Report: Inntravel Discovery Day

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On December 6th, Arctic Encounters’ partner Inntravel held a Discovery Day at the Harrogate International Centre in North Yorkshire. Hoteliers and suppliers from around the world who work with Inntravel brought their local wares to Harrogate to share with clients – a collection of both old friends and new ones. It was a lively day, with fabulous food products being tasted, lots of wine and chat, and a friendly atmosphere. An Italy stand practically doubled as a deli counter, overflowing with delicious Mediterranean treats and a warm southern European welcome for arriving guests. Customers were literally queuing around the block for the door to open, and while some were just browsing and enjoying the mini-tour of Europe (and India), others were keenly intent on making preliminary bookings for future holidays. New suppliers including Hotel Gjaargadur in Gjogv, Faroes, (which Arctic Encounters had the privilege of visiting earlier in the year) drew great interest, as well as the trio from ‘Norway Home of Skiing’ who helped keep things lively. Various suppliers were also speaking to eager audiences in two parallel information sessions, to introduce their holidays and tell people about their region.

Inntravel puts on a Discovery Day every three years, so Arctic Encounters were delighted to be invited to present a short lecture entitled ‘Are we Loving the Arctic to Death?’ An eager audience were keen to know more about how to travel ethically in the Arctic region, and where to find environmentally sustainable tours. Inntravel are clearly the experts here, with their Slow Travel philosophy, so it was a pleasure to contribute to the discussion.

As part of the day’s events, Inntravel had organised a blogging workshop. Like many travel companies, Inntravel are tackling the changing media world by rethinking their communications strategies. It is a challenge to keep relationships going between company and clients when bookings can be made far in advance of holidays, without going over the top and bothering people. It is no longer enough to send out brochures and wait and see if anyone responds. At the same time, feedback from clients now comes instantly – in emails and tweets, for example, sometimes while people are actually on their holidays. One way to harness all this interaction is to facilitate client-to-client communication, and to use blogs and company magazines (both on and offline) to share more than can be included in brochures, which are useful but may be limited.

A roundtable panel – or rather, a panel of speakers sitting at a long table – discussed the challenges of blogging, the use of different registers of language, and the difficulties of making a living by professional travel writing, in blogging or print, as well as the increasing pressure from media outlets to include video as well as text and photography. Blogger Andy Montgomery of Buzztrips, and Richard Hammond ofGreentraveller, both have many years of experience in this field. They shared their thoughts about combining blogging and other work into what we might fashionably call ‘portfolio careers’, and about building relationships with clients and companies. Arctic Encounters spread the message that academic researchers, too, are also keen to communicate in accessible language and to share our knowledge, as well as to co-produce knowledge with our partners (such as Inntravel). Another illustration of our keenness to do this is our exciting recent workshop in Tromsø that brought together whale-watching operators from across the northern counties of Norway (we’ll have more on that news soon).

This Discovery Day also marked Inntravel’s 30th birthday, and we were delighted to be invited to celebrate with them in style at Harrogate’s splendid Crown Hotel at a Gala Dinner with company staff and suppliers. With Yorkshire food – and wine – and entertainment, it was a night to remember.