There were lots of reasons for hundreds of thousands of travel professionals and hangers-on to travel to Abu Dhabi-owned ExCel, somewhere east of London. It was the annual World Travel Market WTM and everybody who was anybody was there but goodness knows how you found anybody.
One reason for going was to see which destinations stood out. Morocco, the Preferred Partner, provided a stylish walkway approach, with urns in niches in living walls specially planted for the three-day occasion. Greece cleverly made a splash with the scribblers by heavily sponsoring the Media Centre, but they charged for every edible bite and potable gulp, with the exception of water. Saudi signs seemed to be everywhere, of course, and the CEO of Saudi Tourism Authority, Fahd Hamidaddin, joined WTM Exhibition Director Juliette Losardo onstage at the WTM opening.
On the company side, the winner was undoubtedly Accor, whose conjoined IBIS and NOVOTEL, 200 metres from the main entrance, were undoubtedly raking in millions (though Accor naturally hosted its Big Dinner at RAFFLES AT THE OWO LONDON). There seemed to be lots of fast food joints inside the main building and Italy, at least, had a full white-linen restaurant in their stand’s space. Stands, by the way, are much larger than at ILTM, a sibling show. Both are owned by global giant RX, whatever that stands for.
The Media Centre is also larger. Girlahead popped in and an immaculately-suited gentleman was speaking to, well, 20 media, all but one glued to their own devices. As well as press briefings, somewhere else there was a non-stop conference schedule, with a well thought programme – diversity, green, influencers, marketing. The two key names Girlahead would actually liked to have heard were the BBC’s Zeinab Badawi and the world’s Louis Theroux. As it was, two unlisted raconteurs held court, above, on the terrace of the Novotel.
One wish for next WTM. Could the folks at RX somehow bribe, muzzle or whatever is necessary so that the folks at DLR light rail, the best way of getting to the east-of-London venue, do NOT go on strike, as they have done before and they did again this year?