“Are you sure I really don’t need to wear a mask?” The question dominated my mind as I entered the breakfast room of the Comwell hotel on Monday 27 September, the first day of the 2021 EuroCHRIE conference. I felt delinquent but, simultaneously, extremely excited. This was life as we used to know it: a conference with friends, old and new, with industry discussions and academic debate, and with local cultural immersion, starting at the end of each day with the Danish fyraftensøl (after-work beer). The excitement was palpable, as the 120 in-person delegates started gathering for the 37th EuroCHRIE conference in Aalborg, Denmark. The hybrid model allowed another 82 online participants to join, with the total delegates representing 24 countries from four continents.
The conference was hosted by University College of Northern Denmark, and the conference chairs Birgitte Hvingel Jorgensen and Anders Justenlund had done an amazing job in organizing the conference. The activities, the venues, and the organization of the conference created an atmosphere that was simultaneously professional and relaxed. The delegates, for many of whom this was the first in-person conference since the pandemic started, were ready to listen, learn, contribute and co-create, and the activities offered fascinating insights into local business, culture, hospitality, food, and drink. The combination of excited delegates and thoughtful organizers led to a fantastic experience that earns a special place in the long line of successful EuroCHRIE conferences.
The first two days of the conference offered a wide range of activities from introduction to Danish local business and destination branding to creative workshops on food experience, design thinking and interactive learning. The latter two days were built around keynotes and parallel sessions of 158 submissions, during which delegates had the opportunity to present and discuss their research papers and posters. A new introduction to EuroCHRIE program was the lecturers’ lounge, a submission-based discussion forum to share best practice in teaching and co-create future pedagogical innovation.
Connecting with people in the real world was a fantastic experience and the efficient management of COVID-19 in Denmark allowed us to do this with minimal restrictions. However, safety is a priority for everyone. As a cherry on the top of the wonderful conference, no cases were reported connected to it. We were, once again, able to learn, network, and enjoy without creating risks. I really look forward to seeing you in the next EuroCHRIE conference, October 2022 in Apeldoorn, the Netherlands. You can find more information at https://eurochrie.org/2022/.
I wish you all a successful finish to 2021!