The fourth round of speakers at TBEX North America 2019 is a collection of 14 highly skilled travel professionals who will provide travel media – including tourism brands, content creators, influencers and vloggers – with constructive information, tools, and innovative strategies for success in the current travel and tourism space. We are excited to announce this final group of exceptionally qualified travel professionals to our 2019 North America event!
Toni Smith is the Director of Communications for the Tempe, Arizona Tourism Office. She is responsible for media relations, copywriting, collateral materials, social media strategy, and video and photography projects. Toni is a native Arizonan and Arizona State University grad, and can often be found hiking desert trails (sometimes over the lunch hour) or checking out the newest restaurants in town. Toni loves the performing arts, especially Broadway shows and music festivals. She lives in Tempe with her husband, daughter and two rescue dogs. And, she’ll travel just about anywhere.
Kerwin McKenzie is an Amazon.com #1 best selling author, speaker and ex-airline employee who travels on average over 250,000 miles a year. He writes up-to-date airport, destination and ground transportation guides plus airline flight and hotel reviews with a mission to motivate airline employees to use their travel benefits at Passrider.com. He’s flown 176 airlines and visited 125 countries and teaches travelers how to be loyal to travel brands at www.Cruisinaltitude.com and shares 365 unfamiliar destinations at UnfamiliarDestinations.com.
Tara Zieman comes from a background of broadcast journalism, political science and public relations. At the beginning of 2014, she took her skills to the tourism industry and joined Visit Mobile.
From pitching to press trips, if there is a story to tell, Tara is telling it. She serves as one of the primary content curators for Visit Mobile and manages @VisitMobile on social media. And in true DMO fashion, she juggles everything else that is tossed her way, including playing Mama to two little boys. She survives her role of Director of Marketing & Communications as well as Mama, on copious amounts of wine and sarcasm.
Andy Austin has taken his Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and a lifetime in the adventure travel industry to combine his love of travel with his love of how the mind works. A multi-awarded photographer, Andy has been capturing magnificent landscape images for nearly four years in one of the most difficult markets of photography, tourism.
Spud Hilton has tenured 19 years as a travel writer, including 10 years as travel editor for the San Francisco Chronicle. He’s also spent eight years teaching travel writing at the Book Passage Travel Writing and Photography Conference in Corte Madera, CA. A travel expert, speaker, author and on-camera host, Spud’s latest endeavor is The Inappropriate Traveler Podcast, where he shares anecdotes and conversations about the messy, fun and naughty side of travel.
Shaelyn McCormack is a strategic content marketing specialist with an emphasis in social media who curates award-winning campaigns while looking through rose colored glasses. In her current role as Social Media & Content Manager for Ideas Collide, she works on digital campaigns for dozens of global brands, including Best Western Hotels & Resorts.
Elisabeth Willits is a professional copywriter and editor who creates successful and popular blog posts, landing pages, and email automation campaigns for AWeber, one of the world’s leading email marketing and automation platforms. Over the past 5 years, she’s sent hundreds of emails to millions of subscribers. She’s constantly scouring the email data of the “best of the best,” and knows what works and what doesn’t when it comes to growing your business with the help of email.
Carol Austin, born and raised in Montana, grew up exploring the Rocky Mountains and Canada. Through Austin Adventures she’s had the chance to visit many wonderful places, but her bucket list is still very long, and of course, it grows every time she travels somewhere new. Even after all of these years, Yellowstone is still her favorite place on earth! Working alongside her husband Dan, Carol is going on 20+ years in her role as an Adventure Travel Consultant, working with guests everyday to build vacations of a lifetime. When asked her favorite things about her job, it would have to be working with both guests and operators from around the world. From that, one can learn something new every day.
Jenna Howard is the Marketing Director of Maine’s MidCoast & Islands, one of Maine’s eight tourism regions. After working with teams planning the Olympic Games and World Cup in Brazil, writing on leisure destinations in Dubai, and blogging around Southeast Asia, she returned to her homeland to share with the world why it’s so special. She has her Masters in Public Policy and often, a fly rod in her hand.
Kulin Strimbu is a travel industry veteran bringing over 27 years of executive, sales, marketing, and technology experience to her role as both COO of the Travel Industry Marketing Association and CEO of Rich Media Exchange. Tackling the task of combining emotional engagement with strategic marketing, sales, rich media, and data science, she is using her experience and skills to help suppliers/brands, content creators, travel agents, and destinations to collaborate, better communicate, and partner together through a seamless marketing platform and comprehensive membership services. The TIMA solution assists both individuals and businesses with marketing, sales, strategic planning and development, branding, rich media distribution, and social media strategy and services.
Kulin has received multiple industry awards and speaks at industry events as a person of resource. She has been received both Travel Weekly Magellan Silver and Gold Awards for Video Technology and Marketing and was recognized with a Telly Award for an Internet/Online CVB commercial in Travel and Tourism.
Kasey Austin was born in Alaska and raised in Billings, MT. She graduated in 2011 as a Presidential Leadership Scholar at the University of Montana in Missoula with a degree in Education. Growing up in the world of adventure travel, it was only natural for Kasey to jump in to the family business upon entering “the real world”. Currently, Kasey works full time at Austin Adventures as the Vice President of Operations. This allows her to work closely with AA’s U.S. and European guides as well as tour operators worldwide. Kasey has guided trips across the western US and travels abroad on a regular basis (usually to attend adventure travel conferences or study “future trip territory”). In her free time, she enjoys hiking in Montana’s beautiful mountains, road cycling, competing in triathlons, reading, and fishing with her dad.
Chris Christensen is the creator of the 13 year old AmateurTraveler.com. Amateur Traveler is a popular online travel website that focuses primarily on travel destinations. It includes a couple of audio podcasts and a blog. His travel podcasts were downloaded 1.89 million times in 2017. Chris has won a Lowell Thomas Award, 4 NATJA awards, and a SMITTY Award from Travel+Leisure as the “best independent travel journalist”. Chris also runs a site called BloggerBridge.com which connects bloggers (mostly travel bloggers) and companies.
Cam Sholly currently holds the position, Superintendent of Yellowstone National Park, the world’s first national park. He has a Master’s Degree in Environmental Management from Duke University, a Bachelor’s Degree in Management from St. Mary’s College of California, and is a graduate of the Harvard University, Senior Executive Fellows Program and the FBI National Academy. In 2015, Sholly was awarded the Department of Interior’s Meritorious Service Award for his executive leadership actions.
Register for TBEX North America 2019 in Billings, Montana and join hundreds of travel blogging colleagues and peers for two full days of invaluable breakout sessions led by dozens of highly skilled speakers and influencers. The conference also offers prime speed networking opportunities with dozens of travel/tourism brands and DMO’s, official opening and closing night parties, exclusive Pre-BEX tours and more!
PLAN TO ARRIVE EARLY FOR THE INCREDIBLE PRE-BEX day tours organized by our hosts, Visit Billings.