(This is a guest post by Jody Halsted about a cool conference in Iowa that is all about connecting and educating Midwest bloggers. I followed the conference hashtag on Twitter during last year’s version of it and was impressed, so I asked Jody to tell us a little bit more about it.)

In an effort to change the perception of the Midwest from a place to get away from to a place to explore and discover, the Destination Midwest event at the I_Blog Conference (update – now called the Social Technology Conference) will bring together Midwest bloggers and Midwest destinations for an evening of (virtual) travel, networking and the opportunity for mutually beneficial relationships!

According to the 2010 Ypartnership/Harrison Group 2010 Portrait of American Travelers, “1 in 4 family travel planners consult a blog before booking” a vacation.  According to the Edelman Trust Barometer 2010, people trust “people like them” more than TV news, search engines, and newspapers.

Blogs create community, build friendships and foster relationships. In our ever-increasingly connected world, a good blog will open your eyes to a world you never imagined and lead you places you never knew you wanted to visit!

Blogging has grown to include more than just written words on a page and is now the center of the social media wheel.  By utilizing images, video techniques, Twitter, Facebook, FourSquare and Gowalla – just to name a few – a blogger can become a tour guide, travel resource, location expert and handy reference.

The Ypartnership/ Harrison Group study also shows that family travelers are more likely to have taken a vacation in their local area as an alternative to vacationing in a destination that would have required traveling a greater distance.  By connecting with bloggers within a day’s drive from your destination, you will reach their local audience and increase your chances of being the “local area” vacation of their readers.

The Destination Midwest event at the I_Blog Conference takes place Saturday, November 6 from 6-10pm.  Space is limited to 20 destinations; cost is $250 per destination.

Update: Please visit http://socialtechnologyconference.com/ for more information on the 2012 event, or contact Jody Halsted via email (jody@iblogconference.com), Twitter (@JodyHalsted) or by phone at 515-707-6547.

If your destination is interested in learning more about social media, conference tickets are available at a discount for participants in Destination Midwest.

Note: Jody Halsted is working very hard to change the perception of the Midwest from a place to get away from to a place to explore and discover through her website Family Rambling and articles she writes for other travel publications.  She loves to work with destinations and share the unique adventures that are found only in the Midwest.  As an example, she worked with the St. Louis CVC last summer; you can see the series she wrote about it here: http://familyrambling.com/index.php/exploring-st-louis/usa.