This past weekend I attended the Women in Travel Summit in Milwaukee, or #WITS17 if you’ve been keeping up with the hashtags.
While I was invited to speak at this conference (a HUGE honor), it was also my first time ever attending WITS. Going into it I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect, but the Wanderful planning team and Visit Milwaukee definitely exceeded any expectations I had. Everything was carefully organized and communicated with attendees, so even newbies like me never felt out of the loop!
Today I’ve decided to compile a post of a few things I learned at WITS, what you can expect as a first-timer, and some things I wish I had done differently when planning for the conference.
Anyone Can Go!
You don’t need to be a full-time blogger with a huge following to attend WITS – in fact, many of the incredible people I met at the conference hadn’t even started a blog yet, but we’re attending WITS to get some more information on where to begin. No matter where you are in your blogging journey, you can still have a blast at WITS!
And it’s not just for travel bloggers! I was excited to meet so many lifestyle bloggers and bloggers from other niche’s who wanted to get into more travel writing. If your blog isn’t exclusively about travel, don’t worry! You’ll still be able to have a great time and WITS and you definitely will not be the odd one out.
Plan to Stay a Little Longer
This is one of the things I wish I had done differently, and will definitely be doing differently for next year’s conference. WITS hosts some incredibly fun pre- and post- conference tours. This year on Thursday before the conference kicked off, WITS hosted several tours including a distillery tour, a tacos and tequila event, and even took some of the attendees to a baseball game! Some of the post-conference events included a bloody mary tour and another brewery tour.
I, unfortunately, didn’t find out about the tours until after I had booked my flights, so I was only able to catch one of the pre-conference tours on Friday morning. If you’re attending WITS for the first time, try to arrive a day earlier and leave later so you can enjoy these fun tours!
Take more Business Cards Than You Think You Need
Seriously, however many you think you need, double it. I traveled to WITS with just under 200 business cards and came back with less than 50. You’re going to be meeting with a ton of incredible people at WITS that you’re going to want to keep in touch with after! Be sure to bring a ton of business cards so people have a way to follow up with you and stay in touch after the conference.
If you have a media kit you may want to bring that too, especially if you’re planning to meet with sponsors!
Practice Your Elevator Pitch
You’re going to be meeting hundreds of people for the very first time at WITS and these people are all going to ask you the same question “what is your blog about?” Practice a 20-30 second pitch that gives a little insight about your blog and why it’s unique. Don’t stress about telling them every single detail, your pitch is just meant to intrigue them, if you do it right they’ll have a ton of follow up questions for you, so you can get into more depth then.
Step Out of Your Comfort Zone
WITS is not the place to be shy or quiet – you get back what you put into it. Don’t worry about being shy, like Natasha said in WITS blog post, your people are here! Everyone at WITS has similar interests, but everyone has a unique perspective and story to share. Leave your shyness at the door and don’t be afraid to start a conversation!
To wrap this up, if you’re thinking about going to WITS: do it!
Like I said, you do not need a huge following to attend WITS. Even if you’re just starting out and want to meet with sponsors, just fake it till you make it. As long as you exude confidence and show people why YOU are awesome and why your blog is different, I promise people will want to work with you.
Even if blogging is nothing more than a hobby for you, you will meet so many incredible people and even some lifelong friends!
A huge thank you to the Wanderful planning team and Visit Milwaukee for hosting an amazing conference and thank you again to WITS for letting me be a speaking at the 2017 conference and share my insight with an incredible group of women!
If you have any more questions about the Women in Travel Summit, please comment down below!
You can already purchase your tickets to WITS18 in Quebec City HERE.