TBEX 2010 – A Family Reunion Disguised as a Travel Blogger Conference

by brian on July 1, 2010

The Travel Blog Exchange (TBEX) conference was held in New York City and brought together travel bloggers and writers and those the love them (travel PR reps) from all over the world. In its second year, it sold out quickly and for good reason. It was a great meeting of the minds, well rounded travelers who love to write, photograph anad otherwise document their travels and well used passports.

Lillie from Around the World L called it a family reunion, and I could not agree more. Thanks Lillie for the title of this post. People who I never met but had corresponded with since creating my blog for my round the world trip approached me and hugged me like I was a long long relative. Anytime you have a group of people who share something as deeply personal as travel you’re bound to get some strong and amazing reactions.

How much for the conference? $40 for the early registrants and $80 after the first cutoff. A bargain!

As for the 2 day event itself, here are some my thoughts and photos.

Arriving Saturday morning I was greeted with a line that literally went around the block.

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Waiting to get into TBEX!

Kim Mance started TBEX on a lark last year as a piggyback to the much larger BlogHer in 2009 in Chicago. She would have never have guessed things would grow this big this fast.

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Full capacity at TBEX10

Jim Benning of WorldHum called this “Woodstock” for travel bloggers. I don’t know if there was smoking and ‘free love’ (I didn’t go to EVERY party) but if you count the spirit of comarderie and all around good vibes, it definitely counts.

Travel Writing: Upping Your Game
Michael Yessis, WorldHum (moderator)
Jim Benning, WorldHum
Alison Stein Wellner, freelance travel writer
Donald George, legendary travel writer
David Farley, food & travel writer and author of An Irreverent Curiosity

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TBEX10 - Travel Writing: Upping Your Game

Have passion when telling the story. Use arc – a beginning, a middle and an end to a travel tale make it better reading.

Don George said a quest is important. It does not have to be life-changhing, but it has to be a goal. The quest to find the best breakfast in Phuket can be compelling.

Getting points of view and interviews is extremely important because you can make it relevant to other people. Your opinion is your own and other viewpoints expressed in post can confirm someone else’s thinking.

David Farley recommends researching before you go to maximize your time and to tailor your trip.

Don George says good writing is a matter of slowing down and paying real attention to what is happening around you.

Travel Video for the Web
Kim Mance, Galavanting.tv (moderator)
Robert Reid, Lonely Planet & 76-Second Travel Show
Kelley Ferro, Trip Films
Brett Rounsaville, Amtrekker
Lori Rothschild Ansaldi, television producer

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TBEX10 - Travel Video for the Web

Kim Mance wanted to edit a video on the fly on stage but couldn’t, so she talked generally about using iMovie. Kelly Ferro biggest recommendation: Hold the camera steady. I know common sense, but you’d be surprise how a sure hand will enhance your picture quality.

Because audio is so important, the investment in an external mic will enhance the video with good, clear audio.

Your personality will gain you fans as well as enemies and haters. Only be concerned about fans of your work. People will hate you regardless of what you do.

Ansaldi talked about needed 15 hours of video to get 2-3 minutes. Most of us aren’t hardcore but she makes a good point. Overfilm and then edit later.

Always try to get a close up, wide angle and an over the shoulder shot when doing video. Do that for still shots for that matter too.

Robert Reid from Lonely Planet suggested that if you want to shoot video of yourself while moving, check out X-Shot. It holds your camera in place in front you while you walk around.

Australia’s Outback Northern Territory sponsored lunch and travel writer Mike Barish talked about his time in the Northern Territory. Sponsors really represented during this event. I think I had to pull out my wallet once during the conference for someothing to eat or drink. All for $40. Can’t beat that. If the price does not increase next year it could be the steal of 2011. This event will sell out.

Working with PR
Angela Berardino, Emerging Media Director, Turner PR (moderator)
Janice Greenwood-Fraser, Manager, Travel Media Relations, Tourism British Columbia
Pam Mandel, Nerd’s Eye View & freelance travel writer
Andrew Hickey, Brooklyn Nomad & freelance travel writer
Amy Kemp, Director of Corporate Communications, Vail Resorts
Rene Mack, President, Weber Shandwick Travel and Lifestyle

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TBEX10 - Working with PR

The biggest part of this session talked about how bloggers can get free stuff like hotels rooms and whole trips. PR reps look at with the following factors in mind
Are you as a blogger engaged wit your readers?
If you’re not engaged, are you a celebrity?
In other word, do you have influence?
Do you have a relationship with your readers/watchers?

Tell the PR rep about your ambitons and goals so he/she can match what you do with companies that correspond with your interests.

Andrew Hickey from Brooklyn Nomad said to have an angle when you approach PR people. Everyone loves to travel. So what? Are you a solo traveler? Travel with kids? Senior traveler? Whatever demographic you fit is who you need to speak to.

