Midwest Travel Network Conference 2019 Speakers #MWTravelCon19

Alicia Underlee Nelson: Getting Unstuck: Crafting a Creative Life

Alicia Nelson

Bio: Alicia Underlee Nelson is a freelance writer and photographer who loves tracking down uniquely local stories and immersive, off the beaten path travel experiences in the Midwest, the prairie provinces of Canada and around the world. She is based in West Fargo, North Dakota, but she will follow a story wherever it takes her. Her popular blog Prairie Style File is where you can learn more about Alicia and her life in the Midwest.

She has covered North Dakota travel for Delta Sky and AAA Living Magazine, written about travel and food and craft beer for Matador Network and trivago’s Room5.  She has covered breaking news for Thomson Reuters and her photos have appeared in USA Today and in North Dakota Tourism promotional materials.

She is the travel and fashion editor for an Area Woman Magazine and is also the primary contributor and photographer for both sections. She also covers and photographs regional art, local business, fashion, community and cultural events for The ExtraHigh Plains ReaderThe Red River Promoter and The Good Life Men’s Magazine and numerous other regional publications in North Dakota and Minnesota.

Summary: Keeping the channels of creativity open is a challenge. Creating for a living or as a hobby requires mental flexibility, innovation, mindfulness and developing new ways of seeing the world. This class will help students identify and work through creative blocks, develop habits that encourage creativity and create an action plan to complete a creative project of their choice. The course will include in-class discussion, journaling exercises, small hands-on projects and exercises.

Stacy Brooks: Blogging and The Legal Jargon You Need To Know

Stacy Brooks

Bio: Stacy Brooks has been blogging since 2011. Her blog, Tangled Up In Food, features food-focused travel writing, recipes, and tips for making the most of Minneapolis-St. Paul’s vibrant food scene. She has worked with destinations and brands including Visit St. Paul, Travel Manitoba, Stonyfield Organic, and Barlean’s. In addition to blogging, Stacy is a freelance food and travel journalist, and her writing has been featured in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Minnesota Monthly, Midwest Living, and Twin Cities Eater.

Before making the leap to writing full time, Stacy spent several years in the legal field as an intellectual property paralegal. She’s fluent in legal jargon and actually enjoys delving into government rules and regulations.

Summary: From FTC disclosures, copyright and the things that can prevent you from being successful in the world of blogging. Stacy will help you understand all of this legal jargon and how it applies to you. Do you wonder what all of those “big” words mean? Stacy will open your eyes as to what a contract should have and why these things need to be there. With new technologies and government guidelines coming out all the time, this session will help you know what you should be watching for so you don’t find yourself in the midst of a legal battle. The government rules and regulations actually tend to stay the same, they just need to be re-interpreted again and again as new technologies come out.

Steve & Ann Teget: Why Engagement Matters: Building authentic relationships with your audience

Steve & Ann Teget

Bio: Steve, a recovering middle school principal, and Ann, a former public and government relations executive, are now full-time travel bloggers and influencers at www.postcardjar.com. They work together with companies, destinations, and CVBs to tell authentic stories of midlife travel through their personal experiences and eye-catching photography. They currently split their time between homes in Nebraska and Oklahoma. You can follow all of their journeys on social media @postcardjar.

Summary: Travel writers and influencers Steve and Ann Teget will show you how to build an engaged audience for your blog or destination. With so much social media content available today, they’ll teach you how to stand out from the crowd and become relevant to your followers. In this session, you’ll learn tips on how to be authentic, track engagement, create opportunities for interaction, keep in touch with your audience, and be consistent with your brand. This session is relevant for both bloggers and destinations.

Linsey Knerl: From Blogger to Freelancer and Back Again: Diversifying Your Income as a Travel Writer

Linsey KnerlBio: Linsey Knerl is a blogger, author, public speaker, and mom of six who has created written content for brands like HP, Walmart, Mastercard, Flexispot, and American Express. She’s shared her tips for building community and growing reach at SXSW 2010, FinCon, the ASJA New York event, and GROWNebraska’s MarkeTech event. Find her work at LinseyKnerl.com or follow her on Twitter at @LKnerl.

Summary: Blogging gives us a unique set of skills that translate easily into other types of travel writing. Linsey shares how she grew her 11-year blogging business to a six-figure writing career, through diversified projects including column writing, brand marketing work, print journalism, and brand ambassador work. She’ll discuss how to keep ethics standards so that you can work with various clients and make big money!

