Insights from industry experts: Keynote speakers revealed for the 2023 OWAA conference

Editor's Panel at the 2022 OWAA conference in Casper
Editor’s Panel at the 2022 OWAA Conference in Casper, Wyoming.

Get ready for an unforgettable experience at this year’s highly anticipated conference in Gulf Shores, Alabama! We are thrilled to announce the exceptional lineup of keynote speakers who will be sharing their expertise with us at The Lodge at Gulf State Park from September 9-11.

Our staff carefully curated a selection of influential and inspiring thought leaders in the outdoor industry. These keynote speakers are poised to provide insights and experiences that will leave you feeling energized, motivated, and ready to elevate your own outdoor media strategies.

Prepare to be captivated as we delve into the latest trends, emerging technologies, and best practices in outdoor media. Our conference offers a unique opportunity to hear directly from some of the most respected names in the industry, gaining valuable knowledge and perspectives.

Among our esteemed keynote speakers are Cory Lee, a two-time Lowell Thomas Award winner for Best Travel Blog, who has made a significant impact as a wheelchair accessible travel blogger. We also have Ben Raines, an environmental journalist, filmmaker, and adventurer, known for his extraordinary contributions to marine and environmental sciences. In addition, Amir Eylon, a 33-year veteran of the Travel & Tourism industry, will be sharing his expertise as the President & CEO of Longwoods International. Finally, Sonya Staples from Staples InTents will take us on a personal journey of how her passion for camping and glamping transformed her life.

But that’s not all! The conference website also provides information on exciting panel discussions, including the highly anticipated “Meet the Editors” panel, where you can engage with prominent industry professionals. You’ll also find a newsmaker panel and a panel discussion on the future of outdoor equity with Gerry Seavo James, Zorbari Nwido and Shauna Stiegerwald. 

Don’t miss your chance to join us for this exceptional event. Early Bird Conference Registration is now open until May 26, 2023. Take advantage of this opportunity to gain access to all keynote and breakout sessions, three meals per day (including the honorary awards banquet), two 3-hour ‘deep dive’ workshops, gear demos, hospitality events, and much more. We also offer optional pre- and post-tour options to make your experience even more memorable.

Secure your spot and register today for the 2023 conference. Get ready to be inspired, connect with industry leaders, and take your outdoor media strategies to new heights.

Keynote speakers 

Cory Lee | Curb Free with Cory Lee
Wheelchair Accessible Travel Blogger
Cory is a 2-time Lowell Thomas Award winner for Best Travel Blog, named the 2018 Person of the Year by New Mobility Magazine, and has won 3 Webby Awards for Best Personal Blog/Website. Over the years, Cory has also been featured on Travel Channel, CBS News, National Geographic, Forbes, Lonely Planet, in the Los Angeles Times, and many more. Cory also frequently speak about accessible travel at conferences around the world. 

Ben Raines
Ben Raines is an environmental journalist, filmmaker, and adventurer, and is filmmaker in residence at University of South Alabama’s School of Marine and Environmental Sciences.

 Amir Eylon | Longwoods International
President & CEO, Partner
A 33-year veteran of the Travel & Tourism industry, Amir joined Longwoods in 2015 from his previous role as Vice President, Partner Engagement with Brand USA, the public-private partnership serving as the destination marketing organization dedicated to increasing international visitation to the US. He led the team responsible for helping to increase its partnership base and focused on exceeding service expectation for those partners. During his tenure, Brand USA grew its base to 475 partners, comprised of destination marketing organizations, state tourism offices, attractions, hotels, travel brands, airlines, and tour operators. Read more about Amir Eylon on the conference website.

Sonya Staples | Staples InTents
Sonya & Necota met in 1998 at their alma mater, North Carolina A&T State University (AGGIE PRIDE!). They soon fell in love and were inseparable. They moved to Atlanta in 2002 and married shortly after. Years passed and as life would have it, they drifted apart. Years later, on the brink of divorce, their marriage counselor gave them the advice to say YES to each other. Not so enthusiastic about Sonya’s request to go camping, Necota said yes and their journey began. They soon began going out monthly to escape the city and found that through being outdoors and glamping they were able to reconnect and grew closer to each other. With the love of glamping now engrained, they wanted to share their new love with their friends and family, since no one wanted to go with them camping nor understood why they wanted to go. They started making videos and sharing on Youtube as a means to share with their family and friends, but soon realized it was their passion to share their love for camping and the growth they experienced through it to other people. And that is how their life InTents came to be.

Early Bird Conference Registration closes May 26, 2023!

Early Bird Registration gives you access to:


    • All keynote and breakout sessions, including the always popular ‘Meet the Editors’ panel

    • Three meals/day (nine total), including the honorary awards banquet and even more compelling speakers

    • Two 3-hour ‘deep dive’ workshops to further your skillset

    • All breakout day activities (gear demos and more)

    • Hospitality events (which generally include adult beverages and light snacks/appetizers)

    • Unique events like the fun run, photo scavenger hunt, membership meeting, and storytelling night

    • Optional pre- and post-tour options

Early Bird Individual Member: $355 
Early Bird Supporting Group: $545

Register for the 2023 conference today!

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