As with most events of this kind, there was an often dizzying array of seminars to choose from, people to meet and re-connect with, and information to absorb.
Here is a quick and dirty rundown of what I considered to be the main take-aways, many of which were repeated over the course of the conference.
- Farm to Table Tourism - it's still big and going strong: farmers markets, restaurants with their own veggie and herb gardens, locally sourced everything and seasonal menus.
- The 'Hub and Spoke' idea - integrated tourism regions where the main attraction (i.e.: wine) is the centre of the little universe and other attractions form the spokes. Together, they roll along into a glorious sunset!
- Engage, Engage and then don't forget to Engage a bit more. One of the key words of the conference and also one that appeared in my joint seminar with Jan Smith of Inland Management Group.
- Big Data is here! It knows who you are and what you're doing and, guess what? You don't seem to mind all that much as long as you receive something in return.
- 'Experience Economy'
- The 'Halo Effect' - piggy back onto marketing programs with well known sponsors (the big boys like Amex, Visa and the like). While you contribute you can also bask in their glow.
- Customization/Tailored Experience
- "Customer Service is the New Pillar" (thank you, Paul Mabray)
- Great service plus a willingness to share and educate guests. Visitors are craving information on you region/business. Share with them.
- Technology is the great equalizer.
- Food/Wine Integration - see "Hub and Spoke"
- Bloggers are your friends if you're a Wine Region/Growers Association or any other business that wants to spread the good word.
- Press trips are a great investment but vet the bloggers/writers you invite. Not everyone is the right fit for your profile,
- Visitors want to read about 'honest experiences' and bloggers can deliver that message in spades.
- People like lists - hence this post.