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Riviera Connect EXPO: A Triumph in Business, Tourism, and Hospitality

The inaugural Riviera Connect Business, Tourism & Hospitality EXPO, held on Tuesday 3rd October 2023, heralded a resounding success, setting a new benchmark for collaborative events in our community. With an impressive turnout of 460 delegates and a bustling 107 exhibitors, Riviera Connect resonated profoundly with our dynamic business, tourism, and hospitality landscape.

This groundbreaking event, a joint endeavour by the Torbay Business Forum and English Riviera BID Company, began with an electrifying early morning breakfast network, captivating 130 engaged participants. Michael Smith of The Venus Group, fresh from their recent accolade at the Food Drink Devon awards, where they earned the prestigious Sustainability Pioneer Special Award, set an inspiring tone for the day.

One of the EXPO’s distinctive features was its emphasis on networking, providing an unrivalled platform for forging connections that lead to lasting business relationships. Delegates, breakfast networkers and exhibitors combined, over 600 people were in attendance.

Great thanks are extended to the sponsors – Gold sponsor Big Wave Marketing, Silver sponsors Torbay Business Forum, English Riviera BID Company, Insignia Creative, South Devon College, Wollens Full Spectrum Law, enlightenHR, TDA, and Bronze sponsors Ocean Group & Inter-line DIY and Building Supplies – for their unwavering support. Special recognition is also due to the Riviera International Centre team, especially Laura Kozaczynski, for their exceptional efforts in ensuring the event’s success.

The tireless work of the steering group members, Alison Benney, Simon Beer, Roger Lissenden, Donna Wynne, Alison Bayliss, Kelly Widley, Carolyn Custerson and ‘Just call me 2 Mic’s’ Steve Reynolds was instrumental in making Riviera Connect a triumph.

The efforts of the tourism students from South Devon College who assisted with registration and sold raffle tickets, raising funds for our chosen charity, Friends of South Devon College, were truly commendable. Riviera Connect was proud to top up their fundraising amount to an impressive £500.

A dynamic lineup of 14 speakers and 5 workshops captivated the audience with a wealth of expertise. From unravelling the potential of AI to mastering customer service excellence and exploring the world of tomorrows tourism, from building a brand that thrives to taking our first steps to Make It Net Zero, an introduction to Tik Tok to posting on linked in for a viral response, our speakers covered a diverse range of topics crucial to thriving in today’s ever-evolving business, tourism, and hospitality landscape.

Claire Flower from Beverly Holidays praised the EXPO as a dynamic blend of education, networking, and team building. “We took the whole team down for an out-of-office learning experience and arrived early, and the quality of the event and speakers held our attention until the very end. It’s a testament to the vibrant spirit of Torbay’s tourism, hospitality and business industries.”

“I really enjoyed the day. It was not only useful to meet new contacts at the exhibition but to network with so many people I already knew all in one room. I also found the talks informative and have taken several action points away with me as a result.” Andy Banner-Price, of The 25 Boutique B&B.

‘What a great day sponsoring and exhibiting at the very first Riviera Connect EXPO. A representation of the strong links that exist across organisations and business sectors in Torbay and South Devon and the power of ‘Bringing Business Together’ , Michael Laukkanen of South Devon College.

The day concluded with award-winning Bays Brewery and Hunts Cider generously treating attendees to a complimentary drink, creating an ideal atmosphere for informal networking. Throughout the event, Devonia Water ensured everyone stayed refreshed and energised.

Riviera Connect has set a new standard for collaborative events, and we eagerly anticipate building on this success in the years to come. Feedback is currently being gathered to enhance and expand the event for 2024, and bookings have already begun! Save the date: Thursday 17th October 2024.

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