Faith Adiele is a Nigerian-Nordic-American travel memoirist and founder of VONA/Voices Travel, the nation’s first and only writing workshop for travelers of color. Meeting Faith, her account of becoming Thailand’s first Black Buddhist Nun, won the PEN Open Book Award. She is a Senior Editor for Panorama: The Journal of Intelligent Travel and co-editor of Coming of Age Around the World: A Multicultural Anthology. Her essays have appeared in O Magazine, Flaunt, Essence, Transition and such travel anthologies as The Best Women’s Travel Writing, for which she penned the 2009 introduction. She lectures and teaches around the world. Faith will be hosting a writing workshop.
Lola Akinmade Åkerström
Award-winning author and photographer Lola Akinmade Åkerström has been published in places like National Geographic Traveler, BBC, The Guardian, Lonely Planet, amongst others. She has collaborated with many well-known brands – from Mercedes Benz and Dove to Intrepid Travel and National Geographic Channel. She is the author of two books – award-winning Due North & bestselling LAGOM: Swedish Secret of Living Well. LAGOM is available in 18 foreign language editions around the world. She is editor-in-chief of Slow Travel Stockholm and founder of NordicTB Collective which brings together the top professional travel bloggers and digital storytellers. She is the 2018 Travel Photographer of the Year Bill Muster Award recipient and was honoured with a MIPAD 100 (Most Influential People of African Descent) Award. Her photography is represented by National Geographic Image Collection.
Hector Almaguer is an entertainment industry executive with over 30 years of experience as an attorney, musician, writer, record producer, & content creator. His work has won a Clio Award and has been Grammy nominated. Hector Almaguer opened his own law practice representing other musicians, content creators, writers, record labels and producers. From there he went into the international television industry, where he developed and created rights clearance processes and procedures for original programming produced internationally before accepting the position as the Senior Vice President of Business and Legal Affairs for Universal Music Latin America. He moved to Los Angeles where he continued to work for Universal Music on projects with some of the biggest names in entertainment including Kevin Hart, and Monique. Hector Almaguer is currently in New York as a VP of Business and Legal Affairs for Discovery Inc.
Bani Amor is a queer travel writer who explores the relationships between race, place, and power. Their work on issues of migration, climate, gender, food, and travel has appeared in CNN Travel, F0d0r’s, Teen Vogue, YES! Magazine, and Bitch Magazine, and they have been published in the anthologies Outside the XY: Queer Black and Brown Masculinity, and the upcoming Where We Stand: Brown and Black Voices Speak the Earth. She will be speaking at the Blogging about LGBTQ+ Travel
As one of the original travel bloggers, Alexandra Baackes has been sharing her life on the award-winning Alex in Wanderland since 2009. After eight years of growing a dedicated audience with her authentic and deeply personal travelogues, she launched her successful Wander Women Retreats in 2017. These female-only retreats encourage sisterhood and get women exploring new destinations through a combination of scuba diving, yoga, aerial arts, and adventure.
Casey Barks is the Regional Director of Public Relations for Fairmont Hotels & Resorts in the Pacific Northwest. The product of a journalist mother, he is no stranger to storytelling and the power of the written word. Over the past 6 years, he has spent his time sharing the iconic history and service of Fairmont Hotels, from Seattle WA to Austin TX and now in Vancouver BC. Casey’s love of travel and passion to communicate continues to drive his need to find new and exciting ways to tell stories and track who is listening.
Dev Basu is the founder of Powered by Search, a performance media and digital marketing agency that helps b2b software technology companies such as Clio, Clickfunnels, and Shutterstock on how to create relevant user experiences that get them more attention, build connections, and drive conversion.
Marc and Julie Bennett
Marc and Julie Bennett have been living, working and traveling full-time in their RV since 2014 – visiting all 50 USA states, plus Canada, Mexico and Australia. They began sharing as RVLOVE on their blog, YouTube and social media. This evolved into a thriving business that now supports their life and travels. They launched RV Success School with a series of online courses for wannabe RVers. And in 2018, they co-authored and published Living the RV Life – Your Ultimate Guide to Life on the Road (Adams Media/Simon & Schuster) – now a bestseller in its third print run. Marc and Julie are known for their honesty, inspiration and positive attitudes about RVing, and building a digital media business – while sharing the realities of life on the road.
