The 2016 Social Travel Summit Programme

It will be a challenge to top last year’s Summit that was rated 4.7/5 for overall value by delegates – yet we plan to do so.

The arrival date for delegates is Monday, 19th September 2016. On Monday, tours of Inverness, Loch Ness and the surrounding region will leave at around 15:00 from the conference venue. An opening reception to welcome all delegates is planned in the evening. The conference takes place on Tuesday, 20th September and Wednesday, 21st September. The conference kicks off on Tuesday at 09:00. The official STS Dinner will be held on Tuesday evening. We aim to wrap-up the conference by 17:00 on Wednesday.

And here’s the lineup of sessions…


From Professional to Personal and Back Again
The Future of Travel Media and Travel Marketing

Doug Lansky, Author, Journalist, Travel Visionary

With his signature wit and thought-provoking visuals, Doug Lansky is going to challenge both travel bloggers and the travel industry to up their game.

Travel bloggers work outside the professional confines of journalism. They put a very personal face on extraordinary travel experiences often deep-diving into niche interests that don’t make sense for traditional publishers. And they carry their roles as influencers beyond writing to inspire travel with video, images and podcasts on platforms such as Youtube, Instagram, Snapchat, Periscope and Facebook.

The independence of travel bloggers/influencers is a strength, but it’s a double edged sword. Lack of mentorship and guidance from an experienced editor can present a challenge as they balance the roles of publisher, marketer and dealmaker. A new kind of professionalism is required.

Yes, the travel media and travel marketing continues to be in transition and in this presentation Doug is taking on the task of predicting its future.


People Will Talk: The Real Value of Communities and How to Manage Them

Richard Millington, Founder, FeverBee

The end result of community management isn’t engagement. The end result isn’t improved satisfaction ratings, greater awareness, or feedback. The end result is greater profits.

In this keynote, Richard Millington, founder of FeverBee and author of Buzzing Communities: How to Build Bigger, Better, and More Active Online Communities, will crack the ‘social code’ behind successful social groups by analyzing a library of repeatable case studies that transformed audiences, customers, and prospects into united, supportive groups. He’ll share the cutting edge psychology and advanced data insights that inform successful community management. Richard will explain why travel bloggers and the travel industry can realize greater success by creating communities and he’ll share specific, tactical steps – from attracting your first members to sustaining a high level of engagement – to help you begin building yours.

Think Tank:
Issues in the Blogger/Industry Partnership

Facilitated by: Peter Jordan, Senior Tourism Analyst, Toposophy

A key objective of The Social Travel Summit is to improve and expand the ways in which bloggers and the travel industry collaborate. The “Think Tank” is a session in which delegates from both sides of the equation brainstorm and discuss the challenges of collaboration and identify solutions that will benefit all.

This year the Think Tank will ask all delegates to explore the role and transformation of destination management organisations, the value that travel bloggers bring to their clients and how it can be better measured and presented, as well as the role that bloggers have in helping destinations solve some of their biggest challenges.

You can read more about the discussions, findings, and recommendations from the 2014 and 2015 Think Thanks here. A report on the 2016 Think Tank will be published following the Summit and we encourage participants across the industry to read and share it.

The Future of Search: How People Will Engage

Moderator: Michael Turtle, Time Travel Turtle
Jonah Jones, Product Design Manager, Facebook
David Johnstone, Managing Director, After Digital

Attention spans are shortening. Devices are changing. People are using the online world in different ways with different expectations. This session will explore the future of blogging and the online world. Our speakers will reveal what they see as the future from technical and design perspectives. We’ll ask our experts: How is Google changing its search standards to meet the future of the web? Will Google be bumped off its search pedestal? What will we need to know to be found via search in the future? How can we create content that is both found and engages people? How will the navigation of sites change? What will be the new design elements in two years, five years, and ten?

Bloggers-to-Bloggers Panel:
The Business of Blogging

Moderator: Rachelle Lucas, The Travel Bite
Building a Team for Your Business: Claudia Beatriz, Aprendiz de Viajante
Making the Sale: Ana Silva O’Reilly, Mrs. O Around the World
Selling Your Freelance Skills: Lola Akinmade Åkerström, Geotraveler’s Niche
Passive Income: Kate McCulley, Adventurous Kate
Working with an Agent: Marc Smith, 30 Day Adventures

This session is only open to travel bloggers, thereby creating a forum for free and open discussion of the issues of professional travel blogging. After each speaker makes a short presentation on his or her topic, the session will continue on an informal basis allowing participants to explore in greater depth the topics of their choice by asking specific questions of the speakers.

Industry-to-Industry Panel:
The Online Challenge

Moderator: Mariette du Toit-Helmbold
Borderless Budgets: Nicholas Montemaggi, iambassador
Which Social Platforms Have Real ROI? Sabina Woller, trivago
Leveraging the Assets Bloggers Create: Emma Mead, VisitBritain
Convincing Management of Online Value: Catharina Fischer, Tourismuszukunft

This session is only open to the travel industry, thereby creating a forum for free and open discussion of the issues of working in the online world and with professional travel bloggers. After each speaker makes a short presentation on his or her topic, the session will continue on an informal basis allowing participants to explore in greater depth the topics of their choice by asking specific questions of the speakers.

