sts-4-1The first Social Travel Summit, a gathering of 50 top travel bloggers from around the world and key decision-makers from the tourism industry, took place at the Pentahotel in Leipzig, Germany, on 15-16 April 2014. Organised by iambassador in partnership with Reiseblogger Kollektiv, the Summit was arguably the first of its kind in travel blogging, bringing together specially invited professional travel bloggers and senior tourism industry representatives from 20 countries for two days of learning, networking and brainstorming. The objective of the Summit was threefold: to discuss the current state of the travel blogging-tourism industry relationship, develop best practices and to create a platform for more effective collaboration.

The Social Travel Summit (STS) featured insightful and often humorous presentations on the future of social media and content marketing trends by the likes of Nick Westergaard (Brand Driven Digital) and Fergus Parker (Axonn Media). The STS hosts Keith Jenkins (iambassador) and Angelika Schwaff (Reiseblogger Kollektiv) set the fun, casual tone of the Summit by welcoming the delegates with a dance and a super-selfie!

The STS Leipzig super selfie, with Angelika Schwaff and Nick Westergaard (image courtesy of Angelika Schwaff).

The STS Leipzig super selfie, with Angelika Schwaff and Nick Westergaard (image courtesy of Angelika Schwaff).

A series of interactive sessions were held over the course of the two days in which the bloggers and industry shared their experiences, case studies and ideas. These were complemented by workshops for both bloggers and industry on subjects such as public speaking, media interviews, best practices for blogger collaborations and utilising different social media channels effectively.

Panel discussion with Jaume Marin from Costa Brava Tourism, David Arcifa from MSC Cruises and Nicholas Montemaggi from Emilia Romagna Tourism. Moderator: Janice Waugh from Solo Traveler.

Panel discussion with Jaume Marin from Costa Brava Tourism, David Arcifa from MSC Cruises and Nicholas Montemaggi from Emilia Romagna Tourism. Moderator: Janice Waugh from Solo Traveler (image courtesy of Salvatore Canfora).

Thirty delegates were invited to the “Navigating the Future” Think Tank session in which the bloggers and industry representatives had the opportunity to discuss issues facing the professional travel blogging community, identify bottlenecks in the blogger-industry relationship and determine best practices for mutually-beneficial collaborations. The findings of the Think Tank will be published in an upcoming report.

Round-tables at the Think Tank.

Round-tables at the Think Tank (image courtesy of Rebecca Enright)

In addition, sufficient time was allocated for the delegates to network with one another. The Summit was concluded after the closing keynote “At the Intersection of Influence and Purpose” by Daniel Noll and Audrey Scott.

Dan and Audrey of Uncornered Market delivered an uplifting closing keynote.

Dan and Audrey of Uncornered Market delivered an uplifting closing keynote.

A milestone

“The Summit is a milestone in the rapid evolution of travel blogging. Fueled by a passion for travel and sharing, many travel bloggers are increasingly seen as professionals who offer tremendous value,” says Keith Jenkins, CEO of iambassador. “Our objective was to take this level of professionalism up a few notches and establish a solid foundation for collaboration between the bloggers and the industry, and we wanted to do this in a casual environment that fosters relationship-building.” In this sense, with ample networking opportunities, music and dance, and quizzes, the Summit created a fun, positive atmosphere that resonated with the delegates.

Hosts Keith and Angelika brought everyone to their feet for a morning dance!

Hosts Keith and Angelika brought everyone to their feet for a morning dance! (image courtesy of Inna-Pirjetta Lahti)

According to Angelika Schwaff from the Reiseblogger Kollektiv, “Being part of this major event was an exciting and meaningful experience. Not only could I learn a lot, also the individual talks that I had with the attending top bloggers, the delegates from the tourism industry and our speakers were so inspiring and way more than I have hoped for. Clearly, the first Social Travel Summit was a  huge success and will change my way of working tremendously.”

Melvin Boecher, COO of iambassador, added “I was very excited and nervous just before we started the Summit. It was the first ever travel blogger summit but already on the opening event, I was just very happy! I can’t remember when I have seen so many top bloggers and experts all gathered together and in deep conversations.”

The Social Travel Summit photo collage (image courtesy of Angelika Schwaff).

The Social Travel Summit photo collage (image courtesy of Angelika Schwaff).

A resounding success

The #STSLeipzig hashtag has so far generated 82 million tweet impressions, reaching more than 4 million twitter accounts. On Instagram, more than 1,100 photos were uploaded with the hashtag (and the blog trip hashtags #welterbegermany and/or #germany25reunified). The #STSLeipzig hashtag was a trending topic on both days of the Summit!

The Summit would not have been possible without the support of the German National Tourist Board and Leipzig Tourismus und Marketing GmbH. “The first Social Travel Summit has been a resounding success in terms of both quality and quantity,” said Petra Hedorfer, Chief Executive Officer of the German National Tourist Board (GNTB). “More than 100 international delegates discussed the future of content marketing in the travel industry and generated a high level of interest in the summit and in Germany as a travel destination on social media sites.” Volker Bremer, Managing Director of Leipzig Tourismus und Marketing GmbH, added: “We are proud to have hosted such a successful and pioneering event. From a tourism perspective, Leipzig will benefit in the short and long term from the summit.”

STS group photo small copy

STSLeipzig group photo.

“Hosting the first Social Travel Summit in Leipzig has been a great success and a wonderful experience for our team,” says Steffi Gretschel from Leipzig Tourismus und Marketing GmbH. “To organize an innovative industry event with 50 of the world’s top travel bloggers in an up-and-coming destination like Leipzig turned out to be the perfect match. Our social programme at the Spinnerei, the culinary tour of Leipzig’s trendy Südvorstadt district or the Porsche test drive generated a broad and high-quality coverage in text, video and images across all social networks.”

View the official Social Travel Summit video, produced by Christoph Pfaff:

A big thank you goes to the German National Tourist Board, Leipzig Tourismus und Marketing GmbH, MSC Cruises, HouseTrip, Germanwings and Deutsche Bahn for sponsoring the Summit. We would also like to thank our fantastic speakers and delegates for contributing to this historic event! Last but not least, a special thank you goes to the iambassador (Keith Jenkins, Melvin Boecher, Janice Waugh and Tracey Nesbitt) and Reiseblogger Kollektiv (Angelika Schwaff, Yvonne Zagermann, Nina-Hüpen Bestendonk, Christoph Pfaff and Johannes Klaus) teams for their excellent work in planning and organising the Summit.

SEE YOU NEXT YEAR!

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