Editor’s note: This is a Guest Post by Sophie Needelman
Traveling the world is the dream of a lifetime. This dream is made even better when traveling is your job- and when, as a member of the LGBTQ+ community, you get to represent a segment of the population while exploring, demanding, and experience gay friendliness in the destinations you visit.
GayTravel.com’s Gay Travel Guru campaign made this dream a reality for one lucky winner, as well as for the incredible finalists along the way. For Guru winner Bryan Kosarek, this dream will continue to be reality as he leaves last month’s Guru finale at Aspen Gay Ski Week to begin his gay-traveling journey around the country.
Not only is being the Gay Travel Guru an absolute dream job, but also it is the ultimate way to serve the gay community as its representative in travel. With its Guru campaign, GayTravel.com brought to the attention of the LGBTQ+ community the importance in engaging in gay and gay friendly travel- as well as the importance of engaging in specific LGBTQ+ oriented travel while visiting any of the world’s incredible travel destinations.
GayTravel.com provided all of the Guru finalists with the opportunity to expose themselves to the gay travel community which truly gave a voice to this progressive body of travellers. The Guru campaign unfolded over the course of six months, where applicants submitted various forms of travel content and social media engagement to best advocate for their inner Gay Travel Guru. Some of these contributions included photos, videos, blog articles, and more.
Finalist Jared reflects on his Guru experience:
“The entire process, from start to finish, was an amazing experience. I learned a lot about myself by venturing out of my comfort zone. Gaytravel.com expects a lot from the Gay Travel Guru, so you must be willing to push your boundaries to generate interesting content for viewers. I met a lot of amazing people on this journey and made memories that I will carry with me for the rest of my life. It was a lot of work but it was more than worth it!”
What began for Jarred, Bryan, and all of the other finalists as simply pressing a button to submit an application turned into the adventure of a lifetime as the finalist pool was flown to Aspen Gay Ski Week where an epic finale took place to crown Bryan Kosarek as the Gay Travel Guru. The incredible Guru finale was just icing on the cake of a legendary campaign by GayTravel.com in the attempt to bring the LGBTQ+ community together under the umbrella of the love of travel- as well as to grant one lucky winner the chance of a lifetime!
Joey Konecek, GayTravel.com’s Community Director who spearheaded the Gay Travel Guru campaign, reveals essential details about the campaign, the finalists, and the grand finale at last month’s Aspen Gay Ski Week:
SN: What were the main events held over the course of the Guru finale? (overview of events basically)
JK: “The finalists were really put to the test throughout our time in Denver and Aspen. Aside from having only 1 day to create a video about the destination and hotel sponsors they were also asked to sell raffle tickets, do a modelling shoot, compete in the downhill costume contest and host parties. And if that wasn’t enough they were also being filmed throughout the week which meant doing confessionals and getting very little time to themselves. Aside from that each finalist was also doing a ton of social media and self promoting online and in person at Gay Ski Week.”
SN: What about Aspen made it a great place to hold the Guru finale?
JK: “Winter in Aspen is magic! The city is clean and beautiful and all around a great place to film.”
SN: What other cities were involved in the Guru process? Why were they chosen and how did they contribute to the atmosphere of the entire Guru campaign?
JK: “Aside from our sponsor destinations like Thailand, Dallas, and Key West we would really like to thank Denver, in particular the Hotel Curtis, The Westin Denver Downtown, and the arts community for being such gracious hosts.”
SN: How did Aspen Gay Ski Week set the stage for the finale?
JK: “We really could not have asked for a better backdrop for the finale! Vegas was great last season, but Aspen was the perfect setting and being Gay Ski Week made it even better. Pamela Herr who manages the events really rolled out the red carpet for our finalists and the gaytravel.com team. We also had amazing participation from her staff and the board of directors such as Todd Heimel, President.”
SN: How did the finale contribute to the atmosphere at Aspen Gay Ski Week?
JK: “The patrons and staff of Aspen Gay Ski could not have been more accommodating. Having the cameras around made our finalists very popular among the crowds and trust me; they ate it up. Our team also had the opportunity to help in raising funds for amazing non profit organizations that Aspen Gay Ski Week supports.”
SN: What were some highlights from the finale?
JK: “The finale was extremely emotional for everyone involved. We were all a family in Aspen; the staff, the finalists, and the camera crew all became very close over the duration of the trip and it showed at the finale event. I personally cried my eyes out, it was six months of hard work for everyone followed by a week of exhausting events, tasks, and challenges, it was the end and I couldn’t hold it back. Some were happy and some were sad but for the most part they finalists really supported Bryan in his victory.”