Your experience will depend on your registration, but most travel bloggers should not have a problem applying for a Press badge (black).
“This year we have added ‘Blogger’ to the list of job descriptions on the online Press Registration form“, says WTM’s Press Officer, Nicole Collett, “so they can fill it out and add the URL for their blog, which we can then visit to verify them”. As long as the blog is clearly travel related there should be no bother. Even in borderline cases, WTM would prefer bloggers to visit on Press badges rather than have to apply for an ordinary (yellow) ‘Trade’ badge because it is more descriptive of their role.
The Press Badge is important because it will enable you to get in on Day 1 (Monday) when entry is restricted to invited visitors and the media. It also gets you into the Press Centre where there is somewhere to sit down & relax, somewhere to work, a programme of press conferences, and a room full of press resources (media packs and press releases).
Tip No 1.
Register online as soon as you can. You can register on the Sunday (6 Nov, 1300-1600) or ‘on the door’, but there is always a long queue. If for some reason you have to apply for an ordinary yellow ‘Trade’ badge, it is especially important to do it online before the event when it is free. It costs £50 at the door!
If you do get a Press badge…
Tip No 2.
Go first thing on the Monday. It may not be your most productive day (more on that in a moment) but Monday is the day when all the ‘grown-ups’ attend – CEOs, Tourism Ministers, etc, and it is worth seeing. If you need a decision-maker to firm up your forthcoming blogtrip, this is the day you are sure to catch them, albeit briefly because everyone is on an agenda and in a hurry.
Tip No 3.
The Press Centre is in the middle of ExCel. There is a ground floor lobby with an escalator (guarded for Press badges) up to the first floor of the Press centre. When you first get there, go up and then up again to the second floor where you’ll find a reception desk*. Here they give out bags with several publications including the full exhibitor guide. It’s too heavy to lug around. Ask them for just the small booklet, and maybe the Route Planner (light A4, they understand if you don’t want the full pack at this stage!) AND your coffee voucher, then you can go back down to the first floor and get your brain in gear with a free coffee at the coffee bar! (*NB: The layout may be slightly different this year. The ground floor lobby space is being freed up by moving on-site Press Registration desk to the main entrance)
Tip No 4.
Use the Press Centre resources. There is a room upstairs with shelves full of media packs. Stroll the shelves and browse for stuff that interests you. Don’t take a whole pack, you’ll be weighed down for the rest of the day. Strip out the single sheet you want and put the rest of the pack on the floor so the next journo doesn’t get an incomplete folder. Then go to the hall and find the stand, wave your piece of paper, and ask to talk to somebody about it. There are also a few WTM/Industrywide press releases in a rack in the press work room (tables & computers for journos to file copy from). These are worth checking out because sometimes they’ll give advance warning on stats & trends in the travel industry that you can exploit.
Tip No 5.
Press Conferences. These happen throughout the week but the more important ones tend to be on the Monday and Tuesday. You can find a list of them in the WTM handbook, and on a board on the second floor of the Press Centre. Many of them take place in the Press Centre conference rooms. If they are in one of the North or South Gallery rooms, make sure you set off early and have a clear idea where you are going. The Gallery rooms are on 1st floor corridors running along the outside walls of the two halls. You don’t want to go to the wrong end; they are just under ¼Km long, and you don’t want to go to the North Gallery corridor when you’re supposed to be in the South Gallery corridor; you’ll never make it back in time! The important thing about press conferences is that they give you unique access to the destination or company. It’s your chance to be noticed. The PRs running the conference will certainly take your name and will probably send you stuff after WTM, but you can engage with them, and the CEO, or the Minister, or whoever is presenting and make an impact.
General tips, regardless of badge type…
Tip No 6. Getting there
Leave plenty of time to get there on Monday & Tuesday. They are getting better, but Docklands Light Railway are nearly always overwhelmed on those two mornings. Even if you get there early and end up standing outside for 40 mins before the doors open (you can make use of the cafes on the main entrance concourse), that will be much better than being trapped in a crowded DLR carriage jam-packed with frustrated people. There aren’t many alternatives. The buses are useless (none from central London) but you could use the river.
Tip No 7. When to go
The Monday & Tuesday have always been the best days to go. Now that Monday is reserved, Tuesday has become busier and some of the key people, like Marketing Directors and senior PRs, are beginning to stay for Wednesday, or part of Weds too. Thursday is ‘student day’ and the stands are left to be manned by junior staff and exhibition staff. So, if it wasn’t for the fact that I’ll be appearing at one of the Social Media panel sessions on Thurs this year, I’d recommend you don’t bother with Thurs!
Tip No 8. What to wear/bring
It’s a trade event and one of the rules/expectations is that you are in ‘business attire’, so jeans are a little too casual. That said, guys could probably get away with a T-shirt if there’s a jacket over it. It’s November (a point re-enforced by the annual appearance of a traditional roasted chestnuts vendor with his brazier outside the main entrance!) but if you can avoid wearing a heavy overcoat, that’s good. It means you don’t have to queue with a thousand others to check it in and out of a cloakroom (and that even applies to the dedicated Press Centre cloakroom which always has a queue). Bring a bag with a strap or a rucksack and as few items as possible, so there’s space to carry stuff home. Don’t bring your SLR camera, use your smartphone instead.
Tip No 9. Meetings
If you are going to, pre-arrange a maximum of only two meetings during a day at WTM. Otherwise you’ll spend all your time having to leave interesting conversations and rushing to meet up with somebody who will keep you waiting because they are running late too!
Tip No 10. Happy Hour
It’s a WTM tradition. Circa 5.00pm you’ll notice the movement around the halls has begun to slow. It’s not so much, people leaving – most are killing time before going on to attend functions in the evening – instead they are gathering on stands for the ‘hospitality’ before the exhibition halls close at 6.00pm. The Caribbean section tends to be the most popular at this time, with rum punches and exotic cocktails appearing on the stands. Most destinations serve their national specialities, so if you want Vodka, head for Russia or the Baltic states. It’s not impossible to blag your way onto a stand during happy hour, but it’s considered ‘bad form’. If you can, try to get an invite earlier in the day: “Can’t stop now, but will you be here on the stand at the end of the afternoon? Can I come back then?”
Most of all.. Enjoy yourself! World Travel Market is one of the few places where you can say to somebody “I’m on my way to Malawi, but I’ll meet you on Barbados in half an hour”, without sounding ridiculous.
If you have any tips of your own, be sure to add them below.
There are no differences between the 16 September, 2011 @ 14:14 revision and the current revision. (Maybe only post meta information was changed.)