Sponsorship: Finding the Perfect Partner & Getting Great Results for All

Jackie Fast, Managing Director, Slingshot Sponsorship

The travel blogger/travel sponsor partnership should go far beyond trips and logos. They should be relationships that drive revenue for both the sponsor and the influencer in the long term. Jackie Fast, Managing Director of global award-winning Slingshot Sponsorship will help the audience understand the full value that travel bloggers bring to the table and share strategies that will help ensure that the partnership generates revenue for all parties.

The Business Case for SEO & How to Get Google to Love You

Erik van Erp, Founder,

Google changes its algorithm. You update your business goals. Things change! An effective SEO strategy isn’t just about getting more people to your site: it’s about getting the right people to your site so that they take the action you want them to take. After exploring the business case for SEO, Erik will cover site structure, content optimization, how to promote your content for SEO, YouTube SEO, and common SEO mistakes. He’ll also share a case study demonstrating the application of many of his tips. It’s important to stay current with the SEO world and this session will help you do so.

Thinking Outside the Borders and Beyond the Brand, Part 1

Nicholas Montemaggi, Director of Marketing and Project Management, iambassador
Steve Keenan, Co-founder, Travel Perspective

With budgets tight and expectations high, creative marketing solutions are in demand by destination and travel brand marketers. Can there be collaboration between competitors? Should there be? At this session you’ll learn new ways to stretch your budget by cooperating in ways that cross traditional borders and go beyond brand boundaries. Case studies will be shared that demonstrate the tactics that make such strategies successful.

Thinking Outside the Borders and Beyond the Brand, Part 2: A Case Study with Trivago

John Pilkington, trivago
Denise Bartlett, trivago

After learning in Part 1 how collaboration is becoming more significant in destination and travel marketing, Part 2 will dig down into the details with a real case study. trivago paired its own exclusive data with insights from travel influencers and destination marketing organisations to produce their Travel Advice Calendar, a booklet offering advice on the best time to visit different cities worldwide. In this session they’ll share how the booklet came about, the learnings and importance of collaboration with both DMOs and influencers and other ways trivago plans to work with third parties in future.

How to Get the Absolute Best Out of Bloggers

Moderator: Melvin Böcher, Traveldudes
Kash Bhattacharya, Budget Traveller
Matt Long, LandLopers
Becki Enright, Borders of Adventure

We hate to tell you this travel industry, but you don’t always take full advantage of our skills, talents, influence, posts, photos, and all that we do to promote your destinations, products or services. At this session three travel bloggers will give you the goods on how to get the most from your investment in them. Not every blogger is strong on all social platforms. Learn how to identify real versus perceived strengths and how to partner with bloggers to maximize results on chosen platforms. Learn how to take campaigns beyond the objectives so that they last longer, reach farther, and get better results.

Upping Your Social Game Part 1: Facebook and Snapchat

Yvonne Zagermann, Just Travelous
Claudia Beatriz, Aprendiz de Viajante
Niamh Shields, Eat Like a Girl

Oh, the frustrations people have with Facebook! It can drive significant traffic if Facebook likes you, but won’t if it doesn’t. How do you start from a virtual stop and grow quickly? Yvonne has some realistic and valuable advice to share. You’ll also hear from Claudia about Facebook Live. Likewise for Snapchat, the relatively new kid on the social media block for travel bloggers. Niamh will share the ways of Snapchat. She tell you how Snapchat shines and how to grow your audience.

Upping Your Social Game Part 2: Pinterest and Instagram

Nienke Krook, Dream.Pin.Go.
Nina Hüpen-Bestendonk, Smaracuja

Algorithms have hit Pinterest which is now being used by people as a search engine. How do you optimize for Pinterest? What do you optimize for Pinterest? Instagram is one of the hottest platforms for consumers but with its many limitations how does one tap its potential for bloggers and for brands? What do brands want from bloggers on Instagram and how much will they pay for it? Two bloggers who have achieved extraordinary success on Pinterest and Instagram will reveal their strategies and daily tactics.

Driving Revenue with Affiliate Marketing

Claudia Beatriz, Aprendiz de Viajante
Matt Kepnes, Nomadic Matt

Affiliate sales are a source of passive income that represents significant revenue for some bloggers. Our panellists will each make a short presentation on their affiliate marketing strategy and share what’s really working for them and what attempts have failed. Then the audience will have the opportunity to dig deeper with their questions.

The Social Maze

Host: Rachelle Lucas, The Travel Bite
Kash Bhattacharya, Budget Traveller
Mariette du Toit-Helmbold, Destinate
Becki Enright, Borders of Adventure
Michael Turtle, Time Travel Turtle
Rob Lloyd, Stop Having a Boring Life

The Social Maze is back! It’s the game show that looks at “the Y factor of social. Panelists Poke the platforms, Share their truths and Vote Down myths about social media. Friends don’t count in this game – they’ll be Hungout to dry as Engagement hits the Numbers and contestants Circle, Stumble, and Digg into the hottest issues of social media.

We’ll also have a Social Media Slam Poet to lighten the program with a little irreverence

And, as always, we’ll dance!

Watch this space for more updates soon.