WITS Milwaukee Recap: Highlights & Lessons Learned

| | Events

Wow, time flies! It’s hard to believe we just spent the weekend in Milwaukee attending our first Women in Travel Summit as a team. In the past, our former Community Manager/Course Director had Britany attended these events… this year, Dave and Megan decided to attend with me!

Scenes from Blogger 101 Day at WITS

Blogger 101 Day

As part of our sponsorship deal with the Women in Travel Summit, we were proud to co-sponsor the Blogger 101 Day. On Friday afternoon, over 50 women joined us for several sessions of foundational blogging information. Here were the sessions:

  • Sue Reddel and Diana Laskaris from Food Travelist presented ‘How to Make Your Audience Fall in Love (With You!): Developing a Memorable Digital Brand’
  • Robin Catalano, writer and consultant, presented ‘Creating an Editorial Calendar: How to Develop Your Content Strategy and Build Early Engagement.’
  • Megan and I were joined by course partner Amanda Williams from A Dangerous Business and Ana Dominguez from The City Sidewalks for a panel titled ‘Shouting into the Void: How to be Heard on Social Media.’

We had great feedback from this event, and many people let us know that they would be joining the TBS Community to continue their blogging education. We look forward to welcoming them soon.

Keynotes & Speaking Sessions

Where to begin when it comes to Keynotes and Speakers? Here were a few highlights:

Oneika Raymond (from Oneika the Traveller) was part of an amazing lunchtime keynote where she discussed race, gender, and privilege as travelers. She brought up amazing points about how we can make our content and communities more accessible to people who may look, think, or feel differently than we do:

  • Be sure to write with inclusion in mind. Phrases like ‘flesh-toned’ or ‘hey guys’ may put off readers without you even realizing it.
  • Ask readers and fellow writers of differing opinions what they want to share. As you cultivate a space where more opinions can co-exist, your readers will respond positively to this.
  • Use your reach to share other voices. This means looking for travelers who blog about different topics and from different perspectives than you own, and sharing those too.

We wish we could have a transcript from the talk, because it was both enlightening and inspiring. As for our team, we are planning to work on improving inclusion and watching our biases in helping all of you become more successful.

TBS Community Member Lisa Lubin (from LLWorldTour) was a speaker twice! She sat on a panel entitled ‘From the Destinations: How We Want You to Pitch Us’ and also spoke on the topic of how to ‘Create Stellar Travel Photography and Video.’ Her tips on framing, changing perspective, and composition were eye-opening. (Pro-tip: next time you take a photo, physically move to take another shot – squat down, move a foot to your left, turn your whole body, get closer to your subject… these changes will give you a lot more choices when it comes time to pick the best shot!).

There were loads of other informative talks too, including helpful blogging ones like:

  • ‘How to Seal the Deal with a Kick-Ass Media Kit’ by Jana Seitzer
  • The Power of Mobile: Maximize Your Influence and Optimize Engagement By Thinking Mobile First’ by Aassia Haroon Haq
  • ‘Bigger Isn’t Always Better: Understanding Followers & Engagement Metrics’ by… me!

Parties, Networking, and Happy Hours

As we mentioned in the Facebook Live Office Hours we recorded on Saturday morning at WITS, one of the best parts of conferences is the chance to network in person. Here are some highlights from our WITS experience:

  • The host city, Milwaukee, pulled out all the stops for the various conference events! We had events at several Milwaukee hot spots, including Central Standard Distillery, the Harley Davidson Museum, and Potawatomi Casino & Hotel.

  • We had a table in the WITS sponsor room, which gave us a chance to meet many members and future members in person. Throughout the day, we got to talk about what TBS can do to help your blog – and learn what women attending this conference need from us.
  • We had two lunch tables of TBS members during the event, which gave members a chance to connect and share insights from their experiences.

Exploring Milwaukee Gallery 1

Exploring Milwaukee

In addition to all of the conference events, we also had a chance to get out and explore the host city of Milwaukee on our own.

The first night we were in town, the TBS team took a trip to Miller Park to watch the Brewers beat the Cardinals. Valerie got up early one morning to attend yoga at the Milwaukee Art Museum at sunrise, too.

We also spent Saturday night ‘on the town’ at the suggestion of the team at Visit Milwaukee. We were also celebrating Megan’s birthday, so we enjoyed a variety of establishments, including Wolf Peach, Lakefront Brewing, and the Safe House (a famous Milwaukee spy-themed bar).

All in all, we had a great educational and team-building experience in Milwaukee. We thoroughly enjoyed attending WITS and thought they did an amazing job making the experience meaningful for attendees, speakers, and sponsors (of which we were all three!).

See you next year in Quebec City!

We’re spelling TBS – do you see it?

Were you at WITS? What was your favorite part?