Speaker Line up for TBEX North America 2016

TBEX North America 2016 is three months away and our the TBEX team has been working closely with our hosts and partners in Minnesota to create a wonderful event for you. From pre-bex activities to post-bex FAM trips (to be announced soon) to our special parties and networking, there are a lot of reasons to join us in Minnesota.

Today, we’re announcing our speaker line up for our professional development sessions. We’ll have full speaker pages with bios and detailed session information later this week, so this is a condensed version with highlights. We will also have an update soon on our special keynote speakers – it’s an exciting line up of people and specialties – along with details about the rest of the social and networking parts of the program. We also have a few speakers with whom we are still trying to connect and work out session details, so you’ll see some additional speakers and topics added over the coming weeks.

Take a look at this great mix of first time and returning speakers:


Betsy & Pete Wuebker

Betsy and Pete Wuebker have been blogging about travel, simplicity and independence at PassingThru since 2008. Location independent since 2011, they are into their second year of full-time travel. Their online business structure is designed to provide diversified income which gives them the freedom to work from home or on the road, and their passion is to share how integrating work with life leads to more fulfillment and time for travel.

Betsy and Pete will be leading a session in the Commerce track about creating passive income through Print on Demand products and stores.

Suggested skill level:  Intermediate-Advanced


Cailin O’Neil cailin_dubrovnik_croatia

Cailin is an award winning travel, video, and food blogger from Halifax, Nova Scotia. She’s traveled to nearly 50 countries while sharing on her blog informative, engaging and funny stories and videos of food and adventure from around the world.

Cailin will be on a panel in the Community track about Snapchat.

Suggested skill level:  Intermediate





Carly Van Orman

Carly is the Public Affairs Officer for the Bureau of Consular Affairs for the U.S. State Department. The Bureau of Consular Affairs is reponsible for Passport Services, Overseas Citizen Services, and Visas.

Carly will be speaking in the Content track about how the State Department can help with research, fact checking, and providing materials to help your travel writing and help your readers travel smarter and safer..

Suggested skill level:  Basic – Intermediate



headshot12Chris Christensen

Chris Christensen is the host of the Amateur Traveler. The Amateur Traveler is a popular online travel website that focuses primarily on travel destinations and 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 won a SMITTY (Social Media in Travel and Tourism) award as the Best Independent Travel Journalist from Travel & Leisure.

Chris will be a co-presenter in the Commerce Track on identifying affiliate link opportunities.

Suggested skill level:  Intermediate – Advanced


ciarancorp1Ciaran Blumenfeld

Ciaran is the Founder and Ceo of Hashtracking Inc., a popular social media data and analytics tracking and display company. As a marketing professional Ciaran has consulted with dozens of companies. She has been mentioned in the New York Times, Forbes, Working Mother and featured on NPR’s app chat. Her passion for visual marketing led to the development of the patent pending ColorTracking feature on Hashtracking. Ciaran is also the publisher of the popular family lifestyle blog Momfluential, where she writes about her own personal passion – travel!

Ciaran will be leading a session in the Industry track about how brands can create buzzworthy events.

Suggested skill level:  Advanced


screen_shot_20160229_at_12.57.19_pmColleen Fogerty

Colleen Fogerty is the Social Media & Content Marketing Coordinator at TripIt, a travel organizing app. She graduated from Gonzaga University, where she received her B.A. in Journalism. She’s a lover of words with a passion for storytelling. By fusing her creative soul with her background in journalism and business, she’s empowered to strategically bring a brand’s voice to life. She believes content is king and that king takes many forms.

Colleen will be leading a session in the Industry track about how destinations and travel brands can use Snapchat to reach their marketing goals.

Suggested skill level:  Advanced


img_7094Cory Lee

Cory Lee was diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy at the age of two, but that certainly has not diminished his desire to travel – wheelchair and all. He blogs about his accessible (and sometimes not so accessible) travel adventures on CurbFreeWithCoryLee.com. He has been featured in the Los Angeles Times, USA Today, The Huffington Post, and many more, making him one of the leading accessible travel experts.

