BTTS: Merlin speaker to reveal creative secrets

Justin East, senior creative director of innovation at Merlin Entertainments, will host a keynote session called ‘fun = future2’ at the British Tourism & Travel Show (March 21-22).

He has handled the creative side of Merlin projects such as Legoland Discovery Centres, Derren Brown’s Ghost Train at Thorpe Park, and Little Big City in Berlin.

His session will start at 11.30am on the first day of the show (March 21), and he will examine innovation in the attraction industry, and how it comes from “people who are engaged, relaxed and enjoy having fun”.

Visiting travel and tourism professionals will gain first-hand knowledge of what it takes to operate successful world-class attractions, say organisers of the event at Birmingham’s NEC.

East said: “I hope people will take away from the session that they should relax when they’re talking about creativity, and not be inhibited.

“Start a vision – then lead the creative team towards that vision.

“It’s a crazy job, but you’ve just got to keep headspace for thinking, and not be embarrassed to make suggestions.”

Other keynote speakers include Google UK’s industry head of travel, Ruairidh Roberts; Andy Headington, chief executive of digital marketing agency Adido; and Max Sinclair, founder of Eco Companion.

There will also be panel sessions with the Association of Group Travel Organisers (Agto) about ‘The Changing Face of Group Travel’ and the annual ‘Tourism Question Time’ chaired by Bernard Donoghue, director of the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions (Alva).