WITS Riga group photo on stage

Recap: The Women in Travel Summit in Riga (#WITSRiga)

All about the first WITS in Europe

Wanderful Edinburgh Chapter Director Amanda Walkins shares her WITS Riga experiences and insights. The Women in Travel Summit travel conference in Europe is the perfect place to meet fellow creators, connect with brands and partners, and to explore a unique destination. Find out all about it through Amanda’s experiences.

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The Women in Travel Summit in Riga (#WITSRiga) took place this past November, highlighting a fascinating European capital. As the inaugural event in Europe for WITS, Riga couldn’t have been more perfect! From its energetic tourism board to its natural and architectural beauty, the destination played as much of a role in this conference as the programming and networking.

I attended my first WITS in Portland, Maine (USA), earlier in the year. Being an American expat in Scotland, I was thrilled to see the addition of a European-based conference!

volunteers at the registration table of WITS Riga

Before leaving Portland, I already talked to the WITS planning team about volunteering in Riga. And I am so glad that I did. Volunteering at both conferences was a helpful experience on many levels, even leading me to write this recap.

[Want to write for Wanderful? Pitch your story here.]

Some personal highlights from my first two WITS conferences: Strutting the red carpet at the very first Bessie Awards in Portland and then remixing some wild digital music on stage at the Opening Party at WITS Riga. Nope, neither of those involved business growth, but they were both fun, memorable moments! (And, yes, I cut off about a foot of hair between the conferences. Donate what and when you can!)

Amanda Walkins at WITS Portland and WITS Riga

The Women in Travel Summit is a travel conference you need on your radar.

In fact, recently Forbes named WITS one of “the most inspiring conferences to put on your calendar in 2020.” Inspiring is undoubtedly an accurate descriptor for this gathering. Where some conferences might feel competitive or overwhelming, WITS is approachable and very intentionally inclusive.

If you’re a travel content creator, this is an educational and collaborative space where you’ll feel at home. Whether you want to make connections with fellow creators or get introductions to potential brand partners, WITS is a space that allows everyone to succeed.

What is WITS?

If you’ve never been to a WITS event before, let’s review, shall we?

WITS Riga full group celebratory photo

The Women in Travel Summit, or WITS, began in North America in 2014. It has continued to grow in scope and prestige since then. As of 2019, WITS is officially on two continents! There is a springtime event in North America and an autumn event in Europe.

As a premier event for women travel influencers and creators, plus the brands that want to work with them, WITS is a valuable conference for creators at any level of their career.

And — in case you didn’t know — WITS is run by Wanderful!

WITS planning team Wanderful

That’s right, Wanderful is this blog-turned-global community of women who travel. And it’s also the reason women travel creators gather biannually to hone their craft and challenge the industry status quo.

We’re changing the way the travel industry addresses women in travel by being the change in our words, voices, videos, social media, businesses, and more.

If you’re looking to attend a travel conference in Europe, I can personally recommend WITS. It’s a quality professional (and fun!) investment. No matter your role in the industry, we can all learn from each other’s unique perspectives and experiences to improve diversity and representation. WITS brings us together to do that in a supportive environment.

[Volunteer opportunities are available if you want to get more involved with WITS.]

4 Wanderful Chapter Directors address the WITS Riga audience

About the WITS Travel Conference in Riga

The Women in Travel Summit officially runs over the course of two full days of sessions, networking, and other official events. Both before and after the conference, however, there are plenty of opportunities to explore the city — and farther afield!

Here are some of the tours that were on offer during WITS Riga in 2019:

  • A Classic Riga City Tour: To learn the multi-layered history of this fascinating city.
  • Riga Art Scene Tour: To explore Riga’s iconic Art Nouveau architecture and more!
  • Riga Through a Beer Glass: To experience the city’s rapidly expanding beer scene.
  • Riga Foodie Tour: To sample local flavors and learn the historical significance of Latvian fare.
  • A Different Kind of Women’s Rally: To race around the streets of Riga in tiny Pan Cars!
  • The Classic Stress Buster: To utterly unwind after the conference with a modern Latvian sauna experience.

Beyond the city-wide tours and experiences, the WITS Europe host city worked with its national tourism marketing agency, Magnetic Latvia, to coordinate multiple FAM trips for attendees. Some highlights included visiting palatial manors, exploring coastal towns, gallivanting through peat bogs, and experiencing a traditional sauna in the countryside.

group selfie by the women of WITS Rga

Feedback from WITS Riga

You don’t just have to take my word for it. The first WITS Europe was a resounding success! Just take a look at some of the feedback and top tips shared by a few attendees:

“WITS is a fantastic setting to grow your business through networking and learning. I left inspired and motivated, gained a ton of actionable advice, and met so many great friends during the conference!”

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“WITS is a conference full of women passionately helping each other advance in the travel space.”

 

social media screenshot from WITS Riga panel discussion

screenshot from social media WITS Riga speaker

social media screenshot of a quote from WITS in Riga

“Every session gave something valuable, even as an experienced blogger, I was able to learn from some of the most successful and informed women in the industry, beyond content creators. Truly useful!”

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“The speakers always offer actionable tips, so I regularly come up with new ideas or tactics to employ in my business. And the community aspect of WITS is nothing short of beautiful. Women supporting women…what’s not to love?!”

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“I went to my first WITS earlier this year and fell in love with the collaborative, supportive, empowering community that is the WITS/Wanderful crew. The camaraderie is unparalleled.”

 

screenshot from the keynote of WITS Rigaquote from WITS Europe speaker

 

 

Social screenshot from WITS Riga speakers

About the WITS Host City

LiveRiga was the host for the first WITS Europe — and they took on that role beautifully! Just check out the VIP Happy Hour at the National Library followed by the official Opening Party they hosted at the iconic National Railway Museum:

WITS attendees love exploring the city that’s hosting the event. Discounts offered by local businesses entice attendees to check out their food, drink, and locally crafted items for sale. I know I specifically sought out places offering discounts in both Portland and in Riga!

Tours organized by the host city also offer us unique insight into the place. Attendees can explore its history and its architecture, its food and drink plus its natural landscapes. Being able to hop onto multiple tours in Riga gave me a greater depth of insight than I would’ve gained on my own.

To get an idea of how WITS attendees spent their time in and around the conference, take a look at samples of the diverse content they’ve created in the Blogs section of this Press page.

Want to know more? Here’s some feedback from WITS Riga attendees about the destination:

“I also love the way we get to see the destination in so much more depth. I wouldn’t be able to book so many tours to get deeper into the history and culture of the city, so I truly appreciate the effort put forth by the destinations to allow us that privilege. I have now walked away from two WITS feeling like I’ve truly seen and understood two new places…and both were places I otherwise would not have visited!!”

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“Before I left, I already marked the next WITS Europe in my calendar.”

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“I can’t wait to visit Gdansk! It would not have been on my list at all, but I learned so much about the city this weekend and I am super excited to explore.”

Visit Gdansk and Beth Santos of Wanderful excited to host WITS in Europe 2020

That’s right — the next WITS travel conference in Europe will be hosted by the fabulous city of Gdansk! Visit Gdansk is excited to welcome hundreds of content creators and travel-obsessed women from around the globe.

I know I’ll be among them! Will you come and join me?

Amanda Walkins speaking at WITS Europe in 2019

Learn all about WITS Europe and WITS North America and make sure you subscribe to receive updates straight to your inbox. Volunteer applications open a few months before each respective event. Speaker proposals are still open for WITS Gdansk, so please share your wisdom and expertise!

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