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Programme & speakers


Time Session
8:00 – 8:30 Registration
8:35 – 8:45 Conference opening

Master of Ceremonies: Meg Allen-Armistead, Melbourne Operations Manager/Nomads Network GM

8:45 – 8:50 WYSE Welcome

David Chapman, Director General, WYSE Travel Confederation

8:50 – 9:00 Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, The Hon Steven Ciobo, MP  video address
9:00 – 10:00 Opening Keynote: The VICE Guide to Millennials

Speaker: Alex Light, General Manager, Brand  Partnerships – VICE Australia

VICE is the world’s preeminent youth media company. VICE is a news, content, and culture hub and a leading producer of award-winning video, reaching young people on all screens across an unrivaled global network in over 55 countries.
This keynote presentation will combine insights from VICE’s global audience survey, editorial teams and user data to understand the millennial condition: what defines millennials, their changing media behaviours, cultural trends. It will uncover what matters to, and how to connect with them, as well as what is ‘authentic content’, with a focus on insights for the travel industry.
10:00 – 10:20 Australia’s Working Holiday Maker Programme: the battle of the four C’s

Australia’s Working Holiday Maker (WHM) program took a big hit in 2016 with the proposed introduction of the ‘backpacker tax’.  Government and industry went head to head in a heated debate which resulted in a back-down from an initial tax rate of 32.5% to 15%. The government also made some positive changes to the program, including the opportunity for WHM’s to work with one employer for up to 12 months in two locations.  With this roller-coaster of a year and the tremendous news of Tourism Australia’s $10M youth marketing campaign, the industry is now faced with the challenge of repairing the damage, and focusing on the “four C’s” – the battlegrounds of visa cost, criteria, caps and conditions.

Speaker: Silke Kerwick, Public Affairs Manager – YHA Australia

10:20 – 10:30 Life Project Cambodia

The Life Project charity empowers disadvantaged Cambodian children and youth to create their own solutions to poverty by providing access to education, family assistance and community outreach so they can build a stronger, brighter future for themselves and their community.  Hear about how you can make a positive contribution and help Life Project Cambodia grow and further support young Cambodians. 

Speaker: Vin Kebblewhite, Founder & Director

10:30 – 10:50 Morning tea
10:50 – 11:30 Convincing the youth of the world to escape to Oz

Clemenger BBDO are Tourism Australia’s lead creative agency and were responsible for the development of International campaigns including Restaurant Australia and the It’s a place you feel Aquatic & Coastal campaign. They are experts at developing effective and engaging campaigns with the youth market and were behind both ‘Pinky’ No one thinks big of you for the RTA and V skills for Frucor. This presentation will take us through the creative brief that defines how Tourism Australia intend to give the leaders of tomorrow an Australian outlook on life via a visit to this great land.

Speaker: Leanne Paige, Industry Relations Manager – Tourism Australia

Speaker: Rob Dougan, Lead Planning Director on Tourism Australia – Clemenger BBDO Sydney

11:30 – 12:30 Booking via mobile: What have we learned so far and what’s next?

Mobile booking capacity has been touted as make-it-or-break-it for travel brands as the shift away from desktop and multi-screen search starts to consolidate towards the smartphone. Millennials and Generation Z expect to conduct their lives via one device and so mainstream tourism moves to future-proof.

Accommodation, flights, and now bus and rail have made solid advances in bringing consumers user-friendly mobile booking capacity and other functionality, but has the move to mobile booking all its been hyped up to be? What lessons have been learned in development of apps, websites and new marketing strategies?

During this session Vanessa will review the current state of play in mobile booking and discuss the myths and realities that travel suppliers should keep in mind for mobile now and in the near future.

Speaker: Vanessa Stavrou, Head of Marketing   Contiki

12:30 – 13:30 LUNCH
13:30 – 15:00 The wrong side of the bed: Branding, pricing and the dangers of discounting for hostels (concurrent session)

Young travellers have never had such an array of choice in hostels offering convenient and competitively-priced accommodation. With well-designed atmospheres, menus, and local culture to attract travellers and even the most discerning globetrotters, the price of a bed is no longer the main concern for the consumer.

Hostels in many regions of the world must up the ante to stay in the game, yet accommodation providers in Australia are discounting and eroding the hard-won brand equity of not only independent operators, but the hostel sector as a whole and maybe even the Australian tourism offering in general. A panel of youth travel accommodation experts will discuss the dilemmas that lead to discounting, the effects discounting is having on the industry as a whole, and what they’d like to see done about it.

Moderator:  Meg Allen-Armistead, Melbourne Operations Manager/Nomads Network GM


13:30 – 15:00 Real-time distribution: The race to improve booking conversion (concurrent session)

In a culture of instant gratification, expectations of immediacy abound and booking travel is no exception. In fact, for the traveller it can be the difference between a good and bad experience. For the Millennial traveller, expectations are even higher. Enter “book-now’ relationships – essential for your business and the industry’s future. Technology has revolutionised real-time booking so that seamless, convenient and connected services can be provided to your customers.Whilst accommodation providers are well into this game, some tour operators are lagging, failing to realise that the battle for bookings will not be won by merely having a great product, some creative content and lots of data. During this session, tour operators will share their experiences, you will find out how aggregators can help bookings, and an OTA’s perspective on why real-time is your time.

Moderator:  Brett Eldershaw, Director – Colourful Trips


15:00 – 15:15 Afternoon Tea
15:15 – 16:00 Payment Automation:  What’s the true cost of the industries payment practises

The travel industry is a complex network of relationships, and as your network grows so does the cost of supporting those relationships. Technology has supported growth by allowing us to communicate easily, access new sales channels, better customer engagement, and powerful management tools. However, the gains in efficiency can be  quickly erased when it comes to settling up accounts.

The standard practices for processing invoices and settling accounts are fraught with inefficiencies, creating a substantial cost base throughout the industry. With no standardised payment terms and no regulatory oversight, payments can become a powder keg for some businesses. Estimates have the cost to the industry in the billions of dollars, money that could be much better used building a stronger industry.

This panel will discuss existing pain points and their effect on the industry: cash flow crunch, bad debt, missed opportunity, back office costs, and the headaches associated with payments. What is needed to solve the pain points? The panel will discuss emerging technologies, trust with transparency, and shifting the payment paradigm as ways to gain efficiencies that lead to stronger businesses and ultimately a stronger Destination Australia.

ModeratorAlanna Stevens, General Manager – Colourful Trips &  President – BOA NSW

16:00 – 16:50 Life beyond fear

Mark Mathews
Is an inspirational keynote presentation delivered by one of the world’s premier big wave surfers. In the last 10 years Mark has taken himself from a penniless want-to-be surfer to an international brand name, part time philosopher, story teller, big wave surfing legend and all round good guy.

His story is one of commitment, leadership, hard work, innovation, struggle and maximising available talent.

Winner of an unprecedented 3 back-to-back Oakley Big Wave Awards, Mark has cemented himself as one of the best big wave surfers in the world. His passion is giving people the tools and drive to step outside their comfort zones so they can access their true potential.

He uses a compelling mix of spectacular video footage and personal stories to engage and inspire audiences around the world.

16:50 – 17:00 Closing Remarks

Master of Ceremonies: Meg Allen-Armistead | Melbourne Operations Manager/Nomads Network GM

17:00 – 19:00 Networking drinks

Doltone House, Darling Island