This year’s theme of Abta’s Travel Convention was “risk and resilience” which, as Abta’s chairman Noel Josephides highlighted, was apt for this year’s hosts Greece given its government and its people would have to continue to show such attributes as it battles its current economic issues.
The backdrop for this year’s convention was truly stunning. Held at Greece’s largest resort, The Westin in the Costa Navarino region of the Peloponnese, showcases the region as a desirable destination for the UK traveller; one which it’s rich in heritage, history and beauty.
Leading up to the two day conference, just over 30 delegates took part in the annual charity football match. WHA co-organises this event in aid of Abta’s superb charity Abta Lifeline, which provides much needed help for those within the industry who have fallen on hard times. This year’s pledge was to raise £15,000 for Charlie, a young boy struggling with bilateral vocal chord palsy, a condition that results in the paralysis of the vocal chords.
The charity football match is designed to contribute to the pledge for funds. WHA were pitted against a special charity team representing Abta Lifeline.
Although a charity football game, it was still highly competitive, with both sides trying to capture the sort after “F’Abta cup”. After a rousing team talk and team huddle the hard fought game finished 1-0 to WHA, after Tom Dunkley of World Travellers UK scored the decisive winner.
WHA would like thank all who took part to make this an enjoyable start to an excellent convention. By the end of the convention, ABTA Lifeline raised more than £16,350 for Charlie which will make a world of difference for him. Well done Trudie and the team at Abta lifeline!
As for the convention itself, after a lavish opening party at Pylos town, it was down to business for the first day.
Four time moderator Daisy McAndrew started proceedings by welcoming to the stage Justin Urquhart, who provided an economist’s weather report which was lively, upbeat and gave a positive outlook for the UK Travel Industry.
This was followed by Professor Ian Goldin who spoke about the risks of the future technological advancements as well as the pitfalls of dealing with an increased and ageing population.
After a noon break, we heard much about the emerging “sharing industry”. A mere concept a few years ago we were told by Debbie Wosskow of Love Home Swap, and Richard Laughton of Easy Car, that integration with UK agents would be inevitable. We were told to embrace this new niche industry rather than merely reject it as a “flash in the pan”. It seems that the Sharing Economy is here to stay.
The last session was sponsored by Travel Weekly and moderated by editor in chief Lucy Huxley. This session highlighted the opportunities open to the travel industry in countries such as China. Monarch’s Andrew Swaffield told the packed room that he predicts a spike in mergers and acquisitions within aviation in the coming year.
This day started with a quirky, lively presentation by Professor Eddie Obeng, helping us to see that order and calm can come out of chaos, and that we must engage the consumer in this new information/social age.
The audience was then invited to join “breakout sessions”, which covered a wide range of relevant subjects. Travel Weekly hosted a session which elaborated on the theme “Entering a New Generation for Cruising” which dealt with the need to accommodate an increased demand for bespoke cruises and growth in this important travel sector.
Another session with the theme “Personalised Dynamic Marketing” was hosted by Victoria Bacon. In this session, we learnt about how to engage the consumer by a marketing campaign and the benefits of “Programmatic” Marketing.
After networking during the lunch break, we were presented with the Telegraph’s mystery guest, England ex professional and World Cup winner Josh Lewsey who gave us information regarding his new role as Head of Wales Rugby and highlighted the importance of good leadership when running a business.
After closing comments by ABTA chairman Noel Josephides we were told of next year’s hosts Abu Dhabi.
We look forward to seeing everyone next year, where we hope more will be considered to the new Package Travel Directive rules and regulations which come into force in 2017.