Jade Broadus is the Vice President and Creative Director at Travel Mindset, specializing in influencer marketing for the tourism and lifestyle industry. From overall creative strategy to social media and influencers, online and offline activations and every little decision in between, Jade develops the most engaging and innovative marketing campaigns.
With her team, Travel Mindset has managed and executed more than 900 marketing campaigns for clients such as Fairmont Hotels, AccorHotels, Virgin Atlantic, Celebrity Cruises, Airbnb, and country, state and city DMOs and CVBs from all over the world, including Visit Britain, Visit California, Panama City Beach Florida, Visit Memphis, and Morocco Tourism.
In addition to Travel Mindset, Jade is the CEO of Vagabond3, an award-winning travel blog with over 150K followers. She photographed and wrote travelogues for National Geographic and many in-flight magazines including Turkish Airlines, written in-depth guides and how-tos for Expedia, Forbes, Marriott, Lonely Planet, Parents Magazine, and various other print and online publications.
Kelsy Chauvin is a freelance writer and photographer based in Brooklyn. She specializes in LGBTQ travel and culture reporting, and she also covers a variety of destinations and subjects — from global gastronomy and nightlife; to seasonal events, cannabis tourism, and local arts and culture. Kelsy’s work has been published in Fodor’s Travel, AFAR, Passport, CNN Travel, Condé Nast Traveler, Budget Travel, and other publications. She’s also a co-author of the annual Fodor’s New York City and Brooklyn guide books. Kelsy is president of the NY Travel Writers Association, and is a longtime member of the International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association (IGLTA.org).
Jason Cochran’s books include Here Lies America: Buried Agendas and Family Secrets at the Tourist Sites Where Bad History Went Down. His voice has reached millions of travelers, from the mid-1990s, when he wrote one of the world’s first travel blogs, to his familiarity as a commentator on CBS and for AOL, to his work today as editor-in-chief of Frommers.com and co-host of the Frommer Travel Show on WABC. A graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University, Jason was twice awarded Guide Book of the Year by the Lowell Thomas Awards (Society of American Travel Writers) and once by the North American Travel Journalists Association.
Julia Cosgrove is the Vice President and Editor in Chief of AFAR, the critically-acclaimed travel media brand that inspires, guides, and enables travelers to have deeper, richer, and more fulfilling experiences. AFAR launched in San Francisco in 2009 with AFAR magazine and Learning AFAR, a nonprofit foundation that has funded trips abroad and in the U.S. for more than 1,000 underserved high-school students. Under Julia’s leadership, AFAR is the only brand to win a Lowell Thomas Award every year since launch and the only travel brand to be a National Magazine Award finalist for General Excellence across both print and digital. Last year she made the Folio: 100 list of the most influential people in magazine and digital media. Prior to launching AFAR in 2009, Julia was a writer and editor at media companies like Time Out, BusinessWeek, and ReadyMade.
Annemarie works in product management at the Wall Street Journal, and previously a community strategist at Vox Media and The Huffington Post. In all her free time, she writes about Italian American heritage and mid-century culture, and eats a lot of pasta.
John E. DiScala
John E. DiScala, aka Johnny Jet, has traveled over 100,000 miles a year since starting his newsletter in 1995 and has visited close to 100 countries. He and his website JohnnyJet.com have been mentioned thousands of times in major publications, including USA Today and The Los Angeles Times. He has appeared on ABC, CBS, CNBC, CNN, FOX, MSNBC, NBC, PBS and the Travel Channel. He was named one of Forbes’ Top 10 Travel Influencers and writes about everything travel, from finding the best deals and innovative new products to family travel and traveling on a budget. Johnny travels the world with his wife @NatalieDiScala, their son Jack and daughter Olivia.
Brennan Dunn is the founder of Double Your Freelancing and helps teach over 50,000 freelancers and agencies how to earn more money and work with better clients. He’s also the co-founder of RightMessage, a software company that helps bring on-site personalization to the masses.
