Business Strategist, NYT Best-selling Author
Jay Baer, CSP is an experienced pro, having given hundreds of insightful, humorous presentations world-wide to audiences as large as 15,000, and a Certified Speaking Professional (CSP). He is a renowned business strategist, a popular emcee and event host and a New York Times best-selling author of five books. Jay is an advisor to more than 700 companies since 1994, including Caterpillar, Nike, The United Nations and 32 of the FORTUNE 500. He is an entrepreneurial success story, having started five multi-million dollar businesses from scratch. Jay is the Founder of Convince & Convert, a strategy consulting firm that helps prominent companies gain and keep more customers through the smart intersection of technology, social media, and customer service. He's also a media brand - Jay’s Convince & Convert Media division runs the world’s #1 content marketing blog, multiple podcasts, and many other education resources for business owners and executives. An active venture capitalist and technology advisor, as well as an avid tequila collector, and the world’s most retweeted person by digital marketers, as well as the world’s #2 most retweeted person by B2B marketers. Jay is a go-to source for the press including NPR, USA Today, Time, Real Simple, CBC and many more. Finally, he's the host of the popular Social Pros podcast, named the best marketing podcast in the 2015 Content Marketing Awards.
Editorial Projects Director Travel at National Geographic
Andrew Nelson has been appointed editorial projects director for National Geographic Travel, a new position created by editor-in-chief George Stone to serve as a liaison between Travel’s editorial and advertising teams. In this role, Nelson will oversee sponsored content and partnerships, working closely with both Travel’s producers and advertising representatives to develop strong content and foster strategic relationships with partners. Nelson has served as editor-at-large and writer for National Geographic Traveler magazine for 11 years, most recently writing the June/July cover story on visiting Sonoma, California. In 2013, Nelson won a North American Travel Journalists Association (NATJA) medal for “The Social Network,” a Traveler story that documented San Francisco’s rich sharing economy. Additionally, “Tweet Me in Miami,” a story of social media on the beach, won a 2010 Folio Award for great magazine writing.
Homes, ProHost Team, Airbnb
Mindy Taylor grew up in Irmo, South Carolina and graduated from Dutch Fork High School. She earned a Bachelor's Degree in Communications and Religion from Carson-Newman College in Tennessee and a Master of Arts in Religious Studies from the University of South Carolina. Mindy joined Airbnb in San Francisco, from Charleston, South Carolina, where she led small tech startups for four years - winning an investment from Steve Case, the founder of AOL, and getting invited to the White House to pitch to President Barack Obama. Mindy now works on the Homes team at Airbnb, where she collaborates with product teams to build powerful new tools for Hosts.
Editor of Travel Noire
Whether through pristine copywriting and editorial content or an engaging digital or social media content strategy, Shontel's diverse, multi-platform experience has made the Florida native a versatile creative force since 2011. Having worked with entertainment companies (Turner Classic Movies, FOX, USA Network, CNBC), global brands (L'Oréal Group, Kraft Foods, Caesarstone) and alongside celebrities and influencers, Shontel has developed a unique voice for both branded and editorial content.
Owner and President of Touchpoint Communications
Colleen Troy is the founder of Touchpoint Communications. A born talker, family lore has it that her first word was facetious (and she will quickly add that she used it in context!). True or not, words have fueled a full career, first as a community news reporter, then as a PR director at the NYU Stern School of Business. Agency work in Charleston, SC was such fun she decided to start her own company. Touchpoint Communications was born in 2005 to help organizations tell their stories to the most appropriate audiences. The result has been a “wild ride” marked by growth, evolution and world-class clients and pals. When Colleen isn’t running the company, she’s applying her obsessiveness to her husband, son, daughter, dog and cats. She is also a frequent adjunct professor at the College of Charleston and a freelance magazine writer and serves on the boards of the Coastal Community Foundation and One80 Place.
President, Northeast Media
Laurence Cohen is the President of Northeast Media, a 28 year old media representation business. The company's international media experience includes newspapers, magazines, digital, social media, international television and Out of Home. Cohen has worked with the Essentially America brand of magazines since joining the original UK edition with its third issue in 1994 and has been instrumental in expanding its footprint to include editions in Germany, Mexico, Colombia and China and its very successful Chinese WeChat platform. As well, he has helped develop the Essentially America partnership with the Indian and Australian editions of the American Express publications Departures and Centurion. He has spoken about international marketing at state and regional tourism events as well as at SKAL Club meetings and meetings of the Luxury Marketing Council. Cohen is a graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism, is a member of the Luxury Marketing Council and SKAL and lives in Weston, CT with his wife Jan.
North Carolina-based Freelance Writer
Jason Frye is a travel, culinary and culture writer with stories and photography in Southern Living, Coastal Living, AAA Go!, AAA Traveler, AAA Northeast, Dallas Morning News, Our State, Salt, StarNews, Charlotte Observer, Raleigh News & Observer, Thrillist, Virgin Atlantic Airlines, Our State Eats, VisitNC.com, Forbes, Moon.com, The Official North Carolina Visitors Guide, Discover South Carolina Vacation Guide, among other places. He’s the author of Moon North Carolina, Moon North Carolina Coast Including the Outer Banks, Moon Blue Ridge Parkway Roadtrip, and Moon Great Smoky Mountains National Park. He is a member of the Society of American Travel Writers where he serves on the Eastern Chapter Executive Board, the Association of Food Journalist, and holds his MFA in Creative Writing—Poetry (2005) from University of North Carolina Wilmington.