Journal: TWUKSection:
Title: Issue Date: 19/06/00
Author: Page Number: 5
Copyright: Other

ABTA shakes up programme to make conference more topical

Association promises a fresher format for this year’s Kos convention. Diane Smith reports

ABTA has shaken up its programme for the Kos convention following criticism from the big operators that last year’s Cairns format was tired.

Companies such as Airtours and First Choice slammed the convention programme claiming it was not topical enough (Travel Weekly December 6).

Convention organiser Keith Betton said: “The convention needs to move on. We’ve listened to a lot of people who have told us how to do it. We needed to focus on clear issues.”

As a result, ABTAhas invited some of the big operators to join its guidance panel including Airtours communication director Anita McErlean, Thomson sales director Manuel Mascarenhas, Thomas Cook chief operating officer Simon Vincent and First Choice Holidays managing director Dermot Blastland.

This year’s convention, which is being held between October 27 and 30, will have a day dedicated to each of the main issues: e-commerce, the future of retail and the consumer of tomorrow.

Many keynote speakers from outside the industry have been invited to give their insight into retailing, including Sir Tom Farmer from Kwik Fit and Charles Dunstone, recently in the news for floating his company Carphone Warehouse.

Attempts to bring the convention into the 21st century go even further, theming the event on.line on.kos and renaming the business sessions ABTA networks and the lighter events, ABTA social. The business bazaar will now be known as Network Tables.

ABTA has increased the number of break-out sessions which will run throughout the day. TV screens will also relay the main convention speeches throughout the conference centre as well as a special ABTAchannel. Betton added: “This is a networking event, it’s the main reason that people come.”

He is also hoping to entice some of the travel dot com sites to the convention like eDreams or Dream Ticket but has so far turned him down.

Chief executive officer of C&N Touristic, Stefan Pichler, will look at e-commerce from a European perspective; Malcolm Preston of PriceWaterhouse Coopers will focus on the Internet, interactive TV and WAP phones; while First Choice chief executive Peter Long takes a view on the importance of supply in these new media ventures.

Branding expert Brian Cunningham will look at how people buy holidays and the editor of BBC Watchdog, Mark Killick, plans to tell the audience how he perceives the current travel industry.

Martin Hayward, of the Henley Centre and Airtours Holidays managing director Richard Carrick are covering consumer affairs.

Kos: the International Convention Centre will host seminars which promise to be dedicated to topical trade issues