The Southern Travelers Explore Conference (#STE) is a spin off of Melody and Taylor’s second blog/website, Travel the South.
The #STE travel conference brings bloggers, journalists, influencers, CVBs/DMOs, and brands from across the country together for a weekend of educational sessions, small group discussions, and a marketplace, while enjoying some of what the host city has to offer.
Melody and Taylor firmly believe there is room for everyone in the travel space to excel, and aim to educate themselves and their #STE Family on how we can better work together. The #STE Conference is laid back, relaxed, and aims to make everyone feel welcome and appreciated.
The Southern Travelers Explore Conference has been held in Thomasville, Georgia (#STEThomasville 2020), Tupelo, Mississippi (#STETupelo 2021), Huntsville, Alabama (#STEHuntsville 2022), and Irving, Texas (#STEIrving 2023). It has expanded to include small scale retreats, the first taking place in Johnson City, Tennessee (#STEJohnsonCity 2021).
The next Southern Travelers Explore Conference will take place February 23-25, 2024 in Gulf Shores, Alabama, at The Lodge at Gulf State Park. As a long-time #STE attendee and sponsor, we’re very excited to take our conference back to Alabama and showcase their beautiful #STEAlabamaBeaches.
The entire city of Irving welcomed the Southern Travelers Explore Conference with open arms for the most incredible weekend. The adorable Texican Court was the perfect setting for #STEIrving, as we discussed adding YouTube to our portfolios, TikTok and Reels, repurposing content, cashing in beyond writing, and affiliate marketing.
A few highlights from #STEIrving include customizing our very own Stetson hats, adding personalized locks to Irving’s Love Lock Bridge, and surprise gondola cruises on Lake Carolyn (all of which were gifts from Visit Irving!), an unofficial afternoon of bonus Educational Sessions, and having professional headshots taken by Veronicajune Photography (a gift from Melody and Taylor).
Visit Irving is a longtime tourism board friend, and had attended and sponsored two previous Southern Travelers Explore Conferences. We were thrilled for the opportunity to showcase their spectacular city, and work with a team that has supported our #STE endeavor since the start.
Posts From #STEIrving
- #STEIrving: All You Need To Know (Wherever I May Roam Blog)
- A Quick Foodie Tour Of Irving, Texas (Man Tripping)
- Texican Court Hotel: a Hidden Gem in Irving, Texas (Our Little Lifestyle)
- Love Lock Bridge Tradition (Couple Places)
- Things To Do In Las Colinas (Texas Travel Talk)
- The Lone Star State’s other oil business (Port Arthur News)
- Texas’ other oil business (Culinary Thrill Seeking)
- 20 Cool Things To Do in Irving, Texas (Flying Off the Bookshelf)
- The Texican Court Is The Perfect Hotel When Visiting Irving TX (The Traveling Fool)
- Unlock Irving, Texas’s Best-Kept Secrets (Paige Minds the Gap)
- Why Irving Texas Made Me Cry (Traveling Cheesehead)
- 11 Legendary Places to Get the Best Burgers in Irving TX (Traveling Cheesehead)
- Discover Local Flavors During A Staycation at Texican Court (Focus Daily News)
- Things to Do In Irving Texas for Couples (Roaming My Planet)
- A Las Colinas Adventure: 10 Experiences You Must Have in Irving (Hip Grandma Life)
- Texican Court Review: A Retro Hotel in Irving, Texas (Paige Minds the Gap)
- 24 Hours of Adventure and Romance in Las Colinas, Irving, Texas (Hip Grandma Life)
- The Texican Court Hotel: A Place To Relax (Roxie on the Road)
- 6 Best Things to do in Irving, TX for a day (A Journey We Love)
- 21 Things to Do in Irving TX (Traveling Cheesehead)
- Things to do in Peppa Pig Florida (A Journey We Love)
- A Taste of Nepal at MoMo Spot in Irving, Texas (Rovertreks)
- 29 Of the Best Places to Eat in Las Colinas TX (Traveling Cheesehead)
The 3rd #STE Conference took attendees from 21 different states to Huntsville, Alabama–also known as “The Rocket City”. Our host hotel and meeting venue was the brand new 106 Jefferson hotel. 106 J and their staff worked overtime to wow our guests, even sending specially created food and beverage presentations to their rooms each evening. Over the weekend, we learned about CVB/blogger relations, how CVBs vet writers, and working with brands.
Highlights from #STEHuntsville include our opening event taking place at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center (with tours led by Emeritus Docents under the Saturn V rocket), brunch at 106 Jefferson’s Baker & Able rooftop bar, and the Dine Around Event at Huntsville’s very cool Campus 805 and Stovehouse venues.