Nora Dunn is a pioneer in the travel blog and online freelance writing industries. After selling everything she owned in 2006, she traveled full-time for 12 years, and while she now has a home base in Toronto, she continues to travel for half of each year. Specializing in slow travel, she has lived in and traveled through 60+ countries. She combines her expertise as a former Certified Financial Planner with her lifestyle travel experience, to teach people how to travel full-time in a financially sustainable way – with broader applications in the arenas of long-term travel, personal finance, and lifestyle design. Her travel experiences have fuelled narratives, features, and interviews in Forbes, Lonely Planet, Travel/Business Insider, and a huge range of financial and travel publications, radio shows, and television programs.
NYC-based travel and arts journalist Lawrence Ferber is a contributor to Tripsavvy, TravelAge West, NewNowNext, NY Post, Passport Magazine, CondeNastTraveler.com and Fodors.com, and has also written for National Geographic Traveler, Entertainment Weekly, and dozens of other outlets. A member of LGBTQ entertainment critics circle GALECA, he also co-wrote the 2010 gay romcom BearCity and authored its 2013 novelization.
For over four decades, Cal Fussman has interviewed hundreds of the world’s most influential individuals: Muhammad Ali, Jack Welch, Mikhail Gorbachev, Serena Williams, Jeff Bezos, Jimmy Carter, Kobe Bryant, Richard Branson, and the list goes on.
Now, as a New York Times bestselling author, keynote speaker, world-renowned interviewer, and host of the Big Questions podcast, Fussman travels the world teaching the world’s largest companies, universities, and associations about leadership, storytelling, innovation, teamwork, and more. When Cal speaks, you’re listening to everyone he’s ever interviewed. Lessons and stories from hundreds of world icons, all coming through one man.
As one of the first travel vloggers, Kelley Ferro has been filming and sharing her journeys around the globe for the past 12 years. Her award-winning travel shows have taken to the ends of the Earth and allowed her unparalleled access to destinations and most importantly, their people. While much of her work has covered the luxury side of travel, the recent arrival of her daughter has shifted her focus to include traveling well with kids. She’s partnered with over 200 destinations, hotels, tours and brands along the way and has been the face of series for CNN, Fodor’s, USA Today and USTOA. She was the leader of Travel Massive NYC and Travel Massive LA and now you can watch her episodes on Youtube and DirectTV’s Travel on Demand, or see her on FOX’s Good Day LA as their travel contributor.
Pauline Frommer is the Co-President of Frommer Media LLC with her father Arthur Frommer. The company publishes the popular Frommer guidebooks and Frommers.com, as well as producing a nationally syndicated radio show on travel (which Pauline co-hosts). Pauline is the author of the best-selling Frommer’s EasyGuide to New York City, a syndicated column on travel for King Features, and countless magazine, newspaper, and web articles. You may recognize her face, as Pauline has appeared on numerous TV shows (The Today Show, Good Morning America, NBC Nightly News and more) and presented travel segments on CNN’s Headline News for five years. She is married to Columbia University professor Mahlon Stewart, and the mother to two very well-traveled daughters.
National Geographic has called Don George “a legendary travel writer and editor.” Don has been Travel Editor at the San Francisco Chronicle, founder and editor of Salon.com’s Wanderlust travel site, and Global Travel Editor for Lonely Planet. He is currently Editor at Large for National Geographic Travel and Special Features Editor for BBC Travel. Don is the author of the bestselling travel writing guide in the world, How to Be a Travel Writer, published by Lonely Planet. His best essays and articles have been collected in the award-winning anthology The Way of Wanderlust. Don has also edited ten acclaimed literary travel anthologies, including An Innocent Abroad, Better Than Fiction, and The Kindness of Strangers. He is co-founder and chairman of the acclaimed Book Passage Travel Writers & Photographers Conference, and co-founder and co-host of the San Francisco travel literature reading series, Weekday Wanderlust.
