Last weekend I was sipping a gin & tonic in Quebec City’s swankiest new bar, surrounded by 500 female travel influencers, and about 6,000 tiny sandwiches. I was at the opening party of the 2018 Women in Travel Summit! I not only attended my first ever travel blogging conference, but was able to score a free ticket. In this Women in Travel Summit review I’ll tell you all about what I learned, loved, and what I’ll change next time! I’ll also tell you how YOU can score a Women in Travel Summit free ticket!! (This is an exciting blog post I tell ya).
What is the Women in Travel Summit?
WITS is a yearly travel conference for women, usually held in the USA but this year was in Canada. It is run by a company called Wanderful, who organize dozens of top-level speakers and sponsors for the conference. There is a fab facebook group for WITS here!
Women in Travel Summit Review: Why I Attended WITS
Over the last year I have had more and more opportunities to work with brands, or freelance write through this blog! So I decided it was time to take it to that next level and finally attend a travel blogging conference.
There are LOTS of travel conferences out there, so how to choose the right travel blogging conference? In my experience, it came down to convenience. I think I would have stayed too scared and dubious of blogging conferences if the universe hadn’t aligned for WITS. (I was already planning to be in Canada for a family vacation during the same dates as WITS 2018, and I scored a free ticket!).
*Continue reading to see how I got a free WITS tickets and ways you can, too!
My Women in Travel Summit Experience
In case I haven’t made it clear so far – I loved WITS. I am really happy I went. I have been to (non-blogging) conferences in the past that felt like glorified excuses for passing out your business card. WITS wasn’t that. It was a huge learning experience – I learned so much from all of the sessions I went to. And there was networking too – but it wasn’t the obnoxious kind.
Women in Travel Summit Review: What to Do & Not to Do
My WITS experience was great, but there are definitely things I would change if I went again (and I do hope to make it to WITS ’19 in Portland, Maine!).
DO: Get your WITS ticket for free or at a discount.
Most people I met at WITS had gotten at least one kind of discount on their ticket (which can run over $300 full price). I’ll go into details about how to do this later in the post!
DO: Stay in the conference hotel.
This year WITS was held at the Fairmont Chateau Frontenac which is the premier hotel (I mean it’s literally a CASTLE) in Quebec City, Canada. For me, staying at the conference hotel was a wellbeing thing. Conferences can be very overwhelming. I need time alone in order to recharge. I was able to take breaks and go back to my room to reorganize and take a minute to breathe. (We were also able to get the Fairmont Chateau Frontenac at 10% off its shoulder-season price thanks to a WITS discount!).
Do: Print business cards and media kits ahead of time.
You do not want to head to WITS without business cards!! Having my media kit was also great, and will hopefully make me memorable as sponsors go through their stacks of papers and my full size sheet with a big photo of me on it stands out 😉
DO: Read your emails prior to WITS and get familiar with TravTrade!
This is something I did not do… whoops. As a result, I missed the deadline to sign up for one-on-one meetings with brands. I also did not get to “know” fellow bloggers online (through the WITS platform TravTrade) prior to the conference, so I went in not knowing anybody! Next time I would definitely plan ahead more.
DO: Decide your goals for WITS prior to going.
Okay I’m not gonna lecture you on ~manifesting~ but I do think it’s important to decide what you want to get out of WITS before you attend. This will help you focus your efforts and have the best conference you can. For example, are your goals to…
- Make friends and network with other travel bloggers
- Learn about blogging and entrepreneurship
- Soak it all in and decide if travel blogging is for you
- Form working relationships with brands
- Get free swag… holla!
My goals were to learn about professionalizing my blog and form relationships with brands. This affected which sessions I went to, and how I spent my free time. I spent all my spare time meeting with brands and walking around the market stall. I still made some new blogger friends but this wasn’t my #1 goal for the conference!
DON’T: Only come for the weekend.
WITS is eeeeexxxxtra when it comes to pre and post conference tours! I mean, do you expect any less when you come to a travel conference? Definitely plan a couple days before and/or after the conference so you can enjoy the host city, and attend one of the many free tours. I attended a wellness tour of a monastery-turned-hotel. There were also food, whale watching, art, architecture, indigenous cultures, markets, and other tours. Next year’s WITS is in Portland, Maine so I’m secretly hoping for a lobster fishing tour…..
DON’T: Pysch yourself out about your stats.
Lastly, don’t let your blog’s statistics dictate whether you come to WITS. There is no such thing as having a “big enough” blog to attend a travel conference. There are even lots of women with NO travel blog, but who want to start one, work in travel, or just love to travel!
And Finally…. How You Can Get a Women in Travel Summit Free Ticket!
As promised, I’ll tell you guys how I got a free WITS ticket and how you can too. WITS offers a fantastic program where you can volunteer in exchange for a free ticket! Volunteer positions include general volunteers (set up, running booths, introducing speakers) and social media volunteers. I was a social media volunteer (Instagram!) along with six other women. In exchange for covering certain sessions on Instagram I got a free ticket!
I loved being a WITS volunteer and would recommend it to anyone. It doesn’t take time away from seeing the sessions you want, it gives you a connection with the other volunteers and coordinators of WITS, and it’s good experience. I honestly feel more confident in my Instagram abilities after WITS.
How to be a WITS volunteer? There is an application process. My advice is to join the WITS facebook group here and keep an eye out in December/January when they post applications. I heard back in February that I was shortlisted, and after a Skype interview in March I found out I was going to be a volunteer!
^^An example of one of my many Insta posts throughout the weekend!
I hope my Women in Travel Summit review has been helpful and that it convinces some of you that you should attend! Getting a free ticket was great, but the summit was more than worth the full ticket price and I would definitely attend again paying the full ticket price.
You can book your WITS ticket here for an early bird discount!
Have any of you been to WITS or another travel conference? Would love to know your thoughts! Personally, I can’t wait for WITS ’19 in Portland, Maine 🙂
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