The first Social Travel Forum (STF) was held in the Austrian city of Graz on Wednesday, May 22nd 2019. STF was born from discussions in previous years at the Social Travel Summit Think Tank where delegates (DMO’s, content creators and influencers) are given the task of brainstorming solutions for issues pertaining to digital destination marketing and publishing. Past discussions at the STS Think Tank include:

  • tackling overtourism
  • transparency and ethics
  • internal structures of DMOs and maximising budgets
  • the value of bloggers beyond stats
  • planning the perfect travel blogger itineraries
  • how to choose the right blogger

At iambassador, we felt that a set of visionary principles should be created to guide future relationships between content creators and DMO’s/travel brands. This is the primary objective of the Social Travel Forum and the first edition was hosted by Graz Tourismus, a testament to the DMO’s progressive approach to destination marketing and management.


The Social Travel Forum Graz participants (from left to right): Gemma Suner (Costa Brava Tourism), Becki Enright (Borders of Adventure), Keith Jenkins (iambassador/Velvet Escape), Peter Jordan, Susanne Hoeller (Graz Tourism), Melvin Boecher (iambassador/Traveldudes), Adeline Gressin (Voyagesetc), Nicholas Montemaggi (representing Emilia Romagna Tourism), Shivya Nath (The Shooting Star) and Manuela Moertenbaeck (Tirol Tourism).

Ten delegates, comprised of content creators and European DMO’s, from seven countries were specially invited to Graz to discuss two pertinent issues: authentic content creation and destination marketing and management in the context of sustainable tourism. The discussions were facilitated and moderated by Peter Jordan, a destination marketing and management consultant.

Roundtable discussion at STF Graz, facilitated by Peter Jordan.

Defining authentic content at STF Graz.

The evolution of DMOs according to Peter Jordan.

A programme consisting of brainstorming sessions, debates and role play was created by iambassador and Peter Jordan as a framework for the discussions. Among the subjects debated were:

  • The growth of staged content and how it influences the way people travel

  • ‘How to influence the influencers’ with the goal of promoting responsible traveller behaviour

  • The present and future of DMOs and how they can best serve the destinations around them

  • The role of travel bloggers and content creators in the future of destination management and marketing.

Peter Jordan expertly introduced discussion points.

Participants were given the task of playing different roles to facilitate a debate.

The STF participants were treated to a walking tour of the city after an intensive day.

A big thank you goes to Graz Tourismus for being a wonderful host, Peter Jordan for brilliantly facilitating the discussions, and to the participants who shared their thoughts, ideas and experience at STF!

The STF Graz report containing the topics, discussions, recommendations and guiding principles will be published in June, and will be available as a free download. This report will also form the basis of more tactical discussions at the upcoming Social Travel Summit in Ravenna, Italy, in September 2019.