Annual Conference Makes Travel and Tourism Research Fun

Author: Casey Gale       

Travel and Tourism Research Association International Conference

Attendance at TTRA’s annual event, which typically attracts between 250 and 300 attendees, is split 50/50 between academics and practitioners.

Now in its 50th year, the Travel and Tourism Research Association (TTRA) produces evidence-based, global data that informs travel trends and insights destinations need to make informed decisions in their communities.

“Travel research is for everyone,” said Kathy Palmer, CMP, executive director of TTRA. “It’s a really big thing because everyone [in tourism] needs to know, ‘Why do people come here? How did they come here? Where did they come from?’”

Because of the widespread need for travel and tourism research, TTRA’s membership — and attendance at its annual conference, currently set to take place June 16-18 in Victoria, British Columbia — is diverse. “Our association is unique because it’s made up of academics who are professors at hospitality schools, as well as students,” she said, in addition to what TTRA refers to as “practitioners” — representatives from destination marketing organizations (DMOs) and researchers from private companies. At TTRA’s annual event, which typically attracts between 250 and 300 attendees, Palmer said attendance is split 50/50 between academics and practitioners.

The annual event has something for everyone in its audience. For example, a Ph.D. student colloquium gives graduate students the opportunity to learn from one another and senior scholars in the industry, a DMO breakfast and roundtable brings destination research professionals from marketing organizations around the world together to share best practices and discuss the industry’s biggest issues, and professional development workshops are open to anyone who is interested, regardless of their particular track.

Why We Like It

For the past 13 years, the TTRA International Conference has hosted a 90-minute “Ideas Fair.” The interactive reception, which typically features around 40 presenters, elevates the typical poster presentations to a more interactive opportunity. Participants are asked to play a game, like Bingo, marking off presenters they’ve spoken with as they view the different posters. The first person to win the game receives a complimentary registration for the next conference.

“Everybody goes to that,” Palmer said. “Whether you’re an academic or not, everybody goes. They get to wander around and talk to people and look at the different research. And it’s nice that it’s in a poster format instead of just listening to someone talk.”

Presenters are given tri-fold boards to present their ideas, but often go far beyond the two-dimensional format to get their points across. “They can be as creative as they would like to be,” Palmer said. “We had somebody one time who did something about beer and chocolate pairing, and they had chocolate cake and beer samples.”

Casey Gale is an associate editor at Convene.