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Southern Travelers Explore Thomasville Conference

Southern Travelers Explore Thomasville Conference

Southern Travelers Explore is a new small-scale travel conference, dubbed an educational vacation with a true Southern experience. The first annual conference, #STEThomasville, is taking place on February 21-23, 2020, in Thomasville, Georgia. 

Learn all about #STEThomasville–who is invited, how much it is, what speakers will be there, and more!

#STEThomasville overview


Who Is Invited To #STEThomasville?

All travel writers, bloggers, influencers, journalists, and Southern tourism boards who want to experience a fantastic Southern destination are invited.

You don’t need to attend this conference with a friend or know anyone there. Melody and Taylor (organizers of #STEThomasville) will see to it that you are “with friends” as soon as you arrive in Thomasville. 


Thanks To Our Sponsors

Cathead Vodka
Anderson Design Group
The Loveless Cafe


How Much Is Does It Cost?

Tickets for travel writers/bloggers/influencers/journalists are $199 and can be purchased on Eventbrite. Your ticket includes all meals, educational sessions, materials, and transportation during the conference, as well as an “All Things Southern” welcome bag.

For tourism boards (CVBs and DMOs), tickets are $500 and include everything listed above plus your marketplace set-up. Please email for the link to purchase a ticket. 

Note: Tallahassee, Florida, is the closest airport to Thomasville–50 minutes away. We will provide transportation to and from should you need it. 

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Southern Travelers Explore Thomasville Conference Georgia


Where Will I Stay? 

The host venue of South Eden Plantation and the Hampton Inn Thomasville are offering discounted rooms.

To book your room at the Hampton Inn, call (229) 227-0040 and mention #STEThomasville to receive the discounted rate. We will provide transportation to South Eden Plantation for the conference. 

Rooms at South Eden Plantation can be booked online or by phone (229) 233-8285. The access codes are as follows for each room:

  • FoodLife150 -Showside 116, 117, 120, 121 / Main House 101, 104
  • FoodLife160 -Showside 118, 125 / Stableside 122, 123, 124 / Fireside 139, 140 / Meadowside 132, 133, 134 / Main House 102, 103
  • FoodLife170 -Premiere King Suites 135, 136, 137
  • FoodLife525 -Sweetheart Cottage (3-bedrooms)
south eden plantation
#stethomasville dining area
south eden plantation pool


What Will I Learn?

There will be five educational sessions during #STEThomasville (applying to both travel writers and tourism boards) in addition to our fantastic Keynote Speaker.

Kicking off the conference is the world-famous New York Times Best-Selling Author Patricia Schultz, author of “1000 Places To See Before You Die.”, (world-edition), and “1000 Places To See in the USA & Canada Before You Die”. She will share a look at her favorite places in the US/Canada and have her  new coffee table-style hardback book available.

If you haven’t read the international #1 bestseller “1,000 Places to See Before you Die” (translated into 25 languages), then you need to pick one up and see who started this trend a dozen years or so before it became all the rage in travel writing. Patricia reinvented the idea of travel books as both wish list and practical guide. She has seen the world, and it will be amazing to hear about her journey as the #STEThomasville Keynote Speaker.  

Patricia Schultz southern travelers explore Thomasville

Email Marketing is Dead (and other lies you should ignore)–Lesli Peterson

Lesli is the owner of 365 Atlanta Traveler and Sunstone Digital Marketing. She made her way to Atlanta 25 years ago, after living across the globe. She uses her 20 years in IT and 10 years of travel-based digital marketing experience to help tourism bloggers and businesses meet their marketing goals using SEO, content strategy, email marketing, and a layman’s understanding of technology.

Lesli’s session explains how bloggers and destinations can best work together toward common marketing goals using state-of-the-art email technology that is 4300% more effective than social media, and significantly faster than SEO. Hint: It’s not a newsletter. Learn how to implement this strategy for your own publication.

Why Does that Always Happen to Him or Her in the Tourism World?–Sara Broers

Sara is the CEO of Travel With Sara and co-owner of the Midwest Travel Network. She has worked with numerous tourism offices across the country and understands the importance of a quality blogger/CVB relationship. Sara has worked in the online space since 2008 as a blogger, social media account manager, and helped dozens of businesses grow their customer base through the use of social media. She is also the CEO of Social Connections, LLC and the Co-Owner of Home Grown Social Media. 

Sara will show you the best practices when it comes to partnering with others. She has a proven track record of helping destinations find the best people to help them tell their stories. If you have ever wondered, “why does that always happen to him or her in the tourism world?” Sara will address that. Be ready, as Sara’s presentation will inspire and challenge you to up your game!

Sara Broers southern travelers explore Thomasville

3 Ways to Make Money Blogging–Rhoda Vickers

As a pioneer in the home decor/DIY blogging community, Rhoda proves that it’s never too late to change careers. She’s been blogging for over 13 years and successfully turned her hobby blog into a business at the age of 50. She thrives on sharing budget-friendly home decor ideas and home improvement projects with a loyal audience of readers who faithfully visit the popular Southern Hospitality blog every day she posts. She inspires her readers with ideas on making their homes beautiful on a budget as well as fashion over 50 inspiration and travel blogs. Rhoda co-founded the successful DIY conference, Haven Conference, in Atlanta, GA.

