By @SimonCocking

Last week saw the second European Phocuswright Conference here in Dublin. For the uninitiated Phocuswright @Phocuswright are the travel industry research authority on how travelers, suppliers and intermediaries connect. Check out the hashtag #PhocuswrightEurope on twitter to see more about this years event.

We were delighted to catch up with their MD Tony D’Astolfo to have a debrief on how he felt it went, why they chose Dublin, and why they will be coming back again next year. The event flowed well, had great content, and good accessibility for talking to smart people doing great things.

What made you chose Dublin for the venue last year?

We considered a number of cities before deciding on Dublin, and in the end there were a number of reasons why Dublin won out. Of course you look for basic things like affordability and accessibility, and Dublin gets a check in both those boxes, but we also place a very high value on the space we use for the actual conference.   While we don’t typically consider convention center space because it is usually too large, somewhat impersonal and almost always multi-tenant , the CCD is unique in that we can ‘own’ an entire floor.  The space has a very flexible design that allows us to create distinct settings that fit our format and allow us to easily flow our delegates to ensure we create an exceptional experience.

As you saw, we also stage a high production quality event and the CCD is a great venue for doing that.  The on location A/V staff is top notch, the ‘rigging’ is there and highly configurable which makes it easy for our director to produce the show, and the entire CCD team is a pleasure to work with.   Dublin is also now the European home to a number of tech giants, which fits very nicely with our delegate profile of doing business pre and post our conference. I will also mention that Tourism Ireland has been very supportive which is critical for a new event.  And finally but very importantly, the people of Dublin are warm and welcoming, which makes our delegates feel right at home from the moment they arrive.

You’re obviously happy with it, as you’re coming back again next year. What aspects worked successfully for you?

The delegates and sponsors were pleased with the venue and the overall event so yes, we’ll be back in Dublin again for a lot of the same reasons I cited. While we’ll be back in Dublin at the CCD, we have designs on taking the conference to yet another level but we’ll need some help to do that. The CCD has a level that features an auditorium that we think would provide a spectacular setting for our program. The challenge is that we’d need to increase the delegate turnout to somewhere between 500-600, to justify the move. We had 420 registered delegates this year, so we’ll need to grow by 30% which can be challenging, but that’s the goal so anything you can do to start spreading the word is appreciated !

IMG_1174 Phocuswright Europe - TravelMedia.ie

Anything you will do differently for next year?

Yes, but we don’t like to let too many secrets out just yet because the conference space is a competitive one. What I will share is that we’ve already devised some new wrinkles to our very successful Travel Innovation Summit and we have a couple of new and innovative formats for Center Stage that we’ll unveil. We’re also going to create a very different networking opportunity that will add a new element to the event and hopefully take us away from the CCD for a bit so our delegates can experience and enjoy a bit more of Dublin.

What trends / technologies do you think will do well between now and when Phocuswright return to Dublin?

Mobile, social, local, and personal will continue to drive much of the conversation the coming year. We’ll also see wearable having a bigger role this year so we’ll be tracking that.  It will continue to be about how to engage the traveler at every stage of the trip life cycle, and as usual my analysts around the globe will be tracking it all.

Listen to Tony being interviewed in Dublin about Phocuswright Europe below.