This year I attended several blog conferences, and in addition to soaking up knowledge, networking, and having fun, I also had the goal of coming back here and reporting on each conference. That way, if you are considering attending next year, you can have a better idea of what the conference was like, and maybe I can help make your decision.
So today I’m going to give you my recap of the 2015 Social Media on the Sand conference (otherwise known as #BeachesMoms and #BeachesDads), at the Beaches Resort in the Turks and Caicos Islands!
This is a new conference that began last year in 2014, and it’s put on by Maria Bailey and her company MomSelect. I heard from some of the attendees who had also attended in 2014 that the conference was much improved this year, mostly in the amount of time they were able to spend with their families.
Yes, that’s right, the whole family is invited along! Now would probably be a good time to mention that this conference is by invitation only. Once you get the coveted invite, you have to pay your conference/resort fee, travel costs (which can be expensive- you’re going to a Caribbean island!), and a resort fee for any of your family members who come with you, but the resort fees are incredibly discounted from their regular rates. To give you an idea, we paid about the same amount for our five day/four night stay as the resort normally charges for just a one night stay.
The timing worked out really well for us, as our 10th anniversary was on October 29th, and the conference took place the week before. We already had plans to take a vacation to celebrate, and when I got invited to the conference, it was a no-brainer! Spend five days at an all-inclusive resort, at a discounted price, and attend an exclusive conference? #yes
On my main blog, I already wrote about our time at the resort, focusing on the activities and food (mostly the food- we ate a lot), and I wrote about the special candlelit dinner we had on the beach in my post about our 10th anniversary, but on here I want to focus on the conference itself.
The conference and the time we spent at Beaches was primarily divided up into three different activities: conference sessions, parties, and free time to spend with our families. In general, the mornings had speakers or a conference activity, afternoons were on our own, and evenings were parties!
Wednesday was primarily a travel day, with a nautical cocktail party in the evening to kick off the conference. Unfortunately our travel plans did not get us to the resort in time for this party, so I caught up with the conference activities on Thursday morning. I registered and headed to our outdoor conference amphitheatre for the morning.
All of the conference attendees had brought bags full of books and school supplies for the local schoolchildren, some of whom were supposed to be there that morning to meet us and talk about life in the Caribbean, but because of recent bad weather and missing school as a result, they needed to be in school that day! Still it was impressive to see the stack of supplies we were able to donate to the schools.
We got to hear a little about Beaches Resorts, how the company got started, and their social media strategy. It was a very warm, sticky morning, so there were no complaints when the morning sessions got finished a little early! Daniel and I grabbed lunch and then spent some time on the beach in the afternoon. That evening was the 80s party at Club Liquid!
80s music, 80s clothing, even a laser light background for photos, and a whole bunch of kids who had no clue what the deal was! For those of us who remember the 80s, it was a fun throwback!
Friday was the main day for conference sessions, and thankfully it was a much cooler day! We got to hear from lots of industry experts. My favorite speaker was Dan Lewis, who works with Sesame Street. He said that their mission is to make kids “smarter, stronger, and kinder.” I loved that philosophy and feel like it’s very similar to what I’m trying to do for moms on my main blog, Shaping Up To Be A Mom.
We were also treated to lots of surprises, such as the news that we’d all be receiving a printer in the mail from sponsor HP, a special visit from the Sesame Street characters, and even our own Play All Day Elmo doll!
Again, we were done in time for lunch, so Daniel and I enjoyed some pizza on the beach and then went sailing! In the evening, there was a beach party, for everyone at the resort, but conference attendees and their families got priority seating and first crack at the giant buffet! We sat with my friends Wendy and her husband, and Jasmine and her family.
Saturday morning was the last official conference day, and it started bright and early with some aqua aerobics!
In the (later) morning, we split up into different groups to explore a different area/aspect of the resort. We filled out a survey with our preferences weeks in advance, and there were so many great things to choose from! They had sailing lessons, a cooking class, even reggae dancing! I got my first choice- a photography tour of the resort where we’d receive tips along the way to improve our photography. We got to explore some great photo spots that I know I wouldn’t have found on my own.
I also got to chat with my friend Becky Mansfield, who is a super successful blogger, and get some tips from her!
Saturday afternoon was on our own, and then Saturday evening we all had predetermined reservations at certain restaurants. Ours was at the Sky Lounge, a rooftop restaurant where we watched the sunset as we enjoyed our meal.
That evening was a Halloween costume party, where they wrapped up the conference with some fun entertainment, lots of desserts, and the final giveaways.
Daniel and I were pretty proud of our costumes, even though basically nobody got who we were!
Sunday was our day to travel home, so we said goodbye to Beaches, with definite plans to return! I had a dream just the other night that we were back there, standing just outside of our hotel room door, deciding what fun thing to do next. I had an absolutely fantastic time at the Social Media on the Sand conference, and I definitely recommend going if you get the chance!