Registration for this year’s Travel Convention, to be held in the Azores on October 9-11, opened this week. Ian Taylor previews Abta’s annual event.
Abta seldom fails to make its Travel Convention pertinent, but this year’s event, six months into the Brexit process, triggered this week, could hardly be more timely.
The convention takes place in The Azores on October 9-11 and the theme, ‘The Next Chapter’, encapsulates a programme which will explore how the industry and individual businesses could develop against the background of political upheaval, security concerns and technological change.
Abta chief executive Mark Tanzer said: “There is so much upheaval. I’m not just talking about Brexit, although we’ll be well into the process of leaving the EU by the convention, so it will be an opportunity to take stock of where we are. The industry will be in a different shape in five years’ time, so the convention will look at what’s coming and how we prepare.”
For example, he said: “How do you make the holiday decision and booking processes as simple and accessible as possible when travel is a complicated product and competition is fierce?”
Recent Travel Conventions have been structured around ‘our world’, ‘our industry’ and ‘your business’, and the 2017 convention will follow this format. Tanzer said: “We’ll take stock of where we are in our world and our industry, and look at what you can learn about business with speakers who can provide particular insights.
“We’ll also talk about the process of innovation.
“Successful innovators often start with failures and I’d like to explore how people innovate.”
The Azores will be a new destination to most delegates, with the convention taking place in the capital Ponta Delgada in Sao Miguel, the largest of the nine islands in the archipelago which were settled by Portugal in the early 16th century and remain Portuguese.
San Miguel is a little more than twice the size of Malta, but has a population of about 140,000.
Tanzer said: “The Azores are a delightful destination. I’d never been and it’s a remarkable place. Sao Miguel provides a lovely setting with real charm.
“I recommend people take more time to experience the Azores if they can. They’re naturally beautiful, but there is also every activity you can imagine.”
He added: “There will be direct flights from Gatwick, so it’s accessible.”
The venue, the Teatro Micaelense, is within a few minutes’ walk of all the convention hotels, with the new five-star Azor Hotel providing the social hub.
ITV newscaster and royal editor Chris Ship will moderate the convention as he did in 2016.
Travel Weekly will once again be the convention’s trade media partner.
Monday, October 9: Welcome party
Tuesday, Oct 10: Opening ceremony, business sessions, host party
Wednesday, Oct 11: Business sessions and farewell
Azores Airlines is offering return flights from Gatwick to Ponta Delgada for £238 economy and £448 business.
Outbound flights depart Gatwick: Sunday, October 8, at 14.00 (arriving 17:00). Monday, October 9, at 07.30 (arriving 10:30)
Return flights from Ponta Delgada: Wednesday, October 11, at 18.15 (arriving 23.00) Thursday, October 12, at 15.10 (arriving 19.55)
Delegates wishing to fly from regional airports or to stay longer may travel via Lisbon, which offers daily flights to Ponta Delgada.
There is a choice of three hotels for early-bird bookings:
Azor Hotel: £86 single, £86 double
Hotel Marina Atlantico: £83 single, £90 double
Royal Garden Hotel: £57 single, £63 double, £79 executive
All rates are per room per night and include buffet breakfast, VAT and bed tax. Bookings in sterling.
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