Over 120 delegates, 20 speakers and nine venues participated in the inaugural Experiential Travel Summit (ETS) in Margaret River.
The summit was co-designed with wine, food and tourism businesses, media and stakeholders following extensive consultation and over 100 hours of empathy interviews and analysis.
The ethos of ETS was to mix experience and education while stimulating out-of-the-box thinking for wine, food and tourism experiences that spark innovation and start conversations about collaboration.
South West Development Commission Manager Trade, Tourism, Innovation & Creative Industries, Mat Lewis, said that the summit was designed using a human-centered approach.
“What does human-centred approach actually mean? It means we designed the event with people we were designing it for at the centre, asking them open questions so we could understand their values in decision making, their biggest frustrations, obstacles and aspirations, and from there common themes emerged that formed the basis of ETS,” said Mr Lewis.
“The challenges of organising an event during a pandemic saw ETS evolve in recent times and three speakers in Victoria were unable to travel and presented via Zoom, but it seemed to work beautifully.”
Kicking off the Summit was a keynote by Simon Lamplough, Managing Director at Clemenger BBDO Melbourne who presented a case study ‘Let’s Melbourne Again’, a collaboration of top Melbourne-based businesses, media and creative agencies who put competing differences aside to help re-invigorate the CBD after one of the world’s longest coronavirus lockdowns.
Lamplough, who believes that creativity is always the answer, set the tone for day for collaborative thinking.
Mark Wilsdon from MONA in Tasmania shared a panel themed ‘Crystal Balling’ with discussions on the future of tourism and travel alongside Tourism WA’s Carolyn Turnbull and Cory Gale.
With Western Australia’s reputation for being clean and its remoteness and spaciousness, the panelists agreed that the State was well placed to capitalise on tourism once borders open up, although it’d be playing catch up with other international destinations that have opened to travel sooner.
The element of surprise and delight saw delegates split into five groups and taken to an unknown tourism experience that included Champagne and Sparkling wine tasting at Howard Park’s Wine Chapel, a vertical Cabernet tasting at Woodlands, a guided tour of Walk Talk Taste’s Gourmet Glamp luxe bush camp, Toasty Tastings by the Fire at Bettenay’s Wine and Nougat, and a Sustainable Living Farm Tour at One Table Farm. On return to Vasse Felix, the conference’s main venue, delegates workshopped ideas of what those experience could start, continue and stop doing to enhance the visitor experience.
“We knew we wanted to give local businesses a hands-on opportunity to experiment with early-stage risk taking and find better ways to use feedback as a co-design tool in a safe learning environment,” Mr Lewis said.
“Risk taking is an essential part of growth, but obviously in the current climate, risks can be seen as non-essential when you’re just trying to keep doors open.
“What we do know now, more than ever before, is that those good at risk taking, are generally more agile and able to respond quickly to new opportunities.
“We invited South West businesses to try a new idea or take a new approach to an old idea to provide an experience for delegates,” added Mr Lewis.
Australia’s South West CEO Catrin Allsop said that ETS provided a practical example of how to co-design tourism experiences.
“Being able to participate in tourism experiences and provide expertise and advice in a tangible way that can help build attractive products for visitors is a valuable exercise,” Ms Allsop said.
“There were definitely many conversations in the room that we haven’t had in a long time – I was fully engaged all day and left feeling positive and inspired, and proud of the supportive nature of our tourism industry.”
AusIndustry Entrepreneurs’ Programme supported the involvement of the ultimate idea provocateurs, Skills of the Modern Age (SOMA), who led workshops and pushed delegates to tackle problems from a fresh perspective using design thinking.
“SOMA provided the essential thread in the overall conference programming, encouraging delegates to think differently and showing that agility and innovation play pivotal roles in the sustainable growth of businesses – much like the Entrepreneurs’ Programme,” said Julie Kirby, facilitator of the AusIndustry Entrepreneurs’ Programme.
After a sumptuous lunch at Vasse Felix, delegates spent the afternoon at self-selected workshops at Vasse Felix, Howard Park, Bettenay’s Wine and Nougat and Driftwood. They reconvened at Howard Park to wrap up the day, unwind with a glass of wine in hand as ex-Head Chef of Noma Ben Ing and ex-Head Gardener Kirsty Marchant shared their incredible story of how Noma managed to re-define the fine dining experience during Covid lockdowns by flipping “the best burgers in the world”.
El Toro hosted a degustation dinner that was enjoyed by 35 delegates and speakers after the sundowner.
New Busselton brewery Shelter Brewing Co opened ETS hosting single vineyard tastings of Credaro Wines, a brewery tour and a first tasting of a new seasonal beer that will be released in the coming weeks.
Powered by Creative Corner, Experiential Travel Summit was held on 13-14 June in partnership with Wine Australia, Wines of Western Australia, Australia’s South West and the South West Development Commission.