Essential to attracting visitors and increasing sales is creating a positive visitor experience at all points on the customer journey.
Visit Wales have set the scene developing the Wales Brand and the thematic years approach. Regionally we have built on this, refining the #RealMidWales message to resonate with the Mid Wales target market.
The focus for the 2019 tourism conference was to explore how individual businesses, communities and organisations can build on the established Wales & Mid Wales identity, translating brand awareness into action, and hear from insider experts sharing ideas to help convert ‘Lookers to Bookers’.
Irene Roberts - Expedia Group - Director Market Management UK and Ireland
Presentation: UK Travel Trends and The Power of Guest Engagement
Irene Roberts is responsible for leading the team of local experts developing relationships with our hotel partners in the UK & Ireland for Expedia Group. With almost 20 years’ experience of working in the tourism and travel industry, Irene is an expert at working across multiple markets to ensure we are driving the best results through the continued roll out of new technology and tools to our existing hotel partners.
Starting her Expedia career in 2007 as a market manager for Scotland, Irene was promoted to area market manager for the UK, followed by UK & Ireland, and then to director for London.
Prior to Expedia, Irene worked at TUI Travel in both product and commercial roles. She holds a Master’s degree in Geography from the University of Aberdeen.
Expedia Group is the world’s travel platform. We help knock down the barriers to travel, making it easier, more enjoyable, more attainable and more accessible. We are here to bring the world within reach for customers and partners around the globe. We leverage our platform and technology capabilities across an extensive portfolio of businesses and brands to orchestrate the movement of people and the delivery of travel experiences on a both local and global scale.
Lucy von Weber - Visit Wales - Head of Marketing
Presentation: Year of Discovery and the aspects that inform activity planning
With over 20 years of practical experience in industry (attractions, academic research, private sector tourism consultancy and senior roles for destination organisations) Lucy joined Visit Wales as Head of Marketing in November 2018 after running her own company.
Having delivered projects embracing all aspects of integrated marketing; regularly presenting at events and delivering digital master classes, Lucy’s new remit at Visit Wales includes B2B as well as B2C activity, delivered in partnership with product development and comprehensive industry engagement foundation work.
Andrew Campbell, Wales Tourism Alliance - Chairman
Presentation: Tourism in Wales: An Industry Perspective
Andrew studied Hotel Management at University College Birmingham and gained practical experience working in both the hotel and institutional catering sectors. Up until September 2017 he was Head of School of Tourism at the University of Wales Trinity St David. Now having taken on a wider strategic role within the Faculty of Business, his appointment as Chairman of the Wales Tourism Alliance has enabled him to become further engaged with grassroots tourism and to become more involved in regional projects.
Andrew is currently Vice Chair of Pembrokeshire Tourism and sits on various committees including Visit Wales SW Regional Forum, Carmarthenshire County Council Destination Management Team, and the Steering Group for the proposed Wales School of Hospitality, amongst others.
Dan Simmons - Populate Social - Founder
Presentation: Making sense of how not to waste money on social media
Dan founded Cardiff based, Populate Social, in 2015 after graduating from Cardiff University. Recognised as one of the UK's top 5 social media marketing agencies, Populate specialises in supporting business achieve a greater return on their investment from social media.
In 2017 Dan was awarded Young Businessperson of the Year at the Cardiff Business Awards and was recently shortlisted in the Great British Entrepreneur of the Year Awards.
Notable clients include, Northampton Saints Rugby Club, Glamorgan County Cricket Club, Admiral Insurance, Live Nation and of course Visit Mid Wales.
Val Hawkins - MWT Cymru - Chief Executive
Presentation: This is #RealMidWales 2019
MWT Cymru’s chief executive, Val Hawkins, has been involved in the tourism industry in Wales for more than 25 years. A native of Glasgow in Scotland, she trained in the hotel industry before moving to Newtown where she ran a successful B&B business for more than 10 years.
Val joined MWT Cymru as membership manager in 1999 and was promoted to Chief Executive in 2006. She has harnessed the power of digital technology to benefit members and is a passionate ambassador for the tourism industry in Mid Wales at a regional and national level.
Steve Hughson- Chair of Regional Tourism Forum (Mid Wales) and Chief Executive Royal Welsh Agricultural Society
Presentation: Mid Wales Regional Tourism Forum & Launch of Mid Wales Tourism Awards 2019
Steve Hughson is a farmer's son from Newbridge-on-Wye, near Rhayader, Powys.
Steve joined Dyfed-Powys Police from the Metropolitan force in London in 1992. Formerly a Firearms /public order commander and a hostage negotiator in a past life – comes in handy!
Chief Supt. Steve Hughson was commander of the Dyfed Powys Police force's four divisions and appointed CEO of RWAS in 2013.
Paula Ellis - Retreats Group - Group General Manager
Presentation: Sharing Success in the Hospitality Sector
Paula Ellis has enjoyed a career of 30 years working in the tourism and hospitality industry. She started her career as a travel agent, overseas tour operator, marketing manager of Cardiff Airport, before moving on to hospitality by working at some of Wales’s leading 4 and 5 star hotels including St Davids Hotel and Spa, then the first 5 star hotel in Wales, The Vale Resort, before relocating to Pembrokeshire to join St Brides Spa Hotel in 2004.
Taking a brief break from hospitality, Paula enjoyed working for Pembrokeshire Coast National Park as manager of Oriel y Parc Visitor Centre and Amgueddfa Cymru–National Museum Wales gallery. Since 2014, she has been the Group General Manager of The Retreats Group, which operates three of Wales’ leading luxury boutique hotels, Twr y Felin Hotel, Roch Castle and Penrhiw Priory.