I'm fresh off of my first TBEX in Fort Lauderdale and I feel more motivated and energized than ever about the future of Will Drink For Travel. I've heard other bloggers rave about TBEX so I knew I had to experience it for myself.
Sessions, lunch, more sessions, meetings with destinations, and dinners consumed me for 2.5 days. I was so exhausted after meeting people throughout the day, taking notes and being engaged, that I was ready to hit the sheets by the time the evening reception was over. Hell, I was tired before the nightly reception but I went anyway to socialize...and for the free food and drinks.
While exhausting, TBEX was also very rewarding. It was great being surrounded by other people who have the same passion for travel and travel blogging that I do. I loved learning about new ways to make my blog better and how to get more traction.
While some information given during sessions wasn't groundbreaking, I did learn some new tips as well as things I could be doing better to manage and promote my blog. All in all, I highly recommend attending TBEX at least once, whether you're a new or seasoned travel blogger. So if you go, how can you make the most of your experience?
1. Network, Network, Network!
Networking is at the core of a successful TBEX experience. I was able to connect with travel bloggers that I already follow, meet other travel bloggers and learn more about their blogs, and meet travel bloggers I've admired from afar.
While every blogger is hopeful to work with various travel brands, connecting with other travel bloggers is just as important on this journey. Social media and guest blogging on other sites are great ways of getting your blog's name out there, but word of mouth through other travel bloggers is just as powerful.
2. Connect with new friends on social media.
After meeting travel experts or hearing them speak, connect with them on your social networks. You may or may not have heard of them, but either way, TBEX thought enough of them to have them as a featured speaker. They must have something valuable to say and I'm almost positive they drop helpful hints on their social media networks.
Don't forget to connect with fellow bloggers, travel destinations and companies. By connecting with fellow bloggers and travel brands alike, you're able to expand your reach and stay up-to-date on travel trends. Not only is this the easiest way to stay in touch, but it's also a way to build your following. Hey, whatever works.
3. Meet with as many destinations and travel companies as possible.
There were several travel destinations represented at TBEX North America. I'm sure there were other destinations at TBEX Asia and TBEX Europe too. Bloggers and companies alike had access to BloggerBridge, which we were able to use to schedule eight minute meetings with each other during the Speed Networking sessions at the end of the day.
Companies were able to send a request to meet with us, or we were able to send invites to them. Each party had a choice to accept or decline the other's request. I sent requests to almost every company present. I was accepted by some and rejected by others. Most companies rejected people based on their inability to meet with everyone due to lack of time.
But I didn't let that stop me. Representatives were still open to chatting with me about their destination, tour or product, and ways we could possibly work together. My advice is to catch up with representatives during breaks, before sessions, after sessions and any time in between.
4. Attend the sessions you think will be most valuable to you.
There were some sessions I was more excited about than others. But I still attended a session during each time slot and found value in each of them. If you're part of a blogging duo or attending with a friend, split up and cover more ground. Share notes at the end of the day.
5. Bring your laptop to each session.
This may seem obvious, but many people didn't - including me the first day. However, I wised up and brought it with me the second day and it was a game changer. I was able to take notes, tweet about the sessions, and check email without breaking a sweat.
6. Have enough business cards on hand.
I ordered 200 new business cards before I left for TBEX. I have 100 left. That means I gave out 100 business cards in 2.5 days. That's insane! I'm not sure I've given out 100 business cards since I started Will Drink For Travel almost 2 years ago.
While some people discard business cards, it's really the only way you can represent yourself in a room full of people with similar blogs. Some people didn't have cards on hand and it didn't look very good. They seemed unprepared. And why would a travel brand want to work with someone who seems unprepared? Don't let that be you.
7. Develop and memorize your 30-second elevator pitch.
I can not count the number of times I explained Will Drink For Travel's mission. Come up with a clear and concise pitch that makes it easy for the listener to understand the goal of your blog. Then memorize it. You'll be saying it for the next 3 days.
8. Dress appropriately.
While TBEX isn't a stuffy business conference, you should try to dress casual or business casual. I saw many people who looked like they didn't give any thought to their outfit selection. But I believe travel blogging is work and as I've been taught, you should always dress to impress.
9. If you have time, explore the city you're in.
I didn't get to do this as much as I'd like because the conference was nonstop and I was exhausted after it was over. But you always have the option of killing two birds with one stone: attend TBEX and extend your stay to explore wherever you are. This way, you'll make the most of your trip.
Next year's TBEX conferences are in The Philippines, Stockholm, Sweden and Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I hope you will find these tips helpful if you decide to attend. You have the desire to take your blog to the next level. Be sure to act the part!
Have any other tips? Please share!