WITnext Summercamp Review

Two Fridays ago whilst the haze in Singapore hit a record high of PSI 400, I spent my day checking out an event called WITnext Summercamp, a free event for students and entrepreneurs who are interested in learning about the travel industry in Singapore.

WITnext Summercamp Programme
Programme sheet for the conference

Now, I am neither a student nor much of a start-up entrepreneur, but I’ve always pondered about working in the travel industry, and wondered what exactly comprised the Singapore travel industry, so I took a day off and hauled myself to the conference, building haze and all. I had no idea what to expect – I had seen some of the programme online, but who knew how that would be translated in real life.

The turnout was pretty small, probably because of the mounting haze, and most of it was conducted lecture style in the auditorium, with organizer and moderator Yeo Siew Hoon talking to and facilitating discussion amongst a mix of travel industry leaders to newbies. You can read more about Siew Hoon’s detailed account here to get an overview of the various sessions rather than rely on my spotty memory – I got a little bit sleepy in the afternoon >_<.

WITnext Summercamp - Startups
Here’s a panel where Siew Hoon talked to various travel start-ups in Singapore, I for one didn’t know that our travel-related start-up scene was so diverse and vibrant

I liked the wide scope of topics which I thought were pretty interesting and relevant to young people thinking about embarking on a career in travel, from the very diverse range of jobs that make up the travel industry, to views from a HR person about working in this industry, and even talking to those who’ve just started to dip their toes in the travel industry. A lot of the advice was useful even for those not in the travel industry like myself.

WITnext Summercamp - Quote
I quite like this quote in this panel by Filip Filipov

Besides the lectures and panels, there were also some bootcamps in the afternoon after lunch. I’m not sure if it was the messy organization or the fact that we were running a bit late, I only managed to attend one panel on maximizing your internships, which would have been useful to me many years ago but not where I am right now.

There was also a mini fair of sorts with booths where they invited several companies down to network, which seemed a little quiet and personally I didn’t quite know what to do with some of the booths, were they for networking? Getting information? Submitting your resume? And there weren’t that many booths to begin with so it was a little odd. The Expedia booth was bright yellow and eye-catching, and of course given its scale, free swag (Thanks Maureen!):

WITnext Summercamp - Expedia Swag
Expedia Luggage Tag and Pen

Some other activities to jazz up the day include a pitch contest where 5 random people got to make a pitch about what they thought was their best element, and prizes of course for random things like being the most social (I think if I tweeted just a bit more I might have pipped the winner to the prize, which was a staycation at a hotel in Singapore!) and most brightly dressed.

But most importantly it was the networking that most people were here for, and I think the start-ups benefited the most as they got to meet with bigwigs from the global companies. I made the effort to make some connections of my own as well, though I probably could have been more social – I didn’t stay for the drinks at the end because the haze was really knocking me out.

While not the most directly relevant to me, I’m quite glad I went to check it out because it did give me a broader perspective on travel as an industry, and while I love travel, I’m not sure I actually want to work in travel as a full-time job! A theme that came up over and over is that you have to love and want to make people happy – working in travel is about a service more than anything else, and I’m not sure if that will suck away the joy of travelling for me. I’ll definitely keep my eye out for other WIT events and consider attending next year’s Summercamp if the programmes are relevant to me.

Although, I’m definitely quite psyched up about the TBEX Dublin 2013 event for travel bloggers that I’ll be attending in October now! Whee~

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