The LGBT Travel Niche


Tanya ChurchmuchAdventure travel, budget travel, luxury travel, family travel, foodie travel, solo travel…. Whatever your interest, there’s generally a community out there for you. But there’s one travel niche that’s really come to the forefront in recent years: LGBT travel.

Public discussions about LGBT rights and recognition have exploded in the United States, especially with the June Supreme Court ruling that gave same-sex couples the ability to marry across the country. LGBT visibility has become not only mainstream, but also a bit of a bellwether in regards to niche marketing outreach. What’s a bit different about this niche though, is that it encompasses individuals who are into all kinds of travel. You can be a lesbian foodie or a queer hiker or a retired gay man who is traveling the world solo, or a questioning young person who is visiting a big city to experience Pride for the first time. We all travel for different reasons. So what makes the LGBT travel niche? For the LGB, it’s mainly the sexual orientation of the audience. If we’re being fully honest though, the “T” has been sorely underrepresented in the LGBT travel world (the Ft. Lauderdale CVB is an exception to this rule).

Since the niche in itself is vast and diverse, yet targeted, the main message used by destinations, hotels, airlines and other travel companies is generally, “you are welcome.” It’s an important message because it’s not always easy for LGBT travelers to be their authentic selves, which can be pretty stressful when you just want to have a fun holiday. Here’s a good explainer, and a good follow up, by Meg Ten Eyck from Dopes on the Road about why that is, and what kinds of questions queer travelers have to ask themselves. By marketing to the LGBT community, travel companies are telling us that we can be ourselves with them. It’s something most travelers take for granted, but is not always the case for those of us in the LGBT community.

That said, reaching out to the LGBT community is not only about being a socially responsible corporate entity. LGBT travelers are also a very lucrative market. Here’s just a few statistics from Community Marketing’s 19th annual LGBT Tourism Study (Dec. 2014)

  • The estimated annual economic impact of LGBT travelers is over US $100 billion per year in the U.S. alone.
  • 29% of LGBT survey participants are frequent leisure travelers, taking 5 or more leisure trips per year, with 10 or more leisure hotel room nights per year.
  • 14% of LGBT respondents are frequent business travelers, taking 5 or more business trips per year.
  • Hotel Selection Rankings: Location and value of price for quality of hotel are the two most motivating factors for hotel selection. Of note, LGBT-friendly reputation was more important than a hotel’s loyalty program.

When you consider that the majority of same-sex couples don’t have children (though more and more do!), and they can often travel during shoulder season when there are more rooms available, it’s a bit of dream demographic for the travel industry. Look at what Marriott is doing in the LGBT market.And American Airlines. And Houston, Texas. Yup, the Houston, Texas CVB even has its own LGBT microsite and social media handles. The International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association (IGLTA) is the longstanding global organization that supports all of these travel partners who are interested in working with the LGBT market (full disclosure – I’m the Immediate Past-Chair of IGLTA and also serve on the IGLTA Foundation Board. I think they’re both amazing organizations!)

While more and more travel companies are jumping into the LGBT market, there’s also been a great rise in the voices of LGBT travel in the online world. And what’s amazing about so many of these writers and influencers is that they really do address all of those travel interests that were mentioned at the top of this post. Some market themselves as LGBT blogs, others simply incorporate their queerness into the overall content of what they do. They’re diverse, the same way our community is. Here’s just a few for you to check out: Two Bad Tourists, Globetrotter Girls, Davey Wavey, Button and Bly, Travels of Adam, Dopes on the Road, Lez Backpack, Bounding Over Our Steps, Leave Your Daily Hell, and so many more. And their numbers keep growing each day, which is a good thing. Even though LGBT rights are evolving in many ways in many countries, there remains a definite need for the travel industry to understand what it means to be an LGBT traveler, and for LGBT travelers to find their community if they’re looking for it.

NOTE:  The IGLTA is a media partner of TBEX.

Author Bio:  Based in New York City, Tanya Churchmuch is the founder of MuchPR, a public relations firm specializing in tourism, lifestyle and LGBT markets. Prior to launching MuchPR, Tanya lived in Montreal, Canada and was Tourisme Montreal’s Assistant Director of International Media Relations and Leisure Markets, while also overseeing their LGBT outreach. She was also the founder of the (former) lesbian travel website In 2009 Tanya was elected to the International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association (IGLTA) Board of Directors and served as Chair of the IGLTA Board from May 2010- May 2013, and currently serves as Immediate Past Chair. Tanya is also on the Board of the IGLTA Foundation. An expert in lesbian and LGBT travel, she has spoken on the subject at numerous travel industry conferences and written travel articles for many LGBT and mainstream publications. Prior to working in the travel world, Tanya was a television journalist and news anchor in Montreal, including 9 years at Global Television. She is also a former Board member of Reporters Without Borders International, based in Paris, and Past President of Reporters Without Borders Canada.

Welcome These TBEX North America 2015 Speakers

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We are announcing a few more speakers for North America today, and I hope you find a speaker and a topic that catches your eye. This isn’t the end of speaker announcements, so keep an eye out for more coming up soon. Will we see you there?

