I had been invited to attend the Social Travel Summit in Europe for a couple of years, but could never make it work, mostly due to the fact that we were living in Australia and it is literally a million miles from anywhere.
This is one of the reasons we chose to and now love living in the Northern Hemisphere – we’re closer to the rest of the world.
For what we do, it’s important as we can explore more and tell more travel stories and offer greater depth with our travel tips.
A few people did laugh when they asked me where I flew from to the summit and I replied,
Raleigh. The flight was only 8 hours, it’s so close!!
Mind you the flight over on Air Canada was hideous. Sorry to our Canadian friends. I just didn’t like the airline. But the flight back on Lufthansa was lovely.
This year, I was invited to speak on a panel about Standing out in the Digital Landscape. I was thrilled for the opportunity, the chance to finally attend the summit, meet so many of my online friends for the first time, and visit Austria, the 44th country on my list.
I’ve actually visited more if you include transit through countries but what’s the point in that? Experiences and stories to tell are necessary.
I am so glad I went. It was by far the best conference I have attended in the travel blogging field. It was highly professional, a good mix of industry and bloggers where it actually felt we were working together, and a ton of fun.
When Craig asked me what the people were like I finally got to meet, my reply was,
“Everyone was awesome. There was not one douche bag there.”
Now that is testimony to a great travel conference!!
I haven’t been to Europe since 2003 and being in Austria on this trip had me craving for a return. Europe is a fun place to visit. It feels very relaxed and open and there’s a lot of playfulness, comradery, and culture. Tirol Tourism sponsored the event (and hosted my stay) and did a fantastic job of showcasing their fabulous Alpine region.
Kitzbuhel in Tirol, Austria
Kitzbuhel is one of Austria’s most popular and much loved ski villages and has a legendary status for outdoor sports. Austrians are fierce and fun, their spirit largely defined and shaped by the mountain peaks that beckon them to come play. I liked them a lot.
Kitzbuhel is in the region of Tirol which has 500 peaks over 3,000m, the 600+ glaciers along the main Alpine ridge, miles of lush green meadows and countless charming mountain huts. Bring your skis, your hiking boots, your bikes and playful spirit – there is so much for you to do here.
This was my first view upon arrival to Austria, to the conference location – the five star A-Rosa Hotel before collapsing in my bed for a power snooze before the afternoon trip and welcome party – something I rarely do, but after that flight I desperately needed.
Hahnenkamm Mountain – the place for those who dare
I couldn’t wait to start the first activity heading up he gondola to Hahnenkamm Mountain. The slight drizzle and misty views did not get in our way of a fun time, especially with the schnapps shot at the top – When in Austria!
The Hahnenkamm is home to the world’s most dangerous downhill racecourse. From the top we could see the twisting course of its terror down the face of the mountain – filled with blind drops and jumps and steep descents that quickly hurtle them up to speeds of 70 mph.
It’s freakin nuts. We were told that it’s the only race women aren’t allowed to compete in as it’s just too savage and we don’t have the required strength for it.
I hurt just gingerly walking down some of it!!
The Social Travel Summit parties
Then it was back down the mountain for the first of three great parties.
The parties after during the conference had fun live Austrian music and traditional dirndls and lederhosens, with a guest appearance from Justin Timberlake’s double, a bit of yodelling, wonderful Austrian food and outstanding Austrian wine (I never knew. Must be because it sounds like Australian) and the best gin I’ve ever had.
Our final party was in an Austrian mountain hut, the thing to do in Tirol. There was a lot of traditional slap dancing and fun happening this night. And what about the views that shared the party with us?
Meeting with my fellow bloggers finally – many who have been blogging as long as us and I have known since the very beginning – was wonderful. We stayed up way too late chatting and laughing and swapping stories and insights.
On one evening, we even ventured into town to experience an Austrian bar, which we overtook with much singing and dancing.
The Social Travel Summit in brief
The Social Travel Summit is where top international travel influencers meet with industry representatives to exchange expertise, experience and ideas. Originally founded in 2014, STS is organised by iambassador in cooperation with Traveldudes and the Reiseblogger Kollektiv.
STS aims to keep the Summit small (less than 150 delegates) to ensure an intimate and informal atmosphere that is conducive to learning, sharing ideas and networking. If you wish to attend next year, you will have to apply, which you can do here.
The conference went for two days. We had great keynotes sharing their insights on the industry and the powerful collaboration that can happening between brands and bloggers. We heard some great case studies and results of how brands and travel bloggers have already implemented effective campaigns.
I loved being at a conference focused mostly on blogging and having the long term value of this field respected and upheld. We had some excellent sessions on SEO and business building, which I can’t wait to start implementing.
There was also a think tank where brands and travel influencers could discuss matters together to help understand each other and work more collaboratively. You can read Think Tank reports here.
It was focused on growing and building a sustainable business which I loved and is at the level I want. I gained some great insights to implement into our business to take to a new level.
Austria captivated my heart. See you next year STS!
Stay tuned because coming soon is a post on the crazy adventures I had in the Otztal Valley, as well as a video.
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Will I see you at STS next year? Why would you most like to attend?