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WTM London 2018: How To Survive the Bloggers Speed Networking Event

Hi guys,

So last week I attended World Travel Market (the biggest travel exhibition show on the planet) for only the second time in my blogging career, and what a whirlwind of a day it was! After my first visit back in 2016 left me feeling pretty overwhelmed, I was understandably feeling anxious ahead of my second visit. Set in London’s ExCel centre, WTM is the biggest and best travel show of the year, with thousands of people from all corners of the industry attending across the three day period. You’ll find everyone from bloggers and journalists to travel agents and tourism boards all hoping to meet new faces, catch up with old friends and of course do some business networking. Last time I visited I wrote a blog post sharing my top tips on how to survive your first time at WTM, which gives an insight of what to expect from the exhibition, so I hope some of you found that useful! This time though was a very different visit for me as I was lucky enough to be selected as one of only 120 bloggers to take part in the digital influencers speed networking event, so I was very focused and determined to walk away from WTM with some new business as a result of my visit. Here are my top tips on surviving the Bloggers Speed Networking and how to get the most out of your valuable time there…

 

 

Choose the right category upon registration

 

This is probably the single most important piece of advice I can give to anyone looking to take part in the speed networking. Upon registration you will be asked to provide some information about yourself and your blog and will then need to select which category you feel you fit into best (solo, group, family, adventure, budget, luxury etc). I found this quite tricky actually as my blog is so varied and I do a little bit of luxury travel, a little bit of adventure and a little bit of solo sometimes, so I could have slotted in to a few of the categories, but I settled on adventure as I felt this suited me best. When I arrived to set up my stand I was sooo glad I chose this category as they are listed A-Z (I didn’t realise this til I got there) and adventure is on the front row meaning you get to see all the prospective brands and PRs queuing to approach you before they actually arrive at your stand. I was also listed on the print out brochure on the first category as adventure was right at the start, so I definitely think I got more footfall as a result of this, but I do think it would be great if the organisers put a little bio or a line or 2 about your blog on the print out brochure so brands looking can find out more about what you do before they approach you, rather than just having a name to go on!

 

Dress to impress

 

Wandering around WTM is overwhelming, stressful and completely exhausting, and I would definitely recommend you wear something comfortable on your feet as you will rack up the FitBit steps in no time! However, it is important to remember that you are in a working environment, meeting people from all areas of the industry who want to do business, so looking the part is key to making a good first impression. I’m not saying you need to wear a dress and 6 inch heels, but pop on a blazer and fix your hair so it looks presentable. I treat my time at WTM as if I am going for either a work meeting or a job interview and like to look my best – there are also lots of photo opportunities so it doesn’t hurt to take pride in your appearance!

 

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So today, after four long years of blogging, I had a career highlight when Journeys with Jessica was given its very own stand at WTM – the biggest travel conference in the entire world! 🌍 I was selected as one of 120 travel bloggers to come and showcase what it is that I do and how my blog works. I had brands approaching ME, not the other way round, and I met and spoke to tonnes of people who had a genuine interest in my blog and wanted to know more about me as a person too. 🎉 I ended up staying an hour longer than I was supposed to because I was talking way too much to too many people and having way too much fun! I've learnt so much today and I've never felt prouder of my little blog 💖 Here's to the next 4 years of blogging, adventures and even more fun! Thanks @wtmlondon for an amazing day ✨#WTMLDN #travelblogger #London

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Visually represent your blog

 

As it was my first time doing the bloggers speed networking I really didn’t know what to expect and had no idea what was included with your stand upon set up. I didn’t know if your business card or logo would be printed and attached to the stand, and I didn’t know if there would be a picture of me on it or not. I took some chocolates with me as a way to break the ice if I needed to, and so my stand didn’t look totally bare, but I also spent some time printing out A4 media kits and taking plenty of business cards too. Business kits are an absolute must at networking meetings so always remember to take more than you need! I’m also glad I printed out my media kits (x50) as it really helped me to talk potential clients through my blog. My media kit is very clear and concise, with important notes including audience demographics, social media statistics and a brief bio about me and my blog. This, coupled with my laptop on display, allowed me to visually showcase my blog to everyone I spoke to at the speed networking. I think they found it really useful that I could make a point and then back it up with imagery, or facts, and liked the fact that I was able to show some of my most popular blog posts on my laptop screen in front of me, rather than just talking about something and not actually having anything physical to show them. I would 100% take a laptop with me if I ever took part in the speed networking again, and business cards/media kits are a definite too.