Adriena Daunt

Adriena Daunt has 15 years of experience leading public relations strategies for tourism brands globally. In her current role with Tourism New Zealand in Los Angeles, she manages PR across six countries in the Americas.

Adriena will be speaking in the industry track about Film Tourism.

Amie O’Shaughnessy

Amie O’Shaughnessy is the Editor  of Ciao Bambino, a leading global travel planning resource for families with children of all ages. Amie founded Ciao Bambino over a decade ago with a mission to enable families with kids of all ages to fearlessly explore the world together. Ciao Bambino pairs an award-winning blog and hotel reviews powered by a team of Family Travel Experts with a boutique, in-house travel agency. Amie is on the Editors Council of SATW and a board member of the Family Travel Association.

Amie will be speaking in the Commerce track about ways to use travel planning as a revenue stream.

Chris Christensen

Chris Christensen  is the host of the Amateur Traveler, a popular online travel website that focuses primarily on travel destinations. It includes a weekly audio podcast, a video podcast, and a blog. By day Chris has worked for years in technology startups in Silicon Valley. Chris now owns and runs which is a new startup connecting bloggers and industry contacts.

Chris will be leading a session on how to use the speed networking program, BloggerBridge and how to maximize its use to connect the industry and bloggers.

Chris Ducker

Chris Ducker is a serial entrepreneur, keynote speaker and author of the bestseller, “Virtual Freedom”. Originally from the UK, Chris has lived in the Philippines for 15 years where he hosts the annual Tropical Think Tank mastermind event and has founded several businesses, which combined house over 300 full-time employees. He is also a popular business blogger and podcaster at and founder of, an exclusive entrepreneurial community.

Chris will be speaking in the Commerce track about building the business of you.

David Griner

David Griner is the digital managing editor of Adweek, and oversees the New York-based publication’s online news team and the popular Adweek Blog Network. Reaching millions of readers a month, has grown into one of the leading marketing, media and tech publications in the U.S. David formerly served as VP of Digital Content for marketing agency Luckie & Company, where he helped lead several tourism-related accounts, including Alabama Tourism and the Asheville (N.C.) Convention & Visitors Bureau.

David will be speaking in the Industry track.

Diana Laskaris

Diana Laskaris has loved eating, traveling and telling stories since she was a tiny tot, making fabulous cakes with her E-Z Bake Oven and carrying them all the way to Grandma’s house. Now Diana is a professional member of the James Beard Foundation, Les Toques Blanches Du Monde, and The World Gourmet Society. She is co-founder of Food Travelist, which connects food travelers around the world with great brands, destinations and experiences.

Diana will be speaking in the Community track about how to accelerate the building of your community.

Jen Leo

Jen Leo writes the nationally syndicated Web Buzz column for the Los Angeles Times, co-hosts the podcast “This Week in Travel” – available on iTunes – and is best known for editing the award-winning Sand in My Bra series published by Travelers’ Tales. Jen also co-founded the family travel-focused Twitter party, as well as, a popular website that reviews children’s iPhone and iPad apps.

Jen will be leading a session for first time TBEX attendees.

Kathy McCabe

Kathy McCabe is the host and executive producer of the new PBS travel series, Dream of Italy. The series is based on her award-winning, 12-year-old subscription travel newsletter of the same name. Kathy  was named one of top 12 Twitter Travel personalities in 2012. She previously worked in USA TODAY’s travel section and began her career in journalism at ABC News in New York, where she was part of the Emmy-Award winning investigative team.

Kathy will be speaking in the Content track about how to create a travel series for PBS.

Sue Reddel

Sue Reddel escaped corporate America after 25 years in global advertisng and created her own dream job as an agency consultant for global brands. She traveled more than 150,000 miles in 6 months and became an expert in smart travel in the process. Sue co-founded Food Travelist to share her knowledge with others and connect with those who love to explore culture through food during their travels, near and far. She has been an adjunct professor in the Integrated Marketing Communications program at Roosevelt University in Chicago since 2008.

Sue will be speaking in the Community track about how to accelerate the building of your community.

Still More Speakers for TBEX Asia 2015

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We’ve got another round up of speakers for TBEX Asia 2015 to share with you today. The program is shaping up, and we update the session page every day or so, so check regularly.

Please join in in welcoming the following speakers:

Alexandra Baackes

Alexandra Baackes is a travel writer and blogger with a passion for sharing colorful stories and energizing images. A New York native with a background in design, she’s spent the past four years living and traveling around the world, and sharing her globetrotting tales with a loyal audience of blog readers. Alex has returned to Thailand over and over again since 2009, making it a home away from home — and thus a meaningful location for her first speaking position at TBEX.

Alexandra will be speaking about brand/blogger relationships.

Andrew Chow

Andrew Chow is a passionate social media and public relations strategist, entrepreneur, speaker and author of Social Media 247 and Public Relations 247. Based in Singapore, his insights into social media strategy, public relations and entrepreneurship have made him a popular speaker across Asia, His mission is to educate professionals on how to leverage social channels for tangible results. Andrew’s career of 27 years has seen him work with an array of clients including BBC, Abbot Medical Optics, Singtel and Sony Pictures.

Andrew will be speaking in the Industry track on using social media for crisis management.

