I apologise for blogging a bit late this week. This is, of course, inexcusable, but is due to a number of events. Firstly, nine years after I moved out, my parents have finally decided that ‘Janet’s room’ is to be no more (apparently it’s more useful as an office or something), and so I have been ferrying stuff back and forth; secondly, I was lucky enough to spend a good deal of this week involved with the World Travel Market – one of the most important trade fairs of the year for the industry.
My week actually started with a quick trip last weekend to the Luxury Travel Fair as I found myself in possession of a free ticket thanks to a previous job – I didn’t go for work specifically but it was definitely interesting to note some of the trends developing and scope some ideas! And while I haven’t done anything quite as cool as go to the Australia v England rugby game like Ben, (grrr…) I did randomly stumble into a talk being given by the legend that is Graham Bell. I’m not sure that his presentation on Alpine traverses in New Zealand was particularly well-targeted for the somewhat elderly audience, but I did enjoy it nonetheless…
…Anyway. From Sunday’s luxury skiing chat to Monday at the World Travel Market in Excel I noticed a definite shift in the atmosphere; from wide-eyed tourists at the first, to industry professionals looking both focussed and slightly haggard at the second (I feel sorry for anyone who had to get the DLR at any time after 8.15am – that can’t have been fun). Acting as note-taker for a couple of our purchasers I noted the following:
– The Greeks are surprisingly punctual
– Spanish and Italians do not like to speak English at all (this led to a very tired Janet on Wednesday night, although I realised I remember more Spanish than I expected)
– Middle Eastern countries like to show everyone how much money they have (mentioning no names, *cough *, Abu Dhabi)
– Excel likes to overcharge massively for EVERYTHING because it assumes everyone is putting it on expenses
Jokes aside, although most of our purchasers have already finished most of their contracting for next year, and so were just making appointments to meet and greet, it was fascinating to watch the tour operator-hotelier relationship at work, and also to note the dynamics between representatives from different chains or countries (interestingly, Palestine and Israel had set their stands up in entirely different halls, which spoke volumes about a whole host of issues – not least about Israel’s desire to be perceived as a quasi-European destination). I was lucky enough to be wined by Turkey, dined by Gran Canaria (amazing cheese) and also had a number of bizarrely comical conversations. Notably with Greeks who apparently like to wink a lot.
It does seem that, for a number of countries and companies (whether tour operator, agent or supplier), one of the reasons to attend WTM was purely ‘to be seen’. In an industry where so many businesses are failing there is obviously a massive need to reassure suppliers and partners of the security of your country’s economy, or your company’s balance sheet. However, it also seems that, going forward, many industry professionals are quite positive about the seasons ahead on the back of a fairly terrible year; for many, it seems that the general sentiment is “well, it could have been worse”…