This year’s Hosts Global Forum was held in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Moloney & Kelly, our local Hosts Global DMC, produced an unforgettable experience for all attendees. In lieu of summarizing the conference and surrounding events, we sat down with Todd Mickey, COO and Managing Partner, Applied Meetings and Hospitality Solutions, a Hosts Global client advisory board member, and 2018 Forum attendee, who was kind enough to share his experience with us. Thank you, Todd!
Q: If you could pick a few words to describe the Hosts Global Forum, what would they be?
There are many enthusiastic words that run through my head when asked this question about the 2018 Hosts Global Forum. For me, Home and Hug are two words that come to mind in staying with “H” Factor theme.
Home, for the way Hosts Global and Ireland makes you feel from arrival to departure, and Hug, for all the great relationships you make during the forum.
Q: Industry awareness is always at the forefront of the Forum, which of the topics, from keynote speakers or trend talks did you find most interesting and why?
The speakers were great this year, and though Laughing Yoga might have stolen the show, there were significate discussions on market trends. One of the most engaging trends discussed was the media and sensational journalism that has hampered certain areas of the world like Puerto Rico and the Caribbean. After several long discussions with Hosts Global DMC’s from these areas of the world, you soon realize what you see, read and hear from media channels is just one side of the story. We all understand that these areas were hit hard by storms last year, but we keep hearing about the negative impact through the media and not the resurgence. It was great to learn Puerto Rico was mending faster than what has been reported and will be bigger and better much sooner than what has been reported. One of the greatest parts of this year’s forum was to gain firsthand knowledge from trusted sources, or shall I say friends, on what was is really happening in the world of “fake news”.
Q: One of the convenient perks of attending Forum is the opportunity to meet one-on-one with Hosts’ 50+ member Destination Management Companies (DMCs) to discuss our 300+ global destinations. What do you find most beneficial about this time?
Even with this being our sixth forum, the time spent with the DMCs is invaluable. Whether you’re seeing DMCs you met in years past or DMCs you are meeting for the first time, the exchange of expert information from the DMC to any buyer is enlightening. You receive updated information on the area, new ideas and trends, what is great to do and what to stay away from. This time allows buyers to gain the knowledge to confidently pitch destinations to clients that they may have not considered before. The face to face time at the forum is the best facetime you can ever expect from a show as a buyer or DMC.
Q: What was your biggest highlight from the experience?
Thank you for the impossible question! With several highlights swirling in my thoughts, I must say when you have the chance to site and dine at the Titanic Museum, have a reception Narnia style at Belfast City Hall, sit in a DeLorean and pose for pictures with a friend, and enjoy a block party in downtown Belfast, it’s tough to pin point just one. However, Michael Dalton with Moloney and Kelly, a Hosts Global member and platinum sponsor for the Forum was right when he told me the block party at the Dark Horse would be something I would never forget! Eating and drinking in the streets with locals and conference members, singing along to Sweet Caroline sung by a local artist on a warm summer night in the middle of the Cathedral Quarter in Belfast is something that was not only a highlight of the trip for me, but a highlight for my life thus far. The 2018 Hosts Global Forum was an amazing experience and I look forward to the lineup for next year’s HG Forum in the Dominican Republic.