The Travel Convention 2016

The Yas Viceroy in Abu Dhabi plays host to plenty of glamourous events, therefore it made the perfect backdrop for ABTA to host its annual Travel Convention. 

Hundreds of delegates from the UK Travel Industry gathered to spend the 8th – 10th October listening, debating and networking through some of the most important current and upcoming topics facing the industry.

Yas Viceroy - host to ABTA's 2016 Travel Convention

Yas Viceroy – host to ABTA’s 2016 Travel Convention

ABTA’s Chief Executive Mark Tanzer said of this year’s “Time Travel” theme: “It offers us the chance to take stock and debate – and anticipate – the issues that will affect our industry.”

WHA had the opportunity to co-sponsor and co-organise the annual ABTA football game, which is enjoyed by a number of the delegates.  For a full breakdown of this event, including the result please visit our recent blog post.

The Yas Viceroy hosted a car extravaganza and entertainment evening for the convention’s opening night. A number of Formula 4 and performance cars executed stunts before dinner was served, accompanied by a live band.

Musical entertainment on the opening night

Musical entertainment on the opening night

Day 1

The following morning ITV correspondent Chris Ship, who moderated throughout the conference, opened proceedings by inviting Mark Tanzer to the stage. Mark gave his opening words and set the tone for the two days.

What followed was thoroughly enjoyable; Thimon De Jong, leadership trainer and owner of company The Whetsone Group, talked about future human behaviour & social changes brought about by new technology.  The audience were encouraged to not live their lives through Smartphones, to avoid “Phubbing” (or ignoring communication by constantly looking at your phone) and to instead generate creativity by “being bored”.

Other highlights included a hilarious yet insightful presentation by Debbie Marshall who talked about the experiences of the silver traveller and the opportunities available to older customers.   The Convention was also introduced to Mario, The Marriot’s first customer liaison robot, giving an insight into the role Robotics play in the Travel Industry.

Mario with the WHA team

Mario with the WHA team

Later, delegates were given the opportunity to either run or cycle around the infamous Yas Circuit, covering the very same track that Lewis Hamilton and co. will race for the Grand Prix finale on the 25th – 27th November (however, we expect the lap times to be a lot quicker!).

A “Hollywood” themed night awaited the guests upon their return from the circuit.  The party was attended by members of the Abu Dhabi Royal Family and had a number of surprises, none more popular than a special performance by chart topping, international pop star Ronan Keating.

Charter Topper Ronan Keating performing

Charter Topper Ronan Keating performing

Day 2

After the excitement from the previous evening, you may have expected a few delegates to be missing for day two of the convention, but this was not the case.  A full house was anticipating yet another informative day and again they were not disappointed.

During the morning, we heard from Travel 360 director Chris Mottershead and also a very entertaining speech from Derek Jones of Kuoni.

TTG and Travel Weekly were the first to announce mid-morning that Monarch had received further financial backing, securing its licence renewal.  Buoyed by this positive news, moderator Chris Ship revealed that Monarch’s CEO Andrew Swaffield would be flying in to Abu Dhabi especially, to discuss Monarch’s prospects.

When Andrew finally arrived, a packed auditorium listened to his every word.  His message was clear; through an update in fleet and reorganisation of the business, Monarch is looking firmly to the future.

Monarch Chief Andrew Swaffield speaking to the delegates

Monarch Chief Andrew Swaffield speaking to the delegates

A diverse group of talks were held by specialist panellists throughout the afternoon.  These were finally brought to a close by The Telegraph’s guest, multi gold winning medallist Lee Pearson CBE, who discussed how he rose to be world champion despite the obstacles he faced during his life.

After closing remarks from ABTA chairman Noel Josephides, it was disclosed that the 2017 Travel Convention would be hosted in The Azores, Portugal.

The WHA team are looking forward to attending and supporting this key event next year.