Benidorm goes to London!
The WTM – World Travel Market is a huge deal for the travel industry.
It is one of the world’s biggest trade shows held at the ExCel centre in London every November so this year I decided to hop over on a cheapish Ryanair flight that I managed to book… little was I to know that getting there and back from Gatwick would actually cost almost as much as the airfare!
Southern train to London Bridge, change onto Jubilee line then again onto DLR. By the time I eventually arrived I was more than gasping for an overpriced Styrofoam cup of watery coffee – not a patch on a proper Spanish ‘Café con leche’ which I have got used to.
Obviously once you arrive at the ExCel centre you are a captive audience, so if in need of food or drink then held to ransom. It’s a little bit like when you are at the airport or on a plane – you want it then you pay the price we charge!
I wasn’t too sure what to ex- pect but had heard that the Valencian Community stand was much bigger this year and that Benidorm was very prominent, so excited at that prospect. Sometimes just imagining it is actually far better is all I will say on the matter!
A trade show has a completely different objective to one where the general public go to such as Ideal Home Exhibition, where they are trying to sell you something.
Tour operators, travel agents, hotel groups are all there looking to secure new contracts or just meet face to face. I saw Ian Doubtfire, Managing Director of Jet2.com who have a big share of the Benidorm market in talks with Antonio Mayor, President of HOSBEC, the hoteliers Association and Leire Bilbao, Head of Visit Benidorm. César Sánchez, Head of the Alicante Provincial Government was present and gave a speech (in Spanish – so obviously only those on the stand could understand and even listened, but they already knew what he was talking about so nothing new to them) about the 74th Vuelta a España bike race next year, which will be starting from La Salinas de Torrevieja in the south of the province, then stage 2 and 3 will also stay on the Costa Blanca.
The stand wasn’t at all exciting – a few illuminated images from each part of the region. Benidorm’s had the Villa Aitana golf resort with the imposing gold Intempo building in the background and a plinth with booklets and that was it.
Nothing to attract attention or draw prospective clients in curious about Benidorm.
It would have been great to have say a couple of girls from Benidorm Palace with all their feathers or one of the many flamboyant drag queens promoting Pride, especially as Visit Benidorm are actively promoting the LGBT community.
I’m sure that there were specialist LGBT friendly tour operators looking for new destinations – Sitges, up by Barcelona is already a big destination but had Benidorm been actively promoting it maybe the Russian market would have shown some interest.
With direct flights now coming in from Moscow etc and the unknown of how Brexit will end up affecting the British market, they need to look elsewhere.
Many regions of Spain had such vibrant stands – Balearic Islands, Andalucía and Cataluña which aroused people’s appetites and feel that we, as a region, really missed the boat and possibly a new opportunity. The Canary Islands next door were giving out fresh juice – which obviously I joined… be rude not to!
The Americas and Asia area by comparison were mind blowing – multi screens projecting footage of events, music – the Costa Rica stand was even transformed into a tropical rainforest, the Middle East a top of the range grand prix sports car, Sri Lanka had dancers dressed in national costume… it really made any passers-by stop and take look.
It’s a shop window and if your display is attractive it will bring in the punters!
Bizarrely, even Chernobyl in Ukraine was there, promoting a nuclear tour – it’s where the world’s worse nuclear catastrophe occurred in April 1986 in what was then part of the Soviet Union and still a no-go zone and consequences still being felt.
Maybe if we stopped spending so much money on ‘mascletàs’, the noisy firecrackers let off on each day of any fiesta in the middle of the day, then there would be money for promoting the resort properly – but then that’s just my humble opinion!