2024-2025 President Elect Candidate

IMG_7801 - Mary Jo Manzanares

Mary Jo Manzanares

 

I am a traveler, travel content creator, and digital publisher. I have been a member of SATW since 2014, and am currently a candidate for President-Elect.

The world of travel journalism has changed. And keeps changing.

The pandemic. Decreasing budgets and pay rates. New technology and communication platforms. Social media. Publications closing, others opening. AI. Search challenges. New communication tools.

It’s just not the same publishing landscape any more, and it’s exhausting!

We don’t have the luxury of sitting back and doing what we’ve always done. It’s a personal and organizational challenge to remain knowledgeable and engaged with the evolution of media and technology. We must be prepared to meet this challenge if we want to sustain successful careers and businesses.

I have worked in digital publishing for nearly 19 years. I’ve been an advocate for digital publishing and media on the SATW Board and various committees during the entire time of my SATW membership. That combination of firsthand knowledge and experience will be important as the Society navigates the future of publishing and travel storytelling.

What can you expect from me as a future President? At the heart of it all, I believe in servant leadership.

Servant leadership focuses on serving members rather than on maintaining the status quo. It encourages diversity of thought and creates a culture of transparency and trust through timely communication and disclosure. It fosters creativity and new ways of looking at old challenges.

Servant leadership fosters leadership in others by actively encouraging and recruiting successors and volunteers. We must increase Society participation to make the load lighter for us all, and to establish leadership succession and continuity in a way that ensures SATW continues to meet the needs of its members.

Servant leadership means living our DEAI values and principles, reaching out for opportunities to embrace the wonderful diversity of members and future members. We need to continue to remove barriers to membership, participation, and opportunities, as well as look for opportunities to do better and to do more. Let’s top talking about it and actually do it! There is strength in our diversity, let’s make it work for us.

We need to review the formats and programming for conventions, meetings, and other events, to ensure we deliver affordable value for attendees. I have experience with sponsorship and event planning/management on three continents, and have served as a Conference Director for a travel event for five years. Additionally, I have written and reviewed dozens of RFPs (Request for Proposals) for events and sponsorships. There are creative ways to keep prices low while maximizing value to attendees and participants once we look beyond the status quo.

We need to continue to evaluate our revenue-generating activities, including sponsorships and fee-based events for non-members. A robust sponsorship program allows us to keep event prices low for all members. We also need to find opportunities that do not involve continually returning to members – especially our Associates – to foot the bill for everything.

We should review our successful initiatives to see where modification or expansion would be worthwhile. This can be done while staying within budget. It’s also time for a little tough love – perhaps letting go of (or modifying) processes and projects that no longer serve us well. Everything we do should be viewed through our core mission of inspiring travel through responsible journalism.

Our website development continues to move forward. We have completed interviews with the top three candidates and the information has been sent to the Board for a decision. There has been, and will continue to be, much done behind the scenes. That’s where most of the hard work of a site happens before it is ready to roll out publicly. You can expect to see the website focus on three essential missions: promotion and information for member recruitment, general organizational information suitable for members and potential members; and member-only resources and information (the latter behind the member log-in). It’s a herculean task that is long overdue, but I feel optimistic about the progress made.

Since joining SATW, I’ve been involved at various levels of Society business, volunteering when and where my skillsets match up with a need.

I currently serve as the Website Committee Chair and on the Membership Committee.

Past Society service includes: At-Large Board member, DPC Chair (Digital Publishers Council), Board Parliamentarian, Communications Committee, and DEAI committee. I have served two stints as PD Convention Co-Chair (El Paso and Bogota), served on the Convention RFP committee.

Through these experiences, I’ve learned that SATW membership is enhanced by the service we perform. I have been richly blessed by my volunteer work, professionally and personally, and I am honored to have received the Board of Directors Cup in 2019 and the President’s Bowl in 2022.

Despite the often dreary headlines and conversation, travel publishing and content creation is not all gloom and doom. It may be different than what we expected, but I believe the path ahead of us is still bright.

With a dynamic leadership team, an active Board, and engaged membership, SATW can create new opportunities and enjoy continued success. We need to work together to create this success.

I’m up to the task. I think you’re up to the task, too. Let’s roll up our sleeves and get to work. It’s time to walk our talk.

I respectfully ask for your support and your vote as your next President-Elect.