As a first timer and still a relative novice blogger I made my way to WTM on Wednesday November 7th 2012 with high hopes for an exciting day. I had no plans, no meetings, no real expectations if i’m honest, but from what i’d heard WTM was a travel wonderland where bloggers were fairly warmly received.
1. Getting there
Thanks to a tip from Mark Hodson of 101holidays who I had to pleasure of meeting in person just a couple of days just before WTM, I made my way to the Excel via the Emirates Airline cable car from which I got some great views of London.
2. The venue
The London Excel was an amazing venue, and some of the tourist boards, airlines and tour operators went to town on making their stalls look incredible. Some of them must have cost a pretty penny, but they got my attention which was their job I guess.
3. Travel bloggers
I got to meet a shed load of bloggers in person which was freakin awesome!
4. The hostelbookers after party
The lack of Wifi signal and phone charging options were a tad annoying.
… there really wasnt anything that BAD about WTM, honest.
This is the part where I’ll probably sound like a whingy bitch, but here goes anyway.
I am not the sharpest tool in the shed, but I didn’t get it. I don’t get why so many bloggers hail WTM as a must attend. To be fair they probably have a plan, know what they’re doing and are much more organised and intelligent than I (not hard), but attendance solely as a blogger was a little lost on me to be honest.
1. The mixed messages.
Upstairs in the seminar rooms travel bloggers were hailed as being the future of travel. Our work was appreciated and travel companies were urged to reach out to bloggers and utilise our skills and audience.
Downstairs when approaching various stands the mention of being a travel blogger bought only blank stares, awkward looks and silence. Maybe the people on the stands weren’t the right people to be talking to about working with travel bloggers, I assume they’re at WTM to sell their product so that’s probably fair enough, but the mixed messages made my head spin.
2. The titles of the seminars were a tad misleading
Although brilliantly presented and with fantastic speakers I’m not sure what I learnt from the seminars at WTM. I was particularly looking forward to a talk on video and blogging, hoping to pick up a few tips on how to shoot, what hardware to use and what software to edit with. Sadly no such tips were given. The talk basically outlined how three different companies have used video to boost their market share. It was interesting and fun watching their videos, but I took little away from the talk.
Another talk I attended was called ‘ how to tell bloggers vs blaggers’. I though I might learn how to make my blog and I seem more presentable to travel companies and my readers, instead I scared shitless by a talk that told me I needed to join all these different blogger associations and that in the blogging world its survival of the fittest … although it was then mentioned that bloggers should have no ill feelings towards one another, we should all be helping each other. Confused.com. To top matters off on this one, neither of the speakers knew what the word blagger meant. Probably not their fault, they spoke very well, but it wasn’t the talk I and some others were expecting.
How do I feel about WTM and blogging now?
So its a couple of days now after my visit to WTM and I’ve had a chance to collect my thoughts.
I think I may have got a bit carried away with what I expected from WTM, I realise I said previously I had no real expectations, but maybe I did secretly hope that I might have been invited on a press trip or something similar off the back of my visit to WTM. Shame on me I know.
With regards to travel blogging in general, I think WTM highlighted that the ‘art’ of travel blogging is still in its infancy and that not everyone within the travel industry yet fully recognises travel bloggers and what they have to offer. Once more and more brands and companies start to tap into the resources and skills that travel bloggers can offer, I can see a few more of the part time bloggers going full time, and I can also see some of the bigger already established bloggers becoming almost blogging celebrities i.e. appearing on TV shows and documentaries. Now that’s all well and good, but as highlight to be again by WTM there are soooooooooooooooooooo many travel blogs out there, and a lot of them brilliant. In effect, if everyone is out looking for sponsorship and press trips that would mean that there is a hell of a lot of competition. I hope it doesn’t, but I can already see cracks appearing in the travel blogging community as a result of companies slowly starting to take an interest in their skills and audiences.
So to my own blog. Whilst I am settled and have no plans on going travelling for any extended amount of time, I think its time to get my head out of the clouds and see this blog for what it is, a hobby. Something I love doing and something I do for enjoyment. Its not a business and I feel embarrassed that I got sucked into the whole idea of pitching for press trips etc. Sadly this isnt my job, maybe one day, but for now I need to be realistic about what I can achieve and that so long as I enjoy blogging that is the main thing. Stats, sponsors etc shouldn’t be what I base my ‘success’ on.
Will I be going to WTM next year?
Maybe, if I have the annual leave. I wont be saving a day for it like I did this year. If I did go, I’d go to catch up with a few mates mainly. Meeting old friends and bloggers I’d only ever spoken to online was the highlight of this year for me.