Stay on top of the trends with the best of WTM’s packed events programme. Katie McGonagle reports

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Government ministers, chief executives, company directors and every other imaginable branch of the travel industry are jetting in from around the globe for next week’s World Travel Market.

But behind all the high-profile guests and in-depth debates is one shared ambition: to make the travel industry work better.

That’s what makes the show’s packed programme of seminars and sessions so valuable to every member of the UK travel trade, offering insight into our industry, practical advice on how to grow your business, plus a chance to reflect on the past year while looking forward to where 2014 might take us.

Make sure you’re staying one step ahead of the competition with our guide to a few highlights that will help you plan your WTM diary.


The panel featuring the highest-profile speakers is the joint UNWTO & WTM Ministers’ Summit (Tuesday, 11am-1pm, Platinum Suite 3-4), bringing together government ministers from Spain, Portugal, Indonesia, the Philippines and South Africa, with senior members of Iata, WTTC, Amadeus, the International Civil Aviation Organization and the Caribbean Tourism Organisation, to discuss how to bring air transport and tourism policies closer together.

Taxing challenges to aviation will be debated again when Travel Weekly’s executive editor Ian Taylor takes the helm of Revenue Raiser or Damaging Duty? The Impact of Air Passenger Taxes on Global Economic Growth (Tuesday, 2pm-3pm, South Gallery 17).

It’s the airlines’ turn next, as the chief executives of Air Malta and Aer Lingus discuss dealing with natural disasters and adapting business practices in Airlines in Transition: Pushing the Boundaries, Facing the Challenges (Tuesday, 3.30pm-4.30pm, Platinum Suite 3-4).

Next, it’s time to look at the situation on the ground with Airport Debate: Future Landscapes of Global Hubs (Wednesday, 2.30pm-3.30pm, Knowledge Theatre GV750), in which Heathrow boss Colin Matthews discusses the role of hub airports.


As always, travel technology will be a central talking point at WTM, with sessions aimed at everyone from tech whizzes to beginners keen to learn how technology could help them do more.

Pre-registration is needed for the WTM Travel Innovation Summit (Monday, 2.30pm-5pm, Knowledge Theatre GV750), in which Travel Technology Initiative is joined by top-flight speakers from the likes of Thomas Cook, and Gogobot to look at how travel firms are moving with the times, the future for online travel agents, and how mobile is becoming more important.

Technology takes centre stage on Tuesday. Social Media’s Dirty Little Secret (South Gallery Rooms 23-26, 10.30am-11.20am) looks at how travel firms may be missing out on collecting data and, immediately afterwards, Facebook head of travel Lee McCabe (pictured below) will talk about Facebook and Targeting: Finding the People that Matter to You (11.20am-12pm).

Next, Lee Hayhurst, editor of Travel Weekly’s technology title Travolution, asks Does the Beach Need to Get Connected? (12.30pm-1.30pm, South Gallery Rooms 15-16), as he moderates a panel including Lowcostholidays chief executive Paul Evans, Tui UK product director Mark Hall, managing director Mark Maddock and On Holiday Group chief executive Steve Endacott.

Hayhurst also takes the lead at a session on payment trends, Virtual: The Future in Pre payment (1.30pm-2.15pm); and the following day, using newly-released Yahoo research, looks at how websites, social media and apps are affecting the way people book, in Connected Holidaymakers: the Evolving Role of Digital in the end-to-end Travel Cycle (Wednesday, 10.30am-11.15am, both in Travel Tech Theatre TT185).

Entrepreneurs can get the lowdown on How to Create a Travel Start-up (Wednesday, 12pm-12.30pm, Knowledge Theatre GV750), with £5,000 on offer from WTM Fresh to one start-up company.


In addition to technology events, watch out for the Social Media Masterclass (Tuesday, 3.30pm-4.30pm, Knowledge Theatre GV750) on how Facebook, Twitter and other social media could improve sales.

But Thursday is when the social sessions really kick off. Offering valuable case studies, What Social Media Success Looks Like in Tourism (10.30am-11.35am) will look at best practice in Facebook promotions, apps and online tools such as TripAdvisor, followed by Mobile Video and Travel (11.35am-12.30pm, both at Turkish Tourism stand EM850).

