The critically acclaimed TravelCon made a much-awaited comeback in 2022. Its return was a highly anticipated travel industry event. This is given its forced hiatus in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic. But, was it worth the hype? Well, read on to find out. In this article, we will be sharing our first-hand account and additional details about TravelCon.
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What is TravelCon?
TravelCon — a portmanteau of ‘travel’ and ‘conference,’ is a brainchild of Matt Kepnes of Nomadic Matt fame. It is an annual (sans the pandemic years) three-day conference. It made its debut in Austin, TX in 2018, and a sophomore appearance in Boston in 2019.
TravelCon is a travel conference like no other. It has brought together travel industry professionals, travel content creators, and travel enthusiasts. The goal is to learn, network, and traverse the ever-evolving travel landscape.
Who is TravelCon For?
TravelCon is undoubtedly a noteworthy conference to attend. This is true whether you are on the travel content creation side or on the travel experience curation and provision side. Travel bloggers, writers, content creators, videographers, photographers, publicists/PR professionals, brands, and destination marketing organizations (DMOs) can all benefit from this phenomenal travel industry event.
From a content creation perspective, attending TravelCon can help you improve your craft in video, photography, writing, blogging, and more. Everyone from OG travel bloggers, to the ‘just starting out’ travel influencer, can benefit from the value-packed event that is TravelCon.
Similarly, from a travel experience curation perspective, the conference can afford you the opportunity to keep up to date with the travel media landscape. Additionally, as a brand or destination marketing organization (DMO), you can attend TravelCon as an exhibitor, and tap into a new target market.
Our TravelCon 2022 Experience
2022 was our first time attending TravelCon. Renasant Convention Center, in Memphis, TN was the chosen venue. The event organizers had secured a block of hotel rooms for attendees at the nearby Sheraton Memphis Downtown. This allowed for a convenient short walking distance commute between the hotel and the conference center.
Prior to the first day of TravelCon, we had been provided access to an event-specific TravelCon mobile app. We were able to view the daily schedules, curate our own agenda, set up meetings with brands, and more via the app.
We loved that there were skill-specific workshops and tutorial sessions offered a day before the official start of TravelCon. These included hands-on, small group writing, and photography workshops. We enjoyed the classes taught by some of the best professionals and industry leaders in the game. The teachers encouraged attendees to take ownership of their content and further hone their craft.
Note that workshops were not included in the conference ticket price, and had to be purchased separately.
Each conference day began and ended with keynote sessions by top-notch, influential speakers. We would be hard-pressed to pick just one favorite speaker, but there are a few that particularly struck a chord with us. They were Pauline Frommer, Pico Iyer, and Nicole Walters. Each speaker shared nuggets of wisdom that we can apply to all facets of life, beyond the travel-specific space.
In between keynote speeches and breakout sessions were coffee breaks (complimentary thanks to Google Creators). It was a great time to socialize and network with other attendees as well as the exhibitors. TravelCon p rovided lunch on the first conference day but was self-funded on subsequent days.
TravelCon had a slew of breakout sessions that attendees could choose from. Some sessions were lecture-style, with question and answer segments at the end. Other sessions were industry panels like one of our favorites “ How to Pitch DMOs .” We learned more about the power of a symbiotic relationship when it comes to working with destinations.
The following are additional topics that were covered at the breakout sessions:
- How to harness Google’s products and services.
- Affiliate marketing as a revenue stream, monetization with brand deals, sales funnels, taxes, and finance management.
- Social media best practices and strategy.
- Travel hosting and niche-specific travel insights,
- Content creation, content optimization, writing, and self-publishing.
- Travel industry trends, sustainability, diversity, and inclusion.
Happy Hour and Welcome Party
After a long day of TravelCon speeches, breakout sessions, networking, and more, there was a happy hour at the conference center. Soon after, we proceeded to the official welcome party at the nearby Jerry Lee’s on Beale Street. It was great to let our hair down and party Memphis style because all work and no play is not a concept we subscribe to!
There were niche meetups at the end of the second day of conference sessions. These allowed conference attendees with shared travel interests to connect and exchange ideas. It was also an opportunity to make new friends and build authentic relationships with peers.
The niche meetups included the following: Solo Female Travel, LGBTQIA travel, Family Travel, Luxury Travel, YouTube Travel Creators, Photography, RV/ Van Life, Budget Travelers/Backpackers, BIPOC Creators, Couple Travelers, Adventure Travelers, Boomers Creators, Points and Miles Creators, and more.
In addition to attendees, TravelCon featured a variety of brands and DMOs.They set up shop in a space dubbed the ‘Media Marketplace’ and showcased their products, services, and destinations.
We loved the convenience of connecting one-on-one with representatives from various destinations. We formed a genuine connection with each and every exhibitor we interacted with— a feat that is not always possible with virtual communication.
For interested parties, FAM trips (familiarization trips) were available for sign-up prior to the onset of TravelCon. FAM trip experiences were the day before as well as the day after the conference.
FAM trip hosts included DMO’s like Visit Mississippi and Memphis. It made for a great travel plan and was an opportunity to experience some renowned attractions like Elvis Presley’s Graceland, the Memphis Rock n Soul Museum, Sun Studio, and more.
Was TravelCon Worth the Hype?
The travel space is constantly evolving; therefore, it is imperative to stay up to date with the changes if you want to be successful in the industry. Personally, TravelCon helped us grasp what’s working, what’s not, what’s changed, and what’s bound to change.
In our opinion, if you are serious about taking travel to the next level as a brand, creator, or curator, then TravelCon is an investment that will more than pay for itself in the long run.
There are definitely benefits to attending TravelCon. This is true whether you are new to the travel space, or are seasoned. So ultimately, yes, TravelCon was worth the hype! The excitement was palpable, and the energy unmatched.
Our Final Thoughts About TravelCon
Many thanks to the TravelCon team for putting together an amazing event. Attending TravelCon was undoubtedly one of the best decisions we have made on both a business and personal level. Not only was it a travel educational experience that was second to none, it was also a ton of fun!
We learned new practices, acquired new skills and our minds were opened to new possibilities. We left TravelCon armed with renewed passion and zest to pursue our sometimes larger-than-life travel goals unapologetically!
How YOU Can Experience TravelCon Now
If you missed the in-person TravelCon event, you still have an opportunity to experience it, albeit virtually. When you purchase a digital ticket, you will have access to all the keynote speeches and breakout sessions.
Thanks to the virtual ticket, golden nuggets of knowledge shared at TravelCon are now available to anyone, even beyond the borders of the United States. You can purchase your 2022 Virtual Ticket here.
Additionally, you can purchase a mega bundle virtual ticket to the 2018 and 2019 TravelCon events here.
In summation, it is our hope that this TravelCon review has been useful to you. If you ever needed a sign to pursue your passion for travel, perhaps this could very well be it. Happy Travels!
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P.S. Memphis was a great place to host TravelCon, especially given its rich history. For more about our fun trip to Memphis, check out our Memphis Guides.