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Wednesday, 28 October, 2015, 11 : 00 AM [IST]

Expanding Horizons Digitally

A 4-day marketplace, WTM 2015, poised to be the best yet, will open its floors to the global travel industry this November. TravelBiz Monitor presents the event schedule and what’s new in this edition of the exhibition
Set to take place from November 2–5, WTM 2015 is expected to be the biggest and best edition till date. This year’s event will host more than 100 conference sessions with total delegate numbers of around 17,000, comprising more than 8,000 unique senior industry executives.

Mexico is the Premier Partner for WTM 2015 as the country looks to promote its ‘duel year’ with the UK. 2015 has been designated as The Year of Mexico in the UK and the UK in Mexico, and is witnessing an exchange of art, culture, science, academia, business and tourism of which the WTM Premier Partnership is a key part.

New for this year is the WTM Wellness Lounge, this is a dedicated exhibition space for the wellness industry. It will help fuel the growth of the sector now worth USD 3.4 trillion a year.

The 1st day of WTM remains exhibitor invitation-only for visitors, and will host the WTM Speed Networking. The 2nd day will see the event open to everybody from the industry, and will host the UNWTO & WTM Ministers’ Summit. The 3rd day of WTM will be the Responsible Tourism Day, while the final day will host 2 speed networking sessions – one for buyers and one for bloggers – as well as the Family Holiday Association’s annual conference ‘Holidays Matter’.

Simon Press, Senior Director, World Travel Market, said, “World Travel Market continues to improve every year, with 2015 poised to be the biggest and best yet. WTM 2014 saw a record attendance of 51,500 industry executives including 9,100 buyers agreeing a massive £2.5 billion in industry deals with almost 5,000 exhibitors.”

WTM Wellness Lounge
Taking place on the 3rd and 4th day of the event, WTM Wellness Lounge has already sold all of its allotted exhibition space. Among the 25 exhibitors are Blue Lagoon from Iceland and the Somatheeram Ayurveda Group from India. The lounge has also attracted 10 new exhibitors, keen to raise their profile on a global stage. These include Anand Collection, which represents up-market properties and resorts; the Hotels Plaza Andorra chain; Healing Hotels of the World, which represents properties across the globe; and the 5-star boutique Fortress Resort and Spa in Sri Lanka.

Europe is represented with hotels and spas from Portugal, Turkey, Corfu, Germany, France, Netherlands, Switzerland, Slovenia and Spain. While Bath Tourism, famed for being the spiritual home of wellness in the UK, is also taking part. Another exhibitor is Lifehouse Spa and Hotel, in Essex – located about an hour from ExCeL in London, where WTM takes place each year. Further onfield are exhibitors from Malaysia and St Lucia.

Press said, “The success of our new Wellness Lounge reflects the rapid growth of the wellness industry generally. Seeing our Wellness Lounge sell out so quickly demonstrates how the wellness industry is eager to have a high-profile platform provided by WTM London to negotiate and conclude deals.”

The new wellness hub offers suppliers a platform to meet contacts and conduct business in the comfort of the dedicated lounge. The package for suppliers includes private pods within the lounge; a networking breakfast with wellness buyers; priority access to WTM Speed Networking sessions; and an online networking tool to connect with the wider WTM audience.

Other benefits include an invitation to the Wellness Travel Awards Reception, exposure to the WTM Buyer database through a dedicated email profiling all Wellness Lounge suppliers; promotion in the WTM Catalogue, WTM Routeplanner and online Exhibitor Directory; and access to 250 spa/wellness buyer contacts from the WTM visitor database.

Social Media Programme
This year’s social media programme will take place across 3 days and will feature senior executives from Facebook, Twitter and TripAdvisor as well as start-ups, destinations, bloggers and publishers.

The keynote speaker for the programme is Lee McCabe, Global Head- Travel, Facebook. He will talk about how travel firms can leverage Facebook’s 1.5 billion users in his presentation entitled “Facebook future: mobile, messaging and virtual reality”. Samir Bhana, Sales Manager-UK & Ireland, Twitter, features in a face-to-face interview with Mark Frary, Co-founder, Travel Perspective. Sarah Davey, Product Director, TripAdvisor, appears on a panel of experts in a discussion on ‘Travel’s Next Big Thing’.

The other 6 sessions include sharing best practice examples from destinations, travel firms and businesses outside the sector. Working with bloggers from outside the travel industry is also on the agenda. “Content marketing” is also up for discussion with a panel offering travel firms advice on publishing.

The programme will end with a session on how travel firms can use video marketing in the age of mobile, hosted by two executives from YouTube.

Charlotte Sutton, Conference Manager, WTM London, said: “We’ve been running a social media programme for a number of years, and every year interest in the topic grows. At the same time, social media is maturing as a marketing and sales channel, but there is still lots to learn for the experienced and newcomer alike. This year we are also looking outside travel for best-practice examples.”

World Leaders In Travel Take To The Stage
There will be 2 ‘World Travel Leaders’ sessions, along with a ceremony to present the World Travel Leaders Awards to individuals and organisations that have contributed the most to the global travel and tourism industry over the lifetime of WTM.

The first WTM World Travel Leaders session is entitled ‘Asia – Inbound and Outbound Travel – Growing Globally’, sponsored by Korean Tourism Organization, and will look at the new Asian powerhouses of the global leisure travel market. Moderated by global strategic advisor Anita Mendiratta, Founder & Managing Director, Cachet Consulting, the panel debate will discuss crucial issues driving this growth, now and in the future, and how to take advantage of the expansion.

