Because travel bloggers tend to roam the world, unattached to a home or other permanent base, it can be hard for them to connect with likeminded people. Blogging is not a brick-and-mortar kind of job, solidified into a local community. It’s pretty much the opposite, in fact. Bloggers are always on the move and they might occasionally run into each other. It is, however, a challenge to build a network when doing that. Or is it?
If you’re a travel blogger, you’ll be happy to learn that there are a number of events around the world, many of them organised annually or even more regularly, where you can meet other bloggers. These events tend to attract huge numbers of travel professionals (and sometimes amateurs as well). They’re phenomenal for networking, socialising and meeting new travel blogging friends, in addition to improving your SEO, social media and other necessary skills. One of these events is TBEX—or Travel Blog Exchange in full.
What is TBEX?
TBEX is basically the world’s largest gathering of travel bloggers, photographers, journalists, TV personalities, writers, videographers and all other kinds of professionals in the travel industry.
Hundreds of people visit each of the TBEX conventions every year. They currently organise one annual convention in North America, one annual convention in Europe, and one annual convention somewhere else in the world (which has recently included the Philippines and Israel).
What to Expect When Attending TBEX
In addition to visiting an interesting new destination, TBEX gives you the chance to up your travel blogging game, so to speak. You’ll be able to meet fellow bloggers, expand your professional network and set up appointments with potential sponsors. Each convention also consists of a series of workshops, lectures, presentations and talks—many of which are done by some of the biggest names in the travel industry. The keynote speakers are pretty much always travel blogging “celebrities”, their talks without exception amazing.
TBEX conventions are typically two days and three nights long. There’s an opening night party, which is a fun way to connect with people before the actual convention starts. The two convention days are chock-full with informative talks, speed-networking events with sponsors, speeches by keynote speakers, coffee breaks and lunches, and so on. Every convention evening, there’s a party, usually in an interesting setting picked by the hosting destination’s tourist board.
It’s good to know that TBEX is a popular event among beginner travel bloggers, though. Although several major travel bloggers do attend these conventions every time, the percentage of “newbie” bloggers is extremely high. Some attendees haven’t even started their blogs yet.
This is essential to know because it does lower the overall average quality of work that the attendees bring to the table. As a result, you won’t find a lot of big-name sponsors at TBEX conventions—there are a few, though. Most sponsors are local and small tourist boards from less-visited—although definitely not less-interesting—destinations.
Is TBEX Worth It?
So with that knowledge, you might ask the question whether TBEX is worth it or not. The answer to that question is both “yes” and “no”. It just depends on how long you’ve been blogging, on your skills, on your attitude, and on how many other blogger conventions you’ve been to before.
Attending TBEX is absolute, 100% worth it if you are, indeed, an inexperienced travel blogger. You’ll find lots of peers at TBEX, people who, just like yourself, want to network and learn, maybe even score their very first sponsorship or press trip. While not all talks are equally as memorable, you will unquestionably go to at least a couple that teaches you something valuable.
It’s not worth going to TBEX if you’re already making plenty of money with your blog, you already get lots of traffic and/or you’re already an expert in everything from SEO to social media management. There’s nothing for you at TBEX then. In that case, you’re better off going to another more high-end, specified convention.
Again, if you’re (somewhat) new to travel blogging, go to TBEX. Being completely surrounded by like-minded people in the exact same industry is very, very rare for travel bloggers. That fact alone is why an event like TBEX is so inspiring and motivating.
Alternative Travel Conferences
You’ll find many more established bloggers at a select number of more business-oriented conventions. Two fantastic ones are ITB Berlin and Traverse, both organised annually. Because they’re much smaller, it’ll be easier to really connect with people and build a tight network of fellow bloggers, as opposed to meeting a bunch of people only briefly at large events such as TBEX.