Katie Hammel

Katie Hammel is Viator’s Senior Travel Editor. She manages the Viator blog network and Viator’s blogger ambassador program.

Katie will be speaking about brand/blogger relationships.

Maggie Wu

Maggie Wu is the founder of Fly with Maggie, a conscious and successful effort at enriching the travel sensibilities of modern Chinese travellers. Through her work, Maggie covers a wide spectrum of thoughts that highlight the adventure aspect of travel and the exclusivity of luxurious and exotic getaways. Her goal is to bring like-minded people together and providing with great ways to enjoy culturally rich experiences. With eight years of marketing and PR experience, Maggie is now an entrepreneur creating her own travel brand/

Maggie will be on a panel about the challenges and opportunities about blogging in Asia.

Matt Ridings

Matt Ridings is the former CEO of SideraWorks, and is an entrepreneur, business strategist and speaker who has worked in digital on both the agency and enterprise side since 1994. He ran interactive for the marketing agency of record for such established brands as Levi’s, Cisco, and British Airways as well as the launch of ventures such as Jet Blue and RedSpark. His work over the last 10 years has focused primarily in developing innovation cultures, change management initiatives, and specialized market research.

Matt will be speaking in the Industry track on market research and data.

Michael Collins

Michael Collins has worked in the travel and media industry for 15 years, working as a travel journalist, editor and publisher, In 2006 he founded, a travel specialist PR and representation company. work with airlines, tourist boards, travel agents, hotels and other travel suppliers in Ireland, the UK and Europe. Michael sits on the International Advisory Committee for the French Tourist Board in Paris, advising them of global trends in media, PR and tourism.

Michael willbe speaking in the Industry track about how to integrate media experiences to maximize global trends.

Mitch Canter

Mitch Canter is a digital strategist, WordPress developer, and web designer. He currently works for UpTrending, a Silicon Valley based web design agency. Mitch is also an internationally renowned speaker, traveling across the world to teach people about WordPress and the technologies of the web. He is also a “sometimes-podcaster”, video and text blogger, technology enthusiast, wanna-be swashbuckler and “spoony bard”.

Mitch will be speaking in the Industry track about site usability.

Samantha Wei

Samantha Wei is the co-founder (along with Yeison Kim) of the travel blog My Tan Feet, originally started as a way to document her expat life in Costa Rica and her travels around the country. The blog transitioned into a way to help other travelers experience Costa Rica, as well as to help expats who are considering moving the the country. The blog is now her full time job, sustaining her living expenses and travel habits.

Samantha will be speaking about how to develop an affiliate program.

Yeison Kim

Yeison Kim has a degree in business administration and more than ten years of tourism experience in both the field and in the office. He has mixed his passion for travel, technology, and business in co-founding the travel blog, My Tan Feet (along with Samantha Wei). The blog has now become his full time job, alongside some additional work at internet marketing, web design and consultations.

Yeison will be speaking about how to develop an affiliate program.

We’re still wrapping up a few remaining speaker spots and details and should have the final speaker announcement for you next week. We’re very excited about how the program is shaping up and hoping you’ll find sessions that can help you improve your craft, grow your business, create community, and meet your business goals. See you there!


Kei Shibata to Keynote at TBEX Asia 2015

kei_shibata_photoWe are excited to announce that Kei Shibata will keynote at TBEX Asia 2015 in Bangkok, Thailand.

Talking about TBEX gives us the opportunity to meet and talk with a lot of interesting people, and after talking with Kei we knew that his knowledge of technology and travel, along with his infectious way of sharing it , was something that we wanted to share with you.

Kei co-founded and runs Venture Republic Inc., the company that owns Japan’s largest online travel search engine and online travel guide media “”. As CEO, he took the company public in 2008 (2177. JASDAQ) after 7 years of operations.

A seasoned executive with extensive knowledge of online media, online travel and e-commerce, Kei is responsible for driving the company by shaping its strategy, making commercialization efforts and building organization.

While running the company, he serves as an active investor and board member of various tech startups including Flocations (Singapore), Telunjuk (Indonesia) and Allstay (South Korea). Previously, Kei worked at Mitsubishi Corporation, Japan’s leading trading & investment firm.

He received a BA of Laws from Keio University and an MBA from the Harvard Business School. He also serves as co-founder of WIT (Web in Travel) Japan, President of Venture Mitakai at Keio University, and Executive Committee Member of Harvard Business School Club of Japan.

Please join us at TBEX Asia 2015 to hear Kei talk about the intersection of travel and technology, his predictions for future growth, and what that means to travel bloggers.

See you there!

8 Key Elements For an Effective Hashtag

When it comes down to storytelling, travel brands have a clear edge over organizations in other industries: we sell experiences, memories. And whether people travel for business or leisure, they tend to share these moments on social media, in real-time, via their always-on mobile devices.

One of the big trends that has been shaping how travel stories get told is through repurposing of this content, whether it was originally shared on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, or Pinterest. Destinations, hotels, restaurants, transportation companies, attractions… every stakeholder in the hospitality realm can tap into the potential stemming from photos and videos shared online.

