World Travel Market (WTM), the leading global event for the travel industry, will this year be celebrating the 21st anniversary of WTM Meridian Club.
WTM Meridian Club – the leading global business network: making contacts, concluding deals – is World Travel Market’s business club for senior travel industry buyers, who have direct responsibility for purchasing products.
WTM first opened its doors to Meridian Club members back in 1992, the year Bill Clinton became US President, Euro Disney opened in France, McDonald’s opened its first restaurant in Beijing, and the year Turkey experienced one of the most destroying earthquakes of all time.
Below are 21 facts, you may or may not know about World Travel Market’s Meridian Club:
1. World Travel Market 1992 saw the creation and implementation of the first unique international buyers club, WTM Meridian Club. 1992 was also the year that WTM moved from Olympia to Earls Court due to its increasing popularity and need for more floor space, later moving to London’s largest exhibition venue, ExCeL, London in 2002.
2. WTM Meridian Club attracted almost 7,000 (6,907) members in its first year.
3. Almost 230,000 (229,803) visitors have entered the doors to WTM as Meridian Club members over the past 20 years.
4. World Travel Market 2011 generated £1,653,729,318 million of deals, which was an impressive 16 percent increase on the 2010 figure (£1,425 million). This was generated either through contracts signed at the event or from negotiations with Meridian Club members, which will lead to deals before WTM 2012.
5. WTM 2010 had previously seen a 25 percent increase on WTM 2009’s figure of £1,139 million worth of business deals generated.
6. In the first year of Meridian Club, the opening day of the event was reserved for Meridian Club members. This exclusivity restricted the attendance but allowed these key buyers the opportunity and the time to sit quietly and have quality time with exhibitors with whom they wished to do business.
7. The Meridian Club initiative was so successful that after 4 years of the “buyers only” first day, it was expanded to the first 2 days in 1996.
8. Tom Nutley, WTM Exhibition Director, (1985 to 1992) introduced the Meridian Club initiative, and shortly after was made Chairman of Reed Travel Exhibitions.
9. Tom Nutley explained, “Creating this club for the buyers allowed us to differentiate between the visitors who wished to have serious on-site meetings and those visitors who were primarily seeking information.”
10. Today WTM Meridian Club – the leading global business network: making contacts, concluding deals – runs a number of events during World Travel Market, providing a platform for its members to meet, network, and discuss business opportunities. No longer aimed at just the first 2 days of the event, Meridian Club members are encouraged to attend throughout the exhibition.
11. The events include Speed Networking, which gives Meridian Club members the ideal opportunity to meet exhibitors through a series of short and targeted meetings, with the objective of arranging further meetings and potentially concluding a deal before the end of the event.
12. Speed Networking, launched in 2009, started off as 5 sessions – based around the regions of the exhibition floor – throughout the first day. Last year, WTM overhauled the Speed Networking session, holding it in one room before the exhibition opened, giving even more time for buyers and exhibitors to conclude deals. This proved to be extremely successful.
13. 2002 saw the most ever Meridian Club members attend WTM with a whopping 13,267 members.
14. Meridian Club was introduced to fellow Reed Travel Exhibitions event Arabian Travel Market 10 years ago. This is now known as the ATM Buyers’ Club and works similarly to WTM Meridian Club.
15. The Meridian Club lounges have been located in various areas of the exhibition hall over the past 21 years. Since 2009, the exhibition floor has hosted the exclusive lounges, which facilitate meetings and offer free hospitality and refreshments.
16. Meridian Club members are eligible to receive up to a total of £1,217 in free benefits as part of Meridian Club.
17. In 2010, WTM launched a series of Think Tanks, specifically for Meridian Club Buyers, which took place throughout the year helping to bring the industry together and discuss the issues affecting their business.
18. 115 countries are represented by the buyers in WTM Meridian Club. Six out of 10 Meridian Club attendees (57 percent) attend WTM with a budget of almost £315,000 ($500,000).
19. WTM business is the official magazine for the influential Meridian Club; this is published every year for World Travel Market.
20. This year for the Meridian Club’s 21st anniversary celebration, an exclusive party will be taking place in the Meridian Club lounge.
21. Fiona Jeffery OBE, Chairman, World Travel Market, was Marketing Director at the time Meridian Club was launched back in 1992 and responsible for making the buyers club a success. Jeffery explained: “It was a risk, but intended to improve the quality of visitors attending the show and encourage more effective business by creating a more business-focused environment.
“Over the years, the Meridian Club initiative has paid off, and we still have Meridian Club buyers identified at the event coming to do business and appreciating the services offered.
“This year, we have a great opportunity to celebrate the last 21 years of doing business and anticipate the biggest and best WTM yet.”