Yes. And No. Maybe? Ah well that’s a fairly pathetic answer that’s really not helping you make up your mind at all. It’s not a simple yes or no should I stay or should I go. After attending quite a few TBEX around the world this is a question I get asked by both new and well established travel bloggers and content creators. TBEX does have a lot of fun things on offer and each time I’ve been I have really enjoyed my time and getting to hang out with fellow creators who get what it is that we do.
This year (2020) will be year number 7 for this little blog. Along the way I’ve tried, tested and explored a lot of options internationally and in Australia. So let’s take a walk down ye olde memory lane and discuss the important question at hand
Does TBEX deserve your hard earned dollars?
Or should you consider an alternative travel blogging conference to attend?
Is TBEX still even relevant in this day and age of free information and Google?
There’s so many self guided courses, how to do this travel blogging thing out there. And even more people are creating these “courses” to help boost their email lists. I’m not going to name any names of courses here as I’m not wanting to give these less then great courses any publicity. Personally I don’t think that you need to pay $1000 USD to learn how to travel blog successfully and then pimp out these courses via an affiliate marketing scheme to make back your $1000 USD. Which is what currently happens with several of the very big courses. People need to claw back the investment and do so by getting other people in. It’s a really dodgy version of MLM but with courses not cheap perfume..
Nor do you need to learn how to monetise your blog from a group of people who did it 5 years ago when the entire world of monetization has changed. What works for one won’t work for another.
If you are looking for an amazing course to take yourself to the next level of blogging – no matter where in your blog journey you are at – I highly recommend Sharon Gourlay’s Build Blog Freedom course. I’m currently under taking this course and it’s well worth every dollar that I have paid. Sharon has a degree and years of experience as a teacher, as well as some serious stats to back up her claims of success. There’s a reason why she’s so fabulous and this course will give you the opportunity to be as good as her. Note that this isn’t an affiliate link I just really love the work she does.
So how does TBEX stack up to these paid courses? Well it doesn’t. It’s like comparing apples to oranges whilst drunk and watching midget wrestling. There’s no comparison as they offer completely different learning opportunities.
What TBEX doesn’t give you is a basic 101 how to be XYZ. TBEX conferences are designed with three streams – an intermediate, advance and a business. Now when I say business that’s not for us who run blogs as a business but for PR, DMO, tourism boards etc to learn and develop as well. Which means that these type of people who you’re going to want to meet are in the same conference as you. Co-minglig and existing. Some of my best collabs have come from casually talking to someone over a cheap cup of tea at at TBEX conference.
Instead it gives you all these opportunities;
Learn to improve your content creation craft
What is your craft? Don’t know? Then maybe TBEX is for you. TBEX does bring together a unique selection of speakers, who are openly discussing and answering topics which maybe relevant to you. One year we focused on Google+ and in all honesty I would never have thought to invest my time in Google+. I did and for the time that it existed it really did pay off traffic wise for me. The same year I learnt how to play around with Hyperlapse and to buy a suitable hat for my Instagram lifestyle inspired photos. Legit the Insta hat is a thing and it does bring better engagement. Maybe Instagram wants you to be sun smart?
Learn to be a nice person in the real world
This is by far my number 1 love and form of entertainment when attending TBEX. It seems that there is an issue with the travel blogging community of people who can function like legitimate nice people online but in real life are perhaps total jerks, really boring or have no idea how to act at a networking event that isn’t revolving around their own realm of self-importance. Once more I had a repeat offender who would interrupt conversations, talk over me and seemingly couldn’t be bothered to say hello or introduce themselves. I’m putting this down to nerves of a first time attendee. Which I’m not sure if it was better than another event when I had someone asking – Hi how much money are you making off your blog – as an opener. Nor those who made it rain with their business cards in food.
The majority of attendees at TBEX will take the time to talk to you. Understandably nerves will cause a few blockages for some people and that’s ok. We’re all here to talk, create and collaborate. It’s o.k to do this in a conversation and not just on your blog or a Facebook group.
Some people claim that TBEX is like going back to high school
I have seen this and get why this may put some people off attending. There are large groups of people, and I’ve been on both sides of this, who attend these things reguarly, go on press trips together and form a little group that don’t want to open up. It can be tough to break through but also ask yourself – Do I want to? Or do you want to go over there and talk to other people? Create my own network of new and upcoming content creators?
Remember you may not know who that person you’re blatantly ignoring is representing.
Not everyone who attends has the magical Speaker or Sponsor flag. For example in Manila quite a few attendees were representing more than their own blog and didn’t have the magical Speaker or Sponsor flag.
Just remember that everyone is a little bit weird in their own beautiful way. Over the years I’ve met some amazing people at TBEX and we’ve continued to travel together.
This photo is of me on a TBEX FAM trip in the beautiful mountains of Czech
Aren’t the speakers recycled more often than not?
