Speaking to CN on day two of Reed Exhibitions’ four-day World Travel Market (WTM) 2010, exhibition director Simon Press said the tweaking of the show’s format to enhance its offering for exhibitors, buyers and press has allowed it to expand this year.
“We have enhanced our online offering, especially pre-event, by improving our online meeting booking procedures and speed networking in order to create an efficient connection between buyers and exhibitors,” said Press.
According to Reed, over 5,000 exhibitors took stand space at the Excel London show, which (pending ABC-audit) would make it the largest edition in WTM’s 31-year history. Last year’s show recorded 28,781 visitors and 16,790 stand staff.
Not all geographical regions on the show floor grew this year. “Some European destinations, such as Spain, have significantly reduced stand space, but Asia has increased overall, especially the emerging destinations,” said Press. India increased its space by 28 per cent year-on-year.
Press said the organiser approached not only the destinations’ national tourism bodies and past exhibitors, but looked to their partners as potential new exhibitors. It seems to have paid off with around 129 new exhibitors this year, also an increase year-on-year.
“It is a truly international exhibition with the show floor, where networking and meetings are held, set as its heart. However, the education and buyer content has elevated the WTM’s offering,” said Press.
“Buyers are no longer just European, which the majority have been in the past, which many exhibitors have found useful,” he added.
Spanish exhibitor and the Executive VP of Hotels at international hotel group Sol Melia, Andre Gerondeau, told CN he found the overall perception at the show was ‘moderate optimism’. “The UK market has changed its focus to destinations such as Egypt and Jordan, instead of Spain. The meetings industry has evolved through the recession and I believe next year we will see an overall improvement,” Gerondeau noted.
Sol Melia, which currently has 26 hotels to be opened under its management in the pipeline, has recently released its Q3 results. Gerondeau said they were better than expected: “For the past six months our strategy has been to raise our rates to what they were before the global recession as well as increase the volume of guests. It doesn’t make sense to drive volume and not the price.”
Gerondeau added that MICE business currently accounted for 25 per cent of his portfolio of hotels’ revenue. “Our all-inclusive offering for both leisure and business tourists have continued to be strong. It allows an incentive or meeting planner to use our hotels as a one-stop shop.”
Jamaican hotelier Richard Whitfield, who is the MD of the Half Moon resort in Montego Bay, said he came to the show with a full list of appointments. “The meetings include old friends and new partners and buyers. Jamaica is luckily well known and its profile continues to rise internationally. We have found the show very successful.”
WTM will run until 11 November 2010.