“In 3 Ways to Make Money Blogging, we’ll cover three ways to make money and add to your income stream from a 13-year blogger who has made a full-time income for nine years in blogging.”

How to Stand Out from the Crowd–Bill Wiatrak

Bill is an American actor, travel writer, and producer of travel videos around the world. He writes and stars in these productions under the name The Traveling Wizard. In addition to his videos, he also writes travel articles for Houstonia magazine, Matador Network, Buzz magazines and for his blog: The Traveling Wizard.

Bill will be talking about authentic travel and how to stand out from the crowd in the business. He has traveled the world and is one of our favorite travelers. Bill is engaging, entertaining, and 100% unlike anyone else you’ve ever followed in the travel sphere.

Bill Wiatrak southern travelers explore Thomasville

Podcasting, a Trendy Way to Engage an Audience you May Not Already be Reaching –Becky Beall

Becky Beall is a veteran freelance journalist well-known for her coverage of travel, destinations, cruises and automotive venues. With hundreds of published articles, her portfolio includes clips from The Points Guy, 365 Atlanta Traveler, USA Today Travel Tips, Cruise Critic, Southern Breeze, AAA Go Carolinas, AAA Living, Birmingham Parent, Decorating Spaces, The Tennessean, Cincinnati Enquirer, Atlanta Christian Family, and many more. Becky is also the host to The Travel Voice by Becky radio, podcast and video program heard all over the world! 

“I hope you’ll enjoy my session on starting a podcast! Podcasting is a trendy way to engage an audience you may not already be reaching. With a plan, strategy, and my tips, you’ll be on your way to an exciting, new opportunity sure to become a cornerstone of your professional portfolio. Garner the tools and knowledge you need to move forward in an innovative environment where entertainment and knowledge are paramount — you, too, can be a podcaster in 2020!”

becky beall southern travelers explore Thomasville


Thanks To Our Sponsors

Sea Monster Sauces
Flauthaus Fine Foods
Grassroots Candle Company
MeMaw's Cheese Straws


#STEThomasville Weekend Overview

The conference will be taking place at Thomasville’s South Eden Plantation. It is a historical property with beautifully appointed rooms, restaurants, horse stables, and the stunning Showboat Theater, which is home to the first private showing of Gone with the Wind. 

south eden plantation showboat
#STEThomasville overview


Why Thomasville?

Melody and Taylor went on a press trip to Thomasville three years ago as part of their annual spring road trip. While there, they fell in love with this charming Southern town.

If you’ve ever met Melody, she is quick to tell you the things and places she loves. Thomasville is most likely one of her widely discussed subjects. When talking about the possibility of a travel conference set in the South, Melody knew that Thomasville, and only Thomasville, could represent what she wanted to achieve for her first conference.

Melody spoke to Bonnie Hayes (Tourism Manager for Thomasville Visitors Center), and she liked the idea of travel writers and influencers coming to her town to see what a goldmine it is.

Thomasville is perhaps the coolest small-town in Georgia. It has much history, delicious food, local businesses that work together to create a cohesive and thriving community spirit, gorgeous antebellum homes, and deep roots in Southern hospitality. 

pebble hill plantation Thomasville


How Can My Destination Be a Sponsor?

If your CVB/DMO is interested in a sponsorship, please contact Melody by email at for a sponsorship guide. 

Due to the short planning phase for #STEThomasville, we know many CVBS/DMOS will have a hard time attending in person without the conference already being built in their yearly budget. We understand and welcome you to participate in 2021. However, you can still play a role at #STEThomasville by being a sponsor. 

South Eden plantation conference setting


Who are the Hosts?

Melody Pittman and Taylor Hardy are a mother-daughter duo who co-own and write multi-gen resource travel guides for Wherever I May Roam Blog. The desire to host a Southern travel conference has been on their minds since the launch of their second blog, Travel the South Bloggers.

After five years of blogging, traveling the world 300 days a year, attending travel conferences and forums, speaking at engagements, writing for print and online magazines, and being digital influencers, Melody and Taylor are adding “creating a travel conference” to their resumes.

They want to bring travel enthusiasts and tourism boards together for a small-scale conference with an emphasis on learning, networking, and enjoying a slice of paradise in a quintessential Southern town.

Melody Pittman and Taylor Hardy

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Southern Travelers Explore Thomasville Conference
Southern Travelers Explore Thomasville


We Will Roll Out the Red Carpet

Melody and Taylor look forward to seeing you in Thomasville, Georgia. Come, let us educate, entertain, feed, and nourish you with a true dose of Southern hospitality and fun. You can stay current on conference announcements at our #STEThomasville Facebook page

We hope to see you there! 

#stethomasville cheers

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