LACOT: Bringing L.A.’s Online Travel Community and Charities Together

In addition to writing and traveling, I’m now also a co-chair of the Los Angeles Consortium of Online Travel (LACOT).

Our group aims to bring L.A.-based travel bloggers together with our tourism industry and charities to form a community and help each other grow. So far, we’re off to a flying start.

Our second meeting is tomorrow night – Wednesday, January 5 at 6pm – at the fabulous W Hollywood.

If you’re here in L.A. and into encouraging travel (and good works) through the web, please join us!

A few months back, I was happily contacted by Jennifer Miner, an L.A.-based travel blogger whom I greatly admire (and who makes me laugh out loud on a regular basis) and asked to start a group that would get both of us 1) outside of our houses and 2) talking to other people. This may sound ironic, but ask any travel blogger you know: when not traveling for work, we’re generally home-bound, arranging photos, writing, crafting pithy tweets/updates, staring at a TV show/book/another blog…Putting on clean clothes and leaving the house is good.

When Jen got in touch, she was full of inspiration. In her capacity as one of The Vacation Gals, she’d just been up to Seattle and learned all about SCOOT, a group of travel bloggers up yonder who’ve successfully organized their own community and increased their awareness of other local travel professionals and charities. Jen felt we could make this happen here in Los Angeles, too, and wondered if I knew anyone else in our area.

I immediately thought of the gloriously civic-minded Abbie Mood, with whom I traveled to the Dominican Republic in July. While I’d give her blood from my body, I think it’s safe to say that my middle-aged blood in her 20-something, vegetarian, green-tea-drinking, marathon runner’s body probably wouldn’t be welcome. Still, it’s the thought that counts.

I asked Abbie to jump on board with me and Jen, and lucky for us, she said yes. She’s based down Anaheim way (read: towards Disneyland), and hopes to someday help us fold in the Orange County/San Diego contingent.

LACOT's chairs, L to R: Jennifer Miner, Melanie Waldman (aka "me") and Abbie Mood

With our mission gleefully decided, I then summarily left for a six-week odyssey of travel in Africa, London and South Australia. (“Thank you, Cleveland — good night!” [drops microphone on stage, exits])

A few days after I returned in November, I reunited with my co-chairs at LACOT’s Meeting #1. Thanks to the efforts of Jen and Abbie, in conjunction with Carol Martinez of the Los Angeles Convention and Visitors Bureau and hotel publicist Leslie (also of CG Travels fame), said meeting was held at downtown Los Angeles’ most opulent hotel, the Millennium Biltmore.

L.A.'s Millenium Biltmore Hotel

Belying its history as a social center in one of L.A.’s most bustling business and artistic districts, the Biltmore is gorgeous on a grand scale, combining the angular flair of Art Deco with the gilded elegance of Spanish Baroque. An eco-friendly landmark situated right on Pershing Square and the Metro’s red line, it’s walking distance from some of the city’s most esteemed cultural institutions: the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Disney Concert Hall, the Center Theatre Group, the stunning Central Library, and a slew of independent galleries.

In short, if you (erroneously) think of L.A. as a city without a center or a soul, you’ve clearly never been to the Biltmore.

Our humble gathering was held in the hotel’s beautiful Gallery Bar, the kind of place where it always feels like a cozy evening in a more golden era than our own. The best part of the meeting? People actually came! You know when you decide to host a party, send out a few feelers and then nervously wonder if your idea will seem like a good one to anyone else? Well, ours did, and we had a lively group of 25 writers, video producers, travel pros and PR reps.

Santa Monica’s ocean advocacy group, Heal the Bay, was our charity presenter, and it felt wonderful to be providing a forum for a local organization I’ve given money to for years. (HtB, among many other good works, has been active in the campaign to get tissue-thin plastic bags out of L.A.’s stores and hence out of our landfills, off our beaches and away from the water and bellies of sea creatures.)

Malibu's El Matador, my favorite local beach

Cheered by a warm group that’s eager to build a community, Jen, Abbie and I  have decided to continue on with LACOT: we’ll meet every two months, always in a different place around L.A.

LACOT’s Meeting #2 will be tomorrow, Wednesday, January 5th at 6pm, in the Station Bar at the swank W Hollywood. As our highlighted charity, we’re proud to feature the Hollywood Arts Council’s Project S.O.A.R. which provides much-needed arts education to 2,000 local elementary school kids.

If you’re a local travel blogger/tourism professional/travel PR rep (or fit any of these descriptions where you actually live and just happen to be in town this week) please feel free to stop by — we love to meet our people, and are happy to grow our community!


See also

My Twitter list of L.A.’s “travel people”
(be sure to let me know if you’d like your handle to be added)


My review of the W Hollywood’s Bliss Spa for The Spa Gals


  1. I really enjoy following your adventures…..Bravo.

    Keep them coming!


  2. How neat! Jen has such an energy that I want to know her secret drink. 🙂 Good luck with your 2nd meeting!


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