The first time I have heard about TBEX was through a post by Jessica in which she wrote about her first conference in the Greek capital Athens in October 2014. Right after reading it I decided that I would attend the next gathering in Lloret de Mar at the Costa Brava in Spain this year in April and May if I would be in Europe then and nothing else intervenes. In March I eventually purchased my ticket for TBEX in Spain. TBEX stands for Travel Blog Exchange and is a Travel Blogging Conference which is held every year in Europe, North America and, from this October on, also in Asia.
Although I also read Jessica’s second post where she gave very helpful tips and advice for the TBEX First Timer, I wasn’t prepared very well. I got special custom-made Business Cards for my Blog (thanks for the hint, Jessica), but apart from that I took things as they came. This may be good or bad, but when attending TBEX for the first time you shouldn’t miss to read the “official” Newbie Guide to TBEX.
My Travel Blog Business Cards. I got the idea with my photo on the front from Jessica of Curiosity Travels.
Let’s be honest: of course I went to TBEX for the sessions and for the speakers, but the main reason why I attended the gathering were the other Travel Bloggers. I was excited to meet Travel Bloggers in person who I only knew from their Blogs so far and I had several moments where I thought: I have met this person before, just to realize that I only know her from her Blog. I was also curious to meet others who I hadn’t encountered yet on the World Wide Web. I was really lucky to meet many amazing people from all over the world and I had a wonderful time.
Together with Dale (middle) and Franca (right) of Angloitalian Follow Us
The first opportunity to meet other Travel Bloggers at TBEX were the so called Pre-BEX Tours, a variety of daytrips offered by TBEX. While the actual conference was held from the 30th April till the 2nd May, these tours took place during the days before. The selection ranged from Chocolate tours, Catamaran sailing, guided tours through Barcelona’s Quarters El Raval, Gràcia and the Gothic Quarter plus a gastronomic Spanish Tapas Workshop, just to name a few of them. Most of them started at the Hard Rock Café in Barcelona and ended in Lloret de Mar. There were also a few daytrips on the 3rd of May, the day after the conference had ended. And the best thing was that these tours were already included in the ticket price. The only thing you needed to do was choosing your preferred tour(s) and regeristering yourself in time for them. Since I was very limited with my time in Spain, I didn’t take any of these tours because I wanted to have time to explore Barcelona by myself. But when attending my next TBEX, I will definitely make sure to register myself for my most preferred tours.
Travel Massive at TBEX
One day before the start of TBEX, its partner Travel Massive, a digital network of locally organized communities of the Travel Industry, organized a pre-TBEX Travel Massive party at Atics La Carpa, a club by the beach. I would have loved to attend but at that time I was still in Barcelona so it wasn’t possible.
At the beginning of TBEX, when registering at the conference desk every participant received his name badge and a bag with giveaways, mainly advertising and discount coupons, but also a little notebook, a passport cover and a lovely little power bank.
Besides the Blog name the name badge also included the Twitter account of the participants
Bag with Giveaways
Passport Cover and Paper Notebook
The official TBEX Europe started with an opening reception at a hotel at Santa Christina beach in the evening of the first official conference day. All guests met at the City Hall in Lloret de Mar and were taken to the party by boat or alternatively by bus. The location and the party must have been amazing. Since I got into Lloret de Mar quite late that evening I missed the opening reception like I had missed Travel Massive at TBEX the night before. I wanted to spend as much time in Barcelona as possible plus my bus to Lloret de Mar had a delay of more than hour, so I couldn’t even join the party later. When attending my next TBEX, I will definitely make sure that I arrive early to join both events.
Both conference days started with Keynotes which were moderated by Mary Jo Manzanares and Rick Calvert of TBEX and with Interviews and Talks with Gary Bembridge of Tips for Travellers, José Borralho, the President of APTECE, the Portuguese Culinary and Economic Tourism Association, Nelson Carvalheiro, the author of “The Portuguese Travel Cookbook” and Michael Collins of Travel Media Ireland.
But the highlight of this Final Keynote and Closing Session was when Rick Calvert announced where the next TBEX Europe in 2016 will be held and it will take place in:
Stockholm, Sweden! How awesome is that! What a great choice!
The conference will be held in the swedish capital from the 14th till the 16th July 2016, so save the date if you would like to attend.
Speakers & Sessions
The speakers and the sessions at TBEX were absolutely great. Seminars took place in the morning, at early midday and in the early afternoon, so that you could attend up to three per day. There were always five sessions at a time so that you had to choose wisely which one to take. At least for me there were often two or three interesting ones at the same time and that’s what I heard from other participants as well.
Since I am german Travel Blogger and not an English native, the seminar “Building Community When English Isn’t Your First Language” which was offered by Lanora Mueller of Writing Travel, Agata Mleczko of NullnFull and Pola Henderson of Jetting Around was especially interesting for me.
