I just got back from Cancun, Mexico where I spoke on “Getting Started With Facebook Ads And Getting Results.” It was a great experience and I was also able to attend some of the sessions, met new bloggers/potential partners, caught up with old friends, visited some of the local sites and enjoyed the facilities of the Moon Palace Resort.
It was great to meet “old” friends and certainly good to meet new ones. I’m always amazed that I see social media messages after conferences from people I know saying they were at the conference and I never saw them.
Now that I’ve left the Cancun area, I wanted to share my reflections on what I’ve learnt from this conference as I prepare to head to TBEX Athens where I’ll speak about “How To Network Without Becoming Annoying.” I hope to see you in Athens.
So here are the 10+ things I learnt at TBEX Cancun from 12+ interactions/observations:
- Get A Publicist – I finally met Lee Abbamonte; I thought he was the most laid back guy I’ve ever met until later that week I met Louis Cole; see number 2 below. He and I have the visit every country mantra in common; except he’s already done it by the time he was 21. I’m still getting there. Lee did the keynote with Sherry Ott on Saturday morning. They were both interviewed by Paula Froelich from Yahoo Travel. The interview was really well done, funny and educational. One thing that Lee said that struck a chord with me (there were many from that talk) was that he said “the best thing he ever done was to hire a Publicist.” I can’t stop thinking about that since I heard it. So I’m going to investigate this. I mean, I meet a lot of people, but I find that its getting difficult to really investigate opportunities properly. I believe in hiring the right people for the right tasks and hiring a Publicist seems to be the right thing to do. I can’t believe that I’ve not thought about this before. This is why I go to conferences and you should too. The learning aspect is simply incredible.
- FunForLouis – I’m not sure how many of you are into video blogging. I do know a few bloggers who use video in their blogging though. However, Louis Cole from FunForLouis is a bit different. By the time you read this he should be at 1,000,000+ YouTube subscribers. I was able to hang out with him and three other video bloggers (Alex & Mark [VagaBrothers] and Nadine from heyNadine) for three days and watch him work which included him having a local meetup. He’s charismatic, charming, friendly, genuine and fun. What you see in his daily vlog about his travel adventures is what you see in person and he works hard to make it work. He taught me to keep working hard at my craft and collaborate more with my peers so we can help each other to get our message out. I’ve also learned from watching his videos that I can share more than I currently share except in videos. I currently have a YouTube channel, but my videos are not as good as they should be.You can look at his YouTube channel to see some footage from the TBEX conference as a matter of fact. Let me know if you see what I see. If you are not doing videos, I highly recommend starting as we are in travel and people love to live vicariously through us. Photos just scratch the surface. Thanks Louis.
- All You Can Eat Resorts – So, Cancun is full of these places. Years ago I stayed at the Fiesta American Condesa and it was fantastic. This time I stayed at the Moon Palace Resort. This place is just simply incredible. There’s one price and you eat all, just like it says. No hassles, no holding back. It’s truly the place where you can just go and hide. Except that they have property-wide Internet access that actually works. The mini-bar is really a bar as it has top shelf liquor in the normal size bottles and each day the attendant comes by to refill it. I had to tell him no thank you as I’d not touched anything when he showed up the second day I was there. And to top it off, there’s a jacuzzi in your room. Yes, seriously! My only drawback was checking out as it was a bit slow. They sent me a survey and I included the comments there so they can improve that aspect of the stay. So what did I learn here? Ensure that you deliver quality content to your customers at all time. Always give them their money’s worth and more. This breeds repeat customers that are always happy.
- I’m Not A Big Fan of Whale Sharks, But My Friends Are – The Cancun Visitors Board gave a group of seven of us an opportunity to swim with the whale sharks. I’m not a fan of water sports, so I opted not to go. No I’m not scared, but its just not my thing. I’ll swim, the occasional snorkel and hang out on the beach, but I’m not an ocean lover. The others went and had a blast though. You can see several videos in the #CanYouCancun twitter and instagram hashtag feeds. When you travel, you should know your limitations and don’t push it.
- It’s Cool To Advertise A Beer On Your Control Tower – I’m an airline geek so I like to see the different Control Towers at the airports worldwide. They are truly works of art. The Cancun airport (CUN) has a large Corona beer bottle painted on it. You can see this thing from pretty far away. Sometimes you just have to do something really big and bold. So watch out for it coming soon. Think of what you can do on a much larger scale than you are doing it right now to propel your blog forward.
- Social Blade – This is a an App and also a Web site that gives you follower statistics about your Youtube, twitch and Instagram accounts. You can actually do anyone’s account so you can keep an eye on your competition as well. The App is free and can be found here. Louis told me about this app; thanks. The learning here is to be curious and talk to your fellow bloggers if you see them using a cool tool, just ask about it.
