This article was previously published on The Social Travel Summit website.
The Social Travel Summit 2016 took place in Inverness, Gateway to the Scottish Highlands between 19-21 September. This year, 110 delegates from 25 countries, including 48 top travel influencers from around the world, arrived in Inverness for three days of learning, brainstorming, networking and fun!
#STSInverness began with tours of the Inverness-Loch Ness region for all delegates and an opening reception at the iconic Hootananny pub in Inverness. Keith Jenkins, CEO of iambassador and Chief Organiser of STS, and Graeme Ambrose, CEO of Visit Inverness-Loch Ness (sponsor of the opening reception), welcomed the delegates before kicking-off an evening of Scottish food and drinks, poetry, networking, music and dance!
The STS Inverness conference
The conference commenced the following day at the Kingsmills Hotel with a welcome speech by Robin Johnson, Marketing Director of VisitBritain, and the opening keynote by Doug Lansky on “The Future of Travel Media and Travel Marketing”.
Over the course of the day, the delegates engaged in thought-provoking discussions about the future of digital marketing and ways in which influencers and the tourism industry can work together more effectively in the STS Think Tank, which was moderated by Peter Jordan (Toposophy); picked up excellent pointers from Erik van Erp on SEO (AroundtheGlobe.nl); and listened to Jackie Fast (Slingshot Sponsorship) on the importance of sponsorship and how to pick the right partners.
During the Industry-to-Industry session, DMOs and brands had an open discussion on issues facing them such as convincing management of online value and leveraging assets influencers create. The influencers had their own session during which they learned from their peers on subjects such as building a team, making a sale, working with an agent and creating passive income streams.
In between, the delegates tucked into a delicious lunch in the garden and surprise treats during the coffee breaks. Fun quizzes in between sessions provided for light entertainment and lots of laughs.
The first conference day concluded with an insightful discussion with panelists David Johnstone from After Digital and Jonah Jones from facebook on “The Future of Search – How People will Engage”. The delegates were then driven to the beautiful Achnagairn Castle for the STS Gala Dinner, sponsored by VisitBritain and VisitScotland, where they were welcomed by bagpipers. It was a magical evening with a sumptuous three-course dinner, story-telling, gin and cheese-tasting, a fashion show and dancing!
The second conference day kicked off with an excellent keynote by Richard Millington (FeverBee) on “The Real Value of Communities and How to Manage Them”. This was followed by workshops on various social media channels and an influencer panel on “How to Get the Absolute Best Out of Bloggers”. In another session, Nicholas Montemaggi (iambassador) and Steve Keenan (Travel Perspective) spoke about innovative travel marketing ideas and concepts.
After another wonderful lunch, the influencers picked up great insider tips on how to drive revenue through affiliate marketing, whilst the industry delegates listened to a case-study on a collaborative project by trivago. This was followed by a coffee break with whisky ice-cream and a report by Peter Jordan summing up the discussions at the Think Tank.
STS Inverness ended on a fun, thought-provoking note with The Social Maze, a game unique to STS, in which panelists shared their views on social media trends in a hilarious fashion.
The closing reception, sponsored by iambassador, was held on a boat: a leisurely cruise on the mysterious Loch Ness. Musicians brought delegates to their feet and soon everyone was dancing on the boat!
The Social Travel Summit was once again THE platform for the tourism industry and travel influencers to meet, network, learn, discuss and shape the future of online travel marketing. This year, Scottish culture and hospitality took centre-stage and resulted in arguably the most memorable STS ever!
Note: all images above were provided by Peter Parkorr, unless otherwise stated.
Social media coverage
#STSInverness generated approximately 50 million ‘opportunities-to-see’ across Twitter, Facebook and Instagram (source: Brandseye.com, period: 16-26 Sept. 2016), with a reach of 4.3 million Twitter accounts alone. This equals an advertising value of almost EUR 700 thousand (source: Brandseye.com). So far, 166 photos and videos tagged with #STSInverness have been shared on facebook, and 283 on Instagram. The hashtag #STSInverness was trending on Twitter in the United Kingdom on both conference days.
STS Inverness also made it into the local paper: The Inverness Courier:
The STS post-conference survey among the delegates showed overwhelming enthusiasm for the conference, with delegates giving STS Inverness an average score of 4.7 out of 5!
110 delegates from 25 countries, from as far away as China, Australia, Brazil, India, UAE, USA and Canada left Inverness not before tweeting or posting on facebook about their experiences at STS Inverness. Here is a selection of what they said:
Wonderful last day in beautiful Inverness today. Thanks to @i_ambassador @VisitBritain and everyone at #STSInverness for a great conference. pic.twitter.com/cPpFKJBvSY
— Mariellen Ward (@Breathedreamgo) September 22, 2016
Thank you @i_ambassador & all of the other event organizers for putting on a great #STSInverness! You’ve definitely raised the bar again 🙂 pic.twitter.com/wb4NVra8HO
— Nomadic Samuel (@NomadicSamuel) September 22, 2016
Back from my 1st #STSInverness & it was such a great experience. Thanks to everyone (especially @velvetescape ) who made this so special. ?
— Denise Böhm (@bhm_d) September 22, 2016
Leaving #Scotland after a few fantastic days at #STSInverness Thanks for a great conference @i_ambassador pic.twitter.com/LXyvIaGhIz
— Janicke Hansen (@janicke_hansen) September 22, 2016
Great insights on building a community, affiliate marketing and growing social media engagement at #STSinverness ; so many ideas to work on!
— Shivya Nath (@shivya) September 22, 2016
Thanks @i_ambassador for organising a fantastic, fun and inspiring conference #STSInverness, it’s been a blast #OMGB pic.twitter.com/zsXLXB2SvV
— Kathrine Gustavussen (@kathrine_lind) September 21, 2016
Sad it’s all over, amazing few days and met some great people. Safe travels everyone!! #STSInverness @AfterDigitalUK @i_ambassador pic.twitter.com/XkB1k3aa4m
— David Johnstone (@juniorjojo) September 21, 2016
#STSInverness is already over!?!? Thank you for these 2 eventful days ?????? pic.twitter.com/gOMqI8fFVt
— Valentina Cavalli (@_cheffa_) September 21, 2016
A BIG THANK YOU TO OUR SUPPORTERS!