Lessons learned from organizing an online networking event

The Ethical Tourism Recovery in Arctic Communities (ETRAC) -project organized an online networking event for tourism stakeholders which took place on 26.-27. of April 2022. The format of the event was speed dating; 15 minutes long 1-on-1 meetings were arranged by the participants during the two days. 

Ethical tourism networking was an event dedicated to tourism entrepreneurs/SMEs, industry experts (such as researchers) and tourism developers. It was not a traditional sales event with tour operators and other tourism entrepreneurs meeting, but one for developing ethical tourism and building a network for that. Therefore, there were possibilities for networking and discussions, including business opportunities, knowledge sharing/learning, collaboration possibilities and empowerment based on shared values and experiences.

The idea was that every participant would benefit from the event and meetings, in one way or another. The most important thing is that there were meetings across sectors and on diverse themes, such as ethical tourism, responsible/sustainable tourism, ecotourism, culturally sensitive tourism, slow adventure, indigenous tourism, circular tourism and regenerative tourism.

The organizer of such an event needs to choose a suitable online platform. One challenge that we had with our platform was that it showed the times of the meetings only in one time zone, the organizer’s time zone. This caused challenges in a transnational event as one participant miscalculated the time difference resulting in no shows. Luckily, our event lasted two days, so new meetings could be re-scheduled and -arranged. Overall, the two-day format was proper and meetings took place on both days.

The received feedback from the event was encouraging and very positive. The event was considered useful and the new contacts and information valuable. The event resulted in further contact between participants so that is a positive sign of the effect of the event.

Text by Vilhelmiina Vainikka, University of Lapland.