REPORT – WTM 2010: The fourth and final day of World Travel Market was focused on helping small and medium-sized businesses trade their way out of the downturn. New for 2010, the WTM Business Day featured a debate with business guru Lord Digby Jones and a panel of industry experts, as well as a range of forums and advice clinics for entrepreneurs. And, as is traditional for the fourth WTM day, the spotlight was also shone on the needs of travel agents and tourism students.
Lord Jones, former Director General of the CBI, told WTM that only business can create wealth and generate taxation to help the UK recover. He highlighted the vital importance of globalization, outlining the opportunities presented by 1.3bn people in China, 1bn in India and 180m in Brazil.
He was joined on stage by prestigious panelists who offered business advice for small travel firms battling against the continued lack of consumer confidence.
Richard Carrick, former Chief Executive of Hoseasons, advised developing a USP, while Steve Byrne, Managing Director of Travel Counsellors, urged: “Focus on value and the quality of your people – not the price.”
Recalling the volcanic ash chaos, Matt Stuart, Managing Director of Getabed, advised: “Think the unthinkable… and try to mitigate that.”
Banker Chris Lee, Head of Travel at Barclays Corporate, said his bank was willing to lend to travel SMEs but admitted many were wary of borrowing money in the downturn.
Richard Carrick also highlighted the biggest challenges currently facing businesses and the need to be brave, take the plunge and invest in order to acquire new customers.
A Bournemouth University Tourism Futures Forum highlighted a potential positive of APD for the UK when economics lecturer Professor Adam Blake said it was not necessarily a bad thing because it takes the place of VAT currently not levied on transport.
The role of travel agents was recognised in the inaugural WTM Pride of Agents Awards, presented this afternoon at WTM, the premier global event for the travel industry.
Mark Mauder, from the Co-operative Travel Llanelli Morrisons, won the top award in the ceremony, run in association with TTG and Travel Channel and sponsored by Virgin Holidays.
The awards are designed to recognise agents who have gone the extra mile helping their clients during the past 12 months.
There was also a comprehensive programme of destination briefings aimed at travel agency staff during the fourth day.
Quizzes, competitions and training presentations were held on stands across the exhibition halls, with prizes and goodies up for grabs.
Amy Atkinson, from Miles Morgan Travel, won the Made in Germany Quiz, scooping two nights in the Hilton Mainz with her knowledge.