So what are the benefits of attending TBEX? You’ve probably already read my post on why I think all travel bloggers should attend TBEX, but now it’s time to get down to the nitty gritty; What do you get out of it? So glad you asked! There are plenty of bloggers out there bashing TBEX for whatever reason, and it’s all good, each to their own. And I get it, you work damn hard at this! If you’re going to spend 3-4 days out of your insanely busy schedule, precious time away from writing, researching, and marketing, it better be worth it right? I’ll share the benefits I gleaned from this conference and leave the rest up to you!
Benefit #1 – Connecting with other travel bloggers
Travel bloggers aren’t like other bloggers. We’re quirky, the world is literally (see what I did there) our muse. For some of us, our passports are well worn, chock full of multi-colored inks, in various languages, a token of freedom and privilege. For all of us, we see the open road as a blank page, a story in the making, a bouquet of memories in waiting. The truth is, whether we’re on the road or at home, we spend a great deal of time hunched over a glowing screen, alone. We’re all trying to articulate our insatiable love of travel, just so we can share our story with faceless strangers on the internet. For me, being able to meet other members of the travel blogging “tribe” made me feel less alone, gave me new purpose and inspired me to keep going (and get better!)
Benefit #2 – Learning About New Trends
There are definitely constants in the travel blogging business. Writing interesting, informative and relevant content will always be essential. However, with of apps, plug-ins, social media outlets and everything else changing at neck-breaking speeds, it’s tough to keep up. More importantly, it’s difficult to know what works and what doesn’t. One of the benefits of TBEX is learning about new trends by talking with other bloggers, and attending information sessions. For example, I rarely use Pinterest. I had no idea that Pinterest has over 100 million users, 85% of which are women! Most of my new friends consider it to be a vital part of their content marketing strategy, so I dragged my butt back on Pinterest to start cultivating a community and it’s working!
Benefit #3 – Exposure to Travel Brands & Tourism Boards
Chasing down your favourite travel brand or tourism board over email, over the phone or social media takes time. Especially when you want to approach several. Now what if you had them all in one room, with a time limit of 8 minutes per pitch. You could cover a lot of ground in a short amount of time right? A great benefit of attending TBEX is attending the Speed-networking sessions. These mini interviews give you and travel brands the opportunity to see if you’re the right fit for each other.
Benefit # 4 – Learning from the Best in the Biz
TBEX recruits the best in the travel blogging business to conduct professional development sessions. From blogging juggernauts like Chris Christensen, to award-winning photographers like Gary Ardnt, the talent pool at TBEX is dizzying. Professional development sessions cover everything from how to monetize your blog using print-on-demand, to how to penetrate the Chinese travel market, to how to successfully build a community around your brand. The topics will vary from conference to conference, but there’s always great content. Because I couldn’t be two or three places at once (I WISH), I coordinated with other bloggers who were attending sessions. At the end, we all swapped notes so no one missed out.
Benefit #5 – Parties & Free Swag
Who doesn’t love free stuff? TBEX offers up a smorgasbord of free stuff including swag, tours, parties, lunches, trips and more. There was a party every night in Minneapolis. Our opening party was held inside the Mall of America where Nickelodeon Universe was booked for our exclusive use. On the the second night, we hopped tram downtown to the legendary First Ave to get our dance on to all the Prince classics. And on the final night, the city of Saint Paul closed down Harriet Regional Park, brought in the cities finest food trucks and treated us all to a ride down the Mississippi on vintage paddlewheeler.
Benefit #6 – Experience a New Destination
I’ve driven through Minnesota plenty of times, but as a west coast Canadian, I’d never considered it a destination. I know, I know, shame on me. Don’t worry, I’m a full-fledged convert! I fell in love with this part of the world. One of the great benefits of attending TBEX is the phenomenal selection of free walking excursions, bus tours, and tasting tours. It gave me the opportunity to learn about the history and culture of Minneapolis/Saint Paul.
Benefit # 7 – Brushing Shoulders with Celebs
TBEX has a history of attracting great keynote speakers, and this year I was fortunate enough to glean some much needed wisdom from Walt Disney World guru Lou Mongello. I live tweeted the entire event, and learned that he and I have shared many of the same struggles. On the final eve, Andrew Zimmern’s unscripted honesty and hilarity left us all feeling a little star-struck.
Now that I’ve finished shouting from my soapbox, it’s time to bring it all home. TBEX may not be for everyone, but like anything, there is the potential to extract as much as you invest into it. If you come with an open mind, it doesn’t matter what stage you’re in with your travel blogging business – TBEX offers up infinite possibilities to take your travel blog to the next level.
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For more information on TBEX: http://tbexcon.com/2016-north-america/