Welcome to Travel Saturday. Today I want to talk about one my goals for 2013 as a travel blogger, which was to attend a travel blogger conference.
I had high expectations of being able to achieve this dream because relocating back to the United Kingdom meant I would be able to afford to attend the European installment one of the two main travel blogging conferences in the world – TBEX or TBU (Travel Bloggers United) – without too much cost or inconvenience.
In fact, I signed up for early bird tickets for both conferences months ago – if you do this it only costs around $50.
The last TBEX Toronto in June 2013 was it was a very successful event with around 1200 participants. This includes both travel industry exhibitors and travel bloggers. Travel companies come along to identify travel bloggers who they can cooperate with to promote their products.
However, there were some people saying that this travel blogging conference has got too big. Some think the scale of the event has meant the loss of any sense of community; that the event has lost its heart and soul.
TBU is purely focused on the travel bloggers, although the host destination tourism authority gets to show off its wares. I have a friend who has attended TBU and found it immensely supportive and useful, if sometimes a little disorganised. It is on a smaller and less commercial scale than TBEX.
Why do I want to attend a travel blogging conference?
Both TBEX and TBU offer lectures and discussion panels where the biggest names in the travel blogging world share their tips and experiences on topics such as how to stand out from the crowd as a travel blogger and how to grow your business with your contact/email list.
There are also numerous networking events, including ‘speed dating’ where bloggers and brands can connect with a view to doing business.
Finally, travel blogging conferences offer free opportunities to participate in press-led tours around the host destination – a great way to gather material for writing and publishing.
The European version of TBEX is in a couple of weeks in Dublin but wouldn’t you know it, my husband has a trip away that weekend and I can’t go.
That’s OK I thought, I will still go to the TBU event in Jerusalem, also in October. But sadly this has had to be cancelled due to a lack of on-the-ground tourism authority support and general concerns over security in the Middle East.
But all is not lost.
Every year in London World Travel Market takes over the huge Excel conference centre. It is one of the biggest travel trade events in the world with representatives from travel industry businesses all over the world taking part. I have attended a number of times in the past as a website travel editor.
Over recent years it seems there has been a growing focus on travel blogging and this year the guys behind TBU are running a fully-fledged travel blogging program at WTM. So I will get some input on my industry. And because of the TBU cancellation I will get a free ticket to one of their conferences next year.
So is it worthwhile attending a travel blogging conference?
Perhaps one of the most interesting comments I have heard about attending a travel blogger conference is from a very outgoing travel blogger friend who attended the Problogger conference in Australia last year.
She was a bit taken aback to find that the majority of her fellow conference participants were very shy and retiring. To the point where she was going to networking events, blathering away in her usual friendly fashion and feeling quite awkward because of the lack of social skills of the people she was meeting.
This is interesting because sometimes the persona we project as bloggers does not reflect our actual personality. And also bloggers will often be people who feel most comfortable communicating from a relatively anonymous position.
I’ll have to let you know once I have experienced one for myself.
Natasha von Geldern is a travel writer, editor, and blogger who is passionate about making the pages of the atlas real by traveling the world. She is a contributor to Travel Wire Asia, Wild Junket Magazine, Yahoo! Total Travel and Travelbite. You can find her on World Wandering Kiwi.