Meridian Club Think Tank for senior buyers proves a great success

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World Travel Market (WTM), the premier global event for the travel industry, last week launched its first executive Think Tank program for senior buyers in its Meridian Club.

National and regional tourism boards should pay more attention to sports tourism, according to the meeting, which was held at The Luxe restaurant in east London on Thursday, June 3.

Around a dozen executives, from small independents to established mainstream operators, agreed that public- and private-sector tourism bodies needed to be more proactive in identifying events and activities, which would attract visitors and promote their destination to a wider audience.

Events such as the FIFA World Cup, the Olympics and Paralympics Games, and The Ashes are established travel products. However, there are national and regional championships for all sports, and it was felt that the market for hosting specialist and niche events was currently underestimated by governments and tourist boards.

Increasingly, organizers of high-profile events control the supply and pricing for tickets, making it difficult for businesses to offer consumers a competitive price and retain a margin. Commitments on tickets and hotels need to be made upfront, which has a negative effect on cash flow.

Tickets to smaller events, from lawn bowls and netball to wrestling and darts, are easier to access. Operators can package watching the event with other excursions and tourism products, giving travelers’ value for money and a memorable experience, while also satisfying their own bottom-line requirements.
A sports marketing specialist said that the return on investment for a country or region hosting and promoting a niche event would be greater than spending the budget on a generic campaign.

The sports tourism sector also covers participation, where visitors take part in their chosen activity rather than watch. This is another area where tourist boards can help the industry, while helping their region. A golf breaks specialist felt that regional tourist boards were more supportive than national ones.

Professional coaching was identified as one area where operators can generate margins, because it is more difficult for customers to book this type of break themselves. It was pointed out that the overall size of the sports tourism market was difficult to judge because so many people book independently.

Fiona Jeffrey, chairman of World Travel Market, attended the Think Tank. She said, “World Travel Market is the premier global event for business, and this discussion has really opened our eyes to the scale and complexity of the sports tourism market and what we can do to help operators and destinations exploit this vast opportunity.”

The meeting heralded the start of a new initiative from World Travel Market. It is launching a year-round executive Think Tank program for senior buyers in its Meridian Club.

Mark Jakobsen, Meridian Club marketing manager, said: “Meridian Club buyers want the latest product and trends to help inform their purchasing decisions. We are confident that our Think Tank project will contribute greatly to this.”


World Travel Market, the premier global event for the travel industry, is the must-attend, four-day, business-to-business exhibition for the worldwide travel and tourism industry.

Almost 46,000 senior travel industry professionals, government ministers, and international press, embark on ExCeL-London every November to network, negotiate, and discover the latest industry opinion and trends at WTM.
WTM, which celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2009, is the event where the travel industry conducts and concludes its deals.

WTM is owned by the world’s leading events organizer Reed Exhibitions (RE), which organizes a portfolio of other travel industry events including Arabian Travel Market and International Luxury Travel Market.

RE holds more than 500 events in 38 countries throughout Americas, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia Pacific covering 47 industry sectors including aerospace and aviation, healthcare, manufacturing, and sport and recreation.

In 2008 RE, part of the Reed Elsevier group, brought together more than six million industry professionals from around the world generating billions of dollars in business.

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Editor in chief is Linda Hohnholz.