Okay, okay, this is a bit late. Well, 4 months late to be precise. 4 months after the World Travel Market happened.

But why is this late? I just couldn’t put my feelings about this prestigious event into words. It was very confusing, conflicting and I just couldn’t describe it. It wasn’t until I attended the #canadashared event in London recently that it dawned on me what I really think about the World Travel Market that I attended 5-8th November 2012 at the ExCel Centre at the heart of the London Royal Docks.

World Travel Market

As a budding travel blogger, recently returned from my 2012 RTW travels, I was pretty excited to come to this event. Clipping on my press badge, I literally went inside the venue with high expectations. What were they?

1) I was going to meet lots of amazing bloggers that I’ve read and wanted to meet in person

2) I was going to learn lots of tips about blogging at the Social Travel Market (the blogging market within WTM)

3) I was going to gain a lot of contacts with tourism boards who I wanted to travel in their countries.

 

So did I meet my expectations?

YES and NO. And I’ll tell you why.

 

1) I was going to meet lots of amazing bloggers that I’ve read and wanted to meet in person.

First off, the best thing about the whole event was the HostelBookers Bloggers Party. I met so many fantastic bloggers there.  Sharing plenty of Mojitos with them, we certainly had a good night with the awards ceremony and the tweet-up there. I was so impressed with the HostelBookers Team that my opinion of them shot up into the depths of space. They knew how to cater to Bloggers.

HostelBookers Party

However, I was disappointed by meeting the bloggers that I truly read when I first started and possibly inspired me to start up a travel blog. If I could meet them, that was. It seemed that there were an exclusive group within the travel blogger community who started up ages before me and my attempts to say hello and talk to them made me feel like an outsider. This theme carried on in the STM and on the floor of the Travel Market. It was quite crushing to be honest and I actually felt like giving up on my travel blog at the time, feeling like I could never be good as they can be. This was further compounded when I listened at one of the seminars how travel bloggers should survive, which distinctively felt like the strong should only get stronger. I’ll explain more in my next expectation.

But in the end of the event, I grew to realise that these ‘top’ bloggers, as they may have called themselves, may have lost their way as I suspected lately, into writing  tedious ‘guides’ using only facts. I wanted to know how they experienced it for themselves. Did they enjoy it? What was funny? Seeing one press trip after another in luxury tours and accommodation whilst calling themselves a budget backpacker is not particularly I wanted to read. Sure, I’m jealous that they got to go on these trips but by all means write about it if you’re going to call yourself a luxury traveller.

So watching one of these bloggers, glued to their iphone as they ignored greetings, I realised that I am who I am, and I’m around to greet and mingle with travel bloggers who want to talk travel passionately.

 

2) I was going to learn lots of tips about blogging at the Social Travel Market (the blogging market within WTM)

Attending so many seminars at the ExCel centre catered for Social Media and Marketing, I was really looking forward to pick up tips that may help expand and improve my travel blog. But at the end of the day, did I really pick up anything? Seminars that talked about vlogging didn’t talk about the tools to make a vlog, just companies showing us the videos they made. They didn’t tell us how they made the videos or anything. I began to suspect that it was all ‘me, me, me, me’ from the companies looking to promote their business. In those kind of seminars, it wasn’t common to see people walking out because the seminar is not blatantly doing what it says on the title. I even walked out a couple of times. I’ll never forget the seminar about how to separate bloggers from the blaggers. I thought, here’s a great way to find out how to market my blog to travel tourism boards or companies properly. It turned into an hour of controversy, tipped by the revelation, that no-one on the panel actually knew what the term ‘blagger’ actually meant. Why was it controversial for me? I got extremely annoyed by the talks going on that we should join and PAY for these exclusive travel blogger groups that seem to contain only the ‘top’ bloggers, who would feature more in the group if they paid more. A case of the Strong getting stronger? Yet contradicting themselves that we should join together and help each other. I think I left that seminar in disgust. I don’t want to talk travel blogging politics, I don’t want to talk about who’s better than who. All I want is some tips to improve my travel blog, which I am passionately enjoying writing.

STM Talk

Meanwhile, I was sure at first these social travel market events would have many travel companies falling over themselves to press their business cards into travel bloggers’ hands, seeing as they kept telling us that social media was the way forward and travel bloggers is who they should be working with. But by the second half of the week, these proclamations would raise my eyebrow in mirth and I did have to bite my tongue to tell them to say that to the exhibitors on the floor of the World Travel Market, who some didn’t know what a blogger was. I’ll explain more in my next expectation.

But at the end of the event, I was at a loss what I really learnt for my travel blog. I was just bored of the me, me, me, me atmosphere of it all.

 

3) I was going to gain a lot of contacts with tourism boards who I wanted to travel in their countries

Before I was going to go to the World Travel Market, I focused where I would want to go in 2013. I knew I wanted to go to South America definitely and I did have a hankering to go to Europe on a rail experience.So with that in mind, I would like to discuss extensively with the travel boards there and gain a contact at least.

Walking into the exhibition areas, I did feel really overwhelmed. You could easily travel the world here! I was so mightily impressed by the designs of the exhibitions of each country. they definitely caught my eye. Check out the pics.

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So, with these exhibitions gleaning before me, you’d think they would jump at a chance to speak to a travel blogger. I think not. After speaking to a few countries, I began to realize that they aren’t that interested at all. I didn’t approach the stall and say ‘hey, I’m a travel blogger, and I think you should work with me because you need me.’ There were a couple of reasons. The first, is if you can FIND a travel board stall in that country exhibition. All the exhibitions seemed to contain luxury tours and accommodation stalls and I wouldn’t approach them seeing as my blog is about backpacking and budget travelling. So I figured, I would talk to the travel boards instead and see if there’s any budget travel companies there that I could get in contact with. Sometimes there weren’t any. I slogged around the whole of the ExCel Centre meeting most of the countries of the world and I was so surprised how ‘inaccessible’ they could be for travel bloggers.

Secondly, the mention of travel blogging would bring cold stares and awkward silences. And maybe a fob off with a business card 10 seconds after immediately introducing yourself. In hindsight, I realise that maybe they were just the salespeople, not the marketing people. If so, the travel companies have really missed out a trick here as there’s so many press here. Or they were too busy being all ‘me, me, me, me’ at the STM seminars. Get down here and talk to us!

It’s not to say that I didn’t walk away without any contacts as I did get a few from some sympathetic companies. But printing lots of business cards for myself, I still walked away with most of them. Okay, I hoped to get rid of most of them have lots of others in return and maybe maybe, I was secretly hoping to score a press trip for budget travellers but my expectation to gain a lot of contacts didn’t bear fruit.

 

So what now? Do I come to the World Travel Market again?

Well, after thinking this through, I suppose I didn’t really get anything out of this event apart from meeting so many ace travel bloggers that I’m now great pals with over the internet and in person, but my primary objective to get contacts and tips didn’t really happen. I’m disappointed that I didn’t achieve my expectations but maybe that was my fault for having high expectations? Who knows, but with travel blogging politics, misguided seminars and bad marketing to travel bloggers, I can’t really blame myself.

I know this post has turned into a bit of a rant and this is why I didn’t want to review this immediately after the event until I fully thought about my real feelings about the World Travel Market. Maybe it’s not one for the Travel Bloggers and I should go to Travel Bloggers Unite or TBEX events? Hopefully, I’ll find out when I go to TBEX in Dublin in October.

So will I go again for the 2013 event? Sure. But only for the social events and possibly the seminars again to see what’s happening in the world of travel blogging politics. But that is, if I find myself free for that week.

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