WTM: World Travel Market 2010, Experience Bangladesh
WTM is one of the largest conferences where there were 5000 exhibitors from over 160 countries. This year, Experience Bangladesh attended the WTM conference for the first time in October and was very impressed by their learning and outcome.
Sarah Siddiqi, CEO of Experience Bangladesh was the only representative from Bangladesh according to the exhibitors of WTM this year. And here is what she had to say..
“I was really impressed with the caliber of the entrepreneurs who attended the conference. I really enjoyed candid stories from people like Mr. Kein, founder of Buffalo Tours, an outfit that offers special interest trips to a few countries in South East Asia. He used to be a medical doctor, but changed his career to tourism 13 yrs ago. Today, he offers services in 4 countries and served 16,000 people last year. I asked him how he came up with such a western name for his travel company. He said he and his friends came up with it while chilling out in front of a bonfire and over drinks; it was the year of the Buffalo, hence our name! Such is how important decisions are often made!
I attended the launch of the Tiger Alliance that is a committee of travel companies from 5 countries including Mongolia. I joked with one of the founders, Mr. Mandip, a legend in the experience travel industry that Experience Bangladesh would be a natural fit to join the alliance since we are after all the land of the royal bengal tigers!
Gopinath Parayil seem to steal the show at WTM in my opinion with a long string of journalists at his heels around the clock. He is a marketing and networking genius who launched his company Blue Yonder 5 years ago at WTM, hence capturing all the media attention like a sponge. WTM felt a sense of pride and commitment to Blue Yonder and their group called the Green Circuit and has “followed up” to measure the progress and support his ventures with a lion’s share of publicity. One thing I noticed about media coverage, if you can get the attention of the first 2 journalists, the others just “appear” as they get wind of a story to cover. Gopi is lauching 6 other ventures by next year and is one of the few people who did not sleep at WTM at all!
My major learning came on the final day when I met a gentleman named Suddhabhrata Deb of Living Roots based in West Bengal. Seem like nothing short of “destiny” to have met him and spending 4hrs of long intense conversation with him at WTM. My hypothesis from the event were validated and sealed when Suddha daa poured out his deep product knowledge about offering “bundled” products/trips for India & Bangladesh as opposed to selling any one destination alone.Stay tuned for exciting developments on this front!
India was by far the largest pavilion and I was surprised to hear the frustration of Indian exhibitors that were outside Delhi, who felt very challenged to market their destination. Who would have thunk!?
I also met a hospitality consultant named Ranga who surprised me by speaking in Bengali when I sarcastically asked him in what language he would like to conduct the meeting! After a long evening, I asked what his perception what of Experience Bangladesh. He simply said, “May the force be with you!” And “dont ever lose that smile”!
Well, Experience Bangladesh is looking forward to WTM 2011 and becoming a regular so that the exhibitors remember us!