Our contributing expert Linda Wainwright, attended her first Travel Bloggers Exchange Conference in Dublin. She left inspired. How important a coming together of mutual interests for any artist as most artists work on an island. Linda, of course is lucky to live and work on a a real island; Tenerife in the Canary Islands.
By Linda Wainwright
It might surprise non-bloggers to know that there are conferences especially for the genre. After all, isn’t it a bit like keeping a diary, simply writing own ones thoughts and observations? Well, actually, no, it is more complicated than that. A conference, as in any profession, gives bloggers opportunities to inform themselves about what’s new; what works or doesn’t in blogging (what’s new in social media, for example); and simply to connect with other bloggers. We all have the same problems, and can help each other find solutions.
That, at least, is the theory. This year TBEX (Travel Bloggers Exchange) chose Dublin as their European host city, which fit in nicely with my travel plans, so I decided to test the theory. I suspected that I might be overwhelmed by geek-speak, and confused by modern marketing jargon.
There was always that possibility, but I’m happy to say that neither happened. For me the sumptuous welcome party laid on by Fáilte Ireland (The Irish National Tourism Development Authority) on the night we arrived, really set the tone for the coming days. Hosted at the impressive Guinness Storehouse, where the history of Guinness is spread out entertainingly over five floors, it was easy to mingle with old friends and acquaintances and meet new ones.
The next two days followed a pattern. Mornings and early afternoons were divided into two sessions of talks or breakouts, in each session there were five from which to choose. For me blogging has always been, mostly about the writing, and with speakers of the calibre of Don George of Lonely Planet, and Mike Sowden of Fevered Mutterings on the list I doubted disappointment. I was right. Their talks covered lots of practical tips and down-to-earth advice, as well as construction and content of posts/articles.
Late afternoons were for “speed-dating” and connecting with the travel-related companies in the “market place.” Since my year ahead is already planned, I took the opportunity to grab some internet time (when nothing was happening, speeds suffered somewhat under the pressure of so many bloggers in the same place at the same time!), but friends reported back good things from these opportunities to connect with others in the travel industry.
It may have been because of the workshops I chose, but if I had to choose one word to tell you what TBEX Dublin meant to me it would be content. Content, that is, in the sense of storytelling. So far as the mysteries of SEO, Google + or links go, I would say I am about in the same place. I got the impression that even those more in the know than I find it a quagmire, a shifting landscape, and that they don’t especially want to be pinned down as having said “X” when next month things change and the answer is “Y.”
In addition to the actual conference events there were workshops and FAM trips. As with other things, it was possible only to do perhaps one of these, which I did. I only wish I’d been able to split myself in half to do more.
The Good Stuff?
1. Everyone agreed that things ran very well, kudos to TBEX organisers and to the Doubletree by Hilton for that. The catering was excellent in every way.
2. Bloggers are a friendly lot. It was so easy, if you found yourself alone, to strike up a conversation with someone.
3. The chosen topics were good, and covered a variety of questions.
1. On every session I was torn between which talk I wanted to listen to, in other words, too much choice. Sometimes the decision was more difficult than others. I have no idea what the way around that is.
2. The noise level at times (thinking lunchtimes and especially the Expedia Party) precluded the possibility of good conversation. I felt that it would sometimes have been easier to connect had we not had to shout at each other. I have no answer for that either.
It’s appropriate to finish this post with mention of the last event of the conference, which was a TED style talk by Audrey and Dan of the blog Uncornered Market.com. Their approach was very professional, but summed up perhaps what we would all have like to take home from this event – a commitment to quality, honesty and integrity in our work, and a reminder of our responsibility to those standards. No-one left the room not inspired by their enthusiasm and they well deserved the standing ovation they received. Yes, worth it all.
Linda Wainwright likes to say that she is “re-inventing herself for her third age” these days. She transplanted to the Canary Islands more than 20 years ago. Now with kids grown up, leaving behind the 9 to 5, she studies writing and photography and is beginning to scratch a living from them, thus fulfilling a lifelong dream. She blogs at http://islandmomma.wordpress.com/
What were your experiences at TBEX?
For more photos and travel writing by Peter Parkorr, check out his site: http://travelunmasked.com/