Branding, Finding a Niche & Relevant Self-Promotion
Debbie Dubrow, Delicious Baby (moderator)
Mike Richard, Vagabondish
Jessica Spiegel, Italy Logue
Annemarie Dooling, Frill Seeker Diary
Heather Poole, Gadling.com and book author
Evelyn Hannon, Journeywoman

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TBEX10 - Branding, Finding a Niche & Relevant Self-Promotion

FOCUS your blog on a particular niche. Being general DOES NOT inspire passion in your readers and as much as diehards who LOVE your specific topic and inhale every word you write.

Twitter is important, but you can’t be a one-way megaphone. Interaction with your followers bring familiarity and more importantly, trust.

That ended the first day of sessions. Bar 13 near NYU hosted a party sponsored by TripAdvisor for sunset drinks, snacks and prize giveaways.

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TBEX10 - Me and Lola Akinmade

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TBEX10 - Travel Bloggers Smiling

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TBEX10 - Drinks in hand and soaking up the sun

I missed the BootsnAll & Eurocheapo Afterparty but reportedly, the party and after-after parties are like Vegas. Whatever happens there stays there. Naughty…

Couldn’t contain it all in one post. Day 2 coming up.

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Gray July 4, 2010 at 7:08 PM

Yes! A family reunion…that’s what I’ve been saying too. Especially if you consider your family to be those you are connected to spiritually, through common passions. And we all kind of know each other already. I’m so sorry I didn’t get a chance to meet you at TBEX, Brian. I hope our paths cross soon in some other locale.


brian July 11, 2010 at 3:40 PM

There were so many people that I found out were at TBEX only after the conference was over. But there were so many people to meet that it was not a disappointment. Rather it showed how big our little universe is. Catch you next time Gray.


nubian nomad July 6, 2010 at 11:58 AM

Thanks for the insight into what TBEX is all about, very informative and it sounds like a family i’d like to be a member of. The writing tips are most helpful as I tend to journal rather than write for others. I’d like to do both.



brian July 11, 2010 at 3:27 PM

I think the most important thing they were trying to get across was to make sure that you are telling a vivid story. Make people create a picture in their own minds from your words since they can’t be there with you experiencing it. That is the greatest takeaway.


Lillie July 7, 2010 at 1:07 AM

Beautifully summed-up, Brian! Sooo great to meet you at last, and thanks for the shout-out in the article :) May our traveling and writing family live on for many moons to come!


brian July 11, 2010 at 3:23 PM

Just glad I met your height requirement!


Eli July 9, 2010 at 7:23 PM

Oh man, I’m so bummed that I missed this. I live 45 minutes away and I missed it. I had planned for it but the last time I checked it was sold out. There’s always next year I guess. It’s great that so many people, including yourself, managed to give so much good coverage of the event.


brian July 11, 2010 at 3:22 PM

You’ve got to get those tickets early. I procrastinated and found someone who was willing to sell their ticket. That was how I got in. TBEX 2011 in Vancouver should be great. Interest is high and we still got under a year to go.


Dave and Deb July 11, 2010 at 12:13 PM

Nice round up of day one. It was a good read for us since we missed day one. Thanks! It was great meeting you in Person Brian!


brian July 11, 2010 at 3:20 PM

It was great meeting you guys too. What a surprise to catch you. I easily could have been someplace else on the sidewalk and missed you both. Was meant to be!


Mary Ann Grishsm July 11, 2010 at 3:47 PM

Wonderful recap. Your notes are better than mine! Sorry I did not get a chance to meet you! Next year??

Mary Ann


brian July 11, 2010 at 3:52 PM

I think we did meet. I remember your name and website. There were so many people names and faces get blurred. Till next time…


Chris @CAroundTheWorld July 12, 2010 at 12:23 AM

I love the family reunion analogy. Isn’t it funny how close relationships can grow over Twitter and through reading each others’ blogs? I wish we would have been able to meet in person, but I’ve bought my ticket for Vancouver so hopefully we can say hello next year!


brian July 14, 2010 at 6:47 AM

You’ll be alot closer since you’re on the West Coast now. Should be a great time.

There should be a way the name tags are in bigger print or something. I’m sure we walked right by each other and didn’t know. If the Twitter handles or websites are in bigger letters we’d all find each other. I want to be able to read it across the room!


Amy @ Blog Conference Guide July 15, 2010 at 11:28 PM

Great recap. I think it’s one of the most informative and complete I have seen so far.

Gonna link up to my post for TBEX. So is day 2 recap coming soon? :)


brian July 21, 2010 at 8:55 PM

Thanks Amy! Here you go –> http://wp.me/pW3JI-88


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