Conferences are an outstanding way to network with people. As a travel writer, I can choose conferences in locations around the world. This month, I attended two notable travel conferences so that I could connect with fellow writers and also meet with editors and destination representatives. My preference is to be in small to medium group settings. Thus, I flew to Canada to attend the 2018 Travel Classics International Writers Conference. I feel honored to be part of this select group. Twice a year, Maren Rudolph arranges a conference for approximately 40 travel writers and approximately a dozen and a half travel editors.
To take full advantage of my airfare, I added a pre-tour trip that started in Quebec City.
Since I had just visited this port last fall during a Celebrity Cruises New England to Canada cruise, I chose an itinerary that focused on Quebec’s quieter countryside with a couple of days exploring vibrant Montreal. It was a great mix of rural and urban sites, including a train ride from Quebec City to Montreal along with a potpourri of accommodations and local cuisine.
I will never forget the jarring zodiac adventure in the
Saguenay-Saint-Lawrence Marine Park near Baie-Sainte-Catherine. While I encountered minimal wildlife that included a few small whales and seals sunning on rocks, I gained a new appreciation for an unrelenting water adventure that caused me to be soaked from head to toe, even though I was wearing orange colored protective gear. This experience was shared with a boatload of other passengers, including five fellow writers and one of our hosts. Luckily, our group’s suitcases were in the vehicle so that we could change into dry clothing. I hope to share details of my Quebec tour at a future date
By the time the conference started, I was beginning to slow down. Full days and evenings left little time to catch my breath. I regrouped and tried to pace myself as the long days blurred into one another. Coffee and tea became constant companions so that I could capture the key remarks made by the top tier magazine editors. Panel discussions were followed by speed dating time slots.
While in Montreal, Catherine Binette and Yves Gentil and their team from Tourisme
Montreal organized tours, meals, and entertainment. I thoroughly enjoyed my midday visit to the Ritz Carlton, the flagship hotel for the brand, where I dined on a three course meal in an elegant dining room.
While it’s too early to predict what future stories may blossom from these encounters, I feel that the overall experience was beneficial since I now have a better idea of the editors’ expectations and I expanded my contacts with fellow writers. I also learned about other places to visit in Quebec.
The conference ended in a flash. In the international Terminal, I stopped to pick up a package of Montreal’s famous bagels. It was a fond reminder of my Jewish Food Tour with Melissa Simard and was the only “souvenir” that I had time to bring home to my husband.
With just minimal time to reconnect with Ira, I was preparing for round two, the IPW conference in Denver. This mega conference brought together more than 6,000 people from around the world at the Colorado Convention Center. Visit Denver extended its western hospitality to thousands of invited IPW guests who found accommodations in 14 Denver hotels.
If this convention had not been in my home turf, I’m not sure if I would have flown to the event after being in Canada for over a week. As a domestic journalist, my only out of pocket expense was my daily parking, which totaled less than $50.
Thousands and thousands of people can be an overwhelming experience for a person who is content in quiet settings. I stepped outside my comfort zone and took advantage of this tremendous opportunity to network with destination representatives from the United States. I also listened to a few press conferences and enjoyed the food tasting before and after the New Orleans press conference.
I’ve never before had the occasion to have lunch with so many people. Rows and rows of tables consumed a massive room that was extremely dark. Topnotch entertainment was the focal point. Oversized screens enabled people to see what was happening on the distant stage. Tourism boards sponsored each presentation. On the second day, actors and actresses from several of New York City’s Broadway theaters performed for the massive audience. Luckily, I had been invited to sit at Brooklyn’s table so that I was sitting relatively close to the stage.
Speed dating was the norm. I had to request appointments weeks in advance so that I could meet with destination and hotel representatives. While it wasn’t possible to meet with all of my top choices, I met with more places than I could possibly visit this coming year. Once again, the opportunity to meet face-to-face provided valuable information that would be more difficult to obtain via emails. Most of the representatives provided thoughtful recommendations for touring their region.
Since I arrived home from Montreal after the conference had officially started, I couldn’t take advantage of any of the pre-conference festivities. Moreover, I was simply too tired to attend the evening programs that put a spotlight on Denver’s nightlife—an event highlighting local artists and musicians at the Denver Performing Arts Complex, festivities at Mile High Stadium, and OneRepublic’s performance at Red Rocks Amphitheatre in nearby Morrison.
Before attending this conference, I didn’t realize how much international tourism affects the American economy. The IPW conference focuses on international journalists. As an American travel writer, I was in the minority.
In the coming months, I will synthesize what I absorbed during these two travel conferences. The time spent talking with people has already connected me with travel destination representatives and will hopefully also expand my travel writing opportunities. Effective networking has definitely added traction to my travel writing brand. I’ll share my progress as the rest of the year enfolds.
When Sandy isn’t skiing or trekking in the Colorado Rockies, she is traveling. She has visited more than 40 countries and lived as an international teacher in Bangalore, India. As the the content coordinator for Golden Living, a Best Version Media publication, she writes family and business feature stories and contributes a monthly travel tip column.
Sandy share her lifestyle and travel experiences with international and domestic online sites and print media. Her stories have appeared in Destinations Magazine, Grand Magazine, Wandering Educators, Golden Living, One Travel, Miles Away, Canadian Jewish News, Getting On Travel, Family Circle- Momster, and others.
Sandy’s award-winning book, May This Be the Best Year of Your Life, is a resource for people contemplating an expat lifestyle and living outside their comfort zone. This memoir was a finalist in the Travel category for the 2013 Next Generation Indie Book Awards, the 2013 International Book Awards, the 2013 National Indie Book Excellence Awards, 2013 USA Best Book Awards, and a Honorable Mention award in the Multicultural Non-Fiction category for the 2013 Global ebook Awards.
Last year, Sandy created a second website, The Traveling Bornsteins, that focuses exclusively on travel.