Adam is a freelance writer, marketer, and travel blogger based in Brooklyn, where he covers gay travel, city destinations, LGBTQ topics, nightlife, and NYC lifestyle. His writing has been featured in AFAR, Fodor’s Travel Guides, Travel+Leisure, Condé Nast Traveler, and countless online publications. Additional travel tips (and embarrassing stories!) are shared in real time through his fun and engaging social media, on his blog, and in a series of “Hipster City Guides.” Travels of Adam has run continuously online since 2009 and has repeatedly won awards for its travel stories and LGBTQ guides, including the prestigious SATWF Lowell Thomas silver award for “best travel blog 2017” and the NATJA silver “best independent travel blog 2018.”
Jeff Goins is a writer, speaker, and entrepreneur. He is the best-selling author of five books, including The Art of Work and Real Artists Don’t Starve. His award-winning blog Goinswriter.com is visited by millions of people every year. Through his online courses, events, and coaching programs, he helps thousands of writers succeed every year. Jeff lives with his family just outside of Nashville, where he makes the world’s best guacamole.
Brice is a digital marketing and traffic generation specialist. He currently lives in Barcelona, Spain where he spends his free time exploring Europe and working on his Spanish. He will be speaking on how you can use paid advertising to promote your brand and grow your business.
Monet Hambrick is the mom behind The Traveling Child, a family travel blog providing tips on how to make family travel easier and more affordable. Her motto is “if kids live there, kids can visit”. Along with her husband, they have taken their children, 3 and 5 year olds, to over 20 countries and 10 states. In addition to her blog Monet is the author of the children’s book series, “The Traveling Child Goes To” and a freelance family travel writer for The Points Guy and Essence.com. She has partnered with brands and tourism boards such as Visit California, Alamo Rent a Car, and Go RVing.
Kristin Henning and her husband, Tom Bartel, changed their lifestyle in 2010 when they sold their home, business, and possessions to travel the world. Their award-winning blog, TravelPast50.com, chronicles their active travel to over 70 countries on six continents, and encourages older travelers to explore everything from cultural centers to wilderness areas with confidence and respect. Kristin, a member of the Society of American Travel Writers (SATW) and the Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA), was formerly a newspaper and magazine publisher in Minneapolis/St. Paul (MN).
Marcus Hibdon is the Director of Communications and Public Relations at Travel Portland. He has a lifetime of media experience dating back to high school and college where he was an editor before spending more than 10 years in various editor roles at newspapers in Montana, California and Oregon. Today he tells the stories of Portland, Ore. to a wide variety of content creators and leading the public relations effort for the dynamic destination.Travel Portland
Anne & Mike Howard
Mike & Anne left on their honeymoon in January 2012 and never came home. They created HoneyTrek.com to chronicle their journey across all seven continents and to help people mobilize their travel dreams. Their story as the “World’s Longest Honeymooners,” savvy tips, and blog have been featured in over 100 media outlets, from USA Today to Lonely Planet. Firm believers that love and travel make the world a better place, they authored Ultimate Journeys for Two—National Geographic’s bestselling couples travel guide. To write their newest book, they bought a vintage camper to find the best glamping experiences in North America. Three years, nine countries, and 73,000 miles later, they’ve released the first book on the topic: Comfortably Wild.
Raimee Iacofano is the Creative Director for Nomadic Matt. From editing videos, designing graphics, writing copy, and planning content to dissecting analytics and creating viable marketing strategies, Raimee knows how to creatively engage audiences and drive traffic through a multitude of social media and digital platforms. Before her time at Nomadic Matt she worked for MDC Partner’s Media Assembly digital marketing agency in Detroit, Michigan after receiving her Bachelor of Arts in Advertising & Media from Michigan State University. She also runs her own website at doitallabroad.com. She will be speaking at the Social Media 101: Facebook and Pinterest talk.
With his keen-eyed observations, bestselling writer Pico Iyer is a chronicler of the desire to seek new frontiers and view familiar terrain through fresh eyes. “Arguably the world’s greatest living travel writer,” according to Outside magazine, he is the author of two novels and ten works of nonfiction, including such enduring favorites as The Lady and the Monk and The Global Soul. Iyer has been embraced by both spiritual seekers and startup entrepreneurs as a beacon of wisdom in a frenetic world. The Utne Reader included him alongside Noam Chomsky and Václav Havel as “one of 100 visionaries worldwide who could change your life.”
