Mashable Connect Conference Ends With Gowalla Check-In Race at Magic Kingdom

By Mitra Sorrells May 24, 2011, 9:50 AM EDT

Photo: Michael Cummings & Dream In Pictures

Mashable Connect 2011
  • Audiovisual Production, Catering, Entertainment, Lighting, Production, Venue Walt Disney World

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Mashable hosted its first Mashable Connect conference for more than 300 leaders from digital and social media May 12 to 14 at Walt Disney World’s Contemporary Resort. Originally, Mashable was planning to cap attendance at the invitation-only event at 200, but an overwhelming response from more than 1,000 applicants prompted planners to expand.
“We wanted to make this intimate, so people could really get time to meet with each other and connect. Our audience is very social online, so we wanted to get them offline to meet and form strong connections,” said Mashable communications director Stacy Green. “The purpose is to bring together Mashable's influential community to share ideas, inspiration, and case studies about how digital innovation is shaping society, changing businesses, and enhancing people's lives.”

Mashable staff invited some of the attendees, but most applied through the company’s Web site starting in February. Those chosen came from a variety of industries, such as technology, media, government, nonprofit, and entertainment. Each paid $2,500 for the conference, which included three nights of lodging, meals, and Disney park passes.

The program included a keynote address on the opening night from Mashable C.E.O. Pete Cashmore, followed by a day and a half of presentations from more than 20 speakers, including executives from Tumblr, Gowalla, Thrillist, Yahoo, and HBO. All of the sessions took place in the Contemporary Resort's large ballrooms, but the format varied: Some were done as straight presentations by a single speaker, while others were set up as a conversation between a Mashable reporter and the presenter.  

The conference ended with a social event at Magic Kingdom—the Mashable Connect Race. Teams of attendees were challenged to check in on Gowalla at 17 different locations around the park, and to snap photos at each check-in and share it on their social networks with the hashtag #MashCon. Participants earned special Gowalla pins and stamps specifically for Mashable Connect.  

Organizers lined up seven sponsors for the conference, including .idea, Tagged, iContact, Nokia, and American Airlines.

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