Justin Ell: Fill Your Destination With Tourists 365 Days of The Year

Justin EllBio: Justin Ell is a North Dakota Native. He was born and raised in Bismarck, where he graduated from Bismarck Public School and Bismarck State College, with a degree in Business Administration. Currently, Justin is the Executive Director of the Medora Convention and Visitors Bureau. He works with tourists all over the world helping them plan their trips to see the town he represents. Justin enjoys meeting and working with the various people he meets through this job. Justin is the past president of the ND Jumpstart Coalition. He is also a board member on the Theodore Roosevelt Nature and History Association, Medora Chamber of Commerce, and Medora Zoning.

From a very young age, Justin started performing in theater. He has a deep love for Medora and all it has to offer. He attended the Medora Musical 54 times, just last season, always seeing something different at every show. In his spare time, he likes to hang out with his dog, Dakota, and cat, Gio while enjoying the beautiful scenery of the Badlands. Dakota was named after the song Dakota, from the Medora Musical.

Summary: Justin will share tips on how you can maintain and grow your tourism base 365 days of the year. It’s no secret that destinations have weather challenges that can keep travelers from visiting at different times throughout the year. Medora, North Dakota is home to 133 people and swells to thousands on different days throughout the year. Medora is in a part of the United States that experiences all four seasons and has had success with keeping tourism alive all year long.

Nicole McDonald: Pinning Your Way To Success 

Nicole McDonaleBio: Nicole McDonald, is a 10-year blogger, author of the ‘Extraordinary Art’ saving series, non-credit college instructor, part-time content creator and social media manager for a national brand, and self-proclaimed Pinterest addict. You can find her money-saving tips, easy recipes, and meal plans at www.MomSavesMoney.net.

Summary: Pinterest has more than 250 million monthly users and is an incredible tool for any sized business or blog with a local or national audience. Pinners create, try and buy from pins they find on this visual search engine. Learn how to optimize your Pinterest business accounts and drive traffic to your content and products using keyword, search engine optimized descriptions and pinning strategies. McDonald will share tools to automate your pinning and tips to decipher your Pinterest analytics. Learn why followers don’t matter, but SEO does. Pinterest drives traffic and sales to your business or blog with this smart pinning strategy.

Jay Jay Goodvin: Being True To Your Audience And Evolving = Success

Jay Jay GoodvinBio: In the fifth year of The Iowa Gallivant, JayJay has carved a niche into traveling the Midwest with a primary focus on his home state of Iowa while expanding throughout the country. Born and raised in Iowa and later lived in Arizona, Montana, Cape Cod, Florida Keys, the Black Hills, Austin, Central Illinois and is now back in his hometown of Iowa City.

The list of fans and projects of The Iowa Gallivant has been growing since the Inaugural Midwest Travel Network Conference in Clear Lake, IA in 2018. He is now the Executive Director of Historic US Route 20-Iowa with the focus of showcasing its 35 communities that make up the 333 miles of America’s longest highway through Iowa. A current contributor to the Iowa City/Cedar Rapids area magazine, Little Village and all the while in his 4th year as the host of Iowa Irish Fest in Waterloo. The Iowa Gallivant is in the 4th year of their Scouting RAGBRAI series which highlights Iowa towns on the world’s largest annual bike tour route. This all goes along with the 2018 launch of his podcast Road Trip 7 w/ The Iowa Gallivant. He has also partnered with The Iowa Pork, Iowa Beef, and Iowa Egg Council.

JayJay has spent most of his life cooking in restaurants and kitchens across the country and brings this knowledge into his writing and adventures. The obscure, corny, historic and legendary is also a major emphasis in The Iowa Gallivant along with featuring some of the Midwest’s smallest and greatest communities.
“Our favorite destination is always the next one.”

Summary: JayJay continues to evolve in the blogging space. He started out sharing his love of Iowa with The Iowa Gallivant and quickly became a well know name in Iowa. He will show you how you can pave your way to achieve your next big goal. After the Midwest Travel Network’s Inaugural Conference in 2018, he took what he learned, and stepped up his blogging game. Through the many partnerships he has formed, he has been able to make valuable connections to help place communities on the map. His session is one that bloggers and destinations will appreciate.

Chris Dorfschmidt: Augmented History: How Augmented Reality is Changing Visitor Experiences

Chris DorfschmidtBio: Chris Dorfschmidt is the current Site Supervisor and 15th official Caretaker of the Chateau de Mores State Historic Site. Trained as a Social Studies teacher, he has a unique 15-year background in historical interpretation, problem-solving, exhibit design, exhibit maintenance, gallery management, videography, photography, and a passion for technology that allow him to explore and create an engaging and unique experience for visitors.

Chris holds a Bachelor’s degree in Social Studies Education from the University of North Dakota and an Associate’s degree in Geographical Information Systems from Bismarck State College.

Summary: With new technology new opportunities, advances in smartphones and apps are changing how we look at our world.  Chris will share how he is implementing new technology into a 135-year-old hunting cabin and how museums are improving how we use technology to make them an engaging experience that is worth the visit.