Hundreds of female travel bloggers from all over the world are descending on downtown Milwaukee starting Friday through the weekend for the Women in Travel Summit.
Visit Milwaukee thinks this weekend will have a bigger impact on things to come.
"Visit Milwaukee is thrilled to be hosting the Women In Travel Summit (WITS) this weekend in Milwaukee," Kristin Settle with Visit Milwaukee said.
WITS is bringing 500 travel bloggers from all over the world to Brew City this weekend. Not only is it impactful to have so many people in the city, spending money and lodging, but these women all write travel blogs with an audience in the hundreds of thousands all over the world.
"In the long term, the more exposure we get for Milwaukee, the more people are going to want to travel here for leisure or for business meetings and conventions," Settle said. "Or come and live here and get a job here. So it's really exciting for us to be able to showcase some of the great things about our city that people may not know."
But why Milwaukee? The group has gone to several locations so far. However, it's not at random. After a presentation by Visit Milwaukee and a vote, the WITS members selected Milwaukee for its conference.
"So thrilled to be here," said Marissa Sutera with WITS. "We've been looking forward to this for the last year. The planning team has been working hard and attendees have been doing an insane amount of tours, beer tours, distillery tours, pizza tours, experiencing the city and food and loving it. We're getting amazing feedback so far."
"I've been looking forward to this since it was held last year in Irvine, California," said Lindsay Davies, author of the I've Been Bit travel blog. "It's such a great event and such a supportive group of ladies. It's something we need in this day and age."
Davies traveled from Canada for the conference and she's already gotten out and about to see what Milwaukee has to offer.
"I went a little further out yesterday," Davies said. "I went to Seven Bridges. It was beautiful. I went to the lighthouse a little further north and just hung out. Tonight I'm expecting to hit downtown."
In her first trip to the city, she saw some similarities to her home country.
"As a Canadian, I'm proud of my Caesar," Davies said, referencing the Canadian twist on a Bloody Mary. "It's a bit of a rivalry but the Bloody Mary's are fantastic here."
While Davies has been able to turn her hobby into something more, it's important for her to bond with other women in her field.
"Words cannot describe," Davies said. "Being able to know you have a support system no matter where you are in the world. To be able to know who to contact or you have someone to contact if you're stuck to help you out. It's wonderful."
"It's really special," Sutera said. "It's a community and that's what they're about. There's a lot of conferences out there. WITS is so focused on community and connections you make with other people. It doesn't stop when WITS is over. It's a really big thing to build these relationships."
Those relationships are beneficial to the networking of the bloggers. However, Milwaukee will benefit from it as well.
"Our team is a little different," Sutera said. "They're influencers. They're making an impact that's not just someone who is coming. They're not only interested in travel, they're talking about travel. They have huge audiences. All combined together, having hundreds of people with those kinds of followings, it's a huge impact on the city."
This is only the beginning for travel blogger conferences in Milwaukee. Settle says 160 beer bloggers and writers are coming to the city in August and next year, 65 Midwest travel writers for the Midwest Travel Journalist Conference.
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