Last summer Rite Aid sent me to iRetreat. iRetreat is a blogging conference created by Double Duty Divas and it was located in Hershey, PA. I was more than happy to visit Hershey again, I have great memories from when I visited as kid. The whole city smells like chocolate, I mean who wouldn’t want to visit.
Upon arriving at The Hershey Lodge, needing a cocktail because I spent 45 minutes on a plane that still had propellers. Yeah, like from WWII or something. I didn’t even know they still existed. But… I walked in the hotel and it was absolutely gorgeous and so big. Check in was quick and I went straight to my room to take a breather and boy did I need it because it was a hike. There’s over 660 rooms at The Hershey Lodge. When I finally made it to my room there was chocolate all over it! Chocolate bars on the bed, chocolate scented toiletries, even the sheets and pillow cases had imprints of Hershey Kisses. I was very impressed.
I met up with my fellow Rite Aid bloggers at one of FOUR on-site restaurants and we went to check in. After we received our passes we got handed handfuls of gifts from the conference sponsors. We had to help each back to the room to dump it all before the welcome ceremony.
The keynote speakers at the opening ceremony were Vera Sweeney of Lady and The Blog and her partner Audrey McClelland of Mom Generations. They are two very inspirational and successful mom bloggers. They talked about the importance of teaming up, sponsored posts, blog parties, their journey and the legalities of blogger. With their speech alone iRetreat was off to a great start.
We hung out for awhile then retired to our rooms for some rest. They had a full schedule of classes for the next 2 days. Most of the time you had to pick and choose since there was 2 classes at the same time but it ended up working out for me.
Just to name a few topics, it was classes on Working With Brands, Adsense, Getting Published In A Crowded, Creating Content, Inside the Mind of PR, Trademarking, Blog Design… I can go on. SO if you’re worried about there not being enough classes for you don’t be. You also don’t have to worry about not getting into the classes you want. While there were plenty of bloggers there, iRetreat was intimate. I loved that, some bigger blogging conferences have you fighting for seats, food and etc. I mean you pay for the conference, traveling and accommodations I would hope you’d be able to take whatever classes you want and be happy. I was totally comfortable at iRetreat. During the breaks it was sponsors in the main hall and Rite Aid set up a Wellness Lounge! They had goody bags, massages, manicurists, and even medical professionals to test your bone density and your face for sun damage. (my bone density is amazing by the way)
Needless to say it was a busy but fun weekend. I got to connect with so many bloggers and brands. I implemented some of the tips I learned and created a plan as soon as I got home. I’m more than grateful for the experience. If you’re a new blogger or a vet, you’ll leave iRetreat more knowledgable about our industry and that blog you work so hard for. If it’s not iRetreat make sure it’s another conference. We all need to attend conferences to hone our skills and grow our business. You can make life-long relationships. iRetreat 2015 is in New Orleans June 28-30th, so go check it their site to see if it’s for you.
Before you go, there’s one more thing I want to talk about.
Like I said earlier The Hershey Lodge has 4 on-site restaurants, all with vastly different menus. And some the food we were served at the conference was sponsored by Musselman’s so it was apple butter in all those recipes. OMG it was soooooo good. Just check out some of the great things I ate that weekend. Oh and the lodge has signature cocktails that feature different Hershey candies. The Peppermint Patty Martinis were amazeballs and each of them come with a martini glass you can keep. There was way more food but by the time I remembered to take pics I was half-way done. Oops. Sorry.