I just looked over the website and realized how we have adapted our concept pretty significantly in the last three months! Remember the good old days back in November 2021 when we thought we couldn't make travel plans without a face to face event? And now we are gathering every Thursday night, drinking wine in our comfy clothes, pretty seamlessly breaking into small groups, and feeling pretty confident that we can organize travel that way?!
The clearest indication of that shift is this month's newsletter- just released and hot off the press (see the tab "newsletters" on this website or the "trip options" tab)! It offers FIVE trips - two domestic weekend getaways and three international trips - at all different price points and activity levels. We've built in a trip with a base price and then offered all kinds of optional add-on experiences and tours to make it tailor made to different tastes! We can also offer a single traveler price - all the benefits of solo travel without the isolation! It's important to keep in mind that until deposit is made, prices can change based on availability. So, our live events will focus on getting folks organized and squared away so we can nail down plans and prices. But, it's exciting to have a "first pitch" to swing at, right?! Can't wait for even more great women to get in this game; I just have a feeling it's going to be a fun season!
2/8/2022 0 Comments
A Week of Growth!
It's been a good week for Travel Sisters Network; we successfully launched a giveaway on our Facebook Page (we will award a winner on the 10th!), we have "normalized" live breakout events, we expanded to TikTok (some featured images below), and we have grown to over 200 registered Travel Sisters!
Teresa and I are meeting tomorrow to nail down four trip proposals for the February newsletter (to be published February 20th.) There will be trip for every budget category. We will float out specific proposals, gauge interest based on a survey, and then start "tailoring" as needed based on who has expressed an interest. Live breakout events will have a breakout dedicated to one of the four trips each Thursday in March! Look for more info coming soon!
The Travel Sisters Network took another important step forward last night - thanks to all who participated, especially our facilitators Vanessa, Melinda, Belinda, Renee! It was so great to see so many beautiful faces and hear so many great ideas!
Teresa and I have put our heads together and based on your feedback, here’s our plan for the next couple months:
We will focus on growing the network as a whole over the next three weeks. We will invest in some ads, hold three giveaways to drive registration, and encourage our current members to share their travel pictures from past trips with us! Please help us by being intentional about sharing, liking commenting and inviting friends to join our group!
During that three weeks we will hold informal live breakout events on Thursdays at 7pm. We will share the link widely, have people show up without RSVP (up to 100), and figure out how to do breakouts on the fly based on who is there! We can have groups based on code, age, interests, destinations - it’ll be informal, spontaneous, and fun (and probably a little hectic, lol, but we are women - we adapt!)! One breakout could meet to plan a face to face live event, perhaps?!
In the February 20 newsletter, we will float out four specific trip ideas - at four different budget levels and with as many details as we can provide. Some will be domestic, some international.
In March, each Thursday live breakout event will have a breakout hosted by Teresa that addresses one of those trips and participants can get more info. Three other breakouts will center around similar codes, and one or two will be a special interest group like “Travel Sisters Under 35”, or “Outdoorsy / Hiking Travel Sisters”, “Travel Sisters With Specific Travel Plans that Need a Sister” etc.
We will be seeking facilitators for those March live breakout events, so please consider if that is a role you would be willing to play. We will make it as easy as possible with clear guidance. Definitely contact us if you would like to facilitate a special interest breakout so we can start developing that idea. Email Angie at email@example.com.
That’s a lot of info for a Friday so we will let that sink in and be in touch with our network soon! Thanks again for your interest and participation in any / every aspect of this project! Have a great weekend!
These older dogs learned some new tricks yesterday about Zoom meetings so we are all up to speed on BREAKOUT GROUPS! It was fun - we got Dad, Teresa, Teresa’s husband Charles and myself in on the action. Mom was a little miffed she missed all the fun!
60+ women are signed up to participate tonight and we are excited about the processes in place to make sure it is interactive, productive, and FUN! Some details (the devil is ALWAYS in the details, right??):
We’ve sorted women into small groups of 8-10 based on their code. So the women in the group already know they are likely somewhat similar in terms of budget, travel preferences and lifestyle choices like sleep schedule and alcohol. This will get better and more focused as we recruit more facilitators. One day we hope to have multiple codes meeting each Thursday night with all forty meeting monthly.
We’ve emailed all the participants a chart that tells them who their facilitator will be, gives them the link, tells them the first names of who will be there, and how many people are expected in that group.
We’ve informed people that they will be asked three questions and they should try and answer in about 1 minute:
No one is expected to prepare anything, we just know people like to know what to expect! That’s the brand we are building: anticipating your needs and doing our best to meet and exceed expectations.
We can’t wait to see 60 of you tonight! And a lot more in the future : )
Dangit I meant to snap a screenshot.
We met 5 Travel Sisters last night and I got so excited I forgot to take the picture, lol!
