Key Takeaways from the Association of Australian Convention Bureaux (AACB) Conference in Hobart, Tasmania

By: Andrea Gardi
Senior Project Manager at Regional Tourism Organization 4 Inc.

The Experience:

In 2017, as the Senior Project Manager at Regional Tourism Organization 4 Inc. (RTO4), I was honored to be selected by Destinations International and founding partner SearchWide for the 30 Under 30 program allowing me to gain valuable industry networking opportunities and increased thought leadership throughout the year. In early August I received the call that one of my industry networking opportunities was going to be at the annual conference facilitated by AACB, the Association of Australian Convention Bureaux, held this year in the beautiful city of Hobart, Tasmania

Hobart, Tasmania 

The flight home (approximately 24 hours, and worth every second) gave me the perfect opportunity to jot down my key takeaways from the conference.

Key Takeaways:

Distinction:  your difference is your strength.

The theme of this year’s conference Distinction: your difference is your strength, expertly woven throughout the conference, led to a series of reflections. The biggest for me was recognizing and shouting from the rooftops the differences and strengths of our individual destinations.

The presentation by Tourism Australia used a story by the iconic Crocodile Dundee himself Paul Hogan who once said when you invite someone to your house, you don’t show them your furniture.  We all have chairs and tables, and as destinations we all have restaurants, and hotels. What sets each of us apart and what we should be sharing are the people and stories behind them.  

True innovative thinkers don’t even know the box exists.

Melissa Kaplan, the Chief Digital Advisor for Microsoft began her presentation Innovation: The future, the process, and thinking exponentially by referring to and disagreeing with the common expression of equating innovation with thinking outside of the box. Instead, she declares, the truly innovative thinkers don’t even know the box exists.

Innovative thinkers also have to surround themselves with the right people to take their innovation from idea to action as often it is not the same person to take on the many roles necessary to do this. There is the inspirer with the initial idea, the translator who develops a plan, and the executor who makes it happen. 

Other Key Innovation Takeaways:

  • Innovation does not come out of routine.
  • Innovation always starts with the why. Put purpose, cause and belief at the heart. 
  • We are often focused on the technological innovation happening around us, but innovation can also happen on process, experience, and product. 

Tasmanian devils are not just a cartoon.

One of the reasons I am so passionate about working in tourism, is my belief that this industry makes the world a better and brighter place because it expands the minds of visitors by breaking myths and by sharing new cultures, new languages, new experiences. 

The location of this conference, Hobart Tasmania is full of these new experiences, including the world-class and eccentric Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) featuring a machine that simulates the human digestion system from start to finish (the finish occurring each day at 2:00 if you can handle the smell) and the expanding Pennicott Wilderness Journey operation, who both gave inspiring presentations to the conference. Each of them spoke about the need and significance of taking risks. It is often those calculated risks that will set you apart from your competition. 

Thank you to the Destinations International Foundation for the remarkable opportunity. I would like to specifically acknowledge Andrew Hiebl and Annika Hofsink from AACB, as well as the planning committee for putting together a thought-provoking and inspiring conference program. Finally, thank you to all of the other attendees at the conference for your warm welcome to Australia, and stimulating conversations about the industry we all love. 

Meeting a koala while exploring Australia

About Andrea Gardi

Andrea Gardi is the Senior Project Manager at Regional Tourism Organization 4 Inc., one of 13 regional tourism offices established by the Ministry of Tourism Culture and Sport in the province of Ontario.  RTO4 provides leadership and support to a flourishing tourism economy in Huron, Perth, Waterloo and Wellington County and been called the “petri dish of tourism development in North America” by the Canadian Tourism Commission, specifically because of its innovative, analytical and non-traditional approach to growing tourism and economic development.