Comment: Why the Symposium is a must-attend event

Tourism Society board director Mike Bugsgang gives five reasons why tourism professionals should attend the organisation’s Annual Symposium.

Last year the Tourism Society’s Annual Symposium was held in Edinburgh. It attracted delegates from around the world and proved to be a huge success.

Building on this success, the 2018 Symposium, taking place at the Maritime Greenwich Heritage Site in London (June 4-5), promises to be the best ever.

The programme, based on the theme, ’Changing Times For Tourism’, includes presentations by leading tourism experts, visits to local attractions and networking opportunities.

The Symposium is a must-attend event for tourism professionals and this is why.

1.  Delegates will benefit from sessions featuring leading tourism experts who will present their views on the latest trends and thereby stimulate ideas for businesses to consider moving forward.

Caroline Bremner of Euromonitor will bring the latest intelligence on global tourism trends: where’s hot, where’s not and what’s the latest socio-demographic concern; while Neil Smith of Chinese-owned Knight Dragon Developments will talk about the Greenwich Peninsula, arguably the largest new development London has seen, sitting right alongside a famed World Heritage Site.

Arts Council England chief executive Darren Henley OBE will share his views on the role the arts play in society today while SouthEastern Managing Director, David Stratham will consider the tensions between commuters and leisure trips.

Panel discussions will consider how to maintain local distinctiveness in a marketing environment where visitors are constantly seeking new experiences as well looking at how technological innovation will help achieve this.

Michelle Walker of FESTIVAL.ORG will show how to deliver events involving communities and visitors and Merilee Karr of will explain how the Short-term Accommodation Association sees its role in the tourism mix.

VisitBritain’s director of marketing, Clare Mullen, will provide an update on the promotion of Britain internationally.

Then Geoffrey Lipman, with a career devoted to championing sustainable tourism, a previous assistant secretary general at UNWTO, will join with ABTA’s Nikki White and Explore’s managing director, John Telfor to look at tourism’s impact internationally, climate change and how far sustainable tourism has been mainstreamed.

Angela McConville, chief executive of the host venue, the Old Royal Naval College, will explain the challenges of running a business within a historic World Heritage Site.

2. A choice of Discovery Tours is available on the first day of the Symposium.

For those with a head for heights, there’s a walk over the top of the iconic O2 for a birds-eye view of London and to complete the trip, a ride on the Emirates Airline cable car across the Thames.

Alternatively, delegates can visit Woolwich an area with a rich heritage and observe a new creative district in the making within the former munitions factory. This trip is sure to go with a metaphorical bang.

Last but not least is the opportunity to climb the scaffolding and get up close to the amazing ceiling of the Painted Hall in the Old Royal Naval College while renovation is in progress.

3. The Society’s Annual General Meeting takes place on June 4 at Admiral’s House in the Old Royal Naval College and is followed by an informal summer reception in the nearby Queen Mary Undercroft.

4. The summer reception and the Symposium overall present an ideal forum to network by meeting industry experts, colleagues and new business prospects. This fact was borne out by the post-Symposium delegate questionnaires received following the 2017 event.

5. Interacting by networking with these groups of people can provide dual benefits, firstly, it will keep delegates abreast of competitors’ activities and secondly, motivate them to explore new concepts when returning to their office.