Vanessa, Belinda, Melinda, Jessica and Renee have agreed to help facilitate our breakout groups Thursday and we walked them through the process/ agenda for the breakouts and we just had a wonderful time! Such articulate, authentic and compelling people - we could not have assembled a better team and we are so lucky they have "heard the call" to help lift this project!
More and more, I am hearing from women who are clearly invested in this project and want it to succeed. They are sharing their experiences and insights, giving us great ideas, and it is becoming clearer and clearer how we should proceed. It's a little different than we predicted - and that's okay! For example, we are finding that interaction on social media just isn't sufficient to make people feel connected. So, we need to lean on virtual and (one day) in person live events to build this network. And we can do that!
Thursday's event will be limited in capacity and we are all a little frustrated by that reality. But, it also insures that the people who DO participate have a really great experience. We are hoping a good number of those women will agree to facilitate later "breakout events" and we can very quickly scale up without compromising quality. We want these groups to be small enough that people truly interact, share their story a bit, and feel seen and heard. We want them to look forward to the next event and find out how we are going to all work together to "move the ball."
Watch your email if you've RSVP'd for the event. Want to RSVP? Go to https://bit.ly/Jan27yes. We will let you know around lunchtime Wednesday if we can accommodate your request to join. If you are coming - we will lay out the agenda so you can feel ready to jump in. If we can't accommodate you this time - just hang in there! We're going to scale up as quickly as we can to meet everyone's needs! If you would be willing to help facilitate breakout groups, please let us know by emailing Angie at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If the breakout groups go as well as last night's meeting with the facilitators, we are well on our way to building a successful model for authentic and productive interaction so we can get together and GO! We can't wait : )
1/20/2022 0 Comments
The January newsletter is out!
Lots of fun content - we announce a new interactive Live online event for 1/27/22, float out a trip idea for late February / March (take the survey!), and advise you about cruising without a passport.
Click here to be linked to the newsletter!
1/11/2022 0 Comments
At our first live virtual event, I told a story about how we intend to proceed with building this network. We've built some "buildings" - a website, a registration process, a MeetUp group, some social media platform pages. We charged our attendees to "start walking" - to access and engage with those resources so we know which ones will work and which ones won't. Once the paths are well worn, we can "build sidewalks." By that I mean we will build up and reinforce those processes and platforms and dedicate our time and attention to them.
One takeaway we have from last week is that while getting 500 registered to hold a live event is a great long-term goal (by the way, we are at 150!) , some of the people registered are fired up and ready to GO! And that's great! I've loved hearing folks use the language we've created to connect - we just need to make sure there is hope that those efforts pay benefits. So, We're tracking what codes have a critical mass building. For example, we have NINETEEN women who are code 42! We have SEVENTEEN that are code 25. We have FIFTEEN women that are code 83. Seems like we might be able to pull together a group email that pulls them together and then maybe we can have a get together, either virtually or in person?
A second takeaway is that it might be a good idea to float out one trip idea - maybe a short Caribbean cruise or a getaway to a warm locale - and just see if some women want to go?! We could puzzle together roommates in the most rational way possible given the data we have?
A third takeaway is that we need to make some data tables that tell Travel Sisters what other codes they might be compatible with because they are just "one variable" off. If you knew what that variable was, based on the trip destination and itinerary, you might realize a Travel Sister with a "one off" code would be just as compatible as a perfect match. For example, if you are a "strictly planned itinerary" person but the trip is a cruise that allows for a lot of individualization (as opposed to a group bus tour in Europe), you might get along just fine with a Travel Sister that prefers spontaneous and flexible itineraries. We need to get that info in our Travel Sisters' hands so they can make the best choices for them based on specific circumstances, especially while we are small and growing.
This will be a good week to lay the groundwork for some of those ideas since, unfortunately, Teresa's mother in law passed away Sunday. It was not a surprise, and she lived a long and remarkable life, but you can never really be ready for the passing of the family matriarch. So, we've canceled our weekly Travel Sisters meeting and we will hit the ground running on these ideas next week. Feels like lots of families out there are doing their best in troubled times and we could all take a week to take care of ourselves and our loved ones. All will take place in due time and there's a lot of hope that these are the darkest days and better ones are ahead.
Y'all be well and chime in if you want to weigh in on any of these ideas. We'd love feedback!
Last night was a great kickoff and a great learning opportunity for our new Travel Sisters AND us! We will post the video soon (Teresa is headed this way as I write with the video on her laptop) - the participants were amazing! Folks were active in the chat, asked great questions, and picked right up on the info we provided. We got some great feedback that we can start putting into action today!
There were always about 100 people in the meeting. That should have been a red flag that something was odd, right? Right!
Since I was using the Zoom account I subscribed to during the pandemic when I was teaching, and I never had more than 100 students, I did not realize ONLY 100 people could attend?! Whoops! What a "JV" move, lol! Ah well, here's the truth - we are launching this project on a shoestring budget and for now we can't shell out $50/month for large meeting capability, so our virtual events will likely remain capped at 100 going forward. BUT, at least going forward, people will know that and will just catch the post-video if they can't get in. It's all about expectations and aligning what we deliver with what we promise. Also all the more reason to move to live events ASAP so we can not worry about capacity constraints.
