Get ready for World Travel Market 2012 with Katie McGonagle’s guide to what’s on every day

Stands are being built, speeches being written and delegates getting ready to fly in from around the globe to attend the biggest event in the business: World Travel Market.

We’re just days away from the must-go show that brings together key players from every sector of the travel trade to reflect on the past 12 months and look forward to the trends that will shape the year ahead.

The packed four-day programme, from November 5-8 at ExCeL, London, promises valuable insights from the industry’s biggest movers and shakers, tips on the latest trends, and an impressive list of exhibitors keen to share practical advice to boost your selling skills.

With so much on offer, it’s hard to know where to start, so take a look at our run-down of the show’s hottest highlights to make sure you don’t miss out on the action.


This was the UK’s much talked-about summer of sport, but how did the Olympics play out in tourism terms? That will be the topic at Tourism and the Olympic Games – A Review (Monday, 3pm-4pm, Platinum Suite 4), where key figures from VisitBritain, VisitEngland and other domestic-focused tourism bodies look at how to capitalise on the games.

The Future for Activity, Adventure and Sports Tourism is next on the list for sports fans, for an insight into changing customer expectations in the growing area of active and adventure holidays (Tuesday, 2pm-3pm, South Gallery Rooms 23/24).


Perhaps the most impressive line-up of speakers has been reserved for the United Nations World Tourism Organization and WTM Ministers’ Summit – Open Borders and Open Skies: Breaking Barriers to Travel, the highlight of Tuesday’s programme.

WTM chairman Fiona Jeffery will be joined by Taleb Rifai, secretary-general of the World Tourism Organization to open proceedings, before tourism ministers from Mexico, South Africa and Indonesia weigh in alongside representatives from Etihad, Iata, the World Travel & Tourism Council and Tui AG chairman Dr Michael Frenzel (11am-1pm, Platinum Suite 3/4).


Technology is a huge focus of WTM, but you don’t have to be a computer whizz to learn a thing or two; sessions cover everything from the high-tech to straightforward, practical applications that can help your business thrive.

Get started with a Technology Drinks Reception (Monday, 5pm-6pm, Technology Presentation Theatre, TT370). Then on Tuesday, events are split between two venues.

In the Technology Presentation Theatre, start the day at 10.30am with sessions on streamlining online bookings, TripAdvisor for hotels, and online hotel marketing, among others. Meanwhile, Platinum Suite 1 plays host to a Social Media Masterclass at 2pm, Going Mobile at 3.30pm, and Latest Tech Trends at 5pm, all led by Paul Richer, senior partner at Genesys, the Travel Technology Consultancy.

Travolution editor Lee Hayhurst, will lead a session looking at the future of video digital marketing for destinations (Wednesday, 10.30-11.15am, Technology Presentation Theatre).


Blogs and social networking sites might once have been the preserve of tech-obsessed types, but they’ve now firmly established themselves as part of mainstream marketing, a position reflected by the dedicated two-day Social Travel Market on Wednesday and Thursday.

There are a couple of events to look out for on Tuesday too – a discussion on How to Measure Travel Blogger ROI (Tuesday, 11am-12pm, South Gallery Room 25/26) and Keys to the World, how social media is changing the way we choose destinations (2pm-3pm, South Gallery Room 20).

On Wednesday, bag a spot in South Gallery Rooms 23-26 and stay there: after an Introduction to WTM Social Travel Market at 10.30am, sessions will look at Foursquare, the psychology of social media, blogging, mobile content, how to get a job in social media, and the best blogging innovations – all followed by a table football challenge for travel bloggers in Shoreditch.

For Thursday’s social media sessions, head to the Turkish Culture & Tourism Office stand (EM850) from 10.15am for talks on social media campaigns, crisis management and marketing.


Responsible Tourism takes centre stage on Wednesday, but will be touched upon elsewhere as ethical issues are increasingly integrated into the mainstream. Pass by WTM’s Speakers’ Corners to hear 10-minute takes on the latest issues (Tuesday and Wednesday, South Hall AS275 and North Hall UKI230).

Tuesday afternoon will also see discussion on tourism and child protection, wildlife tourism and responsible volunteering, where Abta chief executive Mark Tanzer joins a debate on how to ensure local communities benefit fully from ‘voluntourism’ (4.30pm-5.30pm, South Gallery Room 21/22).

WTM’s official World Responsible Tourism Day Opening Ceremony (Wednesday, 10.30am-11am) will shine a spotlight on illegal poaching in Africa, kicking off a day of discussions devoted to the ethical side of travel.

Highlights include the Virgin Holidays Responsible Tourism Awards (11am-12pm), and a Q&A with Wolfgang M Neumann, executive vice-president of the Rezidor Hotel Group, who will be quizzed by BBC Hardtalk’s Stephen Sackur on a new energy-saving initiative across more than 330 hotels (12pm-12.30pm, all Platinum Suite 3/4).

The big debate will focus on greenhouse gas emissions, and with contributions from environment managers at British Airways and Tui Travel, it promises to be a lively discussion (3.30pm-5pm, South Gallery Room 21/22).

