November 7, 2016
World Travel Market, the UK’s biggest gathering of tourist boards, technology companies focused on travel, plus suppliers of beds, ground arrangements and much, much more, opened at London’s Excel, in the former Docklands of East London, at 10 am this morning.
Amidst the many very similar stands – corporate, with big screens flashing many fast-moving images and teams of people with heads bent over mobiles, almost putting visitors off from talking to them – three caught my attention as very different and inspirational.
Firstly, Costa Rica: a country in Central America boasting both a Caribbean and a Pacific Coast, Costa Rica has, above all else, pristine rainforest. And its double height stand looked just like, well, rainforest! Huge leaves, hung from on high, were clustered at ground level and had great wow factor. It was excellent.
An energetic bar area to one side also captured the jungle vibe perfectly; we could have been in Corcovado National Park rather than East London.
Secondly, Flanders: a vision of citrus-hued, funky chairs surrounded by yellow-painted screens, oil paintings, and a bike (also yellow) emerging from high-up on the architecture, this stand had a definite buzz about it and looked great. Job done!
Thirdly, the Aegean Islands of Greece. Again double height, with the vibe of a market (selling islands from casual-looking wooden crates laden with local wares), with tall corrugated steel surrounds, and huge wicker light shades dangling amidst much greenery, this made you want to engage with the guys running each and every stall. They were laughing, ready to talk and so exuberantly happy that their stand was attracting positive attention – “our budget is the lowest of anyone here!”, they proudly proclaimed. Brilliant, and a real show stopper; I hope they do some great business, as they well deserve.
Now the challenge is to try to find a cuppa in a cafe without a huge queue…