Co-incidentally I had a meeting scheduled at the Novotel at ExCel on the same day as the World Travel Market event was happening. I do use this hotel often for off-site meetings as you can always get a table and decent coffee in salubrious surroundings in an establishment not yet regulated by the fascist no-smoking police. I say ‘always’ but on Tuesday it was not the case. In fact far from it. The whole hotel was absolutely heaving with exhibitors and visitors who had presumably made contact at or prior to the event and adjourned to a nearby location to discuss business away from the throbbing masses – except in this case the throbbing masses all had the same idea and filled the bar, reception area, lounge, internet café, breakfast-bar thingy area and any other space that was capable of hosting an impromptu meeting.

One of the problems with an event of this nature is the international aspect of visitors and exhibitors which means that time at the show is precious and due to the impossibility of commuting the distances involved necessitates that large amounts time must be spent doing business. If your objectives at the event are to see as many people as possible you have a conflict between footfall and quality time spent with them. The ‘fix’ to this dilemma explains a mystery why so many ‘delegates’ attend the show. For years I wondered why organisations agreed to release such a huge delegation to attend the show ( aside from the fact that being in the travel business means they attain discounted travel and the possibility that it is an excuse for a shopping / sight-seeing trip combined). The answer it seems is to use resources wisely. Whilst maintaining a strong enough presence on the exhibition floor to meet and greet new prospects, they also have an entourage who can split away from the main event and entertain and do business with established contacts or those who need to conclude a deal there and then. Certainly for companies with sufficient resources this makes perfect sense. I wondered though about the smaller organisations and how they coped when they didn’t have such large numbers of personnel at their disposal. It would appear that in their case it is a mix between hiring stand personnel to do the meeting and greeting and extending their trip beyond the days of the show for meetings in the host country. This approach seems to be good news for everyone involved with the event – the visitors and exhibitors have an engorged event, organisers and hall owners can look forward to future success, the hotel manager was rubbing his hands together with 100% occupancy for the whole duration of the show and enormous takings at the bar and restaurant – in fact the only losers in this equation were myself and my guest who were crushed into a small corner of the bar, surrounded by glamorous foreign visitors and exhibitors. It’s a hard life!