The ENTER 2013 was a great success with around 350 conference delegates from over 30 countries in Europe, Asia, Africa and North America. The delegates formed a mix of people from academia, industry, government, and other organizations, demonstrating the increasing interest in finding out about information and communication technology in travel and tourism. ENTER 2013 was organised by the International Federation for Information Technologies in Travel and Tourism (IFITT).
The ENTER is an event that is aimed at bringing people from academia, industry, government, and other organizations together so that they can actively exchange, share, and challenge state-of-the-art research and industrial case studies on the application of information and communication technologies to travel and tourism. This year ENTER took place in Innsbruck, Austria from 22. -25. January 2013 and was underlined with the theme of ‘eTourism opportunities and challenges for the next 20 years’.
During the conference a lot of interesting presentations were given by academics from very well-know universities, representatives of national tourism organisations as well as members of internationally known organisations, such as Tripadvisor, Expedia, Kuoni, SE1 Media and Holidaycheck. Keynote speakers this year were, among others, Aoife Desmond from Facebook, Mohsen Hamoudia from Orange Business Services, James van Thiel from Google and Marco Fanton from Sol Melia Hotels and Resorts. For people that could not attend the conference, an online live streaming channel was offered to give them an opportunity to follow all the presentations live online. This was widely used by many people who opened the channel around 1,656 times within the three days of the conference. Most views were recorded for the session “Social media best practices” that comprised presentations by Pascal Bieri and Christoph Bruehlhart (MySwitzerland), Justin Reid (Beta Pond), William Bakker (Think!) and Thomas Vanderplaetse (Tourisme Vlaanderen). The slides of all presentations will be uploaded within the next couple of weeks on the IFITT Website and at http://eventifier.co/event/enter2013#.
In addition to the presentations, conference delegates were constantly updated via IFITT’s social media channels about the latest information regarding the conference. The rate of engagement in these social media channels was impressive. On twitter alone people posted about 4000 tweets with the #ENTER2013 hash tag.
The conference was full of highlights and surprises. The first highlight was a sparkling welcome reception on top of Seegrube mountain. Delegates were transported by cable cars and were welcomed by IFITT President Professor Dimitrios Buhalis. Everyone was invited to Austrian Gluehwein, a fire show and Schnitzel at the restaurant of Nordkette-Seegrube. Pictures of the welcome reception and a video of the Austrian fire show can be found at IFITT’s Facebook page and on Flickr. On Facebook you can also find a picture-show of all the ENTER conferences since its beginning in the 1990’s to relive the spirit of 20 years. The 20 Years of ENTER’ anniversary party on Thursday was another big highlight. The party took place in the Forum 2 at Messe Innsbruck, which was toned for the ‘back to the roots’. Finally, all participants were invited to a Tyrolean meal and a piece of the ENTER 2013 anniversary cake.
Professor Dimitrios Buhalis (Bournemouth University and IFITT President) concluded: “We celebrated 20 years of ENTER and we had a great opportunity to discuss a great range issues that will be critical for the future. Using technologies and social media in particular for creating context based services and tourist experiences dominated the discussions of the conference. Many tourism organisations and destinations around the world are experimenting with how they can enhance their competitiveness and engage in co-creation by introducing technology empowered innovations. ENTER has been instrumental in bringing all innovators together and take the level of our critical thinking forward.”
The next ENTER Conference will take place in Dublin, Ireland from 21.-24. January, 2014.