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Published on Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Delegate who paid thousands to attend WTM Virtual demands refund

At least one exhibitor at this year's WTM Virtual was asking for a refund after claiming that the online event did not live up to its promise.

Others say they are considering requesting full or partial refunds due to IT failures, lost meetings and poor sound quality.

Suzy Trott, left, of the US and Caribbean hotel representation company SilvaLining said WTM organisers Reed had not fulfilled their contract. "They were supposed provide an online virtual trade show - it didn't happen."

Others complained that the WTM website crashed on the first two out of three afternoons, which coincided with the start of the working day in the US.

When they alerted the show organiser, they say they weren't given any support.

"I paid a significant amount of money and it worked for a few hours in the morning but I alerted WTM at 2:38pm on Tuesday to say the system had crashed and they replied 'working just fine - perhaps refresh your page'," said Suzy.

As a result of the apparent IT failure, she said she had to shift remaining appointments that should have taken place on the WTM platform to Zoom and Teams. "I also had to coordinate my colleagues in the US and Caribbean to get them to flip over to other portals, which is not as easy as it sounds."

She said that as a result she had given up on the site and cancelled all her meetings on the WTM portal. "I certainly didn't sign up and pay Reed to conduct my meetings on Zoom," she added. Suzy says she will request a refund.

WTM London was held online for the first time this year, due to the pandemic. It is normally held at the city's Excel exhibition centre, which was turned into one of the country's Nightingale Hospitals to treat patients with coronavirus.

Yolanda Fletcher, Managing Director of Cellet Marketing and Public Relations, said she and her client Pure Michigan were also considering asking for a full or partial refund of their $2000 fee.

"The platform was a nightmare ... the sound quality was terrible and totally distorted," she said.

"The whole platform crashed on Monday and then again on Tuesday. As an exhibitor our client Pure Michigan paid to participate at the event. The technology clearly was inferior and not up to the job."

Yolanda said the poor quality of the equipment used by WTM fell into the 'not fit for purpose' refund policy for the exhibitor.

"We took more than half of our meetings off the platform onto Zoom, it wasted time, looked unprofessional and at times very frustrating," she added.

Delegates given a bonus day for meetings

WTM Virtual announced this afternoon that it had added an extra day of meeting tomorrow due to the 'huge success across the past three days and the high volume of meeting requests'.

The platform will be open from 9am to 9pm GMT with no need to register. Visitors can also watch any of the conference sessions on demand from earlier in the week.

However, one exhibitor said he'd found the whole process of attending the three-day event 'tedious and time consuming'.

"The WTM platform has had so many issues right from the start," he said. "The initial exhibitor portal didn't talk to the virtual portal and much time was taken up trying to resolve the issues we had at that time."

He said the search function was poor as, for example, journalists were just listed as freelance without their names so it was difficult to find them, and the once meeting requests expired there was no option to send follow-up messages.

"As far as the actual meetings were concerned, we lost some meetings on Monday afternoon. A number were re-arranged using Zoom, Teams or Facetime," he added.

"Yesterday afternoon there were also a few issues and again zoom was used as an alternative.
As far as today was concerned we changed any meetings we had to our own Zoom platform to allay any issues that may or may not have occurred today."

We asked WTM to respond to the criticism. In response to complaints made on Monday, a spokesperson said any missed meetings would be rescheduled.


By Linsey McNeill, Editor (UK)

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