Cory will be a co-presenter in the Industry track about helping destinations market to special needs travelers.

Suggested skill level:  Intermediate


crystal2Crystal Colon

Crystal Colon has been a Revenue Agent with the IRS since 2006. She has an accounting degree and MBA, and runs a fully monetized blog at Flor Bella Boutique as well as physical store (Flor Bella Beauty Bar). Part of her job as a Revenue Agent with the IRS is to examine records of small businesses and self employed taxpayers. She is an expert in tax preparation and record keeping for individuals and businesses (1040, 1065, 1120 and 1120S).

Crystal will be leading a session in the Commerce track about how to maximize your business while minimizing your tax obligation.

Suggested skill level:  Advanced


Dalene & Pete Heck

Dalene and Pete Heck are the team at the travel blog Hecktic Travels and are founders of Hecktic Media. Since 2009 they have been traveling the world nomadically and were both honored as National Geographic Travelers of the Year in 2014. Dalene has also twice been named a BlogHer Voice of the Year, and was an Alto Award finalist in 2015.

Dalene and Pete will be leading a session in the Community track about avoiding vanity metrics and instead building a thriving community around your storytelling.

Suggested skill level:  Intermediate – Advanced


portrait2__ethan_gelber_2013Ethan Gelber

Ethan Gelber is the editorial director of the Family Travel Association, whose mission is to inspire families to travel. His work as a freelance writer, editor, communications strategist, content marketer and translator, spans more than 20 years and has involved projects focused on travel, culture and education. He specializes in family travel, responsible and sustainable travel practices, keeping things local, and quality and relevance in publishing and destination marketing. His written work has appeared (credited and uncredited) in dozens of magazines and websites.

Ethan will be a co-presenter in the Industry track on marketing to family travelers.

Suggested skill level:  Intermediate – Advanced


gonzoheadshotFrederic Gonzalo

Frederic Gonzalo is passionate about marketing and communications and has 20 years of experience in travel and tourism. He works as a strategic marketing consultant, professional speaker and trainer in the use of social media and mobile. He writes a regular column about online tourism on his blog and collaborates with influential sites such as Social Media Today, Skift, Tnooz and ehotelier. He was ranked among most influential bloggers for marketing & social media in Canada in 2013 and 2014. He just published his first book: Social Media Best Practices in Travel Marketing.

Frederic will be leading a session in the Industry track about Facebook advertising for travel brands.

Suggested skill level:  Intermediate


heather_lopez_image_470x470_1Heather Lopez

Heather Lopez aka The Social Commerce Mom, founded Bloggin’ Mamas, a national network of over 4,000 U.S. mom bloggers. She has more than 50,000 engaged followers and was featured in Maria Bailey’s Power Moms book. She has appeared on NBC, MSNBC, NY1 TV, The NY Daily News, The Sun Sentinel, The Miami Herald, PR Week, HITS 97.3 and co-founded the South Florida Parenting Magazine’s Mom Approved Panel. Heather officially began blogging in 1997 and made her way into mom blogging in 2009., and most recently launched her travel blog, I Love Family Travel,

Heather will be leading a session in the Community Track about Twitter parties.

Suggested skill level:  Intermediate


jasonfalls2x3headshotJason Falls

Jason Falls is a leading digital strategist, author, speaker and thinker in the digital and social media marketing industry. His strategies and ideas have touched brands like General Motors, AT&T, Maker’s Mark, Humana, CafePress and Fireball Whisky, among others. Jason leads strategy for Elasticity, blending public relations, social media, mobile and SEO to help brands excel in an ever-changing marketing landscape. He is the co-author of two books: No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide To Social Media Marketing, and The Rebel’s Guide To Email Marketing.

Jason will be leading a data driven session in the Industry track about online converations.

Suggested skill level:  Advanced


003bb9a262x272Jessica Skelton

Jessica is the Manager of Social Media and Content for TripIt, the world’s highest-rated travel organizing app from Concur. She has spent the last seven years of her career launching social media and content marketing programs for consumer travel brands, including Room 77 and TravelMuse. She currently lives in San Francisco, California, with her boyfriend and beloved pet cats, and is planning a trip to Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos.

