#MWTravelCon22 Speakers

KEYNOTE SPEAKER

CORY LEE

Cory Lee Where There’s a WHEEL, There’s a Way

Cory Lee will not only share what his experiences around the world as a wheelchair user have been like, but he’ll also share how you can make a difference through your travel writing, no matter what your abilities are. With enough determination, you can do anything.

About Cory Lee: After being diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy at the age of two, Cory Lee’s thirst for adventure never ceased. He has traveled across all seven continents in his powered wheelchair while managing to run his travel blog  curbfreewithcorylee.com, where he shares his accessible, and sometimes not so accessible – travel adventures with others. His blog has received three Webby Awards for Best Personal Blog and two Lowell Thomas Awards for Best Travel Blog. In 2019, he was chosen as New Mobility Magazine’s Person of the Year. Cory was selected as one of the several external experts with a demonstrated commitment to equality and inclusion to sever on the All-inclusive Advisory Panel for The Points Guy, a travel media brand that attracts 10 million visitors per month. As always, his goal is to inspire other wheelchair users to roll out of their comfort zone and see all of the beauty the world has to offer.

SPEAKERS

Jay & Leah Hall

Jay and Leah Hall Passion to Profit – How to Turn Your Hobby Blog into a Small Business

In this workshop, Jay and Leah will teach you the steps to level up your blog to become more than a passion project. Whether just starting out, or if you have been blogging for years, they will have tips for you to get to the next level with your blog and your business. Learn some things to do, and lessons of things not to do in leveling up. We will cover all things growth such as pricing sponsored posts, ad networks, understanding your audience, and more! Come with your questions.  They cannot wait to help you level up!

About Jay & Leah Hall: Jay and Leah live in Omaha, Nebraska and write about everything boozy. They started Gastronom in 2012 as a hobby, and have grown the website to be Leah’s full-time job! They love to highlight eating and drinking locally wherever they travel and at home in Omaha, developing cocktail recipes and telling about locations with great sips. Featured on Liquor.com, the Martha Stewart Show, Good Housekeeping and in Instagram’s Small Business Best Practices guidelines. They have also been on the Mediavine ad network since 2015. Follow Jay and Leah, and get a cocktail recipe (or 2!) and see why all their neighbors wonder what they do for a living! https://www.gastronomblog.com/ https://www.instagram.com/gastronomcocktails/


Erin Huiatt

Erin Huiatt How Did This Happen? Networking and Putting Yourself Out There

During Erin’s session she will talk about the importance of networking and how to put yourself out there, that hearing “no” is definitely okay, and it is okay to brag about yourself sometimes. If you are stuck with gaining new ideas or making connections, we encourage you to join her for this presentation. You will leave with amazing energy and ready for growth. 

In addition, Erin also sits on the board for the Des Moines Children’s Museum, the Associate’s Board for the Girl Scouts of Greater Iowa, is a Certified Postpartum Doula and published author of ‘The Postpartum Plan Workbook’. 

Erin has been featured on Hello Iowa! The Greater Des Moines Partnership, by the Iowa State Secretary, several podcasts, Iowa State University,  finalist of the Inspiring Women of Iowa Character Award, nominated for Entrepreneur of the Year by FuseDSM, and more.  She is a reliable resource and stepping stone for individuals to find support and make connections within this community and beyond.

About Erin Huiatt:

Erin Huiatt is the owner of Des Moines Parent, Des Moines Outdoor Fun, President of FemCity Des Moines, mother of two, and wife. Through her ownership and leadership of her businesses, she connects folks throughout Des Moines and the Midwest.

From a full-time Veterinary Technician to a full-time mother, wife, and entrepreneur, Erin Huiatt quickly understood the importance of making connections with people within her community and beyond. It was a few years after quitting her full-time job and beginning her entrepreneur journey that she realized there would be no growth in her business if she did not begin making connections and thinking outside the box. Going from barely any page views and minimal followers on social media, today Des Moines Parent welcomes thousands of parents and families across Des Moines Parent’s several platforms. 


Katy Mann

Katy Mann How To Use Video To Find Your Audience & Make Money

In this workshop, Katy Mann and her husband Jacob will teach you how to use Facebook Live and short edited videos to grow your audience and make money. From monetization on your website to selling your videos to network television, Katy and Jacob will help you develop your audience growth strategy and create a plan to monetize.

Topics Covered: Equipment, Platforms, Monetization, Audience Growth

About Katy Mann: After serving aboard a hospital ship in Africa and lending a hand in a handful of other beautiful countries, Southern California native Katy Mann found herself in the midwest looking for things to do. After many years of documenting her travels and every day adventures, Katy had viral success with a holiday website and decided she really liked having an audience.

Katy settled down and had children, while she created Indy with Kids, the number one family events and activities website in Indiana. With a passion for activating families to explore their community and beyond, Katy creates hyperlocal and travel content for her own platforms and her clients. Using video, Katy reaches 1000’s of people each day by way of television, social media and her website.

