The newly named Helloworld ‘Travel’, annual Owner Managers Conference began last night on the Gold Coast with a welcome event and dolphin show at SeaWorld.

Helloworld group Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director Andrew Burnes officially opened the proceedings whilst Alan Joyce, CEO of Qantas addressed the group to say thank you for their ongoing support, acknowledging the “solid partnership between helloworld and Qantas”.

“It’s a great time to be in the industry and a great time to be a travel agent”.

Alan Joyce, CEO Qantas

Indeed Joyce’s presence alone at the event was one that was very warmly received by helloworld members and only highlighted further how tightly knit the relationship between the two CEO’s and the companies currently appears to be.

The same of which, perhaps couldn’t be said for the Seaworld itself, which appeared an awkward venue choice for a travel group event given the rising public movement against animal tourism and the work many suppliers (Including some actually sponsoring the conference) are doing to veto animal attractions from their product lines.

Opinion it seemed, was divided.

This year’s annual conference, held at the Gold Coast Convention Centre is the groups biggest yet with 700 plus members and suppliers in attendance and the overarching theme of ‘We make the difference’.

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This year’s conference is helloworld’s biggest yet

Attendance has grown significantly this year due to a re-shuffle of the event to pre end of financial year calendar date, a domestic conference location and the inclusion of the groups corporate arm ‘helloworld Business Travel’ Summit which began a day earlier and runs concurrently.

Historically, the two previously separate helloworld Owner Manager Conferences took place offshore in May (helloworld Business Travel) and November (helloworld Travel).

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The new helloworld.com.au which went live today

Given that many members operate both leisure and corporate offices, the group made the decision late last year in Singapore to align the conferences domestically over four days with one combined Gala Award Night (held on Friday night) as a more accessible and economically viable way for more members to be able to attend.

The ‘helloworld Travel’ event runs over Friday and Saturday with a full line up of speakers, workshops and networking opportunities for members and suppliers.

The event concludes on Saturday night with an event at Movieworld.

Did you attend the Owner Managers Conference? Share your thoughts below.