TBEX ’11 (Travel Blog Exchange Conference) is almost here, and whether this is your first TBEX or not, you’re likely beginning to finalize your plans for what has grown to be the biggest event in travel blogging. Last year, over 300 travel bloggers and media professionals met in New York City for two days of learning, talking, joking, collaborating, and partying. We talked about everything from storytelling, podcasting, social media, working with PR, SEO, and photo editing to “travel porn,” why the word “perfect” should be banned from travel writing, and of course, how many drinks we had at all those parties.
Beyond the informative, instructional and inspirational sessions, one of the biggest perks for attendees were the networking opportunities. We were able to finally put names and twitter handles to faces, to meet others in our niche, and to make valuable connections with other writers, editors, and media professionals. And we got to have a whole lot of fun doing it.
If you are one of the over 500 people planning to attend the Travel Blog Exchange in Vancouver on June 11 and 12 (and if not, it’s not too late – some last minute cancellations are putting tickets up for grabs!), here’s what you need to know.
What is TBEX?
At its most basic, TBEX is a conference for travel bloggers and travel industry professionals. Though the official lineup of speakers and sessions hasn’t been announced for 2011, if last year is any indication, you can expect sessions on writing and content, technology, photos, video, podcasting, social media and working with PR. The conference sessions run from 9am – 5pm over two days, with plenty of breaks for networking. There’s an opening night reception on Friday, an official party on Saturday, and a closing event on Sunday.
>> Click here for the 2011 TBEX schedule
What to expect
TBEX is a whirlwind, a jam-packed weekend that will leave you feeling both exhausted and exhilarated, overwhelmed and inspired. Some of the sessions won’t apply to what you do, others will be worth the cost of attendance on their own. You’ll meet people who feel like long-lost siblings and others who couldn’t be more different from you. Just as every blog is unique, travel bloggers can’t be categorized in one way. If you’re a bit apprehensive about attending a conference of strangers, take heart that there are countless others in the same predicament. Though some close friendships were made at the 2010 TBEX, there’s always room for more.
How to make the most of TBEX
Prepare for TBEX as you would for any professional conference. If you don’t have business cards, get some printed before the event; you’ll be handing them out to writers, editors and PR people left and right. Prepare an elevator pitch – a 2-3 sentence summary that clearly and concisely summarizes who you are, what you do, and how others might collaborate with you – so that you can quickly tell people about yourself and your blog without fumbling for words. You may also want to make a list of people, both fellow writers and industry connections, whom you are particularly interested in meeting. Bring a notepad to take notes on both the sessions and the people you meet, and find a way to keep all the business cards you’ve collected organized so that you can keep in touch with connections after the conference.
You’ll get as much out of TBEX as you put into it. It’s easy to get swept up into the many parties and social events – and there is great value in the networking opportunities – but it’s important not to overdue the partying so much that you miss out on the main purpose of TBEX: to learn and connect with your peers and other travel professionals. The drinks may be free-flowing, but the parties are only one aspect of the conference. It’s okay to have fun, but it’s also important to remain professional.
TBEX ’11 will be held at the waterfront Vancouver Convention Centre in downtown Vancouver. Check out our Canada travel guide for everything you need to know about planning a trip to this beautiful city, including how to find cheap airfare to Vancouver and some Vancouver hotels offering special rates for TBEX attendees. We’ve put together a Vancouver travel guide that includes information on:
- Things to do in Vancouver
- How to visit Vancouver on a budget
- The best budget hotels in Vancouver
- Cheap eats in Vancouver
- Sightseeing tours in Vancouver
- And much more – we’re constantly adding to the guide, so check back for more info, or get in touch and ask us for specific tips!
The Parties! (& Freebies)
Where there are conferences, there will be parties. Here’s a list of all the official & unofficial meetups happening at this year’s event.
- Pre-TBEX Mash Up – 6pm @ Dockside Restaurant: Twtvite
- Free day tours hosted by Tourism Vancouver: RSVP required
- “This Week in Travel” Meetup – 1pm @Il Nido – Twtvite
- Passports with Purpose Cupcake event – 4pm -@Metropolitan Hotel – RSVP
- Pre-TBEX Iraq Talk – 4:30pm @Persian Teahouse: Twtvite
- TBEX ’11 Kickoff Party – 8pm @ Vancouver Art Gallery
- Tnooz Appy Hour – 5pm @ Convention Center
- TripAdvisor After Party – 6pm @ Smiley’s. RSVP required (sold out)
- LGBT Blogger Gathering – 8:30pm @Fountainhead Pub – Twtvite
- AMResorts After Party – 6:30pm @ TBA
- Mexican Tweet-Up – 8:30pm @La Casita Mexican Restaurant – Twtvite
Did we miss one? Give us a shout in the comments and we’ll add it to this list.
What if I can’t go to TBEX?
Even if you aren’t going to be attending this year’s TBEX conference, you can still get something out of it. Conference organizers ran into technical difficulties at the 2010 TBEX in New York and were unable to live-stream the entire thing, but live-streaming the sessions is a goal for 2011.
Additionally, TBEXers are active on Twitter before, during, and after the conference – so following along with the conference hashtag is a great way to keep up with what’s going on in the sessions as well as the social events.
The general TBEX hashtag is simply #TBEX, and although the official 2011 conference hashtag hasn’t yet been announced it’s likely that it’ll be something obvious like #TBEX11. In any case, you’ll be able to find out easily by checking the TBEX 2011 page or by asking around on Twitter.
Finally, be on the lookout after the event for the deluge of “what I learned at TBEX” posts that attendees churn out – it’s interesting to read about what insights people gathered even if you’re also attending the conference, and some of the round-up posts are packed with handy travel blogging tips boiled down from two days of panels.