I’m writing this from a friend’s house in the heart of Managua, Nicaragua. It’s the big capital city which is night and day from the quiet beaches and paths of Little Corn Island. I’m here because tomorrow I catch a flight to Miami, spend a Saturday night then go direct to Germany for STS Hamburg. What’ s STS Hamburg you ask? It’s the Social Travel Summit which is an annual travel blogging conference and without a doubt, top in class.
I believe attending at least one conference a year is important to learn what’s happening in the industry, best practices in different areas I’m active in, network with my peers and catch up with some old friends over drinks. What separates STS from the other countless conferences is that it delivers real value to me and hosts the industry think tank. This is a place where all the different stakeholders in the industry get together and discuss issues affecting all of us and come up with solutions to overcome them.
Some other conferences tend to cater to entry level bloggers as there are more of them and their model appears to be appealing to as many people as possible to sell the most tickets. STS is geared towards bloggers who are more established so the sessions tend to be more advanced and the sponsors more interested in getting to know the bloggers. Other conferences are so busy that it’s easy to get lost in the crowd; STS is a great place to get some casual face time in.
A few sponsors include but are not limited to: Visit Berlin, Mercedes, Hamburg Tourism, MSC Cruises, Canadian Tourism Commission, German National Tourist Board, Curacao Tourism Board, Visit Norway, Visit Stockholm, Booking.com, Tourism Ireland, Visit Britain, Skyscanner, Expedia, Emilia Romagna Tourism, Latvian Tourism Development Agency and more… As you can see it’s one of the events not to miss for those in this growing industry.
After Germany I’m off to London for a few days before heading home. Then I’m going to Hong Kong and Vietnam before returning to Little Corn Island where I’ve left two houses that are currently under construction on hold. This is a most welcome break as I’ve been burning the candle at both ends for quite some time and for the first time ever, I was getting sick of the island. You love paradise? Try managing two construction sites, materials and such; you’ll quickly understand how everything you love about it on vacation can cause all but the coolest of customers hair loss.
Building on Little Corn Island is not easy but it’s going to be worth it. My first project, the small one is nearly complete and there is no better feeling than locking the doors for the first time on a house you’ve built. This could be anywhere in the world but when it’s on a small Caribbean island with the odds stacked against you and it just happens to be your favourite place on the planet; it’s extra special.
It’s late so I’m going to wrap this up; stay tuned for more shablesque(sic) adventures.
P.S: Can you spot me in the photo above?