With TBEX Dublin coming up soon, I've been ruminating on my experience at TBEX Toronto. A lot of bloggers have asked me about whether it's a worthwhile conference and how such a big and buzzy event can be helpful for independent-minded bloggers. In my opinion, it all depends on who you are and where you are in your travel blogging journey. I was a speaker at the very first TBEX, when it was just a gathering of travel bloggers and writers meeting up in Chicago. Maybe there were a 100 people at that meeting in the Chicago Cultural Center but it seemed more intimate. That was four years ago. TBEX Toronto attracted 1200 attendees. It didn't seem intimate, it didn't seem like just a gathering. It was a BIG EVENT. There were pre-tours and post tours and parties and speed dating and lots of drama. If you are an introvert and don't deal well with crowds, you probably wouldn't find TBEX that enjoyable. If you don't like the idea of corporate sponsorship or any level of wheeling and dealing, TBEX would probably turn you off. If you don't know why you blog or aren't sure if you want to continue, you might find TBEX to be intimidating. That being said, I felt the experience was worth the money and time I spent and here's why:
I learned from the sessions offered. I gathered helpful tips and ideas about content strategy, social media management tools and how to build community with readers. I especially learned valuable travel photography tips from the inimitable Lola Akinmade Akerstrom.
I had the chance to explore one of my favorite cities from another perspective. I explored Toronto's ethnic communities, including Chinatown, Little Portugal, Indian Bazaar, Little Korea and Little Italy with a local chef. He guided us through streets I might not have ever seen and offered local tastes that I might not have ever savored.
Not only did I get to catch up with blogger friends and connect in real time but I met new ones. I traipsed through the funky Kensington Market neighborhood with Debbie Abrams Kaplan, We shopped through the quirky vintage salons where they only accepted Canadian dollars.
I was so exhausted by the second night of the conference that I skipped the Expedia Viewing party and hung out with my friend Mikey B, local writer and fellow music head. He squired me around T.O. for tapas, sangria and live music. (Which alas, I couldn't keep my eyes open for.)
I had the opportunity to try out Airbnb for the first time, snagging a great apartment in the middle of downtown Toronto and steps away from the TBEX headquarters.
Finally, I got to stay with a gracious Italian couple, Elisa and Giancarlo, who walked me to the island airport on my way back home and reminded me why I love Italy so much.
So that's what I got from TBEX. I had fun, I learned new things and met with old friends and new. Are you considering going to TBEX Dublin?