But how do you find the good stuff? How can you even know if people are talking about you on their blog or via their social accounts? One word comes in handy: hashtag!


8 Key Elements

There are obviously many elements to consider when implementing an effective online campaign, across platforms such as your own website, blogs, newsletters, social media and even offline. But having a compelling hashtag is a key component that should not be under-estimated.So here are eight important elements to consider when you are about to choose a hashtag or launch a campaign centered around one.

Easy to remember

While this may be rule #1, it is often forgotten. Or perhaps I should clarify: a hashtag should be easy to remember for users, not for the marketing person that came up with it. A good example? Discover Los Angeles launched its campaign highlighting the fact there is something to do every day of the year, it came up with #LA365.

A word of caution when using acronyms: they may be easy to remember, but they can also mean different things to different people. For example #TIFF which could stand for Toronto International Film Festival… or just a short for Tiffany…

Intuitive & Significant

To segue from the previous point, a hashtag should be intuitive… for users, first and foremost. When the village resort of Mont-Tremblant, in Canada, wanted to focus on a strong hashtag across its various social networks, it realized users were already using #Tremblant. Thus, it went ahead with this hashtag.

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You will also want to make sure the hashtag is significant, meaning it resonates to its target audience. Such is the case, for example, with #DallasBIG, reinforcing the notion and campaign message that everything is big in Dallas (or Texas, for that matter!).


Not always an easy task to cater to different languages, but as a born and raised Montrealer in the French-speaking province of Quebec, I know how important it is for brands to appeal to as many travelers in their native language as possible. That was the thinking behind #QuebecOriginal to promote the destination, with a hashtag that works as well in French or in English (or even in Spanish).

Brand-related… or not!

Here’s another trap we marketers tend to fall into: we always want to make it about us, with reference to our brand. Me, me, me, me! Of course, having a hashtag relating to the brand name should help enhance its awareness, but must we include the whole DMO or hotel name, for example? Not necessarily.

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Many destinations will infer their name subtly, like #AlwaysSF (in San Francisco) or #MTLmoments (in Montreal), but Marriott Hotels launched a successful campaign around the #TravelBrilliantly hashtag, and continues to spread it across its various social accounts.

Think offline

Even if you came up with the best, most intuitive and easy to remember hashtag, not everybody thinks the same way online or offline, in particular across different cultures and languages. It is therefore important to help travelers discover and use your hashtag, rather than leaving them on their own.


This can mean including your campaign hashtag on destination brochures, at the reception desk, in the elevator or on table tents, on interactive walls during festivals and events or even at photographic hot spots across town. This is what Tourisme Montréal has been doing since 2013 with its #MTLmoments initiative, placing red frames across the city in popular spots, now boasting more than 200,000 media tagged on Instagram alone!


Before launching a campaign and placing all your bets on what seems like a winning hashtag, please do some research to see if your stroke of genius did not occur already in the past. Perhaps many times, and by many users… and sometimes in a context that could be harmful to your brand!

How do you know if a hashtag is already being used? Simply try it in the search box in Twitter or on Instagram and see what comes up? There are more sophisticated tools that can allow you to go back in time to see mentions around a keyword, but a simple search usually will do the trick.

Short & Simple

This is a rule of thumb that remains valid across pretty much all social networks, but even more so when it comes to hashtags. Less is more, folks. Some scientific (ahem!) research published on AdWeek in 2014 said the ideal length of hashtag was 6 characters, but in my experience anywhere between 6 and 15 characters is a valid range. More than that, well, is just not user-friendly in particular on Twitter where we have that 140 characters limit, not to mention if you want to be retweeted.


Last but not least, it can be tempting to come up with subtle variations according to seasons, or perhaps niche products or audiences, yet it usually pays to stick with a strong, consistent hashtag. Just like a brand should stick to a strong tagline or signature, travels brands ought to find the right hashtag and run with it consistently through time.

This doesn’t mean a destination won’t want to run individual campaigns with #restaurantweek or #operafestival for example, but ideally this will take place concurrently with the destination, hotel or attraction core hashtag as well.

What are some of your best (or worst) experiences with hashtags in the travel sphere?

TBEX NOTE:  Come see Frederic speak at TBEX North America 2015 in Ft. Lauderdale. His session title is:  Why Travel Brands Must Embrace Visual Storytelling.

Author bio:  Frederic Gonzalo is passionate about marketing and communications, with over 19 years of experience in the travel and tourism sphere. Early 2012, he launched Gonzo Marketing and works as a strategic marketing consultant, professional speaker and trainer in the use of new technologies (web, social media, mobile). He writes a regular column on etourism for TourismExpress and PAX News magazine, and collaborates to influential sites such as Social Media Today, Business2Community, Skift, Tnooz and ehotelier. He was ranked most influential blogger for etourism and travel in the province of Quebec (Canada) and among most influential bloggers for marketing & social media in Canada in both 2013 and 2014.

From 2008 to end of 2011, Frederic was Vice-President, Marketing at Groupe Le Massif. He spearheaded Marketing, Sales & Communications for Le Massif de Charlevoix development project, crafting the strategic planning to turn the ski hill of Le Massif into a year-round destination including on-hill accommodations, introducing a touring train between Quebec City and La Malbaie, and the opening of the hotel La Ferme in Baie-Saint-Paul (summer 2012).