Rainer Jenss brings a wealth of experience and expertise as President and Founder of the Family Travel Association. Before putting his professional expertise and personal passion to the ultimate test by traveling around the world for a year with his wife and two young children in 2009, Rainer Jenss was a Vice President and thirteen-year veteran of the National Geographic Society. As Publisher of National Geographic Kids from 2002-2008, Jenss helped transform the publication into the most widely read consumer magazine for children throughout the world. Prior to National Geographic, Rainer worked for CNN International and Business Traveler International.
In 2008, Alexandra Jimenez quit her corporate job in the fashion industry then spent almost a decade traveling full-time. She’s the editor-in-chief at Travel Fashion Girl, one of the highest trafficked blogs for female travelers, where she teaches an audience of 1,000,000+ monthly visitors to pack in a light, stylish, and efficient way. She has appeared live on the Fox & Friends morning show and has been featured in national digital news outlets including Cosmopolitan, Harper’s Bazaar, Oprah, the New York Post, the Daily Mail, Reader’s Digest, Forbes, USA Today, and Pat Flynn’s Smart Passive Income podcast. She now has a new travel brand called Compass Rose Travel Accessories that is quickly making its way up the best-selling list on Amazon.
Ciara Johnson is the founder of Hey Ciara, a blog empowering women to seek out meaningful travel experiences using powerful storytelling, personal photography, and first-hand advice. She’s been featured in Forbes, The New York Times, Marie Claire, The Huffington Post, Refinery 29, The Washington Post and countless other publications! When she’s not on the road, she’s laughing with friends in Houston, watching documentaries, and eating Chipotle.
Christine Kaaloa has inspired solo travel since 2008 through her blog and
YouTube channel, GRRRLTRAVELER, taking audiences inside the solo female adventures of food, culture and travel, one destination at a time. A 15+ year veteran camera operator and field producer spanning docu-reality to corporate video, past clients include MTV Networks, Nat Geo, and CBS. Today, Christine enjoys the opportunities which online media offers solo travel creators in amplifying their brand and attracting audiences.
Richard Kerr is a veteran naval officer and one of the foremost experts in points, miles and loyalty strategy. He’s been featured in Forbes, US News, Money Magazine, Kiplinger Personal Finance and presented at #SXSW 2017. Richard has visited over 45 countries, lived in England and Japan, and spends his spare time dissecting loyalty program award charts to maximize the value of points and miles. Richard holds a BBA in International Business and has his wife and two small children in tow for his travels as often as possible.
AJ Kinney is an expat living in the Cayman Islands and the Partnerships Manager at Matador Network working with destinations and brands of all sizes. Matador is one of the world’s largest digital publishers focused on travel + adventure. We focus on telling engaging travel stories through video, written and influencer content. The Matador Network includes travelers, writers, videographers and photographers all over the world connected through our website, travelstoke app and newly launched Matador Trips!
Kugel is a freelance journalist, author, and longtime contributor to The New York Times. He is best known in the United States for his “Frugal Traveler” column, which he wrote for the Times between 2010 and 2016, and his prior “Weekend in New York” column (2006-2008), and has written over 1,000 articles in total for the Times. He is the co-author of Nueva York: The Complete Guide to Latino Life in the Five Boroughs (2006) and the author of Rediscovering Travel: A Guide for the Globally Curious, upcoming from W.W. Norton & Co. in October, 2018. In Brazil, he is known for his column “Viagens” (IG.com, 2011-2013) and his “Amigo Gringo” video series (2014-present), and was the Brazil correspondent for Global Post from 2008 to 2010, when he also contributed to The New York Times. He studied political science at Yale University and holds a Master of Public Policy degree from the Harvard Kennedy School and is fluent in Portuguese and Spanish.
