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!
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.
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!
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!
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.
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