Last but not least, one of chairman Fiona Jeffery’s ambitions for this year’s show was to examine accessible travel, and Thursday’s session, Is the Industry Doing Enough to Cater for People with Disabilities? promises to do just that (11am-12pm, South Gallery Room 19/20).


WTM will be getting the scoop from some of the biggest names in travel on Thursday’s dedicated business day. These must-see sessions kick off with Carolyn McCall on how the airline industry has changed since she became chief executive of easyJet, focusing on her toughest challenges, the airline’s changing customer focus and how she is leading a drive to improve profitability (12pm-12.45pm, Meridian Club Lounge, North Hall, AF570).

Creative marketing will be the focus of the next talk with Andrzej Moyseowicz, strategy and innovation director at Saatchi & Saatchi, (12.45pm-1.30pm, Meridian Club Lounge), while Martin Glenn, chief executive of Birds Eye owner Iglo Group, develops that theme further with real-life examples of how innovation can transform a brand’s corporate image (1.30pm-2.15pm, Meridian Club Lounge).

Help is also at hand for small and medium-sized enterprises with a series of Advice Clinics offering one-to-one tips on everything from technology and blogging to sustainable travel and hospitality. Sessions take place in the Main Boulevard Area, but must be booked in advance; log on to wtmlondon.com for details.


Travel Weekly is at the helm for the biggest cruise-focused event of WTM, including a rare appearance from Micky Arison, chief executive of Carnival Cruises.

He will talk to editor-in-chief Lucy Huxley about the ups and downs of the past year and what to look for in 2013 at The Travel Weekly Cruise Debate (Tuesday, 3pm-4pm, Platinum Suite 3/4).

The sustainable side of cruise will be on the agenda the following day at Travel Weekly – Taking Responsibility for Cruise, where experts talk to head of news Lee Hayhurst about the increasingly stringent environmental standards demanded by destinations, what lessons were learnt from Costa Concordia, and how operators are using new technology to improve their environmental footprint (Wednesday, 12.30pm-1.30pm, South Gallery Rooms 21/22).


Get up to speed with the ever-changing world of aviation, starting with a Face-to-Face with Lord Andrew Adonis, which promises to touch on the controversial third runway at Heathrow (Tuesday, 2pm-3pm), followed by Airline – Out of Africa, a look at how air traffic is developing on the continent and whether local carriers are losing out to their international rivals (Tuesday, 4pm-5pm, both Platinum Suite 3/4).

An absolute must-attend for anyone still confused by Flight-Plus is Wednesday’s Shedding Light on Atol Reform, where John McEwan and Steve Endacott, respective chief executives of Advantage Travel Centres and On Holiday Group, talk through the latest reforms (11am-12pm, South Gallery Rooms 27/28).

For a more strategic look at the industry, Airline – Setting the Scene: the Big Challenges, will examine how soaring fuel prices, rising taxes, airport capacity and new-generation aircraft are affecting the sector (Wednesday, 2.30pm-3.30pm, Platinum Suite 3).


China will be at the heart of the discussion on emerging markets (Tuesday, 3.30pm-4.15pm and 4.45pm-5.30pm, South Gallery Room 19), but for a broader look at the Brics (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa), attend WTM Powerhouse Economies (Wednesday, 2.15pm-5.45pm, Platinum Suite 4), where experts look at how to harness growth.

More than 6% of total tourism spending comes from the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) market, so Out Now Business Class – Better LGBT Marketing Strategies will look in-depth at key destinations and case studies to appeal to this market (Wednesday, 10.30am-12pm, South Gallery Room 21/22).

The Rise of the Affluent Muslim Traveller will be the focus of a session looking at how to cater for the growing number of Muslim tourists seeking holidays that suit religious needs as well as their desire to see the world (Thursday, 12.30pm-1.30pm, South Gallery Room 21/22).


Want to be a step ahead of the rest next year? Find out which trends will affect your business over the next 12 months with the Travel Weekly Insight Annual Report, where executive editor Ian Taylor hosts a panel of experts reflecting on the past year and future prospects for the UK outbound travel market (Tuesday, 11am-12pm, South Gallery Room 20).

Next up, the 2012 Industry Report looks at future holiday trends (Tuesday, 12.30pm-1.30pm, South Gallery Room 25/26), followed in the same room by the WTM Global Trends Report 2012 (2pm-3pm).

Get tech-savvy with Innovation: Shaking up the Travel Marketplace, which promises to have you up-to-speed with the latest technology forecasts, especially relating to mobile (Wednesday, 2pm-3pm, South Gallery Room 21/22). Next door, the Country Brand Index 2012-2013 session will be chock-full of expert opinions and data forecasting the global trends that will play out over the next year (Wednesday, 2pm-3pm, South Gallery Room 20).

Finish the show with the Tourism Futures Forum, featuring an 11-strong line up including speakers from the International Federation of Information Technology for Travel, the Institute of Travel and Tourism and the World Travel & Tourism Council.