Yes. This is a fact of TBEX life. In the many TBEXs I have attended I’ve seen similar speakers on the conference program. Fact of life. The travel industry is a large industry with a very small community. Within this small community is an even smaller circle of people who are actually willing and able to get up in front of their peers and talk about something they know and/or are passionate about.
There has been a change of guard so to speak at the TBEX office. This will mean changes and I’m hoping that these changes will be reflected in the choice of speakers and topics.
*As of 2020 I’m still waiting to see these changes. A few have come through but sadly I’m still seeing the same people on rotation with limited opportunity to few speakers to come through. I get that it’s better the devil you know but in this small community we do need variety. Based on the same recycled speakers I won’t be attending Catalia 2020 TBEX, even though we will be in Europe during this time. Never fear I am working my butt off to get myself as a speaker to bring a very different point of view to the conference circuit.
By the way did you know that ANYONE can apply to be a speaker at TBEX. You just need to apply.
See a different side of a city
At all the TBEXs I have attended I always take advantage of two things- Pre-TBEX tours and Travel Massive party. In Manila we did throw an epic Travel Massive party and I do need to say thanks to Anton Diaz of Our Awesome Planet who helped me to organise the Travel Massive party at Raffles (p.s- Thanks for showing up!). It’s a whole lot of fun to explore the city and get to hang out with other content creators in real life.
The pre & post TBEX tours are apart of your conference attendance fee. So why not go? You get to see a truly unique part of the city that perhaps you wouldn’t have ever decided to go to and you get to meet other attendees. One year I went on a photography workshop with the wonderful Ajay Sood from Travelure. Not only did we see magnificent areas of Manila we had a wonderfully educational time.
Network like a champion.
And no not just through the speed dating oh I mean networking sessions. I’m an open critic of the Bloggers Bridge platform. In the past few years we’ve seen a huge influx of influencer marketing platforms which do this so much better. Again this is another open criticism that we see discussed prior to any TBEX.
To me the platform is clunky and unhelpful as a blogger. It does seem to encourage brands to only look at your stats and not engage in a meaningful conversation with unique people. Walking around the room you do see the “big numbered bloggers” get the networking appointments and make the rounds. Each year I see a few repeat offenders who just plonk down at a table, start talking and totally disrespect anyone elses time. These are also the people that don’t bother attending any sessions and just swan around with a man bun and shady as glasses on. Do not be that person.
Don’t despair. There’s plenty of time to go and chat to the networking people. Between appointments. Break out sessions. Official events.
*disclaimer- Yes I did receive a variety of appointments at both TBEX I’ve attended.
Talk to everyone and anyone at all the events. The whole name of this game is Travel Bloggers Exchange. Exchange your details. Set up a date with someone. Go on be bold collaborate on an upcoming post.
People remember other people better than they remember websites usually, so if you make a great impression, they are going to want to visit you online and driving traffic to your blog, even in those smaller numbers initially, is going to help you grow!
What I’m really saying is that TBEX isn’t just about finding sponsored work. It’s about engaging, discussing, collaborating and meeting other like minded people.
Will I make ALL the money and live a care free existence with monkeys?
Yes, of course you will. Your one time attendance at a singular conference will have sponsors swarming to you and the unicorns will strut off into the sunset and carry your ego away with you. This question about money comes up in quite a lot of the travel blogging groups prior to any TBEX. Like any event, opportunity or life skill you will need to put in effort to get something out of it. The TBEX sessions on affiliate marketing, SEO stuff and topics that are generally perceived to be easy cash cows to milk are always full. I hate to break it to you but you won’t become a millionaire just by attending a few workshops.
Take notes, talk to other attendees and then implement the strategies that you’ve learnt. Again some of the best advice and assistance I got wasn’t from a session it was when I was talking general life rubbish with other people.
If you do want to know how to make money as a blogger read this article about making money as a travel blogger.
So what’s the point of TBEX?
TBEX is an exchange of ideas, actions and engagement between real people doing real things. It’s a chance to learn, grow and evolve whatever it is that you do. Being found in the sea of blogs on the world wide web can be tough. You need to be ahead of the wave and not picking up the scraps thrown onto the shore.
It’s not just a bunch of people hiding in their mum’s basement playing keyboard warrior, buying links and paying VA’s to create content for them. Which trust me does happen a lot more often then what you think it does.
If you are considering going to TBEX or any other conference the following articles that we’ve written may help you
Need business cards? MOO do amazing and cheap business cards. You can get up to 20% off and a $15 credit by using this link –Moo
If you’ve been to TBEX and have any advice for newbies let us know in the comments below.
Founder, Principal Blogger & Coffee Drinker
Coffee Lover | Travel Blogger | Horse Rider | Adventure Racer | Donut Dame. Generally nice lady-enjoys wine, indie movies & random dance parties in my tent.
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