Between 2005 and 2008, Frederic worked in the loyalty and relationship marketing fields, first at VIA Rail Canada where he was at the forefront of the VIA Preference Program for frequent train travelers. Then, with Fido Rewards, where he worked on the relaunch of this unique loyalty program in the Canadian telecom industry landscape.

From 1995 to 2005, Frederic worked at various levels of the hospitality and travel sector, including front line in various Club Med resorts (1995-1998), managing PR & Entertainment at the winter resort of Valle Nevado, Chile (1996-97), sales agent at inbound tour operator Receptour Canada (1999), Sales representative for international markets at Tremblant (1999-2000) and finally managing international market development for VIA Rail Canada (2000-2005).

Another TBEX North America 2015 Speaker Announcement

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We’re please to announce another group of speakers for TBEX North America in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Auston Matta

Auston is a blogger and freelance writer and has contributed to Edge Travel, Man About World, Gaycation Magazine, and more. He grew up in Phoenix, later moved to Chicago and in 2012 sold his belongings and embarked on a round-the-world trip. After traveling non-stop for a year, he finally settled in Spain with his husband. When he’s not traveling or writing about events, festivals or the best LGBT destinations, he enjoys the long sunny days and nightlife of Madrid.

Auston will be speaking in the industry track about marketing to the LGBT community.

Chris Gray Faust

Chris Gray Faust is Senior Editor at Cruise Critic, where she oversees all of the website’s destination and port content, as well as news coverage and blog. Creator and publisher of Chris Around The World, Chris has won a Lowell Thomas Travel Writing award for blogging and has worked as a staff writer at the (New Orleans) Times-Picayune, the Philadelphia Inquirer and USA TODAY, where she served as travel editor. She has a journalism degree from Northwestern University and a master’s degree from Brown University.

Chris will be leading a session on how to write a review.

Dave Bouskill & Deb Corbeil

Dave Bouskill and Deb Corbeil founded ThePlanetD after cycling the continent of Africa. Now well-known travel personalities both online and in mainstream media, they make regular TV and radio appearances as travel experts. ThePlanetD won Gold Medal for Best Travel blog at the Society of American Travel writers, and has been featured in major international media outlets such as The Today Show, BBC Travel, Canada AM, National Geographic and more. Dave won SATW’s best Photo Illustration of Travel, and has been named one of the top travel instagrammers by publications such as USA Today, Yahoo Travel, Forbes, and more. Dave and Deb have worked closely with destinations on major campaigns, and have worked with dozens of brands and tourism boards on individual travel projects.

Dave and Deb will be speaking in the industry track on strategic blogger-brand campaigns.

Jessica Woodbury

Jessica Woodbury has been blogging since 2001 and had a previous career as a lawyer before she pivoted to digital marketing. Jessica was on the SEO team at where she started the innovative Homemaker blogger program. She is now at Commision Junction helping bloggers monetize and build their businesses through affiliate marketing. She still blogs regularly and is a contributor for several sites including the Huffington Post.

Jessica will be speaking on affiliate marketing.

Katie Hammel

Katie Hammel is Viator’s Senior Travel Editor. She manages the Viator blog network and Viator’s blogger ambassador program.

Katie will be speaking on how to be the blogger that all brands want to work with.

Marko & Alex Ayling

Marko and Alex Ayling, vagabonds and brothers, are known online as the Vaga-brothers. They’re travel videographers, photographers and writers – globally-engaged storytellers on a mission to explore the planet by connecting with other young people and inspiring viewers to do the same. They produce a weekly online travel show aimed at young travelers who are interested in discovering the world through its cultures.

Marko and Alex will be speaking about building a YouTube channel and community.

Rachelle Lucas

A foodie with a zest for life and passion for travel, Rachelle Lucas has been blogging since 2007 when she started documenting her life as an innkeeper. As her wanderlust grew, she sold the inn to pursue travel writing full-time and has since been to over 40 countries in pursuit of the tastiest meal. She’s been recognized in PEOPLE Magazine, USA Today, and Trip Advisor.  as one of the Top 25 Culinary Travel Blogs to follow.

Rachelle will be talking about how to use your community presence to become a paid Twitter influencer.

Syed Balkhi

Syed is the founder of WPBeginner (the largest free WordPress resource site) and List25, a fairly large entertainment site with over 1.4 Million subscribers and 245 Million video views. Syed’s work has been featured in Inc, Fox Business, Forbes, Entrepreneur, Washington Post, and countless other well-reputed online magazines.

Syed will be speaking about content strategy.

Sharon Gourlay

Sharon Gourlay is a travel blogger, internet marketer and passionate about working online and being location independent. She is a permanent nomad and shares her travels with her young family with the world, as well as how she makes an online income.

Sharon will be speaking about SEO.

Look for additional speaker and program announcements about TBEX at Sea, TBEX Asia, and TBEX North America, all coming up this week.

Speaker Announcements for TBEX North America 2015 in Ft. Lauderdale

FLL Speakers

Exciting news today as we start rolling out speaker announcements for TBEX North America 2015 in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.

