Early November every year sees London become the centre of the travel industry, as organisations and destinations from around the globe converge at World Travel Market.
Taking full use of this unique situation where the world comes to our doorstep, Touch TD found its diary booked up quickly for a wide range of engagements. As well as meeting up with familiar partners and friends, we explored and discussed opportunities with a number of new destinations. In particular we were keen to highlight the specific advantages of our qualitative approach to tourism and heritage concerns.
Of particular interest this year, we will be following up from positive meetings with colleagues in as diverse settings as Arctic North Iceland and volcanic Nicaragua, and exploring further the growing interest in optimising the tourism potential of intangible heritage in a number of different Indian states.
As well as business meetings, WTM provides many opportunities to attend workshops and presentations on issues at the cutting edge of the sector. Particular highlights for us were the latest session from the UNWTO Silk Route programme on the intelligent use of social media, and Digital Tourism Think Tank’s intriguing panel discussion on the changing role of Destination Marketing Organisations in the digital era. On the one hand, control of brand image is increasingly slipping away from DMOs to travellers themselves, who post photos and content on social media and travel websites. On the other hand, mobile technology offers unprecedented possibilities to DMOs to influence the experience and movements of tourists within a destination. The gap opening up between actual and potential practice needs to be filled with better, data-rich understanding of the changing tourist experience and the way digital technologies interconnect with this – the kind of gap ethnographic research is perfectly adapted to fill.