A rise in senior executives attending WTM London 2018 and its co-located sister event Travel Forward helped boost visitor numbers to a record level, according to unaudited figures.
WTM London 2018 and the new travel technology event Travel Forward saw visitor numbers – including exhibitor invitees, WTM Buyers’ Club members and trade visitors – increase by 6% to 32,700.
Furthermore, members of the international media increased by 1% to 2,700.
Overall participant numbers increased to 51,409 – making it one of the highest attendance figures since WTM London launched in 1980.
The record number of visitors to WTM London – surpassing 2014’s figure of 32,462 – was fuelled by a 39% increase in the key benchmark of exhibitor invitee visitors.
Exhibitor invitees are among the most important and senior professionals in the travel and tourism industry, invited by exhibitors on the invite-only first day of the event to conduct high-level meetings and seal business deals.
A total of 17,567 exhibitor invitees attended WTM London across the three days of the event (November 5-7), compared to 12,662 at the 2017 edition.
In total, WTM London had almost 89,000 (88,742) visits across the three days.
The first day of the event saw 27,240; the second had 38,035 visits; and the final day saw 23,467 people in attendance.
The event was also visited by 9,325 members of the WTM Buyers’ Club.
Alongside the exhibitor invitees, these visitors will sign deals with exhibitors worth more than £3 billion.
Total participant numbers increased by 3% from 49,685 in 2017 to 51,409 in 2018.
WTM London 2018 was given a greater regional focus with the introduction of five regional Inspiration Zones – UK&I and International Hub, Europe, Asia, Americas and Middle East and Africa.
There were also more senior bosses and tourism ministers in the content programme, including easyJet’s chief executive, Johan Lundgren, and UK tourism minister Michael Ellis. More research was added to the programme – including dedicated regional research sessions – from research organisations including Euromonitor International, Mintel, ForwardKeys and Nielsen.
Meanwhile, Travel Forward was a deemed “a great success” by WTM, with more exhibitors than its predecessor, The Travel Tech Show at WTM.
Simon Press, WTM London’s senior director, said: “WTM London 2018 was a fantastic event and the most successful ever. WTM London is the event where ideas arrive and this was proved with a record number of exhibitor invitees in attendance, making it among the highest attended events.
“WTM London 2018 was overhauled to have a greater regional focus with the introduction of regional Inspiration Zones. The increase in participants shows this strategy was a great success with the increase in content available at the event, further improving ideas creation at the event and around the travel and tourism industry.”
WTM London 2019 – the 40th event – will take place at ExCeL London (November 4-6 2019).
Pictured from left at the UKinbound stand: Simon Press, WTM London’s senior director, and tourism minister Michael Ellis.