I met the Trip Sisters at an event with the Texas Tourism Board and in a very brief 10-minute, wine-complimented whirlwind of a conversation, immediately knew they were two people I HAD to get to know.
Catie Keogh, of 24/7 City Secrets on NBC5 (as well as an Emmy-winning host and executive producer), and I hit it off right away talking a mile a minute about improv at Second City (she used to be on stage there!). I soon came to find out that she and her sister Colleen Kelly, of Family Travel With Colleen Kelly (and Emmy-nominated executive producer), had been picked up by the Travel Channel to be digital contributors for a new show called Trip Sisters. Trip Sisters is a show that follows along with these two travel experts as they uncover the best in food, culture and adventure (which is obviously right up my alley).
A few days after a lightning-speed exchange of business cards, I pitched the idea for this interview series (check out post #1 here and #2 here!) because 1) I was curious how these fabulous ladies got their start and made it all the way to the Travel Channel and 2) I figured if I had this burning desire, many other people might too.
Check out my rapid-fire conversation with Catie Keogh and Colleen Kelly of Trip Sisters for more on their travel media journey, how travel inspires them and what they love about Chicago!
MZ: Tell us a little about yourselves.
Colleen: I have a nationally-televised show – Family Travel with Colleen Kelly – that airs in 96% of the country (and internationally too, on several airlines and countries). I also cohost Trip Sisters with Catie.
Catie: I have an improv background from Second City – I fell in love with improvisation and also got a job at a news station; I thought I could do something similar in Chicago. We started 24/7 City Secrets (a TV show on NBC5 unlocking the best kept secrets of the city) and kept it going for 8 years. After the 24/7 run, I joined Colleen’s national PBS series, “Family Travel with Colleen Kelly” as the executive producer.
Everything I’ve learned in this industry is based off my improv background. Take improv classes. It helps with interviewing, negotiation skills – everything. You have to be a smart business woman in this industry.
MZ: What is Trip Sisters?
Colleen: Trip Sisters is a travel show focused on friends who love to travel. As digital contributors, we highlight secret places and local favorites – the local feel – of every destination we travel to. As sisters we have different perspectives and ways that we travel, which brings a unique perspective to those places.
MZ: What’s your creative process like?
Catie: for me, personally, I love traveling through an Instagram’s perspective. I can’t just sit and enjoy a sunset or an amazing waterfall, I feel like I have to capture it in a photograph. Colleen enjoys the moment more.
Colleen: we work with many different destinations – to be honest, I get a lot of inspiration from Instagram. Sometimes it’s a destination we’re traveling to anyway, sometimes we look for the “Trip Sisters” angle, sometimes just the two of us might be headed there. We also get a lot of pitches, which gets us excited.
That’s what we love so much about the Travel Channel – it allows us to see the world. Introducing people to places they’ve never been before. What to order. What to see. I feel a lot of responsibility for that.
MZ: What’s the last place you traveled/favorite place you’ve traveled?
Catie: the last place we went together was Colorado – we stayed at the Broadmoor. I have never been to Colorado in the summer; I’ve always skied there. It was so majestic and beautiful. We did some Facebook and Instagram live/channel coverage for the Travel Channel of a zip line excursion. I cried twice; I was so scared. But I was so proud of myself when I finished!
Colleen: my favorite place I’ve ever traveled is Salzburg, Austria. I have lived there, I got engaged there and married there. The scenery is incredible… it’s where the Sound of Music was filmed!
MZ: How do you find inspiration from travel?
Catie: I love meeting people. I meet so many people in the airport and everywhere else – you always learn something new. Recently, I had the opportunity to travel to Bangkok. I met so many amazing people – and of course got to tour the incredible city – even though it’s on the other side of the world, it makes you realize that we’re essentially all living in the same world and we’re not so different. Colleen said to me, “it’s like we’re in this little bubble – why don’t we explore this side of the world more?!”
MZ: Where’s your favorite place to find inspiration in Chicago?
Catie: I had friends in town recently and I took them to a lot of touristy places that I never really go to. One I felt proud of was Cloud Gate (or “The Bean”). Seeing the reflection of the city – it really made me think about our city in a different way.
Colleen: I was at Cloud Gate not long ago, and I was watching all of these people from every different type of background walk up to it. And I had the realization that “wow, people from all over the world want to come to Chicago.” It really makes you appreciate the city you live in – how much we have to offer here in Chicago – and what a beautiful city it is.
MZ: Anything else you want to share?
Colleen: persistence and hard work are key. And even in small doses. Doing what you love to do is important – even for just 15 minutes a day – until one day those 15 minutes equal 7 days a week.
Catie: don’t listen to the naysayers who will say you can’t do it. Surround yourself with positive people. And always show up – because you never know what will come out of it.