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Daniel Levine, a leading expert on trends, will be the keynote speaker Thursday at the Connecticut Conference on Tourism, an all-day event at the Connecticut Convention Center in Hartford.
Levine, global editor of the website WikiTrend.org, leads an international team of more than 9,000 trend-spotting researchers who chronicle the latest ideas, products and experiences. As a consultant, he helps tourism and other consumer-oriented businesses - from American Express and Deutsche Telekom to Carlsberg Breweries and South African Tourism - to be more innovative, inspirational and profitable.
He answered five questions posed by The Day:
Q. What is your background, and how did you become a trends expert?
A. I studied history in school because I was interested in how we came to be where we are now as a culture. When it came to choosing a career, I realized that no historical era is more interesting to me than the present - the time in which I myself am living. At the Avant-Guide Institute, the trends consultancy which I lead, we have a smart team of professional thinkers with curious minds who are adept at synthesizing information about what is happing around the world, connecting the dots, and recognizing trends when they form.
Q. How do you go about tracking trends?
A. Over the past 10 years we have assembled a worldwide network of trend spotters who are passionate about new ideas, products and experiences. Now over 9,000 strong and spread throughout the globe, these people continuously feed us information on things they find that are new, unique and unusual. Back in our New York office, whenever we start to see the same kind of things appear in a particular part of the world, or within a specific psychographic or demographic, we recognize patterns and are able to "connect the dots" to see trends forming, figure out where they are coming from and where they are going.
Q. How can our readers learn about what is trending?
A. Originally we tracked trends exclusively for our business partners. But what is going on in the world is so fun and fascinating we decided to make a lot of what we do available to the general public on our website, www.WikiTrend.org. The website is updated regularly with some of the most inspiring and unique ideas driving business and culture around the world.
Q. What developments in social media should small businesses be aware of?
A. Consolidation has made social media for businesses easier because there are now only a few websites that matter. Have a presence on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube and you are pretty much covered. If you are a retail store or tourism-related business, add Yelp and TripAdvisor to the mix.
Q. What's the perception of Connecticut among travelers?
A. Connecticut has a reputation as a sophisticated destination that appeals to educated travelers, history buffs, and regional travelers who are visiting friends or looking for short getaways. The state pulls most of its tourists from places that are an easy drive away. While some places, like Mystic, are quite well known and distinctive, Connecticut in general could benefit from greater differentiation separating it from other New England states.
What: Connecticut Conference on Tourism
Where: Connecticut Convention Center, 100 Columbus Blvd., Hartford
When: All day Thursday. Registration begins at 8 a.m., followed by a breakfast reception at 9. Seminars and workshops will take place in the morning and afternoon, followed by a late afternoon networking reception.
Information, etc.: To register and purchase tickets for the conference or to inquire about sponsorships or exhibition opportunities, visit www.CelebrateTourism.com/tickets, call (860) 444-0448 or email TourismConference@quinnandhary.com.