A Guide To Your First TBEX Conference

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Travel Bloggers Exchange, aka TBEX, is a meeting of travel industry professionals and writers coming together to enhance their skills and network. I was lucky enough to attend TBEX Europe 2014 in the incredibly city of Athens, and believe me I wasn’t disappointed. The knowledge, contacts and friends that I came away with was value for money enough, let alone a very reasonably priced week away in a new city. It was announced last week that TBEX Europe 2015 was being hosted on the beautiful Costa Brava Coast in April, along with a brand new TBEX in Asia – hosted by Discover Thailand! Exciting times!
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If there is anything I urge you do, its to take a week for TBEX, spend 3/4 days either side of the conference. This is because of the endless workshops, parties, pre-conference trips planned that you’d be a fool to miss. I am a very new travel blogger and didn’t have very high hopes for my first TBEX, I didn’t feel like I should even be there! It was mission impossible trying to get any companies to meet with me in the speed networking sessions! You mustn’t take it personally, what I did learn was that the best chance to get contacts and network was during the happy hours at the evening parties or during lunch when I chatted to the DMO for Costa Brava and the lovely ladies from Failtre Ireland.
Sailing with Incredible!
Sailing with Incrediblue!
Tips for making your TBEX a success..
1. Business Cards – Believe it or not there were still plenty of people without these….Seriously?! They are so essential and really quite cheap to get a few made for TBEX, people really don’t have any excuse especially when I had mine delivered to me just 2 hours before I boarded the plane to Athens. Think about how you can make yours stand out, make them clear, have a job title and contact details. I would recommend a picture, when you collect hundreds at TBEX you need a face to remember people and more importantly for them to remember you!

2. Network
– I am fairly shy as far as people go but there is no time to be shy and its a waste of your time and money. It’s a hugely worthwhile opportunity and you must try and connect with as many people as possible. Spread the word about who you are and what you do.
3. Miss a lecture – I know that sounds like bunking a lesson at school but listen up, if you are a small fish in a big pond then its well worth missing a lecture and trying to connect with the sponsors and companies when everyone else is out. Whilst the bloggers are having lectures stay out and mingle with businesses.
4. Take a working lunch - The TBEX lunches are incredible with huge luxurious buffets with all kinds of food; you are probably at this point feeling a little tired from a busy morning and endless parties and networking that you just want to grab a plate and sit in the corner to reflect. Well don’t! As I mentioned above I made some of the most important contacts whilst sat at lunch with the Costa Brava team chatting all things Top Gear. You don’t need to be pushy, just make some conversation and let it flow from there, make the most of it!
Blue Sea....
Blue Sea….
5. Connect with the Lecturers – These speakers are picked for a reason and have made something of themselves in the travel and blogging world. After a lecture take the time to meet them and introduce yourself. I was able to swap business cards with most of them, take a look at their ebooks and gain some great photography advice.
6. Go social media crazy! – Through the week at TBEX make sure you are always tweeting, tagging and facebooking. TBEX are great at making sure there is adequate wifi at most of the events and the conference itself. We found a lot of companies presenting ‘tag boards’ that show everybody’s comments when using a certain hashtag, such as #ThisisAthens. Its a great way to get yourself seen, and also a lot of companies want to see you making that effort!7. Don’t be big-headed – Firstly don’t assume that you aren’t as good as the next person, its easy to feel overwhelmed with the amount of followers other people have or what they have achieved. Some people have just been blogging for years. Equally, you should never think you are better than anyone else in the room. Everyone has a slightly different view on how we should travel but the one thing we have in common is that we are all here to be the best we can be! Support each other!8. Dress to Impress – Now this was my biggest worry when attending TBEX Athens. What do you wear? What can I fit in my suitcase? Or what is the least creased item of clothing I have?? What I guess I am saying is that dressing well does not have to mean a suit, pencil skirt and stilettos. I was more comfortable dressing to suit my brand and I think that is the key here. My boyfriend writes for an adventure travel blog and in this case I think you can afford to be a little more relaxed, I however write for a luxury travel blog so I went slightly smarter, in dresses and smart pumps or sandals. You’ll learn that people will have their own style, I saw people in branded t-shirts with their blog logo on, others dressed in suits, and some wore the classic jeans and trainers. So just try and dress to suit your blog but don’t forget its a business conference and it could be your next job or press trip so look sharp whatever your wear!

View from Kastelorizo, Athens
View from Kastelorizo, Athens
Media Kits
I had no intention of going to Athens with a media kit, my blog was 3 months old and had a pathetic number of followers, compared to some of the big players in the business. HOWEVER, you must! When I did get the chance to speak to Visit Britain and Failtre Ireland they wanted to see the facts and were impressed with our efforts regardless. The day we were due to fly to TBEX my boyfriend was madly putting together a media kit for our trip and like our last-minute  business cards its totally 100% worth it! Similarly try and include a picture of you on the media kit, attach a business card and introduce yourself a little before going into the stats and demographics.It is important to stay in touch with the TBEX facebook page for ticket announcements and pre-bex tours so that you get the most out of the trip. TBEX 2015 Europe and Asia ticket sales are well and truly open, now with the addition of TBEX North America! As I said before TBEX 2014 gave me so much more confidence in what I was doing. I knew I loved blogging about travel, I knew that my writing wasn’t too bad, but having met all these people that share the same passion I have really inspired and reminded me why I’m doing all this!See you in Costa Brava soon! Get your tickets here.

