“Dear Elena. I told them I want you to speak at our cultural heritage tourism conference in Vicenza later this year. About the power of community building, digital communication strategies, and the use of Social Media. Why? Because I believe it is important – even, or especially, in the context of religious cultural heritage.
I believe even the Vatican will be there ..”
My dear friend & EuropeTour networking partner Lilian Grootswagers, of the Belgium-based organisation “FRH – Future For Religious Heritage”, trusts me. Ever since we met about a year ago during the kick-off event of our EuropeTour partnership, Lilian and I share a feeling of mutual respect, trust, and business development, aided by our clever and no less charming “mastermind” colleague Karin Drda-Kühn from Germany.
Funded by the Erasmus+ programme of the European Union, my colleagues across Italy, Spain, Austria, Bulgaria, Romania, Poland, Germany and Belgium, meet several times a year to discuss & develop (Social Media) guidelines and training modules for stakeholders in cultural tourism development. For me personally, it is a very rewarding project to be a part of, and I feel truly honoured having been asked to speak at a conference of such a prestigious format: The FRH Biennial Conference called “Tourists, Travellers & Pilgrims”.
“This will be a great opportunity, Elena. Both for you as well as the for the entire audience of (predominantly) church representatives, historians, networking partners, cultural institutions, and more.”
The stakes are high – yet so interesting at the same time, “translating” our usual spiel of the importance of Social Media & Community Building to an audience of European Union, church & cultural heritage institution representatives.
I have worked hard on this presentation. Shared & discussed it with my friends in Canada, where I was still travelling at the time, pulling in feedback & video material from my trusted friends at StoryTravelers and their amazing “Hymn to Jordan” video project. Key to my message, a message supported and shared by the entire industry of online influencers and community builders, is that “Social Media pans out to be flirtatious, inspirational storytelling led by digital influencers in a global market place. Key success principles include developing (business) targets, innovative thinking and a focus on achieving long-term trust relationships. All of this is embedded in the paradigm shift from cultural to creative travel. Think outside the box: When was the last time you did something for the first time? Then go out and do it. Be the best you can be. Together with your peers and networks, you have the power to go far indeed …”
Now sit back, relax, and be prepared to gasp, “I want to go to Jordan“! Now 🙂 What an amazing work, dear Caspar Diderik, as I continue to be impressed with the visual art you are creating here:
“If we care for our future, we have to be aware of our past. A great part of heritage in Europe is religious, and we need to address people’s concerns when it comes to protecting and safeguarding its future.”
A great many more presentations are being held during the FRH Biennial Conference in Vicenza, such as this quote given in the opening speech by Olivier de Rohan Chabot, the president of “Future For Religious Heritage”.
I really enjoyed listening to Walter Zampieri, Head of Unit “Culture Policy and Intercultural Dialogue” at the European Commission, too, who in his keynote talks about the “challenge of reaching out to the public, a total of 28 European member states. We really need organisations, such as FRH, to help us there. In 2018, when new member states join the EU and we commemorate the end of the Second World War, the aim is to have even more access to monuments and sites during the ‘European Heritage Days’, as more and more bridges are being built through national activities.”
Christin and I take to each other naturally, and immediately. She virtually rolls out the red carpet for my subsequent presentation about the “Power of Community Building through Social Media”: Her talk focuses on the virtues of having worked with digital influencers on the proliferation of the Transromanica Route in South-Eastern Europe, where several of my international colleagues have really led the way in terms of active experiences and promotion of the network.
Christin also stresses that “religious orders have deeply influenced the European continent over centuries. In fact, we may consider pilgrimage as one of the oldest forms of tourism! The promotion of pilgrimage paths is at the heart of the activities of the Council of Europe, and the ‘European Cultural Routes’ programmes is but one of its offspring networks. Building churches has always been about education, and providing shelter to people travelling across the continent, incorporating values of universal degree: Unity and diversity. Through our international website, design & audio guides, publications in travel magazines such as, ‘A fascinating journey through medieval times’, as well as the more recent cooperation with bloggers, influencers & video producers, we believe we are achieving a way forward of raising awareness among a wider European community of travel and culture enthusiasts.”
Have a look here for the inspiring “Cultural Routes – Blogging Europe” travel video directed by Emiliano Bechi Gabrielli in partnership with iAmbassador:
If you want to learn even more about the FRH Future For Religious Heritage Conference, be sure to follow up with their website and publications here: http://www.frh-europe.org.
All of my conference photos, including our day trips to Vicenza, Venice & Verona, are published here: