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World Travel Market 2018

2018 proved to be another huge success for The Group Company as we flocked to London’s ExCel for the twelfth time!

World Travel Market 2018

Following on from the success of our ever-expanding and now well-established USA office, we decided to do things a little differently for World Travel Market 2018. In 2017, we ran two stands: one larger UK and Europe stand, and a separate area for our US office.

We found that many of our clients wanted to visit both, and it worked best when our reservations and tours teams could bounce ideas off each other, so we decided to bring everything together this year in one larger stand. This was really well received as it put our prospects in front of people with their own personal areas of expertise all at the same time. We couldn’t resist having flags on each individual table, of course…

Out and about

That is by no means to say that we were standing still! As ever, this year’s World Travel Market was replete with events. Our personal highlights were Accor’s annual bash on Monday, as well as Visit Holland’s drinks reception on Tuesday evening. Our Senior Tour Designer Mike even had time to attend ETOA’s Global European Marketplace on the Friday before. 

Learning curve

Besides the socialising, World Travel Market once again proved to be a fantastic learning opportunity and gave us fresh insights into industry trends. Our Business Development Manager Natalie, who runs our Boston office, had the pleasure of attending the USA and the LGBT Tourism Market: Where Next? talk, led by Ian Johnson, founder of LGBT marketing firm Out Now.

The talk addressed facets of travel marketing that had previously never been considered: 6 per cent of travellers belong to the LGBT community, and we should be inclusive in the way we market our trips, from language used by hotels to branding for travel brochures. For example, Johnson revealed that in some areas, outdated phrases such as “we tolerate LGBT travellers” are still being used. These people do not want to be "tolerated" – they want to be accepted, just like everybody else.

2019 will be particularly poignant for LGBT travellers as it marks the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, one of the most important events in the gay liberation movement. To celebrate, New York City will be hosting the Rally: Stonewall 50 Commemoration on Friday June 28, so hotels and tour operators should keep their eyes open for this monumental event.

A sense of adventure

Another big focus for this year’s World Travel Market was adventure tours. Bruce Poon Tip, founder of G Adventures, discussed the importance of travelling outside our comfort zone and injecting passion into travel with his keynote speech on the Monday. More and more, happiness is becoming a key motivator for travellers – not only do we want to learn and expand our horizons; we also want to become more personally fulfilled and focus on our individual wellbeing.

Of course, wellbeing and happiness is a common theme for social media influencers, whose relevance to the modern day travel industry cannot be overlooked. This year’s event highlighted the effects that travel influencers can have on the individual consumer, but it also advised us not to put all our eggs in one basket – there are many other factors that inspire us to travel!

Going forward

It’s safe to say we’ve all come away from World Travel Market 2018 richer in knowledge and ready to explore new opportunities for next year. From safety to sustainability, the event covered new trends as well as ongoing issues that we need to continue addressing. 2018 has been one of our most successful years yet, building on existing relationships and nurturing new ones.

We’d like to extend our thanks to all our clients, suppliers and friends who helped us to make World Travel Market 2018 a success. We look forward to seeing you next year!