The inaugural Bristol Travel Massive meet up was held on 20th April 2016, offering almost fifty travel professionals an evening of busy yet casual networking at the Shore Bar of The Bristol Hotel. If you’re involved in the travel industry, you may like to read about how we set up our regional chapter and how #TravelMassiveBristol went from zero to trending on Twitter in just a few weeks.
I met my co-organiser and fellow Bristol travel blogger, Heather Cowper, for the first time in 2015. We both write and produce videos (I can also be found on my travel and lifestyle blog Practically Perfect Mums and my Youtube channel and Heather on her award winning blog Heather on Her Travels and Travelator Media). We live just a few miles apart yet only met via mutual travel friends at a London Travel Massive event organised around World Travel Market 2015. After that we very sensibly decided to meet up in Bristol and soon began to talk about ways we could collaborate and create some sort of forum for content creators in the region to connect and collaborate with other travel professionals.
I’d already joined Travel Massive prior to my World Travel Market trip, but only the London chapter. We did some research and decided that, as the closest chapters to us were London and Brighton, we’d just have to start our own and so in February 2016 Travel Massive Bristol was born!
Heather came up with the idea of tying in our event with the Social Travel Britain conference which was being held in Bristol so we aimed for 20th April, the evening before the conference began. The date worked for everyone involved and The Bristol Hotel kindly offered to host us the in their waterfront ‘Shore Bar’ and provide wine and nibbles.
As this was the first chapter event we’d organised, we decided to keep it fairly simple and offer a networking opportunity for both travel professionals from our area and early arrivals to the Social Travel Britain conference which was being held the following two days. Like all Travel Massive events, admission would be free and open to anyone working in the travel industry.
Cautiously we worked on an estimated number of around thirty guests, but as the date approached and email after email pinged into our inboxes informing us of new Bristol Chapter members who’d signed up for the event, we soon realised that figure wasn’t going to be high enough. Heather and I were loath to restrict numbers too much and fortunately the hotel was very accommodating and agreed to cater for more guests.
The evening arrived and Bristol couldn’t have put on a better show if she’d tried.
As I walked over the bridge towards the bar, it seemed as though all those people who’d been cooped up in offices all day had happily spilled out onto the historic harbourside and now planned to stay there to make the most of this warm sunny evening!
I approached the bar simultaneously excited and anxious about what the evening might hold. How many people would actually turn up? Would plain old networking be enough to keep people happy? Might I be called upon to “say a few words”?! (AArgh!)
Of course it went well. The Bristol Hotel’s hospitality was immaculate: smart waiters served refreshments, wine flowed and the ‘nibbles’ turned out to be these beautiful canapés.
Almost fifty travel professionals turned up: bloggers, journalists, video producers, adventure travel companies, Bristol Airport, The SS Great Britain, PR companies plus Fleet Street journalists and organisers of Social Travel Britain.
Judging by the constant chatter, laughter and the hardcore group who propped up the bar for some time after the official event was over, yes, I’d say networking was exactly what people wanted from Bristol Travel Massive. Oh and I didn’t have to do any public speaking but I did get to chat and make some really interesting new travel connections.
By the end of the evening I was on a bit of a high because of all the positive feedback and one person after another asking when we’d be holding the next meet up. It was great to hear comments like:-
I thought it was a great event, lots of interesting people and there was a real buzz both physically on the night & in cybersapce on social media.
and from our hosts, The Bristol Hotel:-
Delighted to have been a part of the #TravelMassiveBristol trend! I nearly lost my voice talking to so many people.
Tying in with Social Travel Britain turned out to be an excellent move. Conference organisers Steve Keenan and Mark Frary incorporated our pre-conference meet up into their conference programme and joined us for the evening and we were more than happy to support and attend their excellent event in return. The conference was very informative yet friendly and casual and I felt completely in my element hearing so many of the speakers stressing the ever growing importance of travel video content creation. (Yay, sounds like I’m doing something right after all!)
Having Travel Massive just before our Social Travel Britain conference in Bristol worked out really well. We were able to meet travel influencers from the South West, many of whom joined us at the conference in the following days.
Social Travel Britain Founder and Travel Journalist, Sunday Times
Excellent first Travel Massive in Bristol, with a strong core of social and digital Bristol-lites. Really good kick-off to STB, with conversations began that night and continued for three days.
Social Travel Britain Founder and national print travel writer
Being part of the global Travel Massive movement which connects travel industry folk around the world feels pretty exciting. If you’re a travel professional in the South West and didn’t make it this time, there will be other opportunities. Based on the success of this event, we’re planning around four meet ups each year. Some may be more structured and offer the opportunity to learn about a travel related subject, others will be purely networking. If you’d like to hear about future events then sign up to the Bristol Chapter now so we can keep you informed.
Thanks to Heather Cowper for being a great organiser, to Bristol Hotel’s Shore Bar for hosting, to Social Travel Britain for promoting us on your website and squeezing us onto the start of your conference schedule, to everyone who came or tweeted or shared and to you for reading!
If you have any comments or questions about Travel Massive, please leave them below and I’ll be happy to try and answer them!