The 2021 IFWTWA Conference: 5 Reasons to Attend

(Editor’s Note: Due to the ongoing risk factors of COVID-19, IFWTWA has decided to post pone the 2021 conference. Please visit their website to stay up to date for news on the 2022 conference. -Mary)

Who remembers my trips with the IFWTWA Conference? Since joining the International Food, Wine, and Travel Writers Association nearly seven years ago I’ve had the pleasure to partake in three of their incredible conferences. It was an absolute honor that two of those times I led social media workshops. 

Given the uncertainty of last year, IFWTWA decided to take a “pause” on any in-person events. This year, we’re thrilled to be returning. Each conference is always an ideal introduction to an exciting metropolis. For 2021? IFWTWA is heading to St. Petersburg, Florida

Read on for five reasons why I think you should register NOW for this incredible three day event. 

Learn from the Masters of Travel, Food, and Wine Writing

Whether you’re a seasoned writer or just starting, there’s always something to learn in this industry. It’s seriously ever-evolving and can be overwhelming. I admit I was SCARED when I first joined IFWTWA. I felt like a fish out of water among very accomplished journalists. Fast forward to today and many of the members are some of my closest friends. No one is “superior” or makes you feel unworthy. They’re a terrific group eager to nurture and mentor anyone who’d like some support. 

The IFWTWA conference will have various workshops and lectures aimed at all. Kat Anderson will lead a fun how-to on Instagram reels, which is something I’m still getting the hang of. While powerhouse duo, Pam and Gary Baker, will share their tricks of the trade on the perfect pitch. 

Chihuly Museum is one over 100 museums in St. Petersburg.
Everywhere you turn, there’s art and beauty in town.
Maple Street Biscuit Company is just one of the dozens places to EAT at!

Connect with Destinations 

When I decided to pursue travel writing, I had no clue how to get on radars for media trips. Media trips, or FAMs (“Familiarization Tours”) are most commonly when a visitors bureau or PR representative to a destination hosts writers on exciting tours of their city. These trips (usually hosted or partially) often consist of hotel stays, walking tours, dining, and many excursions. It’s also a chance to meet the true locals of a city. These visits make for excellent stories and social media content. The more stories you write, the more content you’ll have. These pieces can go on your own website or to outlets you contribute to. As of late, I’ve been fortunate to enjoy a mix of contributing to fantastic websites in addition to Along Comes Mary.

At the IFWTWA Conference, we’ll have a special “Marketplace” afternoon to connect with several ambassadors. They’ll be coming from all over the country to tell you more about their regions. This is the perfect time to network and see what you may be able to offer them in a partnership. Have your business cards ready. 

Create Plenty of Content from the Conference Alone

When you get a group of travel, food, and wine writers together, it’s gotta be fun, right? We’ll work hard, but we always play hard. During the previous conferences, I always come home with a vast amount of new and exciting story content. The workshops alone ignite and inspire me. Aside from that, there will be many outings and leisure activities throughout the three-day event. 

For each active IFWTWA member registrant, you can request up to two CityPASS tickets. I’ve used CityPASS in Seattle and Atlanta. It’s such a terrific introduction to a city as it gives access to some of the best attractions. For our Florida conference, CityPASS will give you the chance to visit Busch Gardens, The Florida Aquarium, ZooTampa at Lowry Park, Clearwater Marine Aquarium, and Museum of Science & Industry OR The Tropics Boat Tours Dolphin or Sunset Cruise. This is a $244 value alone (when you qualify for two). 

Pool at Hyatt Place.
Gorgeous sculptures at St. Petersburg Pier.
Take a stroll along the St. Petersburg Pier and check out the boats.

You Don’t Need to be an IFWTWA Member to Attend

If you’ve yet to join us in IFWTWA, this is a great time to get to know us. All are welcome to attend the IFWTWA Conference. With so many paths to take when you begin travel writing, memberships can add up. The conference serves as a fabulous “reunion” for members and an introduction to potential members. 

If you are a member, consider bringing a friend or spouse. Even if they’re not yet writing or blogging, the itinerary has plenty of time away from the conference. The afternoons of November 9th and 10th are reserved for self-guided tours of the city. Time to put that CityPass to use! Don’t forget to explore St. Petersburg’s phenomenal art scene. You’ll also get to stay at the beautiful Hyatt Place in Downtown St. Petersburg at our group rate. This is where the conference will take place.

Your Health and Safety is IFWTWA’s Priority

We’re still getting through a pandemic. This doesn’t escape our minds in the least. It’s most important to us that you stay healthy and feel safe while attending the IFWTWA Conference. The good news is that St. Petersburg is in Pinellas County. Their virus rates are extremely low compared to elsewhere in the state and country. Since we’ll be at the Hyatt, rest assured that they have some of the highest health and cleanliness standards in the hotel industry. 

What will my bags consist of when I start traveling by air again? Plenty of hand sanitizer and a variety of masks to go with each outfit. We got this. 

Register Today and Start Hash-tagging #IFWTWA2021

Registration will close on October 22nd to attend. Get all of the info and register HERE. Once you register, make sure to share on your social channels and hashtag #IFWTWA2021. This is our official hashtag for the conference and we hope to see it all over once our fun begins on November 8th. See you there! xo

2 Comments

  1. Priscilla

    September 12, 2021 at 8:47 pm

    Beautiful pics, Mary! I’m excited to attend the conference and see you there! How/where do we request the City Passes?

  2. Kathleen Reugger Walls

    September 14, 2021 at 10:43 am

    All excellent reasons to attend the conference. Look forward to seeing you there.

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