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Annual Tourism Conference launched

The 5th annual Westcountry Tourism Conference has been confirmed for 10th and 11th February at the Westpoint Arena in East Devon.

The event has grown each year and in 2015 saw over 200 delegates, making it the region’s premier tourism industry conference.  The 2016 conference builds on past success, with the event again running over 2 consecutive mornings, each with a different theme. The 10th Feb will focus on ‘Managing & Developing Your Business’ and 11th Feb on ‘Marketing, Digital & PR’.

Conference organiser Robin Barker, Director of Services for Tourism and Chairman of Tourism Society Westcountry, said “Tourism never stands still, and neither must businesses in the South West. The conference is intended to help businesses stay at the cutting edge, whether in their marketing, customer service, profitability or development.  Last year’s event achieved a 98% rating from delegates, with 100% rating it good value; this year we’re aiming for even better!”

Wednesday’s speakers will include Tom Ross of the Pig Hotel, one of England’s most innovative hotel groups, as well as from Maggie Watson of Wheatland Farm and Charlie & Julia Hutchings of Larkbeare Grange – both of them award-winning tourism businesses.  There will be an update on Consumer Trends from Sharon Orrell, VisitEngland’s Head of Research and Insights, on the changing face of Holiday Parks from Luke Hansford of Hoseasons, whilst Deborah Heather from Quality in Tourism will share information on Accommodation Trends.  There will also be sessions on Employment Law, the Living Wage, Fire Protection, Healthy Heat, Excellence in Customer Service, Business Insights, Buying & Selling Property and Water Retail.

Thursday will focus on the ever-changing world of Marketing, PR and Digital, with Clockwork Marketing’s Stuart Devlin headlining on ‘How to Stand Out in a Crowded Market’.  Tripadvisor’s Justin Reid will tell delegates ‘How the World Views the West Country’, and there will be a session on online booking with speakers from Booking.com and Fairbookinguk.com.  Victoria Hatfield will give an update on the ‘New Visit Devon’, whilst Soundview and Blinkback will share tips on the use of Video.  ‘Digital Megatrends’ and ‘Blogging’ will also be featured, with Tom Moore of Stephens Scown sharing tips on staying the right side of the law.

The Conference is sponsored by Clockwork Marketing and Stephens Scown and is hosted by Expowest Exhibitions as part of the Source Trade Show at Westpoint.

Richard Baker, partner and head of the parks sector at Stephens Scown said “We are proud to be one of the headline sponsors of the Westcountry Tourism Conference again this year. With lots of changes affecting businesses such as living wage, Consumer Rights and Data Protection, delegates will really benefit from the range of tourism experts at what will be a very informative conference.”

Clare Bushby, Managing Director of Clockwork Marketing commented: “We are committed to supporting tourism, particularly in the South West and have enjoyed being involved in the West Country Tourism Conference, as it has gone from strength to strength. The calibre of speakers presenting at the event is of a very high standard and the subjects covered provide tourism businesses with a comprehensive overview of changing trends within the hospitality industry, indeed attending this event is an exceptional way to keep on top of what is important.”

Places at the conference are just £20 + VAT per day for members of partner organisations and £30 for non-members.  Refreshments and a sandwich lunch are included.

Full details and online booking is at www.westcountrytourismconference.org.uk  and @WCTConf on Twitter.