Rachelle is a blogger, writer, speaker and television host. Her blog, The Travel Bite, has been featured in PEOPLE Magazine, Food & Wine, and Travel + Leisure. The Travel Bite is also listed by Trip Advisor as one of the Top 25 Culinary Travel Blogs to follow, named one of USA Today’s 10 Best Food & Travel Blogs, and listed as a Top 10 Travel Hacker by Kayak for 2019. She has done work for the Travel Channel as a video journalist and regularly appears on live television as a culinary brand ambassador on the Home Shopping Network.
Mickela Mallozzi is the four-time Emmy® Award-winning Host and Executive Producer of Bare Feet with Mickela Mallozzi, a travel series highlighting the diversity of dance which airs on PBS stations nationwide and on Amazon Prime globally. From re-discovering her family’s heritage in Southern Italy to dancing tango on the main stage in Buenos Aires, the series covers Mickela’s adventures as she experiences the world, one dance at a time. She has been featured in The New York Times, Travel Channel, Dance Magazine, Forbes, and more, and she has performed on various television shows including Sesame Street and The Doctor Oz Show.
Inspired by a solo hiking trip in southern Utah, Jacob left a career in finance to pursue a life of travel, adventure, and nature. As Founder and Chief Explorer of IntroverTravels, he builds his online travel agency remotely from unique, off-the-beaten-path locations around the globe, and uses that experience to help his fellow introverts plan their own life-changing travel experiences.
He has been featured in USA Today, The Washington Post, and The Boston Globe, and was a finalist for “Entrepreneur of the Year” from the American Society of Travel Advisors.
Brian Massey calls himself a Conversion ScientistTM and he has the lab coat to prove it. The company he founded in 2007, Conversion Sciences, was one of the first agencies focused exclusively on website optimization.
Brian has learned what works on the web through thousands of website tests. He has seen it all.
His rare combination of interests, experience and neuroses was developed over 20 years as a computer programmer, corporate marketer, and entrepreneur.
Website optimization is the art and science of finding more online revenue without paying for more traffic.
Chris “Mercer” Mercer, co-founder of MeasurementMarketing.io, is a sought after measurement marketing expert and has been helping marketers, marketing teams, and agencies, plan out what’s important to measure in their marketing, build measurement systems (using Google Tag Manager and Google Analytics), create actionable dashboard reports, and finally use those reports to forecast and optimize their marketing results. In short, Mercer helps marketers know, trust, and grow their numbers.
Nicole has a proven track record of looking beyond metrics and developing analytics programs that have a direct impact on strategy optimization and business outcomes for her clients. Nicole’s expertise and focus lies in being able to tell a holistic data story for all her clients across their audience’s journey. She integrates data points from traditional media, social media, web analytics, search engine optimization, primary research, digital ads, and CRM to identify the trends and insights that lead to smart and sophisticated strategies and support ongoing efforts. Nicole is known for moving beyond the basics to uncover a truly innovative analytics approach that supports a program before, during, after and beyond.
Chris is the Community Manager for Nomadic Matt and the author of The Dogs of Nam, a collection of outrageous and insightful tales from over a decade of backpacking the world. Responsible for the interconnected communities under the Nomadic Matt flag (Superstar Blogging, the Community Forums, and The Nomadic Network), Chris knows what it takes to manage and engage communities of all sizes. With an ever-expanding To-Do list, he has learned what it takes to conquer checklists and overcome procrastination. He will be speaking on self-publishing.
Photographer, Philanthropist, and World Traveler, Erick Prince is blazing a new trail in travel and business. Combining his love for photography and travel, he created MinorityNomad.com. One of the premier travel blogs for African-American and Latino travelers. Inspiring low-income communities to explore the world and document their travels. Currently on a quest to become the first African-American to visit every country in the world, Erick has turned a hobby into a thriving business. Visiting 93 countries along the way. Through his blog and digital marketing company, Erick has worked with brands such as Facebook, Singha Corp, LAN Airlines, InterContinental Hotels, and Sony. He is leading a photo walk.
