Anyone who followed my Twitter stream yesterday saw a proliferation of posts with #WITOZ. The hashtag stood for Web In Travel, a normally Singapore-based conference that had its Australian debut in a ballroom of the Shangri-La. The all-day event gathered more than 100 leaders from the travel industry and focused on marketing to the new traveler in Asia.
I got the chance to live-tweet the entire day with a few others after winning a contest last week. Overall, it was an exciting experience and one that got me out of the house by 7:30 and dressed in business attire for the first time in a while. The content and organization could have been better in some areas, however.
The Tweeting Experience
I loved live-tweeting. It was frenetic and reminded me of quickly taking notes as a newspaper reporter. It was a change of pace for me and I loved finding creative and enticing ways to share the bits of knowledge from the speakers and engage with followers.
Several speakers shared relevant data and statistics along with thoughts on future trends and how to maximize them. Stand-out presentations included Sandra Chipcase’s saucy “Victoria’s Secrets,” which covered how the Melbourne Convention & Visitors Bureau is making visits to Australia culturally-relevant for Asian business travelers. Ian Cumming, web entrepreneur and developer of GetFlight and Travellr, and Timothy Hughes, from The Business of Online Travel, also gave a good overview of web travel start-ups and what they’re doing well.
The Not So Good
The conference could have focused more on younger and/or budget Asian travelers. Their online habits were touched upon, but more on their interests, vacation preferences and behaviors would have helped. Some guests even argued that social media wasn’t completely relevant in travel, with one speaker saying Facebook would soon die once users finally “got lives.” Some Twitter users following the conference expressed shock when another panelist said it was more important to invest in a web site over a Facebook page. Also, there was little discussion of bloggers’ roles in influencing travel on the web.
Yeoh Siew Hoon, editor of Shy Ventures, was a good moderator, with the necessary feistiness and forwardness to ask pertinent questions of the industry leaders. The problem: some panelists refused to answer inquiries pertaining to costs, data and future travel predictions. Others spewed confusing statistics or simply boasted about how well their businesses or companies were doing.
The Networking Takeaway
The only times people could network were during lunch and coffee breaks — there were no break-out sessions. An exhibit hall or table or other common place for people to mingle and learn about each other would have been helpful.
The networking bonus for me came from the new Twitter connections I made. I normally get a few new followers each day, but the day of the conference, I got between 20 and 30. I also got to engage with some new people while I was live-tweeting.
What did you learn from the conference, either in person or via Twitter, and what do you want to hear more about at the next one?