Fine Dining in Athens
Fine Dining in Athens

31 comments

  • Great post! Love the new look too :)

  • Ah, a good reminder to update my biz cards. Also a good reminder at how I’ll never be able to pack the right things! I need a new wardrobe – one that doesn’t weigh anything!

    • Hi Carol, Thanks for the comment. I wrote this as much for myself as for anyone else, to help me remember everything! There is so much you can get out of TBEX if you prep :)

  • Thank you so much for this article. Now I feel way better prepared for TBEX in Spain. See you there!

    • Thanks Sarah! I’m so glad its been useful for you! See you there :)

  • Thanks for the great article. I’m doing TBEX North America this year, and it’s my first. Really excited to read this!

    Thanks again.

    – Boone

    • Thank you Jason, I’m really glad it’s helped! Enjoy NA TBEX I’m hoping to go to one of those one year. The main thing is just to enjoy it and get the most from it that you can. I just remember my first one last year – I had no idea what to expect and what to pack!

  • Media kits: you created them in PAPER? or handed out thumb drives?

    • Hi Karen, our media kits were on A4 paper and just fitted on one side. We printed out around 25 but had them on our laptops in case we needed to print any more. Hope this helps, Lizzy

  • Thank you for putting this article together. Barcelona will be my first TBEX and as a relatively new blogger I am feeling totally out of my depth. However, I will work on my media pack (complete with pathetic stats now), take a deep breath and get on out there. And if I can work out how I even register for the Speed dating event that will be a start

    • Hi Jane, I hope this has helped you a little. I promise you I felt exactly the same as you do right now with my first TBEX. But everyone has to start somewhere and like in any career/industry people want to see enthusiasm and effort regardless. It sounds like you’re half way there already :) Definitely give the speed-networking a go, if you don’t hear anything it’s not the end of the world. You will still make so many great contacts just by attending. If you ever fancy meeting up whilst out there then i’d be happy to, Lizzy

    • I was seirously at DefCon 5 until I saw this post.

  • This is a really great resource, thank you! I’m headed to Florida for this year’s conference (and I’m a TBEX newbie) so this will come in super handy!
    A Globe Well Travelled

    • Thank you very much Ashlea, I’m so glad you can take something from this. Enjoy TBEX NA, look forward to seeing you posts :)

  • So helpful! I’m living in Barcelona and super excited to be attending my first TBEX after taking my blog seriously the past 6 months. Would love to meet you in person to thank you for preparing me!

    Glo
    http://www.TheBlogAbroad.com
    IG: @glographics

    • Hi Glo – Thanks for your comment, yes of course I’d love to meet. We will be arriving in Lloret just before the opening party so maybe we can catch up at that evening! I’m sure you’ll love TBEX like everyone else, its a great few days :)

  • I am considering signing up for a future TBEX and find your tips immensely helpful. Great stuff!

    • Hi Charles, you definitely should! Its 100% worth the money and time! Thanks for the nice comment :)

  • Hey Lizzy,

    this is a great piece of content, can’t wait to meet you at the TBEX! If you are in Barcelona before the conference, let me know and we can meet up.

    All the best,
    Matt

    • Hi Matt, Thank you very much. We are only in Barcelona for a short time but will be at the opening beach party so can see you there! :)

  • Hi Lizzy,
    Thanks for the great information, I definitely feel more prepared now! I’m really looking forward to everything, and I hear we will be on the same trip after the conference. I can’t wait to suck up all the knowledge from you and all the other fantastic people I’m sure I will meet.
    Cheers!
    Tara

    • Hi Tara, Thank you, i’m so glad you found it useful. Yes we are! I’m looking forward to meeting you all, looks like a great trip around Girona :) Hopefully see you at the opening beach party! Thanks, Lizzy

  • These are great tips! I’ve been to 3 TBEX conferences and I agree with every one of these.

    I would add: DO use the parties and social events for networking as well as having fun, but DON’T overindulge because you still have to get up and do it all over again the next day!

    And as for business cards and press kits, no matter how many I bring, I always wish I had more. Bring lots!

    • Hi Paige, thanks for the comment. I couldn’t agree more, however amazing TBEX is I was completely exhausted by the end of Athens and needed another break!
      You’re right you do need to pace yourself, especially at the evening events! :) see you there!

  • I am so glad I read this article! My blog is only 2 months old and my numbers are pathetic. I don’t have a media Kit Ready. I’m going to be busy this morning making it. Oh geeeeze!

    Deys

    • Hi Deys,

      Thanks for your comment, it’s always hard to know what to do and prepare when you’ve just started :)
      Try not to worry and just do what you can. Hope to see you there!
      Lizzy

  • Such a great post! People have been asking me whether I would go to this year’s TBEX, but I had not even considered it. Reason: I’m around for about three months now, so why should I? I’m completely new. A teeny, tiny baby fish in the enormous ocean that is the travel blogging business.
    Now having read your article on this, makes me a little bit more confident. So, maybe next year…?
    I hope you are having a great time there now!

    • Hi Maaike, I’m glad this post has been helpful. It’s really worth going to one at least. I am most likely going to attend TBEX Asia this year also, the more you go the more you get – not just from the conference but you learn so much from the host country. I would say it doesn’t matter how old your blog is, it’s there to help you. I met someone last week at TBEX who hadn’t even gone live with their blog yet, they just decided to come along to get ideas. Go for it! :)

  • Inspiring.
    I have just started on my blog and was skeptical if I should attend tbex, despite having registered 3 months early…
    Hope to meet you at Asia con :)

    • Hello! Hopefully this has given you a little confidence that TBEX is a must! Its a great conference and you’ll get a lot out of it for sure :) Enjoy!

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