If you ever feel you’ve become a bit jaded about selling destinations, take a trip to World Travel Market to revitalize your anticipation for all the possibilities that still await you. I’ve just returned from London from this spectacular conference with a renewed energy for all things travel.
I also walked away firmly believing that this is an ideal conference for U.S. travel agents to attend. Within a three-day time span, you can speak with representatives from destinations in all corners of the earth. I spent half a day visiting the Italy section, researching information on private guides who can customize client journeys. I spent another few hours in Eastern Europe, speaking with destination marketing experts who can make all sorts of arrangements for your clients visiting Prague, Croatia and Hungary.
The sheer size of the show, which is held at London’s Excel center about 40 minutes outside of Central London, is mesmerizing. Dubai had a spectacular, duplex booth that took up a ton of square footage. Abu Dhabi’s, right next door, took up similar space and was equally innovative. Each captured the magic of its locale with props, lighting and personnel dressed in traditional garb.
Another reason to attend is that you’ll find destinations here that do not typically market to the U.S. customer, either because they’re focused on a closer-in demographic or because they simply don’t have the funding. New properties also tend to exhibit here, and what’s better than returning home with a list of newly discovered top hot picks for your clients?
By the way, I also discovered a great new service that’s close to home. In the Palm Beach County booth I met up with the Rebekah Urbina and Kyle Robertson of Apollo Transportation Services (www.apollotransportation.com), which provides luxury chauffer services. While they are currently strongest in the U.S., they’re expanding internationally at a controlled pace by forming affiliations with other companies with a similar high level of service. Creating a relationship with companies of this sort is vital for the successful travel agent. After all, you can get your clients on a good flight and book them in a great hotel, but it’s that drive to and from the airport that can make or break the memory of a trip.
During my London visit I stayed at the May Fair (www.radissonedwardian.com/mayfair) on Stratton Street. This hotel (you may know it as the Radisson Edwardian) is in a great location. Located in a quiet enclave, it’s just a block away from the Green Park tube station, which connects to lines that go all throughout the city. Directly across from the hotel is a Sainsbury supermarket, where you can pick up bottled water, snacks and even some great bottles of wine. Having an option like this certainly helps you combat the more than double exchange rate of the dollar vs. the pound. Another plus? Boots, the great U.K. pharmacy, is a also just a block away, where you can pick up needed items plus a great array of fun beauty products not found in the U.S. Visit Boots and you’ll find yourself on Piccadilly, one of London’s most thriving thoroughfares. You can walk to Covent Garden at one end, or else head in the opposite direction for a half-hour walk to Harrods and Sloane Street.
At the May Fair, I stayed in room 831, a Deluxe King room that was extremely spacious and a great place to camp out for four days. The bathroom is also quite large, with a great bathtub and separate shower. There’s also generous closet space.