ScotHot: Facing up to the future

Tourism conference to tackle key issues

Futureproofing tourism is the theme of the STA Signature Sessions conference next month
Futureproofing tourism is the theme of the STA Signature Sessions conference next month

FUTUREPROOFING tourism in a challenging economic and political climate – that’s the theme of this year’s national tourism conference, which takes place in Glasgow next month.

The STA (Scottish Tourism Alliance) Signature Sessions, which take place at Glasgow’s SEC on March 14 during Scottish Tourism Month and hospitality industry trade show ScotHot, features a packed line-up of workshops and speakers, led by author and broadcaster Simon Calder, senior travel editor at The Independent.

The event kicks off with a pre-conference workshop on March 13.

Titled Place, Volume & Quality Experiences: Are Our Destinations Full?, the workshop will be led by author and responsible tourism advisor, Dr Harold Goodwin, and will look at the issues of ‘overtourism’ and a range of management approaches which have been developed to address it.

The following day (March 14) sees the STA Signature Sessions get underway with an opening address from tourism minister Fiona Hyslop.

Representatives from Yotel, TripAdvisor, LoganAir and Geotourist will then join Simon Calder, following his keynote speech, for a panel discussion on the changing world of today’s traveller and how technology is changing all aspects of travel – from tourists’ research into destinations, to booking and communicating their experiences.

Everyone will leave with knowledge and inspiration that can make a real difference.

The second session, Taking Responsibility, will be led by author and responsible tourism expert Dr Harold Goodwin with a keynote speech and panel session focusing on how Scotland’s tourism industry can become more sustainable, achieve cost savings and give businesses a competitive edge. Goodwin will be joined by Dr Richard Swannell of WRAP (Waste and Resources Action Plan), Andrea Nicholas of Green Tourism, Alex Hynes of ScotRail Alliance, and Alison McRae from Glasgow Chamber of Commerce.

The Signature Session, Surprise and Delight, will be led by Ian McAteer of marketing communications agency The Union, and will look at the ways in which businesses connect with their customers and build loyalty. Cat Leaver of Brand Scotland and Greg Klingaman of Diageo will join McAteer on stage to discuss the different ways that organisations and brands can successfully ‘surprise and delight’ their customers.

STA chief executive Marc Crothall said: “This is without a doubt our strongest programme to date judging by ticket sales so far; it’s our fastest selling conference.

“This reflects the appetite from our industry for the knowledge and all-important up-to-date insights that will deliver real benefits to their business in today’s challenging economic climate.

“This is a ‘do not miss event’ for anyone connected to Scotland’s tourism industry; everybody will leave with new insights, inspiration and knowledge that will really make a difference to their bottom line at a time when things are so challenging.”

Ross Carter, event director at organiser Fresh Montgomery, said: “The STA Signature Sessions are an essential part of the industry calendar, and we’re looking forward to welcoming delegates to ScotHot as part of these action-packed two days dedicated to Scottish tourism and hospitality.”

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Signature Sessions at a glance


March 14 SEC Glasgow


09.15 – 09.55

Registration & refreshments


09.55 – 10.00

Welcome from Marc Crothall, chief executive of STA


10.00 – 10.15

Political address from Fiona Hyslop MSP, cabinet secretary for tourism


10.15 – 11.15

Session 1 – The Future Outlook for Tourism,

A Global Outlook with Simon Calder, senior travel editor at The Independent and TV & radio broadcaster


12.15 – 13.20

Session 2 – Taking Responsibility,

Setting out the Challenge with Dr Harold Goodwin, author and tourism advisor


14.40 – 15.50

Session 3 – Surprise and Delight with Ian McAteer, chairman of marketing agency The Union.