This is the start of an all-star line up, including some a few returning favorites among a lot of new favorites. We think you’ll discover some superstars that you didn’t know about.

Emma Sparks

Emma Sparks has worked at Lonely Planet since 2012; as online content producer, social media coordinator, and most recently, deputy editor. She writes a (much neglected) travel blog and gets herself abroad as often as a full-time job will allow.

Emma will be speaking on topic of self editing skills.

Evelyn Kanter

After a first career as a producer and on-air reporter for radio and TV stations including CBS and ABC in New York, Evelyn Kanter switched to freelance writing and photography. She has written for numerous prestigious print publications, and has written or edited more than a dozen travel guidebooks. She also writes and publishes two blogs, NYC on the Cheap and Eco Explorer.

Evelyn will be speaking on how to land media interviews and use them to enhance your expertise and grow your brand.

Frederic Gonzalo

Frederic Gonzalo is passionate about marketing and communications, with over 19 years of experience in the travel and tourism sphere. Early 2012, he launched Gonzo Marketing and works as a strategic marketing consultant, professional speaker and trainer in the use of new technologies. He writes a regular column on etourism for TourismExpress and PAX News magazine, and collaborates with influential sites such as Social Media Today, Business2Community, Skift, Tnooz and ehotelier. He has extensive experiences at various levels of the hospitality and travel sector.

Frederic Gonzalo will be speaking in the industry track about visual storytelling.

Julie Deily

Julie Deily was a software engineer for ten years before making the transition to full-time blogger at The Little Kitchen as well as freelance recipe developer, food photographer and social media consultant. A self-professed nerd, she’s a food lover but not a food snob and a firm believer that you do not have to have a huge kitchen to make amazing food. Julie has helped organized Food Blog Forum Orlando events, and has spoken at Florida Blogger and Social Media Conference and and BlogHer Food.

Julie will be speaking on food photography.

Lauren & Kenin Bassart

Lauren and Kenin Bassart are the team behind the road trip and travel blog, The Constant Rambler. Their blog was founded in 2012 as part of a career break, and has since evolved into a life of full-time, nomadic travel and operating a successful blogging business. Before blogging, Lauren had a successful career in retail banking and finance based on the core concepts of relationship selling, and Kenin had a 15-year retail sales leadership career where he specialized in opening new markets, hiring, and training sales consultants and manager candidates.

Lauren and Kenin will be teaching bloggers how to approach their business with a sales focused mind, and how to develop successful relationships.

Leif Pettersen

Leif Pettersen is a freelance writer, humorist, world traveler, and tourism communications professional from Minneapolis, Minn. He has traveled through 54 countries and lived in Spain, Romania and Italy. He was a silver medalist at the 2014 International Jugglers’ Association championships, loves chocolate, hates pickles, types with exactly four fingers, and can escape from a straitjacket. Leif’s upcoming book, “Backpacking with Dracula,” explores fact, legend and fiction surrounding Vlad “The Impaler” Dracula and the vampire monster he inspired.

Leif will be speaking in the industry track about how what he learned as a freelancer has shaped his perspective for his current job on the industry side.

Max Hartshorne

Max Hartshorne began working in travel publishing in 2000, as managing editor of Transitions Abroad magazine. He bought GoNOMAD in 2002 and a few years later it became his full time job. His background is in advertising sales, working for a daily newspaper and several weeklies but after discovering web publishing he left all of the print behind. Max travels every month and has published his daily blog, Readuponit, since 2004.

Max will be speaking on working with interns, assistants and salespeople.

Tammilee Tillison

Tammilee Tillison is a professional blogger who uses her M.B.A. to create a thriving blog and business in the competitive world of travel blogging. Moving from the corporate world to the blogging world, she has grown her blog, Tammilee Tips, to over a half million page views a month and has readers in over 170 countries. Tammilee has a passion for food, travel and helping others.

Tammilee will be speaking about productivity tools.

Tanya Churchmuch

Based in New York City, Tanya Churchmuch is the founder of MuchPR, a public relations firm specializing in tourism, lifestyle and LGBT markets. Prior to launching MuchPR, Tanya lived in Montreal, Canada and was Tourisme Montreal’s Assistant Director of International Media Relations and Leisure Markets, while also overseeing their LGBT outreach. Prior to working in the travel world, Tanya was a television journalist and news anchor in Montreal, including 9 years at Global Television.

Tanya will be on a panel about Trends, Successes and Challenges in LGBT travel.

We’ll be rolling out another speaker announcement next week. Stay tuned! Better yet, go register for TBEX North America 2015.

Jodi Ettenberg to Keynote at TBEX Asia 2015

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We are excited to announce that Jodi Ettenberg will be the closing keynote at TBEX Asia 2015.

Jodi is a writer, photographer, and food-obsessed traveler who has been exploring the world since she quit her job as a lawyer in April 2008. Jodi founded Legal Nomads to tell the stories of the places she visits, often through food. She is also the author of The Food Traveler’s Handbook, and runs small-group food walks in Saigon, Vietnam, during the winter months. She has been featured in the New York Times, National Geographic, BBC Travel, Singapore Airlines, CNN Travel and more. She gets the shakes if she goes too long without sticky rice.

