Your Name (required)

Your Email (required)


Please leave this field empty.

Your Message


The best social media seminars at World Travel Market 2018

Steve Keenan

December 13, 2018

Mark Frary opens WTM seminars

Mark Frary opens WTM seminars

THIS year myself and Mark Frary, co-founders of Travel Perspective, held eight seminars, five on the main WTM Global Stage. We started with an Instagram report and interview and ended, as ever, with our Best Social Media Project of the Year challenge. In between came Unilad, social post Brexit Britain, changing face of travel photography, content and China Outbound. And others.



Fireworks on stage as Neasa Bannon, the Instagram/Facebook Travel Lead for Europe, Middle East and Africa took the stand. For a journalist cliche-avoider purist like myself, Neasa revealed an appalling statistic – that over a two-month period, the hashtag #hiddengems had been added to 295k IG photos.

Another surprise: the success of IG Stories has seen use of the #nofilter hashtag rise. No more highly airbrushed models and playing around – we’re back to normal images and depictions. And, increasingly, video rather than photos.

IGTV update: people are engaging in the longer format, says Neasa. Cooking demos, make-up – that sort of thing. Fashion was the first to jump on the format, whereby you can post up to an hour of video. In travel, AirBnB and Culture Trip make good use of IGTV, contributing content on places to explore.


IMG_7649Adam Middleton, Head of Strategy at Unilad, surprised me, in that I had no idea the platform was so heavily into travel already. Indeed, Adam spoke at three seminars at WTM despite it being just a week or two after the brand was bought out by its rival Ladbible.

The two are the biggest publishers on Facebook. But in addition to the entertaining viral videos, Unilad (which, currently, continues to operate independently of its new owner), has developed several strands of travel content. This year it created a Road Trip video with Visit Scotland seen by 707k so far; a Why Your Need to Visit Singapore video (38m) and has created a 24 Hours In… format.

“We go straight in, information and brilliant film,” says Adam, citing another project – How to do Hawaii on a Budget with blogger Jackson Groves. “Make it real.” (Check out Unilad’s Adventure Community on Facebook – 38k members).


Serious stats: International travel spend from China has grown ten-fold in a decade, yet only 10% of Chinese citizens have passports, so the vast majority of Chinese have yet to take their first overseas trip. Hence another packed seminar, this time on the Asia Inspiration Zone Stage, to hear of UK plans to ease visa requirements for Chinese visitors – and that 100 new air routes opened to China in 2017, mainly to/from second-tier Chinese cities.

Shopping, culture and countryside rank highly with visitors to the UK. “Get a WeChat account, enable mobile payments and make Chinese visitors feel welcome – just some of the ways European businesses and travel companies can attract more Chinese travellers according to speakers at WTM,” said a press report on our talk, which featured Gary Grieve of training company Capela China; Jennifer Cormack, chair of the Lake District China Forum and Sienna Parulis-Cook of digital agency Dragon Trail Interactive.

The media report, which also covered other China-related seminars at WTM, added: “According to Grieve, the challenge for businesses in attracting the Chinese tourist is to take advantage of the trend in sharing photos and using social media and make WiFi instantly available to guests. He also said companies should get a Chinese name for their business, so Chinese travellers can correctly tag it and share it.”

Feedback: “Following the seminar, I talked to people then had to head back to our stand. A number of people came and found me to talk to me in more detail about China Outbound Travel, which I hope was a great help to them. It would be great to run the seminar again next year: it was very well attended and the feedback was also great – always happy to share best practice with industry colleagues,” – Jennifer Cormack.


Damien Landesmann, Vice-President Europe, Middle East and Africa for social media research company Socialbakers, gave a presentation to the audience on the Asia Inspiration Zone Stage.

Landesmann discussed the difference between micro-influencers, macro-influencers and celebrities as well as ways to identify influencers with fake followers – a growing problem as we heard earlier in the day in our Instagram keynote session.



Kurt Janson, director of The Tourism Alliance, outlined the state of play (above) which contained a few surprise proposals being discussed by government: allowing Australasians to work in the UK for four years up to the age of 34, halving APD on domestic flights and giving over some new Heathrow slots to domestic flights.

Kurt, second left, then joined a panel on stage of Claire Lampon, centre, digital media manager at Historic Royal Palaces; Roger Goulding of The Cranborne Chase Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Lydia Rusling, Head of Visit Lincoln.

On Monday, the Italy’s ambassador to the UK “absolutely” ruled out the need for British tourists to have visas to visit Italy. In fact, the whole panel thought there is no way any EU country would impose visas and fees post-Brexit.

Good for Britain too, with a weak currency also pulling in more visitors and a boost to domestic tourism expected as more Britons stay at home. Digital innovation is also thriving, with Roger outlining his virtual/augmented reality app for Cranborne Chase, and Claire and Lydia using similar themes – bringing history to life through digital innovation.

But where will the money come from for future innovation, asked Roger. As reported by WTM’s news team, there will be a real need for co-operative work among tourism interests in destination in future.



Back to The Global Stage for the first of three packed houses today. Benji Lanyado, CEO and Founder of Picfair, Chris Coe, founder of Travel Photographer of the Year and Hugh Pinney, former VP Editorial, EMEA, Getty Images proved a real draw in our session on travel imagery. The video of this session will be posted shortly.


This Global Stage session brought together travel influencer Kash Bhattacharya, content marketer Rich Kimber of Melt Content and Joanna Duncan, CMO of Insight Vacations to talk about content.

The panellists talked about why it is now so important to produce content that converts into real-world bookings rather than just producing stuff for the sake of it.

Duncan said that attributing conversions to particular content is challenging, particularly when luxury clients plan well ahead. She said, “We know their planning cycle is really long. They know what they are doing several trips ahead: they know where they are going, what they are going to be doing and who they are going with so we need to start influencing them several holidays ahead.” As a result, Inisght has moved away from traditional brochures to more of a lifestyle magazine, with travel articles around food, music and more.

There was also robust discussion around whether influencers should flag when they are being paid to promote a destination. “Disclosure is very important but the funny iron of this is that once you do disclose and say it is a sponsored post unless a client is willing to put budget behind it to promote it your organise reach plummets because Instagram wants to the content creator or brand to spend money,” said Kash. “It is a double-edged sword so some content creators are reluctant to say that.”


In our final session of World Travel Market 2018, we heard from a diverse range of travel and tourism organisations who had excelled in the use of social media during the past 12 months.

The session was packed, as always, with others trying to see what works in social media. The entries ranged from easyJet’s Instagram-powered Look & Book search to a tie-up between Helsinki Airport and Finnair for their slick film project East and West Side Story.

Perhaps the most surprising entry was that of Madhya Pradesh Tourism who merged the traditional with the modern to create a marketing campaign from crowdsourced photos from the past decades of the region’s most popular tourist attractions. Contributors could even send their old photos through the post. The resulting stop-motion video, with catchy backing track, won the audience vote on the day.

But it was the audience’s second placed presentation, from Claire Lampon of Historic Royal Palaces, that won over the session’s judges and carried off the AWESOME (Awfully Entertaining Social Media) award for 2018.

The #boleynisback campaign – a reimagined day in the life of Ann Boleyn in modern London – was “clever” and “innovative” and all the more impressive for having been hatched and executed by just two people.

Leave a comment

Name *
Email Address *
Message *