With a full calendar of travel trade shows for the year ahead, we’ve been reminiscing on one of the biggest – London’s World Travel Market. With events such as ITB Berlin fast approaching, it seems a good idea to look back on the lessons learned in 2016 so that we can prepare for an even busier 2017. Read on for a heads up on global agreements, top destinations, and free food…


The World Travel Market is a firm fixture on our annual calendar and 2016 was no different. The 3 day extravaganza takes place in London at the beginning of November every year and is a chance for key actors from the travel sector to meet, greet and make things happen.

As usual, Branding Latin America were there in force at the most recent event, helping our clients make the most of interviews, meetings, press conferences and even a UN Summit. But even though we’re there every year, that doesn’t mean we don’t discover new things each time. Here’s what we learned in 2016:


Latin America is ready to work together

At a press conference of tourism ministers from various countries across Latin America , a broad consensus was reached on the need to work together to promote tourism across the region. While noone wants to encourage the perception of ‘Latin America’ as one country, it was promising to see recognition of the fact that exposure to a particular country can only increase interest in its neighbours.


Security is an important concern for the tourism sector, but not overly so

The increase of terrorist attacks targeting tourist hot spots has been a topic of much attention for politicians and the media in recent years. The United Nations World Tourism Organisation made security the central theme of its annual ministers’ summit, where tourism ministers gather to share their views on the current climate. Although some felt the tourism industry would take several years to overcome the impact of recent security concerns, many were cautiously optimistic in pointing to the number of travellers who refuse to have their options limited by the actions of a few.


Argentina has excellent food and even better wine

It’s not the only reason we work with this fabulous country, but we’d be lying if we said it wasn’t a factor. Obviously we couldn’t comment personally on the quality of the wine, as drinking on the job would be extremely unprofessional. But speaking for a friend, it was delicious. We also very much enjoyed the traditional snacks [detail], which attracted large crowds who certainly agreed with us.


Bolivian dancers may be the most popular

The vivid colours on display over at the Bolivian stand did not go unnoticed by passersby, many of whom couldn’t resist stopping for a quick picture with our professional dancers. Dressed in traditional costume, the quartet brought a taste of Carnaval to London with their impressive moves. Fair play to them also for smiling non-stop all day, the Bolivians must have cheeks of steel.


The ExCel Exhibition Centre is really, really far away

If you want the chance to sample all forms of transport offered by TFL, you should definitely drop by the WTM in 2017. I for one did not know that London stretched this far to the South East and managed to take the tube, overground and the DLR in one single journey. Depending on your starting point, it’s definitely possible to work in a bus and perhaps even a tram. If you want to make the most of your Oyster, the WTM is the one.


People will take anything if it’s free

Carnival mask? Check. Map of a country you’ll probably never go to? Check. A small but delicious glass of Cuban rum? Well, naturally. Seriously, though, I was amazed at what a room full of grown adults would do for a bag full of free items that they will presumably never use again. On the plus side, it is reassuring as an exhibitor to see the message you’ve had printed on a novelty pen promoted far and wide. Plus, the canny individual can save money to spend on travel to the destinations on offer by perusing free tasters instead of buying lunch. Ideal.


You will walk very far

The ExCel is not small. On one hand, ‘popping over to Argentina’ in this context simply means walking over to another stand in the same room. On the other hand, the room is enormous and anyone prone to over dramatization (ahem) could be forgiven for thinking that they are actually crossing national borders. This year we’ll be taking pedometers.


You can pretty much meet anyone…

… as long as they work in the travel sector. If they do, they’ll be at WTM. Guaranteed. Last year 50,000 people attended, making it one of the world’s biggest travel fairs. We wouldn’t miss it!