Last Fall, I returned home exhausted from an action-packed 14 days in the Philippines after attending my first TBEX conference. For those of you non-bloggers, TBEX stands for “Travel Blogger Exchange” and is a conference bringing together travel bloggers and travel industry professionals from around the world. TBEX Manila was sponsored by the Tourism Promotions Board Philippines and Philippine Airlines.
Since I’m fairly new to the world of blogging, I had little idea of what to expect. But the conference was located in Manila, and I lived just two hours away in Taiwan, so I really had to go.
So, if you’re considering attending TBEX Ireland, here are some helpful TBEX tips to help you prepare:
Tip #1 – Research the speakers
I was just too busy with “real life” and bogged down in blogging prior to the conference and did very little research before arriving in Manila. The day prior to the event, I found myself cramming for a final – trying to plot my way through two days of parties and amazing presentations.
There were four presentations happening simultaneously and I was told that it’s acceptable to walk out of a presentation if it’s just not your thing. I thought it would be rude and a little uncomfortable…until I did it. (I really wanted to see Gary Arndt!)
Tip #2 – Research the sponsors
The listed sponsors have tables set up in a large conference room and representatives are available for a chat during breaks. This is a great opportunity to make some connections, but only if you’ve done your homework and actually know what the sponsor does or have ideas of how you can connect. I was hesitant to approach any of the tables but finally got up the courage one morning while drinking coffee. I had great conversations with Turkish Airlines and Trip 101 and made some possible connections.
Tip #3 – Create your “elevator pitch” and bring business cards
It’s so important that you can explain your blog’s niche in a sentence or two. That’s the first question you’ll be asked by sponsors and also by other bloggers. If you ramble on, they’ll be aware that your niche is too broad or you’ve got no direction. Also, there will be a “speed-networking” event and you’ll have 8 minutes to sell yourself and pitch your ideas to any of the sponsors. And just like speed-dating, I avoided this! Hopefully, I’ll have the courage and confidence to jump in there next time!
Tip #4 – Stay in one of the TBEX sponsored hotels
I found a deal on Air BnB, a beautiful building in a perfect location at a great price, but I missed out on some networking opportunities available at the sponsored hotels. Attendees who stayed at one of the official TBEX hotels had opportunities to network or bond with other bloggers on the shuttle bus, in the elevator, or over a Red Horse beer in the bar.
Tip #5 – Pace yourself
It’s an action-packed event, so be prepared to go non-stop. Soak it all in, but don’t push too hard, especially if you’re a natural introvert. On the last day, I had a few hours to kill before the closing keynote speech. Luckily, I found a quiet room to hide in and spent some alone time – writing and NOT talking. I had completely run out of words and needed time to recharge my batteries!
Tip #6 – Diet before TBEX or you will regret it!
The food! I was shocked at the quantity and quality of food offered by the TBEX sponsors. From the Filipino feast on opening night to the German Oktoberfest spread the last night, we ate well! Obviously, food is a big part of a cultural experience and they did not skimp at all. Next time I’ll diet before the event so I don’t have to wire my mouth shut when I get home. (Filipino food really is amazing!)
Tip #7 – Schedule your blog posts and social media
I was too busy before leaving for Manila, and I also was experiencing a bit of “writer’s block”. Unfortunately, I didn’t have anything on the back burner to post while I was gone. Finally, I just had to accept the two-week lull on my blog and not stress about it. However, I did schedule tweets on Klout and Buffer, so I wasn’t totally silent for those two weeks.
Tip #8 – Make time for pre- and post-TBEX tours.
Plan a few extra days on each side of the conference in the hopes of being selected for one of the FAM (Familiarization) Tours. I was fortunate enough to be selected for a trip to Iloilo and Negros and it was amazing! We were treated like royalty and it gave me a chance to really bond with other bloggers. I learned SO much from them and developed some great friendships!
So, grab those business cards, practice your elevator pitch, and get ready to mingle in Ireland!