 

Show that you’re confident (even when you’re not!)

 

Confidence is an attractive trait, but it doesn’t come natural to everybody. At places like WTM it is important to have your business hat on, but you also need to be yourself. Being yourself is the only thing that makes you unique, and that makes you stand out. You are representing your blog and, in some cases, this might be your entire business, but don’t forget that your blog is something personal and something that represents YOU, so don’t be afraid to show your personality and inject a bit of passion in to your meetings! I took a few notes as a cue card, and had my blog on my laptop screen so I could scroll and show people what it looks like, but to be honest it felt so natural once I’d had my first or second meeting I just kept talking and interacting and I think this was because I so relaxed and was completely myself which made me feel so much more confident!

 

 

Be active on social media

 

I know it can be really hard to try and keep up with social media whilst you’re physically at an event, rather than posting about it afterwards, but I always find I get the most out of my events when I keep up with current news from the hosts and post live ‘real time’ updates. Twitter and Instagram stories are my go-to platforms when posting live content, and my notifications on Twitter tend to go through the roof when I engage with people whilst I’m actually on-site. I met up with a few fellow bloggers at some of the Traverse Events talks on the WTM Global Main Stage because I’d seen their whereabouts on social media, and I even set up 2 meetings with brands on the day purely because they had seen my tweets and wanted to meet me, so I told them which table I was on at the bloggers speed networking and they then came to find me! I know it can be difficult to spin so many plates, but I strongly believe that being active on social media before, during and after the event made it a real success for me. Lots of companies ask you to take part in online competitions throughout the day too, so make sure you’ve got your power pack handy and tweet away whilst you’re there!

 

 

The speed networking gives you a chance to have one-on-one time with various travel brands, including tourism boards, hotels and PR companies, and is the perfect way to meet people and make new contacts. Sometimes it really is who you know, not what you know, in this business so making important connections at events like WTM is absolutely vital! Overall I really enjoyed my time at the bloggers speed networking, so much so that I ended up staying over an hour longer than I was supposed to because I was too busy chatting away… oops! I genuinely feel I made some fantastic connections at this event with real people and real brands who took a real interest in me and my blog. I’m already hoping to do it again at next year’s WTM and would highly recommend it to anyone looking to take the next steps in their travel blogging career.

Have you been to WTM before? Let me know what you thought of it in the comments below!

Love Jess x

 

 

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Surviving your first time at WTM London

 

Had so much fun @wtmlondon earlier on this week! Blog post coming soon! #WTMLDN #london #LDN #ExCel

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Hi everyone,

So last week I attended WTM London for the first time EVER and I had the most amazing time! For those of you who don’t know, WTM is the biggest travel trade show in the world and is held in London every November for three days, at the ExCel Centre. Anyone and everyone from the travel world is present at WTM, from tour operators and tourism boards to hotels, airlines and resort representatives. I consider myself to be a little blogger in a big, big travel pond, so I was understandably nervous/excited about the prospect of attending WTM for the first time! Here’s my guide to surviving your first time at this fantastic exhibition…

Fail to prepare, prepare to fail!

 

 

I can’t stress how important this is when attending WTM for the first time! I feel as if I prepared as much as I possibly could by navigating the website, booking meetings, looking up lectures and planning my journey in advance before the big day arrived. I made sure I planned my tube route (although this changed due to station closures on the day!), I made sure I knew where my meetings were and what stands I wanted to visit, and I made sure I knew which lectures I wanted to attend. Planning in advance really helped me to calm my nerves and take everything in my stride when I eventually arrived on the day. I also reached out to other bloggers who had attended before, Eileen from Crooked Flight held a fantastic webinar which was super helpful and I was SO glad I watched it before I attended!