The growing influence of bloggers takes precedence at the afternoon’s key sessions: industry experts will be asking Is it Possible to Effectively Measure Travel Blogger ROI? (1.30pm-2.45pm), followed by Sales and Marketing Tools for Travel Bloggers (3pm-4pm, both Platinum Suite 1), in which Travel Bloggers Unite founder Oliver Gradwell will lead a panel examining bloggers’ expertise.


As eyes turn to next year’s World Cup in Brazil, there’s bound to be plenty of interest in Hosting Major Sports Events (Tuesday, 1pm-2pm, Platinum Suite 1), offering an insight into the challenges and benefits of staging international tournaments.

Then comes a wider look at Sports Tourism: the Trends and the Impact (Wednesday, 4.30pm-5.30pm, Platinum Suite 4) examining all kinds of sports-focused breaks, from travelling to support a team to enjoying an active holiday of your own.


Responsible tourism is a major focus once again, addressing environmental issues, local economic development and catering for people with disabilities.

Start off with improving working conditions and pay in Employment in Travel and Tourism (Tuesday, 10.30am-11.30am, South Gallery Rooms 19-20). That’s followed by simultaneous sessions on Decarbonising Travel and Tourism and, chaired by Abta chief executive Mark Tanzer, Taking Responsibility for Child Protection (both 1.30pm-2.30pm, in South Gallery Rooms 19-20 and 21-22 respectively).

Making the case for better equal opportunities travel, It is Good for Business: Taking Responsibility for People with Disabilities (Tuesday, 4.30pm-6pm, South Gallery Rooms 19-20) looks at what the industry can do to ensure people with disabilities don’t miss out.

For taster sessions on responsible tourism, visit Speakers’ Corner (Tuesday, 12.30pm-3pm, North Hall EM1650) for 15-minute talks on everything from volunteer tourism to responsible river cruising.

The following day sees the official opening of WTM’s responsible tourism programme, with a Roundtable on Travel and Tourism and Carbon Pollution (Wednesday, 10.30am-11am, Platinum Suite 3-4) featuring Tui Travel deputy chief executive Johan Lundgren, Jumeirah Group president Gerald Lawless and South Africa tourism minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk (below).

Next, what promises to be a lively debate asks: Is the Tourism Industry Doing Enough to Reduce its Water Consumption? (Wednesday, 2.30pm-4pm, Platinum Suite 3-4), followed by a networking reception in Platinum Suite 1 from 5pm.


Addressing the business of travel, London deputy mayor and newly-appointed chair of London & Partners Kit Malthouse will lead the first WTM Talk Business session (Thursday, 11am-11.45am, Knowledge Theatre GV750) to reflect on the impact of the Olympics and the importance of tourism to the capital.

Don’t go anywhere, though: immediately afterwards, Barbara Cassani, founder of no-frills airline Go Fly, gives her perspective on the aviation sector, and picks up on the post-Olympic theme with reflections on her role in winning the bid for London.


Is Social Media the Reason Behind the Rapid Growth of Cruising? (Tuesday, 11am 12pm, Platinum Suite 1). That’s the question posed by a Clia organised session looking at how the cruise sector is using social media to engage new customers.

Focusing on new customers of a different variety, two emerging-markets sessions feature specially commissioned research: Where Next for Japan? (Tuesday, 2.30pm-3.30pm) looks at how Europe can regain its share of outbound Japanese tourists, while The Growing Pains of Brazil (3.45pm-4.45pm, both Platinum Suite 1) asks whether Europe is fulfilling the outbound demands of Brazil’s burgeoning middle class.


Wish you had a crystal ball to predict what will sell in 2014? These sessions are the next best thing, offering the latest insight and up-to-date research on next year’s travel trends.

Make sure you’re catering for all clients with LGBT2020: What’s Next for Gay Tourism? (Wednesday, 11am-12pm, South Gallery Rooms 23-24), a workshop organised by Out Now Business Class to look at trends in honeymoons, travel in Asia, and the rising role of agents and operators in booking LGBT travel.

Next up, it’s Investing in Youth: the Future of Tourism (Wednesday, 12.30pm-1.30pm, South Gallery 17), focusing on the contribution young travellers make to local economies, and how to capture more of this market.

Research by Bournemouth University will surely spark a debate at the BU Tourism Futures Forum (Wednesday, 1pm-3pm, South Gallery Rooms 25-26). But for those interested in technology, the must-attend event will be PhoCusWright’s 2013 Travel Technology Trends (Wednesday, 2pm-3pm, South Gallery Rooms 23-24) looking at the future of one of travel’s most dynamic sectors.