In one day, the Guam Visitors Bureau hosted a convergence of valuable ideas and trends in travel, tourism and technology during a conference at the Dusit Thani Guam Resort on Wednesday.

Titled Travel Talks Digital Global Summit, the conference featured some of Asia's more notable social media influencers, who were paired with a select group of their Guam-based social media counterparts for a truly local experience at some of Guam's best beaches and other nature sites, notably the Valley of the Latte, Two Lovers Point and the Marbo Cave swimming hole, among other sightseeing stops.

These influencers led regular lives who left their careers to become social media influencers. Two of them were flight attendants, one had a doctorate from China, another is a new mom who found a niche teaching English in Japan on YouTube, another has found an enormous number of followers going around the world and sharing snapshots as a Harry Potter-like adventure with a digitally enhanced flying broom. 

Some of the social media influencers who attended the conference traveled to Guam for the first time, and Guam's unique cultural identity and that it's so not just a "mini-Hawaii" were among their impressions of the island. Guam does offer its own cultural travel getaway experience and we need more international social media influencers and more local talent to feature our island.

Their stories and influence on social media could help Guam reach out to more travelers and from tourists in many parts of the globe. Some of the social media influencers were from Japan, South Korea, China, Taipei, Russia, the Philippines and Vietnam.

Besides the input from the social media influencers on what will be valuable for Guam to get more exposure as a destination, Guam tourism industry officials also gained a lot of insight from the powerhouse lineup of business experts in technology and travel.

Just to name a few, Kei Shibat, co-founder and CEO of online site, Line Travel which has more than 40 million members mostly in Japan; Paul Brady, editorial strategist at Skift, a travel industry tracker; MQ Wang, co-founder and CEO of ZeroZero Robotics; Ryan Cahill, who's with digital marketing strategy and insight at United Airlines; were among the speakers.

Amid all the talk about industry, technology and other trends in travel, Chika, or Bilingirl Chika as she’s known on YouTube, offered an insight that Guam as a community can really take to heart.
 
At first, she said Guam was never on her list of destinations to visit and share with her global followers because she’d always heard the territory was a “little Hawaii.” Those thoughts rang true when she spent her first day in Tumon and saw the ABC Stores and Eggs N Things that the Aloha state is known for.

She said she was a bit concerned about what she would share in her video as she didn’t want it to be a repeat of content she’d already shared during her previous trips to Hawaii.

But it was during her time touring the island and going beyond commercial Tumon that she said she found something unique about our destination - the people.

From the friendly staff at Beachin’ Shrimp who took time out from serving tables to entertain her 1-year-old daughter nicknamed Pudding, to strolling the south and swimming at Priest Pools to various types of kelaguen and tinaktak at the  De Oro family home in Inarajan.

“It’s the people,” she said.

Chika got to experience the culturally unique and friendly Guam that we all love and it is these types of human connections and experiences that will make tourists’ trips to our island unforgettable.

We all can do our part to create more experiences for those visiting our island. Whether it’s offering to take a photo for a couple posing at the beach, or taking pride in keeping our island beautiful and litter-free.

After all, Guam is the place we call home and love, and our melting pot of cultures mixed with the Håfa Adai spirit is what makes us stand out from other destinations.

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