The travel industry is an ever-evolving landscape, driven by technological advancements, changing consumer preferences, and global events. Attending conferences can be an invaluable way to stay updated, network with industry professionals, and gain insights that can help shape your business strategies. With a new conference every week, how do you decide which ones are worth your time and investment?
1. Define Your Goals:
Before you dive into the conference selection process, outline your objectives. Are you seeking inspiration for innovative marketing strategy? Do you want to stay updated on emerging trends? Are you hoping to build meaningful partnerships?
If your goal is to clarify your goals during the conference, some great options are Destinations International Business Operations Summit or a more localized statewide option like Texas Association of Convention & Visitor Bureaus’ Annual Conference. Both events will allow you to focus on your DMO strategy, it is just a matter of strategizing on either a national or regional scale.
Do a deep dive on the agenda subjects and the experts that have been asked to speak. A well-rounded agenda with a strong lineup of speakers is indicative of a conference that attracts influential individuals who can provide valuable insights and perspectives. U.S. Travel Association’s ESTO is a conference that consistently has a great docket every year. Keep an eye out for who they plan on having next!
3. Networking Opportunities:
One of the primary benefits of attending conferences is networking. Look for events that facilitate networking through organized sessions, social events, and dedicated networking areas. For example, Travel and Tourism Research Association’s Annual International Conference will connect you to people that are excited to explore trends and developments on a global scale. A conference that encourages meaningful connections can greatly enhance your experience, such as eTourism Summit which brings industry players from all levels together to prioritizing peer-to-peer interaction. If you are part of a DMO leadership team you can meet with other leaders and top industry suppliers at the selective Connect eTourism, a summit of 100 indiviuals looking to the future of tourism marketing. All of these events will provide plenty of interesting folks to add to your circle.
4. Cost vs. Value:
The cost adds up quickly when attending conferences. Evaluate the cost of attending the conference in relation to the value it can provide. Keep in mind, ROI is almost completely qualitative in this case! Southeast Tourism Society’s Annual Conference provides a balanced agenda of topics affecting regional and national tourism. Crowdriff’s SEE event focuses on harnessing technology to increase your DMO’s storytelling capabilities. Both of these conferences are providing a lot for the cost of admission.
5. Industry Alignment:
Most travel industry conferences align with DMOs at least in some way, so it is important to attend the ones that align most with your needs as an organization. Zartio’s Zarticon educates attendees on the new and exciting ways they can use the data that DMOs passively collect. Hubspot’s INBOUND conference has the goal of bringing people together to share how they use the product in creative and innovative ways. Attendees are also the first to know about future plans that are in the works at Hubspot. Take advantage of the awesome learning opportunities many conferences provide!
There are enough travel industry conferences that it’s hard to go wrong. The biggest thing to consider is which ones get you most excited about your work, and don’t forget to have fun along the way!