Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Top Ten at Book Passage Travel Conference

Book Passage Travel Writers and Photographers Conference –2009

I’ve always wanted to go to the Book Passage Travel Writers and Photographers Conference. This year I finally had the chance to attend and I was not disappointed. The faculty line up of Writers, Photographers and Agents was first rate. There was so much packed into four days it’s impossible to cover it all in one post. Instead I’ll give you my Top Ten Favorites—the people & moments that were most memorable. If you want a more in depth account of the conference check out the posts by Trish Miller on her site at Travel Writers Exchange.


1. The Attendees- Meeting so many interesting fellow attendees and making plans to see each other again.

2. Accessibility to Faculty and Special Guests. --The opportunity to meet and talk with so many talented people in one place cannot be understated. Accessibility is the true value of the conference.

3. Marci Tiesel’s Photography—I viewed her portfolio on Thursday night and bought one of her Italy photos on the spot. I was sitting next to her on Sunday when she won one of the photography awards. Way to go Marci!

4. The Staff of Book Passage- These folks are a delight. Elaine & Kathryn Petrocelli and the entire staff were warm and gracious the entire four days. They really went out of their way to make sure everyone felt welcome and taken care of.

5. The Audacity of Karaoke –The Saturday Night Karaoke tradition is legendary and nothing can prepare you for the sight of leaders in the Travel and Photography world rocking out to Born to be Wild and Y.M.C.A.

6. The Editor King—Larry Habegger had the wherewithal to notice and then correct the spelling on a tweet I was writing in the middle of a dark and noisy event room full of karaoke singers. The man is a great writer and editor with amazing powers of concentration!

7. Jim Benning's Digital Media Class – Great content and interesting participants made for three days of fun and inspiration. Jim’s class gave us the tools and hands on experience to go out and make some digital content of our own. Look out World Hum here we come.

8. Spud Hilton’s Face When Pitched a ‘Staycation’ – On the last day of the conference I was standing next to Spud Hilton and talking to Larry Habegger when a woman came rushing up to Spud. She was from a start up called The Little Passports and she got wind of the travel conference off twitter, and being a good little promoter she came storming down to the conference to pitch Spud Hilton in person with her press kit, err, suitcase.

So she starts to pitch Spud telling him all about what the product entails and then she says Little Passports is perfect thing for your readers to use with their children on staycation. And Spud, who up to that point was listening with his best open happy eyebrows-up demeanor, suddenly dropped his face into a big deal-breaker frown. And he looked at me like it was somehow my fault that the lady had just said the holy grail of fail words- staycation. She stopped and said “What? What did I say?” And Spud says, “Oh I’m sorry I’m not trying to take away from the validity of your product in any way, but you just said staycation.” And she says, “Oh I know, I saw that on twitter!”

It was my tweet she saw. This is what it said : Send @SpudHilton all your "staycation" queries. Just Kidding! DON'T DO IT!! #BPTravel

And I said, “Did you read the whole thing?” And she said “Oh yeah.” And I said, “Did you read the part that said it --DON’T DO IT--?” And she said “Oh yes, I read that too.” So it just goes to illustrate Spuds point that no matter what you tell people they just cannot find it in them selves to follow directions.

I wish Little Passports all the best, and hope it is a huge success. I just don’t want to sit next that lady in the exit row after she tells the flight attendant she read and will follow all directions in case of an emergency....I’m just sayin’. But you have to admire her moxie. Not only did she seize an opportunity off twitter, she was also breastfeeding a baby the whole time she was pitching. It was amazing.

9. Don George's emotional reading of the prize-winning essay by Erin Byrne. I thought we were all going to end up on the floor weeping.

And My Favorite Moment of all----

10. Georgia Hesse, on the last day of the conference before the closing ceremonies, telling her story of an unscheduled layover on Easter Island. Georgia needs her own HBO comedy special. She has the most perfect deadpan delivery and comic timing of anyone I have ever met. I laughed so hard I hurt myself. I want to be Georgia when I grow up.


  1. Hey Marcy,
    You are so sweet! I'm honored to make it on your list, you're one of my favorite 5 attendees I met at the conference. And would have been even if you hadn't bought a photo! :-) You're totally right about Georgia too, that story was so hilarious & bizarre it verged on unbelievable, yet i never doubted her. You're now book-marked baby so let's please keep in touch.

  2. Was there a bus #4 at the Travel Conference... ?



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