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Get to Know Southern Travelers Explore Thomasville Conference

Get to Know Southern Travelers Explore Thomasville Conference

Southern Travelers Explore is a new small-scale travel conference, offering an educational vacation with an authentic Southern experience. The inaugural conference, #STEThomasville, took place on February 21-23, 2020, in Thomasville, Georgia. In this post, let’s get familiar with this conference —guest list, pricing, speakers, and more — and answer all those burning questions.


The STE Hosts

Melody Pittman and Taylor Hardy, a mother-daughter duo, co-own and author multi-gen resource travel guides for Wherever I May Roam Blog. Since the launch of their second blog, Travel the South Bloggers, they have been contemplating hosting a Southern travel conference.

With five years of extensive blogging, frequent travel, conference participation, public speaking, magazine and online writing, as well as being digital influencers, Melody and Taylor are looking to enhance their resumes with the addition of creating a travel conference.

Their aim is to unite travel enthusiasts and tourism boards in a small-scale, yet impactful conference that emphasizes learning, networking, and indulging in the captivating charm of a quintessential Southern town.


Who are the Conference Attendees

Travel writers, bloggers, influencers, journalists, and all (not just Southern) tourism boards are cordially invited to experience an exceptional Southern destination. Attendance doesn’t require a friend or prior acquaintance. Melody and Taylor, the organizers of #STEThomasville, ensure a warm welcome upon arrival in Thomasville.


How Much Does It Cost?

Travel writers/bloggers/influencers/journalists can purchase tickets on Eventbrite for $199. The ticket price includes meals, educational sessions, materials, transportation during the conference, and an “All Things Southern” welcome bag.

A few of our product sponsors.

For tourism boards (CVBs and DMOs), tickets are $500 and include everything mentioned above, plus a marketplace set-up. To purchase tickets, please email for the link.

Please note that the closest airport to Thomasville is Tallahassee, Florida, which is a 50-minute drive away. Transportation will be provided upon request.


Lodging will be at the beautiful South Eden Plantation. We’ll provide transportation to the conference activities from South Eden Plantation. Rooms can be booked online or by phone at (229) 233-8285.


What Will I Learn at #STE?

The #STEThomasville event will feature five educational sessions for travel writers and tourism boards, alongside an exceptional keynote address. Renowned New York Times bestselling author, Patricia Schultz, will kickstart the conference by sharing her favorite destinations in the US and Canada from her widely acclaimed books, “1,000 Places to See Before You Die” (world edition) and “1,000 Places to See in the USA & Canada Before You Die“.

Don’t miss the opportunity to delve into her inspiring journey as the keynote speaker at #STEThomasville.


Session: Dealing With the Green Eyed Monster

Sara, CEO of Travel With Sara and co-owner of the Midwest Travel Network, brings extensive expertise in the tourism industry. With a focus on building solid blogger/CVB relationships, Sara has collaborated with numerous tourism offices nationwide. Her session, “Why Does that Always Happen to Him or Her in the Tourism World?”, delves into the intricacies of the industry.

With over a decade of experience in blogging, managing social media accounts, and fostering online growth for businesses, Sara is well-versed in maximizing social media impact. As CEO of Social Connections, LLC and Co-Owner of Home Grown Social Media, Sara showcases best practices for effective partnerships.

Her reputation for helping destinations harness the power of storytelling is unmatched. Prepare to be inspired and challenged as Sara elevates your game!

Session: An Intro to Podcasting

Becky Beall, a veteran freelance journalist renowned for her coverage of travel, destinations, cruises, and automotive venues, offers a captivating session titled “Podcasting: Engaging Untapped Audiences.” With an extensive portfolio featuring articles from esteemed publications such as USA Today Travel Tips, Cruise Critic, and more, Becky’s expertise shines through her global radio, podcast, and video program, The Travel Voice by Becky.

Join her as she takes you on an exciting journey into the world of podcasting, a trendy and impactful means to connect with new audiences. Gain valuable insights, strategies, and practical tips to establish a strong presence in this innovative realm, becoming a successful podcaster in 2020 and beyond.


Session: Ways to Make Money Blogging

Rhoda, a trailblazer in the home decor and DIY blogging community, proves that it’s never too late to transition careers. With over 13 years of experience, she turned her beloved hobby blog into a thriving business at the age of 50. Rhoda’s expertise lies in sharing budget-friendly home decor ideas, home improvement projects, fashion inspiration for those over 50, and travel blogs. She captivates a dedicated audience of readers who eagerly follow her popular Southern Hospitality blog.

As a co-founder of the successful DIY conference, Haven Conference, located in Atlanta, GA, Rhoda is an influential figure in the industry. Join her session, “3 Ways to Make Money Blogging,” where she will provide valuable insights on monetization strategies learned from her nine years of full-time income blogging experience.


Session: Standing Out in the Crowd

Bill Wiatrak, an American actor, travel writer, and producer of travel videos, is known as The Traveling Wizard. Alongside his video productions, he contributes travel articles to Houstonia magazine, Matador Network, Buzz magazines, and his personal blog. With extensive world travel experience, Bill is a distinguished and captivating speaker.

Join him as he shares insights on authentic travel and standing out in the business world. Don’t miss Bill’s session titled “How to Stand Out from the Crowd”.

Session: Email Marketing

Lesli, the owner of 365 Atlanta Traveler and Sunstone Digital Marketing, brings a wealth of experience to her session titled “Email Marketing is Dead (And Other Lies to Ignore)”. With over 20 years in IT and a decade of travel-based digital marketing expertise, Lesli assists tourism bloggers and businesses in achieving their marketing goals through SEO, content strategy, email marketing, and a layman’s grasp of technology.

During her session, Lesli elucidates the optimal collaboration between bloggers and destinations, utilizing cutting-edge email technology that surpasses social media by 4300% in effectiveness and SEO in speed. Discover how to integrate this strategy into your own publication.


Our #STEThomasville Weekend Overview

The conference will be held at Thomasville’s South Eden Plantation, a historic property with luxurious rooms, dining options, horse stables, and the renowned Showboat Theater. The theater proudly features the inaugural private screening of Gone with the Wind.


Why Thomasville?

Melody and Taylor visited Thomasville three years ago as part of their annual spring road trip. They were captivated by its charm and Southern hospitality. Thomasville stood out to Melody as the perfect location for her inaugural travel conference focused on the South.

She reached out to Bonnie Hayes, the Tourism Manager for Thomasville Visitors Center, who welcomed the idea of hosting travel writers and influencers to showcase the town’s treasures.

With a rich history, delectable cuisine, thriving local businesses, beautiful antebellum homes, and a strong sense of community, Thomasville proudly reigns as Georgia’s premier small-town destination.


How Can Your Destination Be a Sponsor

If your CVB/DMO is interested in sponsorship, please email us at for the sponsorship guide. With the short planning phase for #STEThomasville, we acknowledge that attending in person may pose a challenge for many CVBs/DMOs whose yearly budget does not include the conference.

We appreciate your understanding and invite your future participation. However, you can still contribute to #STEThomasville by becoming a sponsor.

More product sponsors.

An Educational Vacation with an Authentic Southern Experience

Melody and Taylor eagerly await your presence in Thomasville, Georgia. Join them for an enriching experience of Southern hospitality and amusement. Stay informed about conference updates on the #STE Facebook page.

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