Social Media on the Sand 2019 (Beaches Moms) What It's Like to Attend

Thursday, October 24, 2019
I just returned from an amazing conference called Social Media on the Sand, held at beautiful Beaches Turks & Caicos Resort Villages and Spa. If you've been following me on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter, you might have seen me posting about it. It's also lovingly referred to as SMOTS, and the influencers who attend are known as Beaches Moms. So, what exactly IS Social Media on the Sand? Let me explain!


What is Social Media on the Sand?

In a nutshell (or coconut shell?), Social Media on the Sand is an invite-only conference where 100 of the most influential women in social media, blogging and journalism converge to learn from the best in the business! Fashion designers, entrepreneurs, social media experts, and industry pioneers gathered to share their expertise with us, and teach us how to grow our online brand and business presence. There were workshops, special events, amazing opportunities, and surprises around every corner.  This year the conference took place at Beaches Turks & Caicos Resort Villages and Spa (stay tuned for my blog post about the actual resort!).


What Does it Cost?

Social Media on the Sand isn't free, but it is greatly discounted. You'll need to pay your own airfare, which can be pretty steep depending on what part of the country you are from. Flights from JFK in New York on JetBlue were reasonable with great travel times. Flights from Newark, NJ (as of the publication date of this entry) were more expensive and some had long layovers. So if you want to attend, be sure to have an idea of what the airfare might cost before you commit to anything, or book your tickets as early as you can (don't wait till the last minute). The room and the cost of your family/guests to attend is an amazing deal that is hard to pass up.


What is the Conference Like? 

People often ask me if the conference allowed for any down time or time to enjoy the resort. The answer is, absolutely. They want you to experience the beauty of Beaches Turks and Caicos, especially with your family. So although you have conference times scheduled, they also offer free time and opportunities for your family to participate in their special events, too. I was so grateful for this! I was able to learn from the best and come back here to actually share my Beaches experience with you, too. Here are just some of the topics discussed during the conference:

-How to Monetize Your Blog
-Integrating and Working with the Media
-Working with Brands to Build Awareness
-Turning Your Lifestyle Into a Career
-How to Pitch Your Brand and Increase Your Presence Online
-Collaborating (not Competing) with Today's Top You Tubers


This year, Beaches' list of guest speakers included three of the most well-known brand builders in the industry:

Rebecca Minkoff (co-founder and creative director of Rebecca Minkoff designer brand)
Jamie Kern Lima (co-founder of IT Cosmetics)
Daymond John (investor on ABCTV's Shark Tank)


And here are the other amazing guests we were able to listen to or converse with:

-Adam Stewart (Deputy Chairman of Sandals Resorts International)
-Debbie-Ann White (SVP of Public Relations and Promotions of Unique Vacations, Inc.)
-Shannon Levis (Facebook)
-Courtney Heimlich (YouTube)
-Landyn Hutchinson (Lifestyle Expert, 𝖫𝗂𝗏𝗂𝗇𝗀 𝖢𝗂𝗍𝗁 𝖫𝖺𝗇𝖽𝗒𝗇)
-Melissa Gerstein (co-founder, The MOMS Network)
-Meaghan B. Murphy (Executive Editor of Good Housekeeping and )
-Emily Kaufman (travel writer, The Travel Mom) Emily was also our awesome hostess with the mostest- she rocked it!
-Audrey McClelland (co-founder, MomGenerations.com)
-Amy Choi (Head of Brand Partnerships, ShopStyle)
-Amanda Perna (seasoned fashion and textile designer, The House of Perna)
-Rosemarie T. Truglio (SVP of Curriculum and Content at Sesame Workshop and author of Ready for School!)
-Michelle Kreher (Senior Manager of Themed Entertainment at Sesame Workshop)
-Ellen Heaney (Senior Brand Manager for Spin Master Games)
-Mykella Gannon (Marketing Director, COOLA)
-Julie Nowell (founder and principal of 3c Consulting)
-Myron Pincomb (CEO and Board Chairman of The International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards - he was unable to attend but he sent us a special video message)
-Terrell and Jarius Joseph, April Athena and Jessica Skube of JesssFam (You Tube content creators).


There were also amazing sponsors/partners for the entire conference, and they were eager to share products and experiences with us. The partners for 2019 included:
Rebecca Minkoff, Spin Master Games, Drybar, IT Cosmetics, COOLA Suncare, JetBlue, Swarovski, The House of Perna, good2grow, Sesame Workshop, HAPARI Swimwear, Sprout, abercrombie kids, SNUBA, Red Lane Spa, Kim Crawford Wines, Pevonia, Air Esscentials, Sanitas, Bling2o, Playskool, The Incy Wincies, Saltability, SNUBA, the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES), BLVisuals, Rockabye Baby, PLAYSKOOL, SpaRitual, School Specialty, FLOW, PADI: Professional Association of Diving Instructors, Alliance Connection Productions, Gifts for the Good Life, Florabella Studios, Kelly + Jones and The Sandals Foundation.