“Building Community When English Isn’t Your First Language” mit Lanora Mueller, Agata Mleczko und Pola Henderson
I also joined “Leveraging Your Brand Beyond the Blog” by Jodi Ettenberg of Legal Nomads and Derek Baron of Wandering Earl, “Working with Travel Bloggers from a Company Perspective: Pros, Cons, Expectations and ROI” by Stephen Oddo and Roisin O’Sullivan of Walks of Italy, “From the Pitch to the Relationship: How to Work with Brands” by Sara Robles of Sacrification and Katie Hammel from Viator and “WordPress for Travel Bloggers: Understanding the World’s Most Popular Content Management System” by Mitch Canter.
“Leveraging Your Brand Beyond the Blog” mit Jodi Ettenberg und Derek Baron
Furthermore I would have loved to visit “How to Craft the Perfect Lead” by David Farley, “Planning the Long Game: Building for a Sustainable Future” by Stephanie Yoder of Twenty-Something Travel and Gary Arndt of Everything Everywhere plus “Hungry For Food Tourism: How to Feed the Trend Using Social Media” by Camille Rumani of VizEat and Lauren Aloise of Devour Spain but as mentioned before, you couldn’t take all of your preferred ones.
There were about 30 Travel Industrials a Travel Blogger could meet for Speed Networking in the lobby of the conference hotel on both conference days between 3.40 PM and 5.40 PM. Therefore you first had to register yourself at BloggerBridge and fill in your complete profile there. Then you could check the companies who were available for Speed Networking at TBEX and send out invitations to those you would like to meet. If the company accepted the invitation they could choose the time slot for the meeting respecting both parties availabilities. If you were invitied by a company you could choose the time slot. It was very important to do all this a few weeks prior to the conference, preferably sooner than later.
Food & Drinks
It was absolutely impossible to stay hungry at TBEX. There were always tables with coffee, tea, juices and water, snack and pastries in the lobby of the conference hotel plus a large buffet for lunch in the hotel restaurant. All of these foods and drinks were included in the price for the conference ticket unless you specifically ordered something.
In the evening of the first evening, there was a Sangria Party on the rooftop terrace of the conference hotel. Snacks plus drinks for the first hour were sponsored by a partner of TBEX.
Sangria party at the rooftop terrace
TBEX Europe 2015 finished with a great party which took place at Atics La Carpa, the same club by the beach where Travel Massive at TBEX has already been held. Earlier that day every participant of TBEX received a coupon for one free drink. The view from the terrace overlooking the beach of Lloret de Mar was fantastic and the atmosphere superb. It was great to spend time with the people I have met at TBEX and I hope that I’ll meet as many of them as possible on one of the next conferences.
Together with Jessica of She Dreams of Travel
Together with Victoria of The British Berliner
FAM respectively Blogger Trips
There was a variety of FAM Trips or Familarization trips, also called Blogger trips, which took place in the days after the conference had ended. Some of them were daytrips, others took up to a week. Different than the Pre-BEX Tours you could not just register yourself but had to apply for your preferred tours and had to be a bit lucky to be choosen for your favourite ones, so for the next conferences I would suggest to apply for all FAM Trips which are tempting to you.
Lloret de Mar
Since I had just gotten back from a trip to China short before TBEX, I spend only 24 hours in Barcelona and headed to the Costa Brava only for TBEX. Unfortunately it I couldn’t afford to spend additional days in Spain in terms of time. That’s why I didn’t see much of Lloret de Mar except of the following impressions. But on the photos from others I saw that it has more to offer than drunken young people and escalating parties.
The City centre of Lloret de Mar
The beach of Lloret de Mar, photo taken from the terrace of Club Atics La Carpa
I stayed at the “Hotel Rosamar & Spa” and paid 61.20 Euros per night. My room itself wasn’t big and the bathroom was tiny, but it had a large terrace overlooking the pool and a sideways view of the sea. It was quite nice but compared to my hotel in Barcelona and other hotels I stayed in I found it a bit overpriced.
Breakfast was included in the room price and the restaurant had an egg station where you could order your preferred eggs and omlettes but regarding fruits the selection was a bit limited.
The hotel was in 25 to 30 minutes walking distance from the conference hotel but there was a TBEX shuttle bus which stopped in front of both hotels. Unfortunately it only left at 8.30 AM and at 9 AM to the conference hotel. Since breakfast at my hotel didn’t start before 8 AM, the bus at 8.30 AM meant a bit of a rush and when taking the bus at 9 AM one was late for the morning keynotes which started at 9.15 AM. Therefore it would have been great if there would have been a bus at 8.45 AM.
Several hotels in Lloret de Mar cooperated with TBEX and offered room discount for TBEX participants. I could imagine that this will be similar at the upcoming conferences.
The next TBEX events are TBEX Asia in Bangkok from the 15th till the 17th October 2015, TBEX North America in Fort Lauderdale from the 28th till the 30th October, TBEX at Sea from the 31st October till the 7th November and TBEX Europe 2016 in Stockholm.
I would love to attend TBEX Asia in Bangkok and TBEX Europe in Stockholm, but since I don’t know yet if I’ll have time I will wait some more time before purchasing my tickets.
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