A couple of weeks ago, I posted about the prestigious Tourism Society’s annual conference the Tourism Symposium, and how it was going to being hosted at McIntyre House. From a student perspective it was one of the most rewarding industry experiences I’ve had for the start of my career. It was also one of the proudest moments for me and my friends as tourism students. I’m going to give more detail about how the couple of days went, so if you’d like pop the kettle on (one sugar for me, please), make yourself comfy, and get ready to understand a little more about what the new drivers of tourism are today.
Over the last week we’ve had some pretty grisly weather, however just two days before the miserable rain began, it was gorgeous for the Symposium! I was sweltering in my businessey attire. A few of my friends were also helping out at the conference (Nicole, Sarah and Janson). Feeling a teeny bit apprehensive, the four of us met up to head over to Baskerville House together ready to met with Greg and Andreea from the Tourism Society as well as Becky from Marketing Birmingham. As we were early birds Becky asked if we wanted to grab lunch for 20 minutes. We quickly filled up our bellies before heading back to register all the delegates taking part in the study tours. If you read my post building up to the event, you might remember me mentioning the three tours would be focused on heritage, culture and film. We were very excited to go along on the tours as delegates, too. Yay!
Sarah added a touch of Hollywood glamour by exploring the various filming locations in the city, Janson wanted to learn more about Birmingham’s cultural charms – with his tour focusing on attractions such as Birmingham Library, and Nicole was fascinated by the heritage appeal of our city. I was torn, one part of me wanted to visit the filming locations but at the same time I desperately wanted a perspective of how quirky attractions within the city are embracing their heritage and incorporating social media and events. The latter won out so I joined Nicole, Becky and 15 delegates from various sectors of the industry.
A few of the delegates hadn’t spent much time in Birmingham (apart from being at the train station), some hadn’t visited for years so hearing their response about how the city has changed for the better was wonderful news. I loved being able to chat with everyone on the tour, not only did they happily answer questions about their jobs – (including how they started in tourism) – but they wanted to know about our degree. Of course I was thrilled to talk about ITBM (if you’ve read any of my posts before you’ll know how much I love it). There was one question that seemed to pop up quite a bit… “do you have to do a placement?”
Our tour lasted three hours so there was lots to take in. We visited the Ikon Gallery in Brindley Place to see an exhibition from an American artist named Dan Flavin. I don’t want to ruin it for anyone reading – in case it is something that interests you – but at first I didn’t ‘get it’. I don’t really know much about art, for starters there are lots definitions of what art actually it is. If anything I found the concept of Dan Flavin’s work more interesting than the creations itself.
The Ikon is a cute Victorian era building that used to be a school, if you’ve never been before I recommend a trip soon…Oh if you do go, be sure to take the lift!
Following on from the Ikon, our next destination was a walking tour around the canal from Gas Street where we followed it round to the Coffin Works (literally round the corner from UCB). The canal is probably one of my favourite places to be in Birmingham, especially when it’s a beautiful day outside.
Without doubt my favourite part of the whole tour was visiting the Coffin Works. As eerie as the name suggests, the new attraction is actually full of life. It was interesting to learn about how the historial building makes use of its outdoor space by holding pop-up events such as food festivals and vintage tea parties – I’ll be going to one of those in the future! I enjoyed the Coffin Works that much I may do a whole post dedicated to it.
From both a student and delegate point of view, the tours offered a fascinating insight into how tourism and heritage attractions understand the importance of digital marketing, especially because we have marketing modules incorporated into our studies. In my opinion, I love that attractions like the Coffin Works are captivating visitors with a well blended mixture of old and new – you can definitely see the appeal it has for tourists. Finally we gained a fresh perspective of how Birmingham is using contemporary driving factors to influence tourism demand in the city. The tours were remarkable!
Later in the evening we had the opportunity to network at Aluna Bar in the Mailbox. The three of us girls took a lovely stroll back across the canal to the bar. We spoke to a few delegates and enjoyed a free welcome drink. As we left, one of the delegates had no idea how to get back to her hotel, so we took a detour to make sure she knew where she was going. I slept like a baby that night ready for an early start on Tuesday…
Stay tuned for Part 2.