Rishi Sankar: Ah Trini Travelogue

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TBEX ’13 : What worked and didn’t work? #TBEX

Posted by Rishiray on June 3, 2013

It’s official … TBEX ’13 is finally at a close. I’m glad that I was in Toronto for the last couple days and not at a client’s site in some other city, since I would have missed out on an incredible learning and networking opportunity. After getting home last night and thinking through all my notes and looking at feedback received on my previous post : 7 lessons learned from tbex 13 – I thought I would close the loop and list out what I thought worked and didn’t work at TBEX ’13 in Toronto. By figuring out what worked, I’ll list out my pros and cons of attending a future TBEX like the one in Dublin.

What didn’t work well

  • Travel Blogger Speed dating:
    I found this to be an exercise in futility. After some conversations with other bloggers, the consensus was one of a “Your mileage may vary” perspective. The effectiveness of this exercise had nothing to do with your preparation or how great your pitch was, but rather timing, what you looked like and other extraneous factors.

    • I spoke to 10 different tables and the worst of the bunch were two luxury tables : Four Seasons and Langham Hospitality/Eaton Hotels. They seemed completely unclear as to why they were actually there or what their mission was. If I could articulate what I was about, my demographic/focus and some personality in 8 minutes, why couldn’t they replicate this.
    • Public relations people aren’t all the same. Many are very engaging but I found that many of them, just weren’t professional or could convey their brands.
    • I heard a story about the PR reps from Maui … making statements like “You’ve made the first cut!” … like WTF? It’s goddamn Maui … it’s an island and you’re a PR rep selling your brand, but you’re not exclusive, else you wouldn’t care to sell your brand. So the reps from Maui can go F$$% themselves.
  • Evening Event Networking
    I’m very social and once I know one or two people, I can go out and expand that network. I saw many people who were out of place and trying to make contact. It would have helped to have a 30 minute ice breaker at the evening networking socials. Sponsoring a party with 100’s of people from out of town will ensure some cliques or people who know each other, but there will be a lot of people like me, who didn’t know anyone. If you didn’t attend the Wednesday or Thursday evening social events, then it would have been exponentially tougher to meet people.

What did work well

  • Great PR People makes a win for everyone:
    When you have PR people who are articulate and passionate, it’s a win for everyone. For instance I met up with Guy and Natalie from Parks Canada – meeting them and learning what they do to support travel bloggers, completely made coming to TBEX worth it. When I layer in the contact with Janine from Central Newfoundland Adventure and Pam from Visit Nova Scotia, I was very glad I made time to visit and chat with them.
  • Informative Sessions
    There were many very good speakers and lectures. The vast majority of speakers were succinct and articulate in their presentations. The feedback was great on many of them, and the keynote speeches were quite inspiring for many in the crowd.
  • Event Organization
    The entire series of events and programs were very well run. Everything seemed to be flowing well and I didn’t hear of any major mishaps or “fails”. The Toronto Convention center is a vast venue, but the location was central and allowed attendees with easy access to side events and/or their hotels.
  • ROI Value for your time and ticket price
    I bought a “Super Early Bird” ticket ($55 USD) from another travel blogger. My ROI on that ticket included

    • Discovery Canada pass from Parks Canada (136$CDN value … which made the financial price of my ticket worth it right there)
    • At least 4 tourism board supported trips to Atlantic Canada this year. I didn’t get to meet the New Brunswick rep, but I’m going to find the media contact for sure.
    • Discount on my Antarctica adventure later this year
    • Conclusion : Completely worth the attendance fee and the time.

What I’m going to do immediately

  • Learn THE Twitter
    When you work in corporate, you try to minimize anything that creates a stream of consciousness communication. Your digital reputation is as important to your career as your resume. I’ve avoided twitter for years, because I didn’t truly see the value. That changed this weekend – I think it will be my primary vehicle to correspond with the travel community. It’s immediate and is an easy dispersal communications vehicle.
  • Continue to optimize my old posts
    SEO is a big thing. It’s a buzz word, but ensuring that your content can be found, is just as important as writing quality content.
  • Continue pushing my Facebook page
    https://www.facebook.com/AhTriniTravelogue. I’ve gotten tremendous engagement from my facebook presence, now I have to tie twitter into this.
  • Create an “Advertise with me” page
    Although I’ve resisted overt banners and advertising for years, if I want to work with companies and create those experience, they at least have to know that I’m open to being pitched and reviewing their products. I know … DUH!!!!

11 Responses to “TBEX ’13 : What worked and didn’t work? #TBEX”

  1. TheExpeditioner said

    Interesting, I heard many other people say something similar about the need for some sort of icebreaker for people to meet.

  2. Rhonda said

    Sounds like you learned a lot. I also attended my first food blogging conference this year and it’s amazing how much you know but also how much you don’t know. Looking forward to following you on THE twitter. Love your blog.

  3. eriksmithdotcom said

    Well said! The things you didn’t think worked very well I didn’t attend, so I have no real idea on those (other than being glad I didn’t go), but I agree with the rest of this.

  4. hikebiketravel said

    Although I know lots of people in the travel blogging community there are many like Erik below who I never found. As I’m not part of any clique – and there certainly are some – I agree that some sort of icebreaker would be great – perhaps aligned for starters with one’s interests.
    I actually found the speed dating to be very valuable but I had a very targeted group I wanted to connect with and am certainly hoping those connections lead to opportunities in the none too distant future.

    • rishiray said

      Hi Leigh,
      Well as my first TBEX, it was definitely a daunting challenge. When you’re a newcomer, you assume that everyone you see chatting together has known each other for years. I do think that a targeted ice breaking session would have been very helpful … and you had a plan going into the speed dating sessions. I had a couple but in the end, I abandoned the speed dating and went in for a slow burn, meetup approach. It’s worked for me very well and the results have been fantastic so far!

  5. Tripwich said

    My biggest complaint was about the speed dating. There were far too few spots for the number of attendees. There should be an equitable way to prevent one blogger getting an appointment during every available spot and another getting done. The open marketplace was hardly that as appointments were scheduled. It also should have been pointed out that some of those in speed dating were only there for one day.

    • rishiray said

      Hi Theresa
      I completely agree with you on the setup … and the fact that many sponsors/PR people were only there for one day. Too many bloggers and not enough time to get there. I wonder how Dublin will work out ..

  6. vince yu said

    Found the advice given prior to the conference about speed dating and networking to be totally wrong. What planet were these previous attendees from?

    For speed dating & open market place definitely did not want to be on the receiving end. Why would I recommend a destination to sponsor and be part of speed dating? Interesting to see open market place be replaced with networking reception at next event. It will be interesting to see what destinations show up for next North American event, sponsors do talk to each other. The whole Blogosphere is evolving and maturing. Will there still be a need for tbex next year?

    Need an identifier at social/networking events to show that you are open to meeting new people. This way we can meet new people without bothering a clique/politics. Definitely cliques/politics was so obvious during the conference.
    Even found it awkward on the pre-tbex fam trip and city tour. Just need an indication are you open(yes/no) to meeting new people.

    As for #dotheythinkpeoplearestupid from your last post I saw that in a session. What they were offering is a stupid metric using stupid metrics.

    I do give TBEX credit for listing the good, bad & ugly reviews.

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