Award-winning journalist and television host Oneika Raymond is a lifestyle correspondent for NBC New York and the host of Travel Channel’s One Bag and You’re Out and Big City, Little Budget. An accomplished writer, Oneika is also the voice behind the highly respected OneikaTheTraveller.com, which won Best Travel Blog in the Society of American Travel Writers’ 2018 Lowell Thomas Awards. Her writing can also be found in high profile publications such as Conde Nast Traveler, Oprah Magazine, and Ebony Magazine. Oneika has worked as a spokesperson, ambassador, and on-camera talent for global brands such as Hyundai, American Express, Coca-Cola, Sony, Dove, and Dunkin Donuts. She has also been profiled in outlets including the BBC, Forbes, The Washington Post, and New York Magazine.
Kiersten Rich is the “blonde” behind The Blonde Abroad, a popular female travel blog featuring travel tips, videos and photography from around the world. The Blonde Abroad was listed on Forbes’ Top 10 Travel Influencers of 2017, has been featured in The New York Times, VOGUE, AFAR and Travel + Leisure, and has amassed a loyal following of over 1 million people. The California native now resides in Cape Town and runs all-female travel tours and educational retreats in Indonesia and South Africa.
Erika Richter is the Director of Communications for the American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA), recently rebranded from the American Society of Travel Agents in 2018. ASTA is the leading global advocate for travel advisors, the travel industry and the traveling public. Its members represent 80 percent of all travel sold in the United States through the travel agency distribution channel.
In her role, Erika has been instrumental in crafting the “new” conversation about travel advisors in the media and she spearheads all of the Society’s consumer awareness initiatives. As a travel expert and spokeswoman, she’s often called-upon to weigh-in on the travel industry’s most pressing issues.
Alicia Saba is the founder of The Splendid Traveler, a luxury travel agency. She is passionate about designing personalized travel experiences because “splendid” travel means something different for every traveler. Before starting The Splendid Traveler, Alicia left her corporate marketing career to spend nine months traveling with not much more than a backpack and a sense of wonder. These days, she’s traded in the backpack for luxury lodges, hotels, and resorts. Alicia specializes in designing Australia, New Zealand, and South Pacific travels.
Sandy’s travel career started when she decided to finally pursue her long-held dream of working in travel and enrolled in a local travel school. Upon graduation, she worked as a front-line agent in a brick-and-mortar agency before being recruited to join the marketing department of a larger agency with multiple locations. She later served as Training Manager then Marketing Manager for that agency overseeing all leisure marketing and events, and assisted the corporate and meetings and incentives department with marketing initiatives. Sandy also worked as a Training & Sales Manager for a host agency with agents across the country. Sandy is Vice President for Gifted Travel Network (a host agency) and Director of Sales for Global Institute for Travel Entrepreneurs (GIFTE – which is an educational organization for travel professionals across the world). Together these sister companies serve more than 1200 travel professionals.
Kristen Sarah is the creator of Hopscotch the Globe, a popular YouTube channel, blog and lifestyle brand that features advice, hacks and inspiration for travel. Kristen and her husband Siya show you that the trip doesn’t stop when you come home and that culture can be part of your everyday life. Hopscotch the Globe on YouTube has become a leading travel video channel with over 226,000 subscribers and 37 million views. Today, the couple, along with their baby girl and adorable pup, are teaching their audience how to travel the world and have a family. She will be speaking at both the YouTube Monetization: How to Make Big Bucks With Your Videos the How to Grow Your YouTube Channel talks.
A trained data journalist, Kelly analyzes flight and hotel data to help make travel planning less agonizing. She provides data-driven insights on airfare and accommodation trends, and her analyses are frequently featured in outlets such as The New York Times, CNBC, LA Times, USA Today, Travel+Leisure, CN Traveler and more.
Sanjay is one half of travel couple The Travelling Gays. Along with his husband Doug they enjoy chronicling their travels around the world. They are based in London and started their blog in 2016 to keep track of their travels and love for life and to spread positive messages about LGBT people and relationships across the world. Sanjay is half Indian and they are keen to give visibility to a gay mixed-race relationship as there is very little representation of these in mainstream media. They have recently launched their own sock brand – Socks of Soho – which captures the fun of The Travelling Gays and gives 25% of all profits to LGBT charities.
