its most controversial debates, interviews with the most influential figures in travel, and updates from destinations and suppliers that will give you the information you need to sell. ?

For daily alerts from the show, plus all the rest of the day’s essential news, sign up for Travel Weekly Business:am email alerts. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for the latest breaking news.

Sister publication travelGBI, which focuses on domestic and inbound tourism, will also have a high profile at the show with a stand at The Fox pub at ExCeL, and daily updates available at travelGBI.com

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