Our goal is to get 500 women registered and now we are at 156! That's an incredible follow-through rate?! About 100 people attended the meeting and about 100 people registered??!! PHENOMENAL! So, the big takeaway is - our mission connects, our "ask" is clear, the process to carry it out is very achievable, and we just need to get more people informed. That's a GREAT start and clear path forward - we will start building on that takeaway today!
Want a reminder how to register? Go to travelsistersnetwork.com, click on "Let's Go!" and then click on (bottom of any page) "Find My Travel Sisters." Take the profile generator, register your code with us by submitting the form, and you are good!
Angie here - I'm having such a great day because I'm planning for our first live event Thursday! It reminds me of my favorite part of being a public school teacher - planning and executing an agenda that will lead to collaborative vision and action for our mutual benefit. It's so fun to think of people gathering (even in a virtual event), focusing on ideas together, and thinking how we can "move a thing" forward! Meanwhile, Teresa is stressing over the details and what ifs, lol. This (being front and center) is not her comfort zone and I know that and I just love her for hanging in there with the process! I might like "the show and tell" but she's the "substance" - she's been in the travel industry for decades whereas I'm just stepping in! Also, I NEVER think of what could go wrong, so it's really important to surround myself with people who can say, "hey, have you thought about . . . ?" Because honestly, the answer is usually no! So, we complement each other well and we have had a lot of fun working together on this project - so the experience has been a "win-win" no matter what happens next!
But I think great things are in the future with this project -- wow our MeetUp is just growing and growing?! Every day, more people come! We have 270 folks in the group and 180 have indicated they will attend the event @ 7pm Thursday. Seventy-four women have already officially registered as Travel Sisters through our website. We also went from 16 to 61 followers on Instagram and have 164 followers on Facebook. Just six weeks from launch, I feel like this is looking pretty promising!
Another thing giving me some hope is I think the pandemic is reaching a new phase. We have GOT to be nearing something like herd immunity, right? It feels like just about everyone I know (who is not immune-compromised or under the age of 5) is moving into a level of immunity either because they have had Covid or are vaccinated and boosted. I feel like we are really getting close to being able to travel again without so much inconvenience and fear. We could build significant momentum in the travel industry this spring and summer and our timing could be spot on : )
Ok, back to event planning! Just couldn't pass up an opportunity to spread a little hope and share my joy today. Sure am grateful to my partner and sister, Teresa (and her husband Charles! He gives great advice, too!), our parents (our biggest cheerleaders and supporters) and ALL THE WOMEN OUT THERE who are moving this project forward with their participation and interest! Can't wait to be with a bunch on Thursday at 7pm!
p.s. - Wanna join us but aren't sure how? If you join our MeetUp (download the MeetUp app, search for “RDU Women With Travel Dreams”, join the group, click on the event) and RSVP YES to the event, we will send the link out 15 minutes before start time via email!
Life is so funny. This morning I had a little "Come to Jesus" meeting with myself. I was down because The Travel Sisters Network hadn't magically "gone viral" and it seemed like we may need to pour a lot more funds into marketing. We can't spend a ton of money on marketing given the fact we already invested thousands in website development, logo design, business cards, etc. You see, this concept is kind of a non-profit in a funny way. We are helping women find their Travel Sisters, but there's no guarantee they will book travel with us and that's okay. They might make their own plans (some people LOVE that exhaustive planning process, some do not!) , or they might use their own travel agent. We will offer lots of great options and we sure hope people will like them - but this effort is more mission-driven than profit-driven. We're happy to spend some money on the mission, but we can't ask too much of our own family finances. So, I kind of said, "You know, it's a good idea, and I really want it to work, but I can't worry myself too much about it. If it's meant to be, it'll be. I'm going to release it to the powers that be and be at peace." And I was. I felt all the worry just kind of leave my body. It was not all up to us. We're just human.
After lunch I had a few minutes and I decided to see how the MeetUp group we formed on Monday was going. WAIT - something weird was happening?? There were now 29 members . . . then 32, 36, 40 . . it was growing right before my eyes?? They were registering for our live event! I started looking at who was joining . . . I did not recognize these names? Oh my goodness! What an amazingly beautiful and diverse group of women! I started messaging them and they responded with enthusiasm. I finally had the courage to ask - what is going ON? Why are you all coming right now - today? One woman said, "Oh, I got an email from MeetUp telling us about this group and I knew immediately I should join!" Lol.
Of course. When you are humble, when you cede control, that's when the magic happens. New forces suddenly come into play, things you didn't see coming present themselves. We're sitting at 45 now . . . make that 47. : ) Twenty three local women - at least! - will be at our first live event on January 6th at 7pm. We're SO EXCITED. Message received, world! Message received.
Teresa and Angie
A little insight posted occasionally about how it started and how it's going!.