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  • Writer's pictureMicaela Giacobbe

My Journey

Updated: Mar 18, 2022



Eight years ago when I left my 14 year old job at #ReedExhibitions to pursue a whacky and crazy idea that was bubbling in my head, I was genuinely terrified but at the same time quite excited.


I was leaving the safety of a long-lasting well established job and a great pension (the ones that you cannot find any more now a days...). Crazy you may think and yet I decided to take the plunge as the instinct of pursuing what I believed deep down, was seriously strong.


When I joined the Travel Weekly Group on the 6 March 2014, I was feeling as if I was floating with enthusiasm. At that time my home situation was not great, as I was in the process of going through some tough personal challenges.


The Chairman of the business #CliveJacobs with his CEO Duncan and MD Stuart, welcomed me with open arms and made me feel at home from day one.


The creation of the #ConnectionsWAY brand was at the time one of the most exciting projects I had ever undertaken and having the freedom to create and implement this new brand from zero was truly exhilarating.


The logo creation was tons of fun, I still have all the different variations of the logo and when I look at it, it takes me right back then.



The first event launched only six months from my start date at the #FourSeasonsHampshire in late September 2014 with 30 suppliers and 30 buyers from all the world - the Founding Members of Connections! I am eternally grateful to each and every one of them for the trust and the support. #EvangelineEstrella, #MarkRice and #PeterConway will remember that event well, I am sure.


The next couple of years were tough. Establishing a brand as well as a new way of doing business in a very competitive market like the luxury travel industry, was not easy.



The years that followed 2015 - 2018 saw the brand specialise in the travel luxury sectors of Meetings and Incentive, Adventure, Wellbeing and Weddings, all having its own dedicated events.


In 2019 Connections truly flourished, We started to have bespoke events on behalf of tourist boards in #Switzerland, #Argentina, #Tokyo, #California and #Oman.


2020 was going to be the best year yet...



The year of 2020


In February, despite the media alerting the world about an unknown virus coming from China, we managed to successfully run Connections Tokyo and in March Connections California, just ahead of the world locking down.


March was something of a blur. I spent a good part of ten days having sleepless nights thinking that if I didn't do something, I would loose everything I had fought so hard to achieve - I would loose Connections.


So, one morning I woke up and met my team on zoom. With them, we took the decision that we would be on hand and help our beloved industry. I felt strongly we had to be present in any way we could. We would do:

  • virtual socials

  • virtual meetings events and

  • virtual talks.


In the space of a couple of days we started talking to people we never spoke to before, who were experts in crisis management, financial business planning, people management and started to put together a brand new programme for our industry. Not only for our members, everyone was welcome.


On top of it all, we decided to launch the Connections online Community. If we could not meet in person at least we could continue to stay in touch online!


It was then that I remembered the parting phrase that #CarolineBeteta, president of #VisitCalifornia, used at the closing Connections California event:


'We stand united for travel'


and I have been using that hashtag ever since!



Weeks rolled into months and months into a year and the situation did not seem to improve and then - the vaccine! The lifeline that we were all waiting for, had finally arrived!


This period for me has been quite tolling, culminated by the fact that at home I had a serious health scare. Throughout it all, my team has been absolutely supportive. You see, first of all, they are my friends, and then, team colleagues. In time of need, you always see who is your friend and I am so lucky to have been supported by them all.


I am proud to say that despite the pandemic crisis, Connections managed to navigate through these challenging times, thanks to its ability to adapt and change. We managed to come out the other side stronger and more resilient than ever. We have had the privilege to support and offer guidance to many of our members and partners.


At the end of 2020, I saw a glimpse of hope to run an in-person event in 2021. Moreover, as a business, the only way to survive was to work together, so I suggested the creation of an event that showcased all that the Jacobs Media Group had to offer. Clive, Duncan and Stuart loved it, and #GlobalTravelWeek powered by Connections was conceived.


At the end of September 2021, Global Travel Week launched in London with 300 professionals who could all meet in person under one roof. It was wonderful to be able to see each other in person after so long, and to do business together through memorable experiences. The buzz was truly palpable and the event, a great success.


Time to go


This pandemic gave me the opportunity to really think about my life and my work and what would be a natural next step, so, I have taken the decision to move on.


I am truly grateful to Clive, Duncan and the JMG team, for giving me the opportunity to create Connections from a simple idea to what it has become today.


I am truly thrilled to be able to pass on the mantel to Greg Reeves who has been over the year a fantastic and incredible support. I have no doubt that he will do great things and I wish him and the team all the best for the future as I know Connections will only continue to go from strength to strength.


What’s next for me? Well, for the first time ever, I have no definitive plan. I will be with Connections as Managing Director until March 7, 2022. After that, we will see what the future holds!


That is it for now!

See you soon!

Ciao ciao

Micaela




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