I attended my first ever TBEX conference in Toronto last weekend. I’ve had about a week to process all that I learned and to reflect on all the new connections I made with others, whether it was with bloggers or with tourism industry folks. Here are my thoughts on:
I attended the ones that seemed most interesting and most valuable to me. I have been blogging for more than nine years, but it’s been within the last two that I’ve gotten really serious about this travel blogging gig. So I stuck with the more introductory sessions and came away with pages and pages of notes. The most valuable session I attended was “Building your audience with social media management tools” presented by Ian Cleary. Ian went beyond the basics of sharing via Twitter and Facebook and explained, in detail, sites like HootSuite and SocialOomph, and other tools I had never considered using. Ian also explained SEO (search engine optimization) in a way that I could (finally) understand. Thank you, Ian; I am no longer afraid of SEO.
Great concept, imperfect execution. Actually, Saturday went quite smoothly since the company reps and bloggers were held to the ten-minute appointment time limit. But on Sunday during the Open Marketplace, it was quite chaotic at times and a bit stressful. Why allow people to schedule appointments when others can just walk right up to the tables and talk to the reps without appointments? I think it should be one way or the other. It was annoying to arrive at a table where I had an appointment only to find someone else sitting there, taking up my appointment time.
The Social Scene
I know this is a big draw for many TBEX-ers, and very well it should be. It’s during the sponsored parties and the impromptu gatherings where important networking connections are successfully made. This is where I think I missed out. There are several people I didn’t get to spend enough time with and others I didn’t get to meet at all. It’s no one’s fault; it’s just difficult to party-hop and keep up with everyone while thirty-two weeks pregnant 🙂 I did make it to one party and made many connections during the actual conference with bloggers I’d previously “met” online. So I wouldn’t say it was a total wash but I know my networking would have been more successful if I’d been more mobile and able to enjoy some cocktails!
I’m glad I made it to TBEX. I think once I put into use all that I learned and all the connections I made, I’ll realize just how valuable the conference was. I’ll give TBEX another go. I know I, along with many other bloggers, are anxiously awaiting the announcement of next year’s North American host city. We already know that TBEX Europe will take place in Dublin this October. Perhaps I’ll see you there? (I wish!)