I am still reliving the Witsummit conference that I attended last month. When I relaunched my blog this year, I knew I wanted to take it seriously. I had long hard conversations with Jenna of JennasWorldView about why I should relaunch my blog. She and others wouldn’t let me rest.
Always so grateful to the encouragement, because 6 months later I’m writing about my first travel conference. I had written down that I was keen to network by going to more events, stay consistent and invest on my platform. Read: Tips On How to Get Your Groove Back Into Regular Content
My Very First WitSummit In Riga, Latvia
This was my very first travel conference abroad, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I am mean what are you supposed to expect? At the event, there were influencers, bloggers and industry members all ready for a weekend to share information, network and more. The event was held in Riga at the Radisson Blue Latvija Conference and Spa Hotel. I, of course, stayed in a hostel! JOKING – I stayed in an Airbnb.
What is WitSummit?
The Woman in Travel Summit (WITS) is an event for travel influences, creators, and industry. Running for six years, it brings together some of travel’s top talent to discuss future innovations, builds dynamic collaborations, and change to the travel industry worldwide. It does this all while supporting and empowering a diverse community. WITS is organised by Wanderful, a top network for women travellers with a reach of over 40k worldwide! Amazing right?!
I can tell you now that I was extremely excited about this event! On arrival, I couldn’t believe the various women I met and from all over the world. These women were all real nomads. It was great being in an environment where women shared a genuine love for travel and content creating! I felt like the conference had a real intimate nature.
The event itself cost me around €149 (euros) – please note this ticket was purchased on a discounted rate. I believe the original price for the event was around €249. Again note the ticket price is not included in your transport or accommodation – this was all done separately. If you would like to know the details please contact me. My flight was reasonable, at £65 pounds. I flew with the lovely cheap and cheerful Ryanair (ya’ll start paying me) booked via my absolute fave Skyscanner!
I arrived on a Thursday evening (quite late in the evening); surprised by how friendly Latvian people were to me. After everything that happened to me in Greece, I must admit my guard has been on real high alert! But I was really put at ease when I arrived.
On my first day…
The first day was an early start for me! You should know I don’t do early mornings unless I am catching a flight!
I had to wake up bright and early to do my make up and get my eyelashes on and meet the tour guide for my trip to Ķemeri National Park. This was a very memorable experience indeed, and you should read more about it. The day went quite quickly. After lunch, we were taken back to the hotel, where I was given the option to register early. Exhausted after such an eventful day, I decided to head back to my Airbnb and have a nap.
The night finished off with a WitSummit evening welcome party! Impressed by this event is an understatement! It was absolutely amazing! A great way to see how everything was planned and organised.
We were picked up from the hotel via coach and taken to the venue for our party and dropped back. There was performances, food (you know you have won me over when you have food at an event), a DJ’s and a photo booth – check out the photos below:
I met some amazing women, some of which I had been following for a while. Of course, I wanted to enjoy the night some more so went out to party with my new friends afterwards. We event went on to an Afro Pop party. I have no comments on how that party went but knew it was time for a girl to go home!
On my second day…
The second day was the opening day! This was the first official day of the WitSummit. I woke up bright and early to head over to my sessions. The first session I went to – Achieving Success on a Global Scale: Pitching Brands for Products, Payments, and Press Trips. It was about growing your blog and how to turn it into a business where you can create your own opportunities. These were the speakers for the session:
Kirsty Leanne is a Plus Size Travel Blogger from the West Midlands, UK. With a successful travel blog and five years of experience behind her, Kirsty has become a spokesperson when it comes to pitching brands as a micro-influencer.
Pola Henderson is a travel writer, city explorer, and founder of the blog Jetting Around. She has been featured as a writer or travel expert on CNN, MasterCard, Expedia, NPR, WBEZ Chicago, and more. Travelling has been a part of her life since she was three.
Although I was 5 mins late, I was extremely impressed by what I gained from the session. I learnt about how to pitch to brands and most importantly, how to have confidence in my own personal brand!
The second session I went to was a called – Building Travel Campaigns that Reflect the Diversity of the World We Live In. An insightful talk about diversity and inclusion in the travelling world. These were the speakers for the session:
Vivienne Dovi is the founder of Melanin Travel, a platform creating events, guides and content for the African Diaspora. Combining her 20+ years of travel and passion for diversity, Vivienne turned her lived experiences into a bustling community of over 13,000 travellers.
Martinique Lewis is diversity in travel consultant, content creator, and Influencer Manager. Trusted amongst her peers as a “connector,” she is always connecting the dots to ensure the travel industry is mindful of diversity and not just as a “buzzword.”
Cherrie Osborne has become a familiar name in the tourism industry, not just in the United Kingdom, but across Europe and in the Caribbean. Her distinguished reputation, far and wide, has grown over the years
Jamie-Lee Abtar is a travel marketer, brand builder and creative innovator. A regular speaker on topical travel issues, Jamie-Lee has a history of helping travel brands to build strong, profitable relationships, conceptualising.
After these sessions, we were served with lunch, another great way to speak and network with other women from around the world.
WitSummit organised a Power Networking session, which allowed me to book meeting and speak to a few brands that work with travel content creators like myself. A very full, packed and engaging day. The night finished off with a lovely meal at Ludo and a trip to the opera house to watch the ballet. Read 11 Amazing Things You Must Do In Riga, Latvia
On my third day…
The final day was the best! Again, it was another early start attending sessions and more networking!
The first session was at 9 am in the morning! Called Instagram: Understanding Analytics and Using the Power of Stories to Grow Your Brand. Here I was about to learn how to grow my Instagram following! The speaker for this sessions was lovely. Still, I don’t personally feel that the course was for me. All the same, it was good to go along and again network with different women. The speaker for this was:
Nour Brahimi is a storyteller, the first Algerian travel YouTuber, and the first female Algerian travel vlogger. A 2019 nominee for Best Algerian YouTuber of the Year and Best Algerian Instagrammer of the Year, her goal is to break stereotypes with online video and to empower women.
The next session called: What’s Your Story? How to Bridge the Gap Between Narrative Storytelling and SEO. Here I learnt the power of SEO. The speaker for this:
The blogger Flora Baker is a freelance travel writer whose work has appeared in National Geographic Traveller and Coastal Living. Over the last decade, she has worked with Bollywood celebrities in India and musicians in Iceland, built artificial limbs in Bolivia and constructed houses in Brazil.
And the final session was closed with a keynote from Lola Akinmade Åkerström. She spoke about finding your true passion and challenged the audience to understand that travel is not their only passion.
Lola Akinmade Åkerström explores culture through food, tradition, and lifestyle for high profile publications such as National Geographic Traveler, BBC, The Guardian, and Lonely Planet, amongst others. She has collaborated with many well-known.
The questions Lola asked were incredibly insightful because it forced me to ask myself some hard questions – like why do I love to travel? And what really is my true passion? I am still figuring that out, but I hope to get there soon.
Beth is the Founder and CEO of Wanderful and creator of the Women in Travel Summit.
On my final day…
I stayed an extra day to see more of Riga. Another early start (I think by now you can tell that I am not big on my early mornings lol). We took a taxi to the most colourful church I have ever seen in my life. I would say it’s actually an excellent location for Instagram photos! Check out mine below:
We then bought some croissants and headed back to the hotel for our walking tour in Riga! I, of course, took lots of pictures and learnt a lot about the history of Latvia. I would suggest to anyone in Riga to take a walking tour.
Final thoughts of WitSummit
I am delighted to of attended the European WitSummit! It was good, to network, and be in an environment of likeminded people! I think I will be definitely considering going to the next one in Gdansk! You can buy your tickets now!