Katy’s professional triumphs include weekly television segments for local stations, writing for regional and state tourism websites, weekly columnist for the Indianapolis Star, co-director of a conference and association of Hyperlocal Publications, Disney’s Babble award winner for people’s choice of favorite Family Travel Blogger and a semi-viral video of a live tour of a gas station bathroom.


Lindsey Ranzau

Lindsey Ranzau The Steps Everyone Needs To Know To Become A Compelling Video Storyteller

How should you use Instagram stories to drive more engagement around your content? How can you be more comfortable in front of the camera? What makes people want to come back to you for more? Learn why video storytelling is crucial to driving engagement and the steps you should take to build a compelling story for your brand and the experiences you cover. Hear lessons learned from Minnesota travel writer Look About Lindsey on using her favorite platform, Instagram stories, to engage with her audience in a personal way.

About Lindsey Ranzau: Lindsey, a born and raised Minnesota blogger lives in Minneapolis with her favorite person (and hubby) Cole. When she is not living the corporate life during the week, she spends most of her free time exploring everything from her North Loop neighborhood to destinations overseas. For the last few years, she has been jumping on a plane or taking a road trip every chance she gets. She believes that travel and new experiences shouldn’t be dreamt about as “someday” but should instead be something that’s part of your everyday life. She shares her stories in her blog, “Look About Lindsey.” She can also be seen occasionally on the popular Twin Cities talk show, “The Jason Show.” Follow Lindsey on Instagram to keep up with her stories.


Jessica Sawatski

Jessica Sawatski Best Practices For CVB’s & Bloggers On Partnering Together

Partnering with a blogger can be a fun experience when you take the time to get to know them. When bloggers and destinations work together, relationships bloom. Learn how to connect with each other as Jessica and Melody Pittman of Wherever I May Roam Blog have. They will offer you best practices on forming partnerships and how you can rise above your competition. Bloggers and destinations all have choices and you want to be their first choice!

About Jessica Sawatski: Jessica Sawatski leads Visit Wichita‘s media relations efforts as public relations manager. In her role, she works with local, regional and national media to promote Wichita as a must-visit Midwest destination through earned media initiatives. Sawatski received her bachelor’s degree in public relations from Kansas State University, and has called Wichita home for the past 15 years. Prior to Visit Wichita, she helped clients manage social media strategy and content development, special event planning and public relations at the branding agency, Signal Theory.

Melody Pittman

Melody Pittman

About Melody Pittman: Melody Pittman is a blogger and freelance writer from Vero Beach, Florida who is on a quest to conquer all 50 states and visit as many countries as she is years old. She and her daughter Taylor Pittman Hardy write about luxury travel, culture, and food on their blog, Wherever I May Roam and Travel the South Bloggers. After years of traveling big cities both locally and abroad, Melody is now finding that her passion is exploring the Southern charms of small towns across the country. She is unofficially the biggest cheerleader for the Midwest and loves sharing stories of her travels there. She loves exploring local festivals, museums, unique attractions, cruising, and the concept of buying and eating local. 

Sara Broers

Your Success Can Be Measured By The People You Surround Yourself With

The people that you surround yourself with will help determine more than 90% of your success. When you purposely seek out people that you admire and are inspired by, you will take your blog and/or business to a new level. Sara has Sara Broersa proven track record of building successful relationships through connections that were made through strangers. Learn how you can connect yourself with the people that will be your best partners in future projects. If you have ever wondered why others are doing some things that you are not, Sara will show you how you can be the person making all of those things happen. Remember this, “You do not know who the person knows that is sitting next to you.”

About Sara Broers:

Sara Broers is the co-owner of the Midwest Travel Network, the CEO of Travel With Sara, the CEO of Social Connections, LLC and she’s also the social media instructor at World Wide College of Auctioneering and America’s Auction Academy. Sara entered the online marketing space in 2008 when she created a “Mom” blog and hopped on Twitter. Over the course of time, she realized that the tourism industry was one of the easiest ways for communities to grow their tax base. It wasn’t long after that Travel With Sara came to fruition. Sara has been a speaker at the Indiana State Tourism Conference, the Iowa Fair Association Conference, Bloggy Conference, TBEX, WITS, Type-A Parent Conference, Iowa Lakes Community College, NIACC, and several Chamber of Commerce events across the United States. She founded the North Iowa Social Media Breakfast Club in 2013 and has helped connect hundreds of business owners through this monthly event.

She partnered with several Midwest travel writers to write Midwest Road Trip Adventures. Sara wrote the Iowa section. Her latest book, 100 Things To Do In Iowa Before You Die, is slated to be released in May of 2022.  She is passionate about helping destinations place themselves on the map, unlike anything before. Sara lives in Iowa on the family farm with her husband and they have two grown adult sons and one grandson.

