I’ve had a few days to reflect on my Travel Blog Exchange 2012 experience in Keystone, Colo. Not only was the professionalism bar raised over last year’s TBEX but so were bars for conference content and functions. Importantly, the conference site location rocked. Almost literally. Sitting at more than 9,000 feet above sea level, we met in the mountains of Keystone Resort which has all the necessary conference amenities.
It was fabulous waking up to mountain views but I was reminded I live at sea level and my lungs had a little challenge adjusting to the thin mountain air. Having an oxygen bar sponsor during the conference would have been memorable and pretty hip. Remember oxygen bars?
Oh well, I digress. Here are some thoughts about TBEX 2012…
Travel Blogging is Serious Business. Seriously.
I’ve been blogging since 2004-ish and I’m constantly learning more about the craft. This year’s TBEX highlighted specific workshop tracks in the arenas of Tourism, Tools of Travel Blogging, Art of Travel Blogging, Business of Travel Blogging, and Beyond the Blog: Business of Travel. Unfortunately, tracks ran concurrently so I had to choose which session to attend and hope I wasn’t missing out too much in the other sessions.
As a result of what I learned, you’ll be seeing minor adjustments to this blog over the next several months. Behind the scenes, I’ll be focusing on working smarter, or as a friend says, “shedding what drains me.”
TBEX’s speaker lineup was a who’s who in the blogger community with familiar and fresh faces. The Canadian Tourism Commission hosted breakfast Saturday morning and brought along a special guest, Nadia G. of the Bitchin’ Kitchen (a show on the Cooking Channel). Nadia G. is a rock star in and out of the kitchen and she shared some her secrets of social media success.
Couple of the sessions which really stood out were in the Business of Travel Blogging category. I picked up great legal tips from Matt Stabile (find his presentation on TheExpeditioner.com) and Ross Borden of the Matador Network gave me a new perspective on this blog’s future during his “From Hobby to Small Business to Funding” presentation.
Shout Out to Cottonelle!
Most exciting was the opening keynote by C.C. Chapman – a dad, content creator, thought leader and storyteller. He spoke about the importance of creating an emotional response when creating and connecting with your audience and used Cottonelle’s TBEX sponsorship in the bathrooms and the #NameIt contest they were hosting as an example. He referred to it as “genius” and “perfect”.
It was extremely cool hearing this because as you recall, Cottonelle paid for my trip to TBEX. At first, people didn’t understand the connection between plush toilet paper and a travel blogging conference. But c’mon, think about it. Everyone (well, just about everyone) uses toilet paper, including travelers. Not only did Mr. Chapman mention the sponsorship, he posted a tweet with a photo about it.
The contest encouraged participants to come up with a creative name for the Cottonelle Care Routine – the tag-team freshness of Cottonelle Ultra Comfort Care Toilet Paper with Cottonelle Fresh Care Flushable Wipes and gave away Flushable Wipe samples. Luckily, Cottonelle has a Name Generator to help let the creativity flow in naming that “down south” routine.
Travel Bloggers Know How to Have Fun
We travel for different reasons but one thing is for sure, travel bloggers like to have fun. In addition to the opening night foodie extravaganza, Saturday night’s Expedia Summer Shindig – How the West Was Fun was a blast! The horse stables set the backdrop with roaming cowboys, cordial horses and a toasty fire pit when the sun went down. Pulled BBQ pork, ribs, corn on the cob and warm apple pie were served up. Thanks to the Colorado Tourism Office, I enjoyed a lovely “summer in a glass” of white, Colorado wine. Colorado beer and spirits were served, too.
Some participants grabbed the bull by the horns that night – at least they tried – by trying their hand at roping a “mechanical” calf. Others tried to outlast the mechanical bull. I would have but January’s appendectomy prevents me from mechanical bull riding for a year, at least that’s what I’ve been told.
Attending TBEX was a great opportunity to reconnect with travel blogger friends and meet new ones as well as connect with destination and brand representatives. I’ve brought back new ideas and energy to ramp up my blogging efforts which I’m excited to implement. I also learned about new travel services which I’ll be sharing over the next few weeks.
So yeah, figuratively and literally, this year’s TBEX took my breath away.
Did you attend TBEX? Did you ride the bull?
Disclosure: A sincere thank you to Cottonelle for paying for my trip to TBEX in Keystone, including airfare, transportation, accommodations, meals and registration.