What I Learned from WITS17

This last weekend I had the opportunity to attend the Women in Travel Summit 2017 put on by the travel organization Wanderful. This industry event caters to women in the travel industry: tour guides, travel bloggers and influencers, and tourist industry representatives. Hilton City Center Milwaukee hosted the event. While I've attended education and teaching conferences, I've never attended a travel industry conference. Here's what I learned.

Extroverts really do exist. People tend to make friends with people who are like them. As an introvert, most of my friends primarily identify as introverts as well. While I've come across extroverts at work, they've been far and few between; the Silicon Valley is not necessarily known for its social butterflies. Extroverts confuse me. You don't find being around large amounts of people absolutely exhausting? I don't get it but good on you. 

Travel bloggers and influencers hustle and work hard. The women attending WITS17 were a highly motivated group. They keep intense schedules, produce constantly, and appeared to always be on the move to find the next way to build and expand their brands. 

I don't get it. Maybe it's my inherently lazy nature or my laid back California attitude. Maybe I just don't think constantly about how to turn my labor and personality into a product because y'know down with capitalism and all that jazz. There are people out there who think differently than I do and I respect their ability to make a living from their creative content. 

Milwaukee is Anytown, USA. Here comes my verdict on Milwaukee: I could have been anywhere. This is not west coast elitism looking down my nose at the Midwest (Michigan is one of my favorite states), but Milwaukee didn't grab me. Not to say that it's not a perfectly pleasant place in the spring. I enjoyed the riverfront walk, the brick buildings were a novelty (and no, this is not because our cities are so "new" as one blogger erroneously commented to me), and the building which houses the Milwaukee Art Museum is stunningly modern with hints of the Sydney Opera House. The city did not make me feel like I was any place new or special. 

I don't think I want to travel blog professionally. Don't get me wrong, I love to travel and tell stories; it's second nature to me to spin a yarn. I enjoy blogging and maintaining my website. Photography and capturing the world behind my lens continues to be a passion. But I don't want to perform the hustle of working with brands or spend hours on Instagram. I still don't understand search engine optimization, and I don't think I want to. 

Being around other professionals is a great source of inspiration and motivation. This point may seem to be a contradiction to the previous point. While I'm unsure if I want to blog professionally, I do want to continue writing my blog and create worthwhile content. Sitting in on the different panels with such a wide variety of women started cranking my creative energy into a higher gear, except that panel on the creative energy, stages of the moon, and the menstrual flow. As soon as someone starts talking about mindfulness and being at peace, I zone out.

I carried my journal around, took notes, and made lists of the things I want to explore and avenues I want to take. A couple of ones that stand out are: putting together a podcast, writing more objective journalistic articles for respected publications, and get into vlogging, particularly to feature lesser known destinations in California. Maybe someday I'd write a book on the history of the California state parks.