Joshua Unseth

Stop Blaming Your SEO 

This session is a therapy session for bloggers who get lost in the scary world of SEO. It’s a reminder to not forget what makes a blog tick: content. Joshua will discuss content strategies, a few SEO tips that you can take with you everywhere you Joshua Unsethgo. But, more than anything, Joshua is here to remind you that your “site ain’t broke,” as he says on the Theory of Content podcast. There are no silver bullets. And SEO is one small part of a holistic blog strategy. Hopefully, you will walk out of this session reinvigorated to do what you do best. You will be confronted with the scary and empowering reality that what will make your blog successful is the work that you put into it.

About Joshua Unseth:

Joshua Unseth is the owner of Alarm Grid, Inc and host of the podcast Theory of Content. Joshua got his start in a boutique New York agency doing SEO for all sorts of clients. He worked on projects for big brands, small brands and everything in between. Now, Joshua does for himself what he did for larger companies. He shares his passion, along with his co-host Amber Bracegirdle, sharing his content strategies and passion for information on their podcast. Now, with thousands of listeners each week, Theory of Content has emerged as a must-listen for content makers. Joshua and Amber’s quirky presentation is an entertaining way to consume relevant, poignant information about strategically how to build a blog and nurture your craft without losing yourself along the way.

Ann & Steve Teget

Practical Steps To Leverage Wellness Travel As It’s Trending

Postcard Jar TegetThink you need an infinity pool, juice bar, and a luxury spa to attract wellness travelers? Think again. In this session, you’ll discover how Midwest destinations and bloggers can stay at the forefront of one of the travel industry’s leading trends – wellness travel. Learn what wellness travel is and discover how you can attract wellness travelers to your community or blog.

You’ll gain valuable insight on how to leverage resources and content you already have to incorporate the wellness travel trend. Take home low-cost, practical steps that will show consumers how Midwest travel can help them maintain, enhance, or kick-start a healthy lifestyle and/or sense of well-being. One of the fastest growing sectors in our industry, wellness travel is gaining more and more popularity. Don’t miss this opportunity to learn all about it.

About Steve & Ann Teget:

Ann and Steve Teget began writing about their travels in 2014 when Ann was diagnosed with two chronic illnesses and needed a hobby to lift her spirits. Since then, their blog, PostcardJar.com, has blossomed into a joy-filled site that inspires readers to take the next step on their own journey. Both native Midwesterners, the Tegets write about travel, food, and more recently, healthy living.

Since 2019, this married couple has lost a combined 200+ pounds and adopted a healthier and more active lifestyle. While they still enjoy the occasional greasy burger, they now seek out destinations and travel experiences that enhance their healthy lifestyle and a sense of well being.

Named the 2019 Midwest Network’s Bloggers of the Year, the Tegets also own and operate a successful Airbnb in Pawhuska, Okla. Their Airbnb called Postcard Place has received more than 120 consecutive 5-star reviews and was featured in The Pioneer Woman Magazine.

Steve and Ann Teget reside in small-town Crete, Neb. Steve is a former Spanish teacher, coach, and middle school principal. Ann spent her early professional career as a sports reporter and later served as vice president of both public and government relations for a Fortune 500 company.

Heather Coffelt

Developing Relationships & Creating Successful Partnerships

Gaining an audience requires networking and building relationships. In this session, you will learn how to create successful partnerships with your local convention & visitors bureaus, local and national associations, and other business/organizations that share your common goals. Heather Cofelt

In addition, we will discuss the significance of identifying opportunities and challenges in your business. Learn the importance of communicating your opportunities and creating successful partnerships to alleviate your challenges.

About Heather Coffelt:

Heather Coffelt is an entrepreneur and the owner of Prior to the Plate AgriTours, LLC.  She offers corporate and leisure tours to a variety of farms.  Her tours offer an up-close look at modern agriculture and an opportunity to meet and hear directly from farmers. Her ability to partner with local tourism offices and the skill of recognizing when something has the chance to be something good came to fruition when Prior to the Plate became a part of the nationally recognized television show, The Bachelorette.

Heather grew up on a row crop and beef farm in central Minnesota.  She spent her days doing typical farm kid things – picking rock, pulling weeds, driving tractor, etc.  She graduated college with a bachelor’s degree in accounting.  After college she worked at Cargill, Inc in the agriculture division as an accounting manager, grain merchandiser and farm marketer.  She also served as the General Manager for a private feed and grain brokerage company in northwest Iowa.  

While spending time as a stay-at-home mother, she followed her passion for agriculture and created a business for people to experience life on the farm.  A new career in the tourism industry was a change but she quickly realized the same thing holds true regardless of the industry – relationships are the key to success!  Her love of agriculture and her passion for sharing farm family stories remains the driving forces in her career.

 

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