Erin Sullivan believes that the connection in this world can be communicated through images that blend art and science. Over the course of her career, Erin has led outdoor adventures for teenagers around the world, spent time in remote villages and held numerous odd jobs that have added to the hilarious montage of her life–– much of which she has written about online. As a photographer, she has shot for clients like Adobe, Sony and global and state-level tourism boards. In the mini-series she hosts for REI called In Our Nature, Erin dives into questions about the future of the outdoors. She has learned that life itself provides each of us with an interdisciplinary education, and encourages us to use it intentionally.
Charu Suri is a freelance journalist who contributes to many publications including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Architectural Digest, Conde Nast Traveler, Hemispheres, Robb Report and more. Born in South India, Suri frequently writes about under-the-radar destinations and more recently, culinary travel. Her work has won many awards including those from the North American Travel Journalists Association (NATJA). She is also a pianist and jazz composer, whose second album, The Book of Ragas, premiers at Carnegie Hall in December.
Nadine Sykora is one of the top travel videographers and travel video content creators in the world. Since 2008 she has made over 900 videos gaining over 40 million+ views, and has accumulated over 258,000 subscribers to her Youtube channel. She has been named one of US Today’s Top Travel Experts, TripAdvisors Tripkey’s Top 10 Travel Vloggers, and is listed as one of Hufﬁngton Post’s Top Travel Bloggers. She will be speaking on how to achieve success on YouTube.
Annita is the on-air personality of the syndicated travel radio show, Travel Bags With Annita & Friends. For six years on her show, she has inspired Baby Boomers and Empty Nesters to put down the glossy brochures, get off the sofa and explore their dream destinations around the world. Her 40-year travel and hospitality career started with Pan American World Airways. She has traveled to 100 countries during her career.
Annita is an Elite Brand Ambassador with O The Oprah Magazine and has worked with them for four years representing their brand partners and attending VIP events such as Oprah’s Favorite Things. Annita also works as an influencer with national and international brands such as Chico’s, NYDJ, Chevrolet, Target, Talbots, GoRVing, and many others. She has been featured in Essence Magazine and USA Today. During the Atlanta 1996 Olympics, she created a cultural awareness training program for the Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau and Olympic sponsors. She, along with her husband Doc Bill, are managing partners of a vacation rental management company, the Sapelo Island Birdhouses, LLC. Together they started a project on Sapelo Island to help preserve the culture and traditions of the Geechee community on the island. Their goal to work with the local community promoting economic development continues with agricultural and tourism projects. Her experiences have provided her with a unique insight into multiple areas of the travel industry.
Somto Ugwueze is a Nigerian-American travel writer and online entrepreneur. She is the founder of Somto Seeks, a blog that empowers women of color to travel solo with confidence. Somto is also passionate about helping people pursue a location-independent lifestyle and provides workshops, courses, and coaching for bloggers and digital nomads. She has contributed to publications such as The Huffington Post, Travel Noire, and Citizen Femme and partnered with brands like Allianz Global Insurance, Walks of Italy, and Tep Wireless.
Nicole Walters is on a mission to inspire people to not only live better lives, but also leave a legacy. Known as the coach you need in your business and life, she is adept at identifying ways to turn influence into income and popularity into profits. Whether on her top-rated business podcast or when she’s dropping gems from the event stage, Walters champions the long-term payoff of intentionally pursuing purpose.
Benét J. Wilson is the Credit Cards Editor for The Points Guy. Before coming to TPG, she was the associate editor for travel + rewards at CompareCards.com and MagnifyMoney.com. She is the founder and editor-in-chief of Aviation Queen LLC, a freelance aviation/travel writing business that leverages her 25+ years of experience in the industry.
Erica Virvo is a purposeful traveler and connector, who loves the thrill of living in countries people have rarely heard of. She’s spent 5 years studying and working in obscure countries in the Middle East, Asia, the Caribbean, and Africa. Erica has been an integral part of the Nomadic Matt team since she moved back to the U.S. in 2013, assisting on most projects and is now heading the creation of The Nomadic Network (TNN), the chapter-based meetup initiative that gathers travel enthusiasts around the world. TNN connects travelers to people and recourses that can help them travel cheaper, longer, smarter, and more! Erica will be speaking on how to connect your community so you can provide value and create life-long fans.