The conference business has come a long way with the growth of social media. Today, more and more events have a hashtag and show tweets and Facebook posts on screens or online to conference attendees to keep everyone involved. But this week, the World Travel Market learned that hashtags can sometimes backfire.
According to this article from Skift.com, Maldivian protestors took to Twitter and started using the World Travel Market hashtag #WTM13 to urge conference attendees to boycott Villa Hotels. Protestors say that owner of the hotel group Qasim Ibrahim allegedly funded a coup that led to the resignation of President Mohamed Nasheed last February. Villa Hotels is portrayed as supporting the current regime.
The protestors used the hashtag to tweet photos of police brutality in the Maldives. The tweets were interspersed with tweets one would expect to see from the World Travel Market—trade-show booths and conference sessions.
The World Travel Market did issue a tweet stating that they were in no way affiliated with the protest tweets. More over on Skift.com.