Travel: First it leaves you speechless, then it turns you into a storyteller. This mantra was the prologue that paved the way for my pitch at Texas Travel IdeaFest. More of that to follow. Let’s start at the beginning, why don’t we?
The highly anticipated Texas Travel IdeaFest organized by Visit DFW and held on October 18, 2019, at Live by Loews in Arlington, Texas, was the first event of its kind in the Dallas Fort Worth area. It was designed to be an all-day conference chock-full of speaker sessions, panel discussions, collaborative workshops, and engaging networking. It brought together travel content creators and travel brands in one myth dispelling, knowledge sharing, meaningful connections-forming space. The mission was to encourage transparency and open communication between travel brands and travel content creators; thereby, advertently cultivating mutually beneficial partnerships.
As a creative and travel fanatic, I love that Travel IdeaFest made it possible to interact with other content creators beyond the virtual world of social media. Additionally, meeting brand representatives in person was mind-blowing! They were not just a name and an email address associated with a larger than life brand. Neither were they out of reach from the common man—they were personable people we content creators could connect with on a subliminal level. In that sense Travel IdeaFest served as a much-needed bridge between us.
A wide array of key players in the travel industry were represented during the speaker sessions. Alongside content creators, there were representatives from Texas hotels, convention and visitor’s bureaus (CVBs), social media directors, and an influencer marketing agency. The information shared was impactful nuggets of wisdom, relevant to both content creators and brands. Topics discussed included how to leverage the power of influencer marketing and social media to increase brand awareness, influence consumer behavior, and drive conversions. It was a learning environment in which regardless of one’s level of experience in the travel influencer marketing sphere, there was a wealth of knowledge to be gained.
The event’s interactive nature was definitely the icing on the cake! Each attendee was encouraged to contribute to the conversation throughout the course of the day. Our voices were heard. This was definitely not an all fluff and no substance event; important topics such as widespread representation and the importance of diversity when selecting content creators to work with were discussed. This topic is often the elephant in the room; therefore, having it addressed head-on was quite refreshing. Representation matters.
In between speaker sessions and collaborative workshops, event attendees had networking opportunities. I met a few aspiring content creators, and I must admit I felt a tinge of envy. They have the advantage of starting off on the right foot, with all the information shared at Travel IdeaFest. This will quite possibly shield them from the unnecessary steps some of us had to take when we first started. If I knew all that was shared at Travel IdeaFest when I first began this journey three years ago, I would be hundreds of thousands of airline miles ahead. True story.
Remember my earlier brief reference to a pitch? Well, allow me to share more details about it now. I had the opportunity to pitch our brand- Afrostylicity, to the Travel IdeaFest attendees during a session known as ‘Elevator Pitch Luncheon.’ I had a few minutes to succinctly share the why, who, what and how of Afrostylicity, and the brand’s unique selling points. It was an exhilarating experience! I was elated when the pitch was well received. I enjoyed learning more about other content creators too and hearing their backstories firsthand via their respective pitches.
It may have only been a day-long event; however, I was able to form solid meaningful connections with other content creators and brands alike. I walked away from the conference armed with groundbreaking knowledge and an even greater level of excitement about this travel industry family I’m honored to be a part of. I’m looking forward to seeing how much we all grow from the foundation that was built at Travel IdeaFest. At the end of the day, we can all play a quarterback role in our much-loved travel industry. Mutually beneficial collaborations between brands and content creators trickle down and benefit consumers too. It’s a win-win-win!
If you missed this year’s Travel IdeaFest, don’t fret, I overhead talk of bringing it back next year. I shared with the event’s organizers- Mary and Maddie- that they could very well have started a movement. They are the pioneers of the very first event of its kind in our parts. I foresee other parties running with the idea and creating similar conferences in their respective areas of operation. History was made on 10/18/2019—and I had front row seats to the action.
Will Team Afrostylicity be back at Travel Idea Fest next year? That would be a resounding YES! To quote my pitch “At Afrostylicity, some of our favorite stories to tell are those of travel and its life-changing effects.” Dear Travel IdeaFest: Thank you for the opportunity to rub shoulders with other game-changers who share our deep-seated passion for travel.