Fresh off my WITS16 (Women in Travel Summit 2016) high, I am now feeling motivated, inspired and a bit overwhelmed. This was my first conference ever as a blogger and I wasn’t sure what to expect or what I would really get out the experience. Well, I can say now that I wish I had attended two years ago, because Wanderful puts on a heck of conference and I learned so much valuable information. I can’t wait to get to work work work work work work.
Since I am from Orange County, I didn’t participate in the pre-conference outings, but they looked like they were a ton of fun and I’ll definitely plan on sightseeing next year in Milwaukee. I came to the conference for the two days of talks on Saturday and Sunday at beautiful Hotel Irvine.
Since I am a family traveler, I did bring my family along to enjoy the hotel while mama did here thang. Like I said earlier, this was my first conference, so I brought my backup squad in case it wasn’t my jam. Unfortunately for HotDaddy, it was my jam and I was having a blast!
Saturday kicked off with the Keynote Opening Session with Evita Robinson from Nomadness Tribe. It was high-energy and started the Women in Travel Summit 2016 off on the right note! It was thrilling to know I was about to spend the weekend with a diverse group of travelers. Solo, nomadic, urban, adventure, foodie, family, luxury, budget, style, jetsetters, RVers; you name it they were there. But what was truly amazing was our common ground. We were all women travelers wanting to grow, learn and network.
The hardest thing about the conference was deciding which talk to go to. I was new to all of this and wanted to hear it all! My approach was to focus on the blog itself and talks that would help me turn my passion into a business.
So, the first talk I attended was Securing an Unbeatable Sponsorship Deal with Erin Bender. I was super stoked about this talk, not only because I want to know how to nail a sponsorship, but also because I have written several time for Travel with Bender! I was excited to meet Erin in person. The talk was amazing and full of useful information, like how to create a press page for companies. Plus, we got to take home some cute little Travelocity gnomes.
The next talk I went to was the How To Be A 6-Figure Blogger, because who doesn’t want to know how to do that, right? Alexandra Jimenez from Travel Fashion Girl taught us the best ways to earn income from our blogs. She also shared with us the worst ways, which I appreciated. No one wants to waste their time. I took a lot of notes in this talk and am currently working my way through to build my business. I’m not just a blogger. I am a CEO! Ya dig?
After a nice catered lunch, it was time for Creating Differentiated Products in Crowded Markets by Jen Briggs from Hey Jen Briggs. This was really about creating your brand, which I enjoyed. Knowing my brand will help me build and keep my audience. I discovered my core values and I now know how to focus my blog to those values.
The last talk of the day was How to Blog and Deliver on a Press Trip…And Get Asked Back by Sherry Ott from Ott’s World. This couldn’t have come at a better time for me as I will be talking my first press trip this next week and will be staying at the Arizona Inn in Tuscan. I really want to make a good impression and build a reputation as a professional travel writer, so this talk was amazing for me. I now have the tools to make this trip a success and hopefully keep those press trips coming!
Throughout the day I was networking like crazy and meeting so many amazing women. So, when it came time for cocktail I was ready to mingle. We all got a drink ticket for the Fuzzy Astronaut Cocktail, sponsored by Huntsville, Al. It was tangy and delicious. In addition to the cocktail ticket, cocktail hour included free wine. So, it was a very happy hour!
Oozing enthusiasm from the day before, I was bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and eager to start my day. I grabbed a cup of coffee and headed to my first talk, How to Monetize Your Blog (Without Feeling Scammy), by Brook Roberts of Yoga Travel Tree and In Study Abroad. I learned about how to focus my energy on ROI or Return Of Investment and what products you can offer that utilize your authority and maintain your credibility. I learned how the build a foundation for my blog to become a successful business. I walked away with some great ideas that I will reveal soon!
After a delicious Sunday Brunch, which I totally overloaded on, was my first workshop. From Experiences to Stories: A Round-Table Workshop for Writers by Kristin Winet from Bon Touriste. I learned new ways to think about angles for stories. We brainstormed, outlined and basically created a whole story right there in the workshop. I took a destination I had written about a million times and still found a new way to write about that experience. I loved the interaction with the other writers and travelers. I couldn’t wait to write my story.
Then I went to a panel discussion about Brands/Bloggers Working Together. I was great to hear about the working relationship from both perspectives. It gave me great ideas on how to approach brands as a blogger and what I should expect from the brands. I learned how to make this a mutually beneficial relationship that I am eager to create.
Lastly, the closing Keynote was given by Nadine Sykora from Hey Nadine. It was a truly inspirational way to end the weekend and Nadine is just adorable. So talented, her travel videos are exciting yet personable. I have a YouTube channel with the intention of actually uploading travel videos, but always feel overwhelmed and don’t do anything. After this keynote, I left feeling so excited to edit my videos and put some fun things together. Yes! I will start putting videos on my YouTube channel, finally!
All in all the Women in Travel Summit 2016 was an amazing experience and Wanderful did a fantastic job putting together this conference. I walked away with a notebook full of notes that I can’t wait to start implementing into my own blog and business. I made so many wonderful connections with travelers, bloggers, PR reps and more. My first conference experience left me wondering why I didn’t attend sooner. It was a priceless experience. I can’t wait until next year in Milwaukee!
Have you ever attended a WITS conference? Tell me about your experience.
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