Travel. That single word sparks thoughts of exotic beaches, hidden towns, memories, and enjoyment. Techlife has covered unique mapping toolsmaking your own mapsfinding the perfect place to stay and more. Our diverse readership, You; often comment how much travel is a part of your life.

Meet Travelista (Techlife slang for Travel Expert) Anne Hornyak, who holds a Masters in Music; loves photography and travel; and has a day job advising Travel and Convention Bureau’s. We asked her to help Techlife readers with an education in what travel means in today’s super connected world of mobile sharing, bite size ideas, and off the path finds.

Techlife: How did you get started in the Travel and Tourism industry?
Anne Hornyak: I began my tourism career with Chicago Plus, a regional tourism office for Chicagoland. As a staff of one, I mostly managed marketing projects for the 17 Chicagoland Convention & Visitors Bureaus but also handled everything from finance to social media.

TL: What do you do today for the industry?
AH: I work mostly as a Social Media Strategist for tourism clients. I’m a cofounder of #tourismchat, a biweekly twitter chat focusing on social media in the tourism industry, and frequently tweet and blog about the same topic.

TL: Why is online travel and tourism so big? And how big is it?
AH: People love to travel and share their experiences with others. Social networks, especially Facebook, are perfect for this type of sharing. Many are also planning their trips, searching for the best discounts and then booking these trips, all online. Everything from Frommer’s to Budget Travel, Expedia to Priceline, Flickr to YouTube and travel blogs to a simple Facebook update about a friend’s recent trip…it’s all online. The travel industry is massive. Over 7.4 million U.S. jobs are directly related to it.

TL: How do you disconnect from the digital realm?
AH: I used to joke about needing a “social media detox” every once in a while but it has become rather habitual lately. Whether hiking in a state park or photographing lighthouses along Lake Michigan’s coast, I have to make time “off the grid.”

TL: What digital tips do you have for a traveler pre-trip?
AH: Research! Ask your Facebook friends and Twitter followers for recommendations and tips. Take advantage of CVBs (Convention & Visitors Bureaus) in your preferred social networks. Many of them are on Twitter, Facebook, Flickr and YouTube, and have blogs and interactive websites that can help you plan your trip. Find them on your network and connect before you travel.

TL: In-trip?
AH: Have fun! If you have a smartphone, send photos and updates to your friends on Facebook and Twitter but be sure that it doesn’t get in the way of your experience. If you’re on Flickr, upload your photos regularly so you can add descriptions and geotag them accurately.

TL: Post trip?
AH: Talk about it! Create photo albums on Facebook, upload Flickr photos and YouTube videos, write a special blog post and add write reviews to TripAdvisor. Share your experience with others who are in the research stage.

TL: As of this question being written you had 3,673 Followers on Twitter who have seen 16,406 updates via your username “WhosYourAnnie“. What’s one thing you never talk about? Why?
AH: Tweets about my family and personal life are usually kept pretty vague. The internet is public and safety is the primary concern. I’ve received a few google alerts for random things I’ve tweeted about my dogs. I don’t need to give stalkers extra information.

TL: What percent of your followers and updates are related to your career?
AH: I would say that 65-75% of my followers are somehow related to the travel industry, either as travel bloggers, CVBs, or people who just like to travel and talk about it. Probably 50% of my updates are conversational replies, most of which are to friends within the tourism industry, leaving around 30% as content tweets directly related to my career.

TL: Is Twitter your main channel?
AH: Most definitely! To me, twitter is all about connecting and having conversations. It’s a little surreal but some of my closest friends, a few I have yet to meet in real life, started as twitter followers.

TL: Last question, Who’s Your Annie?
AH: I’m your Annie.