I almost talked myself out of attending The Visitor Economy conference at Bournemouth University in early September. I would have had a good reason too. Hurricane Irma was heading to the Caribbean and any responsible parent would stay close to their kids. However, I needed to attend for more than just professional reasons. The trip was covered as part of my 2016 win at Pitch IT Caribbean. I selected to attend this event not only to learn but as a chance to talk about my island, Montserrat. There were people attending who had never heard of us and so it was worth it. Also, I had clearly hit a comfort zone slump and it was imperative I kick myself out of it. The process of writing an abstract, waiting to find out if I’d been accepted, writing and eventually presenting a researched-based paper, rather than just a motivational speech or training helped me flex some different muscles.
There was so much to learn at the conference and for a minute, I contemplated whether I should go back to school. I’ve written about my presentation The Little Island That Could and how I think it fits with current tourism practices in the region on LinkedIn. You can check it out here….
Hurricane Irma missed Montserrat but that didn’t stop me from stressing as it made a direct hit on St. Maarten where I spent most of my formative years and where my parents live. Anguilla, St. Thomas, Tortola are also places I have lived or visited and it was really tough to have a good time in the UK when I was waiting to hear if my family and friends were alright.
But in the end, it was right that I be there as I had electricity and internet and was able to relay information and make emergency calls for people who were unable to get help. If I ever doubted why the internet and technology are such vital tools for the time in which we live, I couldn’t after the month of September.
The conference allowed me to make new connections and gather some new strategies which are in use in other nations. Over the next few months I will be implementing some of the ideas to take my new venture forward.
I hope you take the opportunity to stretch yourself and get out of your comfort zone. You have a lot to share and the world needs to hear your version of events.
Enjoy the photos.