Jodi is a consummate story teller, and her closing keynote will focus on the power of story to build better businesses and more human connections with the communities behind them.

We know  you’ll want to be in the audience to hear Jodi’s story. Register here for TBEX Asia today. See you there!

More Speakers Announced for TBEX Asia 2015

Speakers TBEX Asia 2015

Please join with us in welcoming the following speakers to TBEX Asia 2015. We know you’ll be excited to hear what they have to share:

Amber Hoffman

After 10 years as an attorney, Amber left her job at the largest law firm in the world and decided to start living her life. She is now a recovering tax lawyer, travel writer, photographer, speaker, and eater, traveling the world With Husband In Tow. Amber’s passion lies in understanding the link between food and travel.

Amber will be leading as session designed for first time TBEX attendees, helping them learn how to get the most out of the experience.

Chris Christensen

Chris is the host of the Amateur Traveler, a popular online travel website that focuses primarily on travel destinations. It includes a weekly audio podcast, a video podcast, and a blog. In 2014 Chris won a Lowell Thomas Award from the SATW (Society of American Travel Writers) and a SMITTY (Social Media in Travel and Tourism) award as the Best Independent Travel Journalist from Travel + Leisure. Chris now owns and runs, a startup connecting bloggers and industry contacts.

Chris will be leading a session about how to maximize the use of Blogger Bridge.

Ciaran Blumenfeld

Ciaran Blumenfeld is a full time marketer and co-founder of, a popular hashtag analytics service widely used in the travel industry. She is also the creator of, a popular family lifestyle blog offering travel advice. Ciaran’s talents like in digital storytelling and helping brands, bloggers and individuals make powerful, authentic connections. When she’s not working on new technology and innovative client marketing campaigns, her passions are family travel and photograpy.

Ciaran will be speaking in the Industry Track on how to grow engaged communities.

 Engin Kaban

Engin is currently full-time traveler and travel writer who has traveled to 57 countries. He is the author of the book Practical Travel Guide of A Traveler, and writes for newspapers, magazines and websites. He is a former mechanical engineer with master’s degree in Innovation Studies.

Engin will be speaking on creating a travel community.

Evo Terra

Evo and his wife travel full time and are known as The Opportunistic Travelers, telling stories through podcasting, videos, and photography. He was one of the first dozen podcasters, a field now exceeding a million, and remains a vocal advocate of building businesses with “free” at their core, has authored 2.5 books in the “for Dummies” series, and continues to pen various non-fiction titles. Evo is a parallel entrepreneur, proud early adopter, and a staunch supporter of science and critical thinking.

Evo will be speaking on how to be a create a distinctive voice.

Lee Abbamonte

Lee Abbamonte is the youngest American to visit every country in the world, and is one of the world’s most-traveled people. Lee is a successful entrepreneur, travel television personality, speaker, travel writer, travel expert and global adventurer. He appears regularly on air on Fox News, Bloomberg, HLN, Travel Channel, NBC, ABC, CBS, CNN, and others. Lee has also been featured in the New York Times, Washington Post, Conde Nast Traveler, Huffington Post, Yahoo, Today and more.

Lee will be speaking about the importance of sales skills in building a business.

Lola Akinmade Akerstrom

As a Stockholm-based writer and photographer, Lola’s work has appeared in National Geographic Traveler, BBC, CNN, The Guardian, Travel + Leisure, Slate, Lonely Planet, Fodor’s, several in-flight magazines, and many more. She was also in South Africa on a photography assignment for National Geographic Channel and was featured in a vignette called “Through The Lens” which airs on Nat Geo channel across the globe. Her photography is represented by National Geographic Creative.

Lola will be speaking on photography.

Ralph Velasco

Ralph Velasco is a professional travel photographer and the President/Founder/Lead Instructor of PhotoEnrichment Programs, Inc. (PEP). He’s organized and led more than 50 cultural photo tours around the world, including to Cambodia, Vietnam, Morocco, Egypt, Iceland, Bhutan, Nepal, Mexico, the Adriatic, Cuba (14 times), Tuscany, Spain, Central Europe and others. Ralph is the creator of the My Shot Lists for Travel app for iOS devices, which is available for free on iTunes. …thHe is also the author of two books on photography.

Ralph will be speaking about developing a shot list.

Sara Meaney

In her role as Managing Director of BVK, a Milwaukee, Wisconsin-based independent advertising agency with deep experience in the travel and tourism industry, Sara oversees the earned media service offerings, which include the agency’s public relations, social media, experiential marketing and promotions teams. She is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin–Madison and has completed executive education programs at Harvard Business School and Kellogg School of Management.

Sara will be speaking in the Industry Track on how travel consumers make buying decisions.

