Now in its 26th year, the World Youth and Student Travel Conference (WYSTC) attracts leaders in the youth and student travel market from around the world for three days of trading, networking, and digging into the latest industry insights. We spoke to a longtime WYSE Travel Confederation member who has headed to WYSTC nearly every year since it launched in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. Perhaps WYSTC 2017 in Montreal is your first time to join in the action- or maybe it is the tenth- but this year you are in luck. Daniel Ebert, Vice President of International Exchange for Greenheart International is sharing do’s and don’ts, plus tips and tricks from more than 20 years of WYSTC.
Do make a plan
Attending WYSTC gives you the chance to schedule up to 45 business appointments. Schedules fill fast, and tackling your appointment line-up early is the first step to ensuring you make the most of your networking opportunities.
“Generally speaking, WYSTC attracts higher quality cultural exchange organizations, so many of our partnerships started by that first one-on-one meeting,” explained Ebert. He said the secret to scheduling success for Greenheart International is this pre-conference strategy:
· Examine the entire attendee list for current and prospective partners
· Create meeting notes of questions and comments to be sure to cover all necessary topics during the meeting
· Compile notes on all partners in attendance- outlining partnership details such as contract information, partnership successes and challenges, and any other observations
· Review the trading profile and website of new contacts and make notes of questions to be prepared for the meeting
· Select a variety of marketing materials to share with people at WYSTC, whether it is information on an iPad, print brochures, and/or swag.
Ebert says he also reviews the seminar schedule to leave room for discovering the next big industry trends. “Personally, I love the seminars that have visionaries presenting. It’s fascinating to hear different theories about what the future beholds.”
Pro tip: If you have a break between business appointments, but not enough time to join a seminar, you can sit in on a WYSTC workshop. These small, informal groups are the hidden gems of the Trade Hall– just steps away from your next appointment. You can even get a sneak peak at preliminary insights into the latest New Horizons survey findings. Take a look at the programme.
According to Ebert, “Anyone new to WYSTC should be ready for a productive and fun time.” As far as having fun goes, he said the nightly social events are by far the most memorable.
Although, after a long day of appointments and seminars, it is likely to be the bed rather than the bar that is calling your name. Ebert’s advice is not to call it quits too soon.
“Splash some water on your face and show up! The one-on-one meetings are great. However, the less formal social events are when people let their hair down and have a good time together, catch up with the competition, and much more,” he said.
While he’s still reminiscing about the WYSTC Istanbul farewell party (you’ll have to ask him for those details yourself), he keeps the midnight oil burning, year after year, with this ‘secret recipe’: “Emergen-C and hand sanitizer. Stay healthy!”
Pro tip: If you are arriving into Montréal on Monday, 25 September and are not sure about what to do in the evening, meet us for “kick-off drinks” with a cash bar. It is a great way to ease into the WYSTC week and enjoy informal drinks with fellow delegates at Bar Furco beginning at 19:00. See the social events line-up.
Do follow up
In just three days you’ve aced your business appointments, been a networking whiz, and stockpiled valuable industry knowledge – guess that’s a WYSTC wrap, right? Not really, according to Ebert. “In our experience, nearly all of the success of WSYTC comes from what happens after the conference,” he told us. To make the most of what he learned and contacts made, Ebert suggests you take these steps when you return to the office:
· Type up notes on all formal and informal meetings and share them with staff across your organization
· Enter all this information into your internal database for future reference
· Follow-up directly with people you met to ensure topics discussed during the formal and informal meetings are addressed
Pro tip: The WYSTC online scheduling tool, Marcom, gives you the ability to export your schedule, or even the entire attendee list to stay connected with the people you meet during WYSTC.
Do stay connected
WYSTC has been the start of numerous successful business ventures for Greenheart International. “We currently operate in 75 countries and a countless number of our current partners were originally met at WYSTC,” said Ebert. For Greenheart International, WYSTC attendance is much more than a three-day conference. Being a WYSTC delegate and a WYSE Travel Confederation member is a long-running investment in their business strategy.
“Greenheart International continues to return to WYSTC, as we have for the past 20 plus years, because this event remains a great opportunity to meet with current and prospective partners. It is a practical and fun way to get caught up with many people across the industry over the span of a few days.”
If you see our WYSTC pro Daniel Ebert out and about in Montréal, be sure to thank him for all his great advice! We appreciate Greenheart International and all of our longtime WYSTC attendees who make WYSTC such a special event, year after year.