This post is also available in: PortuguêsHow did we hear about it? As we were beginning in the world of blogging, we were just focused on our little world. Our attention was for our writings, pictures and planning. We have never looked for travel fairs. So, on our way to Greece, we decided to stop by in London for a couple of weeks only to see old friends and family. In one of these meetings, a friend of ours told he was going to work in these big travel market fair when we were telling him about our future plans. Then, we stopped and looked at each other, thinking, “hang on a minute, this fair is just for us”! However, our outbound ticket to Greece was on the exact same day of the first day of the fair. That put us in a big dilemma. Should we miss our (another) flight to Greece in order to attend a fair, which seemed to us like a place where people just want to sell their products? Well, after putting a lot of thinking into it, we decided to stay for the WTM and delay our trip to Greece. Now, we can truly say it was the best decision we made. What is the fair about? Let us just start saying that the fair is much all about people selling their products. However, that is not just about it. In this year’s event, – READ OUR DIARY HERE -, it was added many debates about how to improve the synergy between bloggers and companies. In addition to the talks, speed networks were also held between bloggers as well as between bloggers and exhibitors in order to have some business deals closed. And that, my friends, it was the most important thing, in our opinion, about the market: Networking. The fair brings together the tourism ministries from almost every country in the world as well as journalists, photographers, travel agents and everyone really who is interested in the travel industry. The number of people you meet is huge. There you find interesting people, exotic destinations and innovative products. During our three-day event, we learned much more about the travel market and were able to exchange plentiful information with exhibitors (travel agencies and government bodies) and experienced bloggers. Another interesting bit of the market was the way you move yourself in there. So, let’s say you are in the Kenyan stand. You spoke with the tourism representative, talked about what Kenya is doing to improve and increase their tourism and, mainly, how they approach bloggers and how you as a blogger can approach them in future. You exchange business cards and then you think: “Well, I am in Kenya now. I think I am going to India then”. Or even better, you meet someone on the first day and agreed to meet again the next day. The discussion goes something like: “Shall we meet in Peru”? “Hum, let’s meet in Russia”. So, from stand to stand, you get to travel the world, see what the travel trend are and understand what countries are doing to improve their tourism and, in that way, where you should be heading next. Did we close any deals? No. But that does not mean you, as a first timer, will not too. There are quite a few newbies who close a deal on their first time. We, in fact, were not sure what we want and how to move forward with our website, so we focus on talking to people and then talk to ourselves in order to understand better what we want. That was brilliant and completely opened up our horizons. What was the benefit of attending as a new blogger? There are two particular benefits which we would like to emphasise here. Even though that is not particularly for newbies, it is what will help you most: Networking, networking, networking. The contacts you made is surreal. After all, that is what the market all about, bring people with similar interest into one shared roof. What a best way to interact with others who also are interested in the travelling market. In addition, you get the contacts of the right person you should talk in case you would like to make business in future. Let us give you two examples: * You never attended the fair and now you would like to have a sponsored travel somewhere in South East Asia. You will probably begin searching online, googling the best countries where tourism is increasing, then try finding the contact, ending up – very likely – emailing a secretary or someone else who is not interested in hearing you and never have your reply. NO BUSINESS * You attended the market. Spoke with the most tourism ministries representative as possible. You exchange business cards with them all and, at home, organised the contacts into an excel sheet, including comments. You followed-up not long after so people do not forget you. After a while, you want to have a sponsored travel in South East Asia. You go through your contacts and email the marketing or the correct person you have the contact. Very likely, one of them will get back to you with a positive answer. BUSINESS DEAL Trend in the market. The other pivotal benefit is to see the new trends of the travel market. You can see that by talking to people and see which topic is most recurrent, or by attending the talks and hear from specialists. In this year, we hear a lot about human rights and sustainable travelling, for instance. For bloggers, video is definitely on the spot at the moment. So, this are topics which you can direct your blog. How to prepare yourself when attending the WTM? As new as you are, take business cards. We did ours specifically for the event and it was crucial for networking; Networking, networking, networking. Everyone is here for this, do not feel intimidated. Go there and talk to everyone. Make a media kit. If you don’t know what it is, you can talk to us and we will happily explain it better. We didn’t make so much use of ours but you never know when a business opportunity will come out. Do not forget the business dress code. After all, it’s a corporate event and you do not want to stand out for not being dressed accordingly. Plan yourself. The fair is huge, so have an idea about the people you want to meet and which stands you would like to visit. Schedule meetings in advance. Get in touch with the exhibitors that interest you the most and schedule a conversation with the commercial director or PR. Sign up for the events. We lost the speed networking for lack of planning. If you missed the WTM London 2016 and have the opportunity to attend the next, do not think twice: go! If you are thinking of starting a blog, why not check on how to become a Digital Nomad? In March there is the ITB Berlin which seems to be the biggest one in the industry.