The panellists will be Tran Trong Kien, Chairman and General Director, Thien Minh Group (Buffalo Tours); Mario Hardy, Chief Executive, Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA); Peter Kerkar, Group Chief Executive, Cox & Kings; and Wendy Wu, Founder and Chief Executive, Wendy Wu Tours.

The debate will be followed by the WTM World Travel Leaders Awards, which give WTM’s Official Media Partners – which represent key travel industry media around the world – an excellent platform to congratulate and recognise those companies and individuals that have made significant contributions to travel and tourism in their region or sector.

The second World Travel Leaders debate is entitled ‘UK Inbound and Domestic Travel – Breaking Records’ and will be moderated by Deirdre Wells, Chief Executive, UKInbound. Drawn from successful companies in the sector, the panelists will study why the UK has seen significant growth and record tourist numbers over recent years, and how to benefit from future expansion.

Speakers will be Terry Williamson, Chief Executive, JacTravel; Denis Wormwell, Chief Executive, Shearings Holidays, Kyle Haughton, Managing Director, City Cruises and Neil Davies, Head of Travel Trade, Bourne Leisure.
Destination Branding Summit

The 2015 UNWTO/WTM Ministers’ Summit at World Travel Market London will put a spotlight on destination branding and how it has become an increasingly complex challenge.

Moderated by CNN journalist Richard Quest, Tourism Ministers and private sector leaders from around the world will discuss Destination Branding: new challenges in a changing market. “The rise of the new technologies, coupled with the global economic downturn, has brought a paradigm shift as power moves from governments to citizens and from companies to consumers. This change is having a huge impact in the tourism sector and both destinations and companies need to adjust to new challenges”, said Taleb Rifai, Secretary-General, UNWTO.

Now in its 9th year, the UNWTO/WTM Ministers’ Summit is part of the World Travel Market London Ministerial Programme, bringing together Tourism Ministers and leading tourism experts to debate each year key issues affecting the sector.

Festival Programme
An array of exhibitors will be partying in style during WTM London’s Festival programme on Day 3 of the global event. The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) and Mexico are among many exhibitors that will be hosting WTM London festivals.

The festivals give everyone the opportunity to socialise after the traditional working hours in a fun and vibrant atmosphere. Those attending will experience the culture, hospitality and cuisine with each hosting exhibitor offering something unique.

With 2015 being declared the Year of Mexico in the UK there is likely to be a lively party atmosphere on its pavilion. Mexico will be showcasing its gastronomy with tastings from its 80 exhibiting destinations as well as a live band to entertain the visitors.

The CTO will be hosting a street party in the Caribbean Village Area at WTM London 2015. Visitors will be treated to live Calypso and steel drum music with savouring local cuisine and tropical rum punch.

Meanwhile, India will be showing off its ‘Taste of India’ themed festival where one can enjoy the diverse cuisine from every corner of the country.

The Polish Tourist Organization and Polish travel industry partners are hosting a Networking Party which will give the opportunity to liaise with the country’s travel industry representatives.

Famous Vietnamese street food is likely to attract plenty of attention as the destination showcases its colourful traditions. Nepal’s festival will be focusing on nature, culture and adventure during its festival while Indonesia will demonstrate its diverse country of origins and religions.

Press said, “The WTM London festivals were only introduced last year to celebrate the 35th year of WTM but they were so successful that we decided to do them again this year. This year the festivals look to be even bigger and better with plenty of opportunity for informal networking and fun for all attendees. If you have the opportunity, come and experience the culture, hospitality and cuisine of these exhibitors.”

India to Sponsor WTM Buyers’ Club

India Tourism will sponsor of the WTM Buyers’ Club this year as it looks to promote India to the global travel industry as a safe and year-round luxury destination.I n 2014, 7.7 million tourists visited India, a growth of more than 10% from just under 7 million (6.97m) in 2013. In the first 6 months of 2015 the country welcomed 3.85 million tourists, up 3.4% on the same six months in 2014.

India is looking to increase its tourism numbers further by enticing tour operators from global source markets to promote the country as a year-round luxury destination. The key to India’s strategy is to focus on a variety of niche products – including; rural, wellness, medical, adventure, golf, MICE and cruise tourism –to overcome the aspect of ‘seasonality’ spread tourists around the country by promoting India as a 365 days destination, and expanding out from its most popular period of October to March.

India’s most popular destinations are Delhi, Agra and Jaipur, popularly known as the Golden Triangle, Rajasthan, Goa, Kerala and Kashmir. However, a greater focus is being put on North East India – Assam, Meghalaya, Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur, Tripura and Mizoram.

Furthermore, India has an array of new products to promote to the world’s leading buyers at WTM London 2015; including the development of its cruise industry, which will see Royal Caribbean include Indian ports in its itineraries. Other global cruise companies operating from India include Oceania Cruise and AIDA Cruise.

A string of luxury global hotel chains including Rotana, Meininger, Jumeirah and Six Senses are scheduled to open a number of hotels in the next 2 years, further enhancing India’s position as a luxury destination.

The UK is India’s second largest source market for tourists with 810,000 people visiting in 2014. India will look to sign deals at WTM 2015 with UK tour operators that will see the number of visitors from the country increase to one million in 2016.

Press said, “WTM London will host more than 9,000 of the world’s most important buyers through the WTM Buyers’ Club. These buyers will sign deals worth more than £2.5 million with exhibitors. India is in prime position to promote its exciting range of tourism products to these buyers through its sponsorship of the WTM Buyers’ Club.”

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