Huntsville is another long time tourism board friend and previous Southern Travelers Explore Conference attendee. As a CVB that really “gets” tourism, Huntsville was a fantastic partner and really helped take our conference to the next level.
Posts From #STEHuntsville
- Delicious Best Restaurants In Huntsville, AL (Wherever I May Roam Blog)
- 9 Best Things To Do In Huntsville (Wherever I May Roam Blog)
- Concierge Review of Turquoise Place (Coleman Concierge)
- 10 Breweries in Huntsville, AL (Stuck On the Go)
- 21 Fun Activities in Tuscaloosa, AL (Stuck On the Go)
- Why Gulf Shores is Becoming Such a Popular Vacation Spot (Travel the South)
- Best Places to Eat in Huntsville, AL- A Local’s Guide (Coleman Concierge)
- Explore the INTUITIVE Planetarium (Traveling Cheesehead)
- A Fascinating Look at NASA’s Mobile Quarantine Facility (Traveling Cheesehead)
- Burritt on the Mountain (Traveling Cheesehead)
- Harrison Brother’s Hardware of Huntsville (Traveling Cheesehead)
- 106 Jefferson Hotel of Huntsville (Traveling Cheesehead)
- The Woman Behind the Weeden House Museum (Traveling Cheesehead)
- Weeden House Museum And Garden (Past Lane Travels)
- Harrison Brothers Hardware: Turning Back Time (Past Lane Travels)
- 25 Fun & Educational Things to Do in Huntsville, AL (Simplify Live Love)
- 12 Awesome Things to experience in Huntsville, AL (The Traveling Fool)
- How to create the perfect beach vacation with teens (Little Family Adventure)
- Finding The Best Breakfast n Tuscaloosa (My Home and Travels)
- Luxury Nights and Tradition-Filled Breakfasts in Tuscaloosa, AL (There Goes Connie)
- Tuscaloosa With Or Without Football–5 Great Restaurants (There Goes Connie)
- Tuscaloosa Without Football Part 1 (There Goes Connie)
- Tuscaloosa Without Football Part 2 (There Goes Connie)
- Tuscaloosa Without Football Part 3 (There Goes Connie)
- 9 Reasons Why Bloggers Should Attend Conferences (Backroads and Burgers)
- 6 Reasons You Need to Stay at 106 Jefferson (Backroads and Burgers)
- 10 Reasons Huntsville’s Campus 805 Needs to Be on Your Bucket List (Backroads and Burgers)
- 8 Fantastic Restaurants To Try In Tuscaloosa, AL (Travel Awaits)
- Review: 106 Jefferson Hotel (Past Lane Travels)
- 11 Great Places To Eat in Huntsville (Traveling Cheesehead)
- 23 Top Things To Do In Huntsville (Traveling Cheesehead)
- 15 Amazing Things To Do In Huntsville (Travel Awaits)
- 106 Jefferson: The Best Hotel In Huntsville (Travel the South)
With a similar format and focus on one-skill set programming, the first Southern Travelers Explore Retreat took place at the AAA Four Diamond Carnegie Hotel & Spa in Johnson City, Tennessee. Over the weekend, attendees took part in eight photography sessions working to better capture destinations through photos.
#STEJohnsonCity highlights include an incredibly fun opening event at the brand new Tennessee Hills Brewstillery, local tour to Jonesborough (Tennessee’s oldest town), and visiting the popular Windsor Speakeasy.
Posts From #STEJohnsonCity
- 15 Restaurants in Johnson City, TN You Need To Try (Stuck On the Go)
- Four Breweries in Bristol, TN (Stuck On the Go)
- 15 Fun Things To Do in Bristol, TN (Stuck On the Go)
- 3 Day Adventurous Johnson City, TN Guide (Stuck On the Go)
- 7 Unforgettable Tennessee White Water Rafting Adventures (Stuck On the Go)
- 7 Breweries in Johnson City, TN (Stuck On the Go)
- Nolichucky River Rafting with USA Raft (Stuck On the Go)
- 10 Restaurants in Bristol, TN (Stuck on the Go)
- For the Love of the Outdoors (Getaway Mavens)
- A Little Bit of Country (Getaway Mavens)
- The Birthplace of Country Music (My Home and Travels)
- Staying at the Carnegie Hotel in Johnson City (My Home and Travels)
- 11 Fun Things to Do in Johnson City (Wherever I May Roam Blog)
- Weekend Traveler: Bristol, TN/VA (Charleston Home and Living Magazine)
- Weekend Traveler: Jonesborough, TN (Charleston Home and Living Magazine)
- The Quaint TN Town Known as the Storytelling Capital of the World (Travel Awaits)
- A Day Discovering Johnson City (Travel the South)
The 2nd Southern Travelers Explore Conference took place in Tupelo, Mississippi the weekend after the historic 2021 winter storm that crippled the entire state. Since many businesses and restaurants closed their doors due to ice and not being able to receive deliveries, our attendees did not have the opportunity to explore Tupelo. However, they rolled with the punches. We enjoyed meaningful discussions while learning about video, Pinterest, SEO optimization, and tax prep for bloggers, both in-person and over Zoom.