Jess will be leading a session in the Industry track about how destinations and travel brands can use Snapchat to reach their marketing goals.

Suggested skill level:  Advanced


kamilKamil Mehmet Ozkan

Kamil Mehmet is the Coordinator of Digital Publications for Turkish Airlines. Kamil has a PhD in Public Relations and Advertising from Istanbul Aydın University, and is speaker and writer on new media and content strategy and marketing.

Kamil will be leading a session in the Industry track about how travel brands can use their non-digital archives to create digital touch points for their current customers.

Suggested skill level:  Intermediate – Advanced



larissa_gravatar_195x195Larissa Milne

Larissa loves Entrepreneurship and Travel, and is happiest when the two coincide. A former CEO of two life science startups, she now travels full time with her husband. They parlayed their award-winning blog, into a travel column and also got a book deal. She continues to evaluate startup companies for venture capitalists and judge business plan competitions. Larissa also teaches startup strategies for Drexel University’s Close School of Entrepreneurship.

Larissa will be leading a session in the Commerce track about setting business initatives and measuring success.

Suggested skill level:  Advanced


aksomitis_2014Linda Aksomitis

Linda Aksomitis is an award winning, internationally published author and blogger. Her books have been released by traditional publishers in five countries, and she has self-published in print and e-book format. Her travel articles have appeared in a number of glossy magazines, websites and blogs, plus she has published three print travel guides with Backroad Mapbooks. Linda has a masters degree in education and teaches three courses on various aspects of Internet publishing, including e-books, in community colleges around the world.

Linda will be leading a session in the Commerce track about e-book publishing.

Suggested skill level:  Intermediate – Advanced


imageMaggie Wu

Maggie Wu is the blogger behind FlywithMaggie and has been a successful and conscious effort at enriching the travel sensibilities of modern Chinese travelers. It covers a wide spectrum of thoughts that highlight the adventure aspect of travel and the exclusivity of luxurious and exotic getaways, bringing exciting travel experiences to the fast growing Chinese outbound travel market. Maggie offers travel reports that focus on activities not found through OTA or group programs, and produces promotional travel reports for local and national travel offices as well as hospitality and other travel suppliers.

Maggie will be leading a session in the Industry track about marketing to the Chinese traveler.

Suggested skill level:  Intermediate – Advanced


image.jpegMatt Ridings

Matt is a serial entrepreneur, seed investor, and business and marketing strategist who has worked in digital on both the agency and enterprise side since 1994 when he developed the first fully integrated eCommerce engine. He ran interactive for the marketing agency of record for such established brands as Levi’s, Cisco, and British Airways. His own ventures have including building out a 300+ person consultancy. His work over the last 10 years has focused primarily in developing innovation cultures, change management initiatives, and specialized market research.

Matt will be leading a session in the Industry track.

Suggested skill level:  Intermediate – Advanced



orr_headshot_3Orr Shakked

Orr Shakked runs the global online marketing team at TripAdvisor. His team is responsible for display advertising, social marketing, direct partnerships, and the affiliate channel. Online marketing at TripAdvisor spans the globe with 45 points of sale and 21 languages. Orr is a travel industry veteran, spending the last 12 years in the travel industry. Before TripAdvisor, Orr spent 8 years at Expedia Inc. in various product and business roles. He holds a masters degree from the University of California at Berkeley and resides in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Orr will be a co-presenter in the Commerce Track on identifying affiliate link opportunities.

Suggested skill level:  Intermediate – Advanced


tom_mug_equatorTom Bartel

Tom was the founder, publisher, and editor of several Twin Cities-based newspapers and magazines, including City Pages, The Rake, and Minnesota Parent. Those newspapers and magazines won hundreds of awards for editorial and reporting excellence. He also taught Magazine Writing and Editing at the University of Minnesota Journalism School.

Tom will be leading a session in the Content track on writing.

Suggested skill level:  Intermediate – Advanced




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