The Social Travel Summit Belfast 2018 overview

The fifth edition of the Social Travel Summit was held from the 24th till 26th September 2018 in Belfast, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom. This year, 147 delegates from 20 countries – including 47 influencers – converged in Belfast to learn, network and share their knowledge.  Lots of buzz was created around the event – #STSBelfast was a number one Twitter trending topic in the UK for both days of the Summit! – so here is a summary of the highlights in a 3-minute video. Scroll down further for an overview of all the sessions and experiences the delegates enjoyed in Belfast.

A warm welcome in Belfast

This year’s destination partners, VisitBritain and Tourism Northern Ireland, extended a warm welcome to all delegates directly upon their arrival at Belfast Airports.


A red carpet welcome for STS Belfast delegates.

The delegates arrived in Belfast on 24th September. In the afternoon, tours were offered to Lough Neagh, Larchfield Estate and Belfast city. This was the first opportunity for the influencers and the tourism industry delegates to network with one another.


Delegates at the Lough Neagh tour.

STS Belfast Opening Reception

In the evening, delegates were welcomed at an exciting two-part Opening Reception sponsored by Tourism Northern Ireland. The first part took place at the beautiful Great Room in The Merchant Hotel, also the venue of STS Belfast. Delegates were welcomed by Keith Jenkins, CEO of iambassador, as well as representatives of VisitBritain, Tourism Northern Ireland and The Merchant Hotel.


The STS Belfast Opening Reception at The Merchant Hotel.


Bespoke #STSBelfast cocktails were specially created by The Merchant Hotel.

Representatives from iambassador, The Merchant, VisitBritain and Tourism Northern Ireland.

The second part of the Opening Reception comprised of food and street art walking tours around the vibrant Cathedral Quarter. The tours ended at The Dark Horse pub where delegates were treated to more food (including freshly-shucked oysters), drinks and entertainment.

Bespoke food and street art tours were organised for STS Belfast delegates.

The tours ended at The Dark Horse pub.

Freshly-shucked Northern Irish oysters.

In the colourful courtyard of The Dark Horse pub.

Conference Day 1

The following day, the first conference day kicked off with registrations and an STS tradition: an opening dance!

Registration at STS Belfast.

Delegates arriving inside the plenary hall at The Merchant Hotel.

STSBelfast kicked off with an STS tradition: the opening dance!

This was followed by a brilliant opening keynote by Jason Miller (Global Content Marketing Leader, LinkedIn).

Jason Miller from LinkedIn kicked off STS Belfast.

Conference delegates.

The rest of the day was filled with panel discussions, the STS Think Tank, and insightful presentations on determining and measuring outcomes by Erik van Erp and Laurel Robbins, content marketing by Ian Cleary and developing and integrating action plans for multiple channels by Dana DiTomaso.

The industry-to-industry panel discussed new developments in influencer marketing.

The influencer panel discussed issues and trends.

The influencers in discussion.

The lunch break, held at The Cloth Ear restaurant, was sponsored by Marketing Manchester.

An insightful presentation by Erik van Erp & Laurel Robbins.

The STS Think Tank discussed two topics and was moderated by Peter Jordan.

Ian Cleary from Razor Social.

The STS Gala Dinner

The STS Gala Dinner is one of the many highlights of STS each year. In Belfast, the Gala Dinner was held in the impressive St. Anne’s Cathedral. Sponsored by VisitBritain and Tourism Northern Ireland, the dinner had a Game of Thrones® theme. The delegates were dressed in cloaks and specially for the evening, the original Iron Throne from the hit series was brought to the Cathedral. Delegates were treated to a three-course dinner created by Northern Ireland’s leading chef and an evening full of music and dance.

Delegates were given GoT cloaks to wear to the STS Gala Dinner.

They then walked to the Cathedral.

The STS Belfast group photo on the steps of St. Anne’s Cathedral.

The Cathedral was the stunning venue for the STS Gala Dinner.

Delegates were given the opportunity to pose on the Iron Throne.

Delegates got to taste the best of Northern Ireland’s food products.

The chef putting the last touches on the meals.

The STS logo on the columns in the Cathedral.

The Belfast Community Gospel Choir opened the dinner with a rendition from The Greatest Showman.

A string quartet entertained delegates during the dinner.

An uplifting performance by Arco Electric!

The Belfast Story dancers continued with an energetic performance.

The STS delegates quickly joined in the dancing.

Conference Day 2

After a truly epic night at the Cathedral, the delegates continued with the conference the following day. The conference on day 2 kicked off with an opening keynote by Chris Marr (Content Marketing Academy) on strategic approaches to content marketing.

Chris Marr kicked off Day 2 of the conference.

Cait Berry and Emma Mead from VisitBritain pulled back the curtain on DMO Management and how they work with influencers.

Influencers from India, China and Brazil presented their tips on influencer marketing in their respective markets.

Q&A sessions at STS Belfast allow delegates to share their insights.

Lunch was sponsored by Tourism Northern Ireland.

The long lunches and coffee breaks are excellent networking and discussion opportunities.

Tourism Northern Ireland surprised Keith Jenkins, CEO of iambassador, and Janice Waugh, STS Conference Director, with a cake to celebrate the fifth birthday of STS!

Dana DiTomaso and Sorcha Mackenzie shared their tips on realistic strategies for a pay-to-play social world.

Peter Jordan presented a summary of the discussions in the STS Think Tank the previous day.

Download the STS 2018 Think Tank Report.

A regular speaker at STS, Nick Westergaard moderated the Q&A sessions and presented the closing keynote on Day 2.

Day 2 of the conference came to a close with big thank you’s from Keith Jenkins, CEO of iambassador, to the destination hosts VisitBritain and Tourism Northern Ireland.

STS Closing Party

STS Belfast ended with a fun English garden themed party at Babel, on the rooftop of the Bullitt Hotel. Sponsored by Visit England, the party featured make-up artists, a photo booth, bespoke cocktails and lots of food.

Keith Jenkins (iambassador), Emma Mead (VisitBritain) and Patricia Kingston (Tourism NI).

Glitter was applied!

And flowers were worn.

Fun in the photo booth.

Selfie time!

The rooftop of the Bullitt Hotel was the perfect venue for a fun party!

Thank you!

STS Belfast was arguably the best edition yet in terms of content, speakers and events. Delegates awarded STS Belfast an overall satisfaction score of 4.8 out of 5!

A big thank you goes to the destination hosts, VisitBritain and Tourism Northern Ireland, as well as the other sponsors: Visit England, Marketing Manchester, Amadeus, Titanic Belfast, Tourism Ireland and Visit Wales.

We would also like to thank all delegates for choosing to attend STS Belfast! We hope to see you again in 2019!

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