Speaker Lineup for TBEX Asia 2015

TBEX Asia2015 speakers We’ve got our first speaker announcements for our inaugural TBEX Asia, to be held at the Queen Sirikit Convention Center in Bangkok, Thailand. It’s a great mix of new and returning speakers, and we think you’ll like this first peek at our TBEX Asia 2015 programming. The following speakers have been confirmed:

Diana Edelman

Diana Edelman is a travel writer. the voice behind d travels ’round and a responsible animal tourism expert. For more than two years she studied with renowned elephant conservationist Sangduen “Lek” Chailert at Elephant Nature Park/Save Elephant Foundation in Thailand. While there, she traveled SE Asia learning and observing elephants in captivity. She has been an outspoken advocate for elephants and has served as an expert on the topic for numerous print, radio, television and documentaries. Diana is also co-founder of the Responsible Travel & Tourism Collective (which includes a twice-weekly Twitter chat, #RTTC focusing on responsible tourism), a group of responsible tourism experts working with the travel industry to help raise awareness and shape the future of responsible tourism and responsible tourism initiatives.

Diana will be speaking on Responsible Tourism

Ethan Gelber

Ethan Gelber is a freelance writer, editor, communications strategist, content marketer and translator of more than 20 years and scores of projects focused on travel, culture and education. He specializes in responsible and sustainable travel practices, keeping things local, and quality and relevance in publishing and destination marketing. His written work, including as a Lonely Planet author, AFAR Ambassador, Huffington Post blogger and Open Places eco-columnist, has appeared (credited and uncredited) in dozens of magazines and websites. “Adventures Less Ordinary: How to Travel and Do Good“, an anthology he edited about volunteer and philanthropic travel, was recently released by Horizon Travel Press.

Ethan will be speaking on Responsible Tourism

Ian Ord

Having spent more than half his life on the road, Ian has developed an insatiable thirst for travel. His love for the road less travelled is complimented by his passion the planet, its people, and the place tourism will responsibly fit within that realm. Travel blogger for Where Sidewalks End, board member for the Responsible Travel & Tourism Collective (#RTTC) and the Professional Travel Bloggers Association (PTBA), chapter leader of the Bangkok Travel Massive, and founder of the boutique travel company: WSE Travel Inc. and the TRIP Foundation; Ian plays a very active role in helping bring global awareness, education and experience to those looking to travel responsibly.

Ian will be speaking on Responsible Tourism

Jeff Dobbins

Jeff Dobbins is a freelance writer, tour guide and publisher of Adventures in Culture. Before entering the blogosphere, Jeff had a career in the New York theater industry, working as a performer, lyricist, scriptwriter, press rep and manager of theaters on Broadway and in Lincoln Center. Jeff’s first blog, NYCxplorer, led to collaboration with Walks of New York in which he wrote and edited their blog, served as Social Media Manager, created tours and managed tour operations. Currently, in addition to freelance writing, Jeff is exploring and writing about global cultures, crafting private walking tours of New York City and developing video projects.

Jeff will be speaking on Finding a Revenue Model that Works for You

Mariellen Ward

Mariellen Ward is a professional travel writer and blogger based in Toronto and Delhi. Her award-winning blog Breathe Dream Go is one of the world’s leading travel blogs about India. She has been featured in India Today, BBC Travel, Conde Nast Traveller India and on many lists of top bloggers, and she writes for many online and offline publications. A significant travel influencer, Mariellen co-founded the Toronto and Delhi Travel Massives and founded the WeGoSolo online community for female solo travellers. Mariellen is a Kensington Tours Explorer-in-Residence. Canadian by birth, Mariellen considers India to be her “soul culture.”

Mariellen will be speaking about the state of Travel Blogging in Asia.

Natalie DiScala

Natalie DiScala is an editor and writer who has 15 years of experience as the Digital Editor of leading design magazine, Style at Home. An avid traveler who has been to 50+ countries, she is also the Editor of Oh! Travelissima, a website dedicated to luxury travel and style. Natalie is a frequent speaker at digital conferences, focusing largely on travel and social media strategy and she freelances for a number of publications, covering fashion, beauty, health, wellness, travel and design. Natalie also has a public relations background, having worked in the consumer marketing practice of a global PR firm.

Natalie will speaking on how to maximize your use of Pinterest.

Scott Eddy

Scott Eddy has a background in investment banking in Miami and New York, resigning after 10 years, and since then has been traveling overseas. He now consults with travel companies about strategies and developing relationships, including such clients as Marriott, Starwood, etc.

Scott will be speaking in our TBEX Business, our travel industry track.

Tammilee Tillison

Tammilee Tillison is a professional US blogger that resides in the state of Washington. Using her Masters of Business Administration degree, Tammilee has moved from the corporate world to the blogging world with smooth and accurate precision. Over the past 6 years her blog has grown and thrived in the competitive blogging world. Tammilee Tips receives over 500K page views a month and has readers in over 170 countries. Her social media outreach encompasses over 250K fans. Tammilee has a passion for food, travel and helping others.

Tammilee will be speaking on productivity tips.

Tim Leffel

Tim Leffel is an award-winning travel writer and editor who publishes multiple websites and blogs. He has spoken to large crowds at several previous TBEX events and is the author of five books including Travel Writing 2.0. He is frequently quoted in the media as a travel expert and has contributed to a wide variety of magazines and online publications.

Tim will be speaking on creating multiple revenue streams.

We’ll have another speaker announcement in a couple of days, and will have announcements about TBEX North America in Ft. Lauderdale coming up soon as well.