And can I add how much I adore Hapari Swimwear? I had never heard of them before this event, but I kid you not- FOUR women came up to me at the Pirates Waterpark in Beaches Turks and Caicos to tell me how much they liked my Hapari suit. I actually thought it was a joke, like a hidden camera somewhere. Four women! When does that ever happen? When you're wearing a really awesome swimsuit, I guess! So please check them out- www.Hapari.com


The Sandals Foundation

Our event kicked off in the evening with a 'Sea the Future' Welcome Party. During this event, we learned about The Sandals Foundation. The Sandals Foundation is the philanthropic part of Sandals Resorts International, with initiatives close to the heart of Beaches Resorts. The 'Sea the Future Welcome Party' was presented by The Sandals Foundation, and we learned about their mission to make a difference in the Caribbean, celebrated the Foundation's 10-year anniversary, and contributed by bringing environmentally-themed books to help the local children of Turks and Caicos. We also helped by raising funds for the Foundation in a silent auction. The book I brought to the event was a favorite years ago in my classroom. It was called Into the Sea by Brenda Z. Guiberson and features stunning artwork by Alix Berenzy about the life of an endangered sea turtle.


Students of Long Bay High School in Turks and Caicos sang beautiful island songs for us and finished the evening off with a Hunter Hayes song called, 'Wanted.' Hunter Hayes was scheduled to perform for us later in the week, but he surprised everyone by showing up at our welcome party and greeting the students from Long Bay.



There was so much more besides the conference schedule and keynote speakers. They offered us mimosa match-ups, health and wellness opportunities (where we could try out spa products, get hairstyles from The DryBar and make-overs from IT Cosmetics, just to name a few). There were opportunities to meet sponsors and try their products, a concert from Hunter Hayes, amazing photo opps, freebies (swag!) and parties, parties, parties! I'm really just giving you a general summary- it would be impossible for me to list everything they presented us with. The whole event ended with a colorful 'Willy Wonka" themed party, with amazing food, music, dancers and fireworks! It was truly unforgettable.


Is it Worth it? 

There is a reason why Social Media on the Sand was voted one of BizBash's Most Innovative Meetings of 2018. It was an incredible conference! And in my personal opinion, when an opportunity like this comes up, it is always, always worth applying. Even if you think you can’t go, even if you think they won’t accept you, even if you think (heaven forbid) you’re not good enough, it’s worth applying. I tried for years to get an invite from Social Media on the Sand. I knew it was an amazing conference and I knew I could learn a lot from the experience. I had never been to a Beaches Resort or any all-inclusive resort for that matter! So I kept trying (and trying and trying). When I was finally accepted, it was literally a dream come true! So yes, it is absolutely 100% worth the effort to apply, try your best, give it your all! And if you are accepted, of course it is worth going! Social Media on the Sand has so much to offer, not just the Beaches Resort experience, not just the conference experience, not just all of the fun and entertainment. This is going to sound really corny, but I actually learned a lot about myself on this trip. I learned that I really do struggle with anxiety more than I thought. I learned to believe in myself, give it my all and realize that I had the potential to become something better than I already was. Debbie-Ann White said that Beaches "ignites a fire" in her, and challenges her to "be a better version of herself." Well, I can say the same for Social Media on the Sand. And I really, really, really hope I follow in the footsteps of the amazing speakers that we witnessed at the conference. Thank you for being so inspiring, ladies (and gentlemen)!

I started out with some anxiety about the conference, but ended up happier than ever! 

Some amazing quotes from the speakers:

Jamie Lyn Kern: "You can't let other people tell you who you are. Remember your 'why.' When you believe you're on the right path, it doesn't matter who doesn't agree with you. Your gut is more powerful than anyone else's advice."

Meaghan B. Murphy: "Think about how you can be of service to others and how you can connect with others...Real queens fix each other's crowns..."

Daymond John: "Every single one of us is here because someone else gave us a chance. You don't have to be ruthless in business."

Rebecca Minkoff: "With entrepreneurs, there's no sticking your feet in the sand and saying, 'I made it.' You're always striving...Find someone you trust who can help you with your business..."

Debbie-Ann White: "Don't let anyone else steer you in the wrong direction."


To learn more about Social Media on the Sand, visit their website www.socialmediaonthesand.com or follow the hashtags #SocialMediaOnTheSand and #BeachesMoms across social media platforms.

To learn more about Beaches Turks & Caicos Resort Villages and Spa, stay tuned for my blog post or visit their website, https://www.beaches.com/resorts/turks-caicos/

Do you have questions about Social Media on the Sand or Beaches Moms? Feel free to email me or send me a private message! I had plenty of questions about it myself, so I am happy to help you if I can.


Some photos provided by Laura Dee, C Morris Photography and Catie McDade Photography

2 comments

  1. Such an informative post! I wish I would have had a chance to introduce myself. I'm Misty from The Maternal Hobbyist.

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    Replies
    1. Hi Misty! Thanks for reading and commenting! Well, hopefully our paths will cross again! :)

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