When someone with a successful blog recommended attending the Women in Travel Summit 2016 (#WITS16) — geared for travel bloggers and entrepreneurs — it was pretty much a no brainer for me to sign up. This was a local event and presented an opportunity for my first “formal” look-see into this field in which I have been actively participating for more than four years. Up to now, I have been guided by reader feedback, content I think is worthy of sharing and, obviously, my travels. But maybe there’s more …
The city of Irvine, CA, is a mere (optimistically) hour drive so the commitment of all day Saturday with overnight stay was easy. Those coming in from out of town/state could opt for many special events offered from Friday to Monday. This is the third year for the summit, organized by Beth Santos — the founder of Wanderful. This organization bills itself as a network/sisterhood for women who travel, who blog and who want to connect. For me, the part about it being women-specific is probably the least compelling reason to attend. I just wanted to see what I might be missing and what I can learn about this process to make it better — you know, for you my readers!
Of particular appeal was being able to narrow my session choices to the “Blogger” track. Other track choices included “Entrepreneur,” “Traveler” and “Just for Fun and Networking” — even “How to Monetize your Blog (Without Feeling Scammy).” That was clearly my favorite as was the presenter Brooke Roberts (@TheNewDorothy). I’m pretty sure we’ll be fast friends — at least online — for I had her at “Rock Chalk,” my greeting to her. Hint, you need to be a KU fan to understand. Why was hers my favorite? Because Brooke’s presentation was articulate (nary a “you guys” when speaking to the audience), concise, personal and full of take-away’s. I look forward to utilizing my notes and her slides for further fine-tuning this process.
A few of the sessions dug deep into social media — getting followers, Google analytic stuff (important if one wants sponsors but may as well be Greek to me), finding the right social media platform and sticking to it, plus more. Many of the attendees I encountered expressed frustration with not being able to figure out how to monetize their knowledge. They indicated their contacts are always coming to them for travel tips and information — for free, of course. And it is true: when one is a perceived “expert” in a given field, it usually follows that they will be asked questions about something. The hubby can certainly attest to this (as a CPA) — not only during tax season but pretty much year around –as well as any physician with the misfortune of being seated next to me (orthopedists and plastic surgeons beware).
Takeaways from the sojourn: I was pleasantly surprised by many of the aspects the Hotel Irvine. Not top of the line, but impressive service, bedding, beds, towels, room size and event staff, and being well-located right off the freeway. Not so good — water pressure and bathroom lighting (pet peeves of mine). The nearby restaurant Bistango has been around for 25 years but this was my first visit (with O.C. family). This is a big space — bar area, live music/dancing, large tables — but we had a cozy booth for much of the night, with a very enjoyable meal and good service.
Above: photo of a typical room at the hotel. Right are photos from Bistango’s website.
Lastly, many conversations with fellow attendees reminded me of how fortunate I am to be able to travel the world in an upscale manner. Not so for many at this summit who can only dream about some of my experiences. The question is, what can I do for you to make your travel dreams a reality???