 

Just one of the fab exhibitors @wtmlondon this year! #WTMLDN #mexico #tourism #TravelTuesday

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Don’t get me wrong, I  was totally overwhelmed by WTM; the ExCel was absolutely enormous and I felt so out of my depth! I had lost my voice and had a terrible cough that day, so I think that just affected my confidence at first, but once I’d had a few meetings and started speaking to more people I felt much more comfortable and began to enjoy myself a bit more! Make sure you research the companies you have meetings with, know the name of the person you’re going to be speaking to, and make sure you know what it is you want from WTM. I wanted to meet with tourist boards and enquire about potential press trips, as that’s the direction I want my blog to take, but others may want to become a travel trade consultant or progress their careers in the industry, so talking to specific brands about what you want to achieve is key to success at WTM.

 

Make sure you look the part

 

 

Treat WTM as you would treat a professional meeting, or a job interview. I wore a skirt and top to look smart, and I took a blazer too but wore flats as I knew I would be doing a lot of walking! I feel I looked professional but not too over the top, and hopefully I went for style as well as comfort! Jeans and a t-shirt is a definite no-no; most of the guys were in suits or a shirt and trousers, whilst most of the girls were in dresses, smart tops and trousers or skirts and tops like myself.

Book meetings in advance

 

 

Booking meetings ahead of my visit to WTM really helped me to plan my day. It also ensured I could spend a certain amount of time meeting brands and a certain amount of time attending lectures, so I could balance my day correctly. I found the WTM website to be extremely helpful when planning; you can contact brands directly, find out about all the lectures and speakers and even see the full A-Z list of exhibitors who will be present each day. There’s also a WTM app which you can download and use to interact with brands and speakers on the day, making sure you’re super involved throughout the whole process. You can also use Twitter to mention brands and exhibitors in your tweets, showing them that you’re excited about the big event and that you’re planning it before you’ve even arrived… everyone loves a build up!

 

Print your media kit and take plenty of business cards

 

And I was sooo pleased with how my press pack turned out too! Who else took one to @wtmlondon this year? #London #WTMLDN #ExCel

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I have never printed my media kit as I think carrying prints around is very old-fashioned, but I am so glad I took copies to WTM with me! I printed around 20 of them, and had 100 business cards on me which was plenty. I gave all of my media kits out, and around 30-40 business cards too, as not everyone wants to see your media kit. I made sure my media kit was given to people I had meetings with, and people that I approached who I was really keen to work with. The beauty of presenting a media kit is that it gives you something to visually share with the person/company you’re approaching, and I think it makes you stand out over someone who is just there to drop off a business card.

 

Look up the lectures you want to attend

 

This was my holy grail @wtmlondon – wouldn't have survived without it! #London #WTMLDN #ExCel

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I think WTM is all about time planning, especially if (like me) you only have one full day there! To me, the lectures are just as important as meetings with professionals, you can learn a lot from the speakers and the Q&A sessions, so I was keen to catch as many lectures as I could during my day. It helped to look them up in advance so I could ignore any irrelevant ones and focus on the ones I really wanted to attend. The WTM guide that is handed out to you upon arrival is really helpful in terms of planning, but there are giant boards and maps dotted about too so that you can get your bearings and make your way to the lecture halls on time. Be sure to arrive early to make sure you get a seat!

 

Catch up with your fellow blogger friends

 

 

WTM doesn’t have to be totally serious; yes, you’re there to learn and meet professionals from the travel industry, but it’s s really great place to have some fun too. I met up with three of my fellow travel blogger friends whilst I was there- Emma (Paper Planes and Caramel Waffles), Kate (Kate Victoria Photography) and Mel (Footsteps on the Globe) – and we hung out, took photos and attended lectures together. It’s really nice to see a few friendly faces during what can be quite a stressful day, so I really enjoyed spending some time with these girls!

Follow up after the event

 

wtm1

Following up afterwards is just as important as attending the conference on the day! I did my follow ups yesterday, a week after attending, and sent emails to brands I met and had proper meetings with throughout the day. Following up doesn’t have to be in the form of emails though, you could interact with the brands on Twitter, make it fun, make yourself memorable! Keep in contact and you never know where your initial meetings might lead to in the future.

So there we have it, my ultimate guide to surviving your first time at WTM London. Have you been before? Are you wanting to go next year? Sharing is caring, so I’d love to hear any tips you have too!

Love Jess x

 

Where can you visit every country in the world, all under one roof? @wtmlondon of course! #WTMLDN #london #LDN #ExCel

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