The biggest highlight of #STETupleo was showing our attendees that we are wholeheartedly in this business for them. Our group became a #STE Family that year, and we were so grateful to have the majority of them return to our #STE Conference the following year. When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. And that’s exactly what we did!
Posts From #STETupelo
- Eat, Do, See ~ Hattiesburg, Mississippi Edition (Southern Hospitality Magazine)
- STETupelo: All You Need To Know (Wherever I May Roam Blog)
- Where to Eat in Tupelo, Mississippi (Wherever I May Roam Blog)
- Longleaf Trace Trail Weekend Getaway Guide (Coleman Concierge)
- Tupelo on Ice! (Traveling Adventures of a Farm Girl)
- Road Trip Delights & Dilemmas (Embrace Southern States)
- Hattiesburg MS Restaurants – 30 Dishes you need to Try (Coleman Concierge)
- Hattiesburg: Mississippi’s Hub City (Allison’s Wanderlands)
- Things to Do in Hattiesburg, MS- Couples Edition (Coleman Concierge)
- A Multigenerational Road Trip to South Central Kansas (My Traveling Roads)
- Jewish Journal
- Looking Forward to 2021 (Coleman Concierge)
- 8 Fantastic Things to Do in Historic Meridian, MS (Travel Awaits)
- 10 Best Things to Do in Tupelo, Mississippi (Rovology)
- The Elvis Presley Birthplace (My Home and Travels)
- Queens Reward Meadery (My Home and Travels)
- 5 Restaurants You Must Try in Gulf County, Florida (Backroads and Burgers)
- 5 Historic Sites in Gulf County, Florida (Backroads and Burgers)
- 5 Outdoor Activities You Must Enjoy in Gulf County, Florida (Backroads and Burgers)
- Port Inn and Cottages (Backroads and Burgers)
- 5 Amazing Experiences in Great Bend, Kansas (Backroads and Burgers)
- The Great Bend Zoo (Backroads and Burgers)
- Great Bend Brewing (Backroads and Burgers)
- 10 Fun Things to Do in Meridian, MS (Wherever I May Roam Blog)
- 6 Great Restaurants in Meridian, MS (Wherever I May Roam Blog)
- 4 Kid-Friendly Attractions in Meridian, MS (Travel the South)
Southern Travelers Explore had the most perfect inaugural conference in Thomasville, Georgia (two weeks before the world shut down due to Covid). Melody picked Thomasville as our first host city because she thinks it is the quintessential Southern town–and luckily Bonnie with the Thomasville Visitors Center agreed!
South Eden Plantation played host to our group of 25 and we learned about podcasting, ways to make money as a blogger, email marketing, and how to stand out from the crowd. Patrica Schultz, author of the #1 New York Times bestseller 1,000 Places to See Before you Die and Melody’s biggest travel inspiration, was our keynote speaker.
Highlights of the weekend include dining in Showboat Theater (where the first viewing of Gone with the Wind took place), a Taste of Thomasville Food Tour, and taking a picture under The Big Oak (one of the largest Southern Live Oak trees east of the Mississippi).
Posts From #STEThomasville
- How to Experience the Southern Charm of Thomasville, GA (Road Trips and Coffee)
- Encounter Historic Quail Hunt Plantations in Thomasville, GA (Backroad Planet)
- Thomasville is a Feast for your Senses (Roxie On The Road)
- Thomasville is a Trip Back in Time (Houstonia)
- Visiting Thomasville, GA (Southern Hospitality Blog)
- Favorite Travel Photos to Inspire You to Visit Thomasville (Road Trips and Coffee)
- Historic Sporting Plantation at Pebble Hill Plantation (Road Trips and Coffee)
- Southern Travelers Explore Thomasville Conference (Wherever I May Roam Blog)
- Pebble Hill Plantation: Thomasville, GA (Southern Hospitality Blog)
- The Ultimate Guide To Thomasville, GA (Wherever I May Roam Blog)
- Thomasville Georgia: A Trip Back In Time (The Traveling Wizard)
- Thomasville Magazine
- 12 Amazing Experiences in Quaint Thomasville, GA (Wherever I May Roam Blog)
- The Thomasville, GA, Celebration that could Star in a Hallmark Movie (Travel Awaits)
- City of Thomasville Press Release