- Cooperatize – I was sitting at lunch with another blogger, Robin Ewers (met him in Rotterdam at TBU) and Al from Cooperatize came over, introduced himself (that’s how it’s done at TBEX) and talked to us about this monetization concept. I’d read about it before and was thinking of signing up. Also other bloggers had talked about it on the Facebook Groups and said they liked it as it worked and they got paid. You basically sign up, enter your data and wait to be matched up with a partner that wants to work with you. Then you evaluate the opportunity to see if its what you want and voila. They even have a referral program so you get paid when you refer others. Check it out and evaluate it to see if its for you. Lesson here is to be receptive and respectful when approached. It’s just the polite thing to do.
- A New App Called Been – While driving to Coba, Alex, one half of the brotherly duo VagaBrothers (Mark is the other half) showed me this App on his mobile phone. It allows you to enter the countries you’ve visited and it then displays the percentage of the world you’ve visited. Since one of my goals is to visit every country in the world; 109 so far, I’m intrigued. If this is your thing or you are just curious, Check it out! I downloaded it and its simple and way cool. I’ll recommend it to my geeky airline audience whom I know will love it.
- You Can Get Certified As A Cooking Blogger – So who knew this was the case? I also run a cooking blog, CookingWithKerwin.com where I talk about cooking Jamaican food. Eventually there will be cooking videos, etc. In my travels, I’ve noticed that there are also tons of food bloggers out there. I’ve never heard talk about a CCTP until I sat in on Diana Laskaris’ talk. The World Food Travel Organization came up with a certification called “Certified Culinary Travel Professional.” To get your certification, its necessary to take a paid online course, then you get certified and now have street creds. Check out the course details.
- How To Get More Traffic To My Blog – Ian Cleary from RazorSocial is one smart dude when it comes to social media tools. At the last TBEX (Dublin) his talk was up against mine so I could not attend. This time that was not the case so I wandered over to his full house talk and I learned more than I need to about traffic building. Watch the TBEX emails for links to Ian’s 15 tips to build traffic to your blog. In the meantime, check his latest blog post with even more tips. Ensure you sign up for his newsletter as well so you don’t miss out. It was in his newsletter that I learned about Canva.com. With Canva.com, you can quickly create an image without much expertise. This helps me whenever I need something done quicker than I can outsource it.
- Long form Instagram Posts – At one of the events, I said hello to a young man from Kansas City called Nicholas Andriani. I love to say hello to just random people at conferences, as this is what you do. We had a great conversation and I found out that he’s an author with excellent knowledge of Israel and the Middle East. So we connected socially and I started following his Instagram stream. This is where it gets good. Nicholas gets on average 10% engagement from his Instagram posts! one even had 16%. But his audience is 1,166 followers. That’s insane! I’ve not seen that much engagement even for others who have a ton of followers. So the next day I saw him and we talked about it. He thinks its due to the length of his posts. He tells a mini story in the posts and of course adds the appropriate hashtags. Genius. His fans are also raving and clearly loves his content. Check out his stream on Instagram and follow him so you can learn the craft. I’m going to look into being more informative in my posts and see what gives.
- Get Your Podcast Going – I had the fortune of sitting next to Lou Mongello on the bus back from one of the TBEX parties. He’s the Disney expert and does a podcast on the subject. He’s huge! I’d seen Lou speak in Vegas at NMX this year or was it last year? It all blends together; but had not had a chance to connect with him. Thanks to the long bus rides at TBEX, we chatted about podcasting, how he got started with Disney and he gave me some pointers to get started with my podcasting. I actually used to podcast ages ago when it was first launched with a software called Odeo, which was founded by twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey. I’ve already setup the podcast template compliments of tips from Pat Flynn’s “How To Podcast Guide” and I do something similar currently as I answer questions from my audience using YouTube videos. The podcast will be called Ask Kerwin where I answer travel-related questions for my audience. After my talk with Lou, I told my audience via my weekly newsletter to expect a podcast, so now I’m committed. Thanks for the convo and words of encouragement Lou. So always talk to people you meet, sit next to or pass in the hallway. At the end of the day, TBEX is really about networking.
- Find A Newbie – At every conference there’s a newbie; well several. I never seek them out, but I usually find them. In Dublin, it was Eugene from Traverse in Converse. In Cancun, it was Jessica Medina. She was writing a book about how we travel differently and wanted to talk to a few bloggers to see if they were interested in being interviewed. We spoke and I introduced her to as many people as I could whom I know would also introduce her to others. Conferences are scary especially when you are there for the first time and meet or want to meet your online idol. So if you see a newbie, stretch your handout, say hello and guide them.
- I Have A Lot More To Offer – I ran into Jen Leo at the registration desk. I’d previously met her at the LA Times Travel Show, said hello, but had not really interacted much. An interaction online here and there over time was about it. I follow her on twitter and enjoy her App reviews with the LA Times as I’m an App geek. She does a lot of travel-related stuff, a podcast with Gary Arndt and Chris Christensen, in addition to a new enough site, BestKidsApps.com. Just Google her and you will see what I mean. After meeting her at the registration desk in the Moon Palace Arena, we headed over to the main lobby, sat down and really had a conversation. It was very inspirational to get to know her and what she is all about a little more. We shared stories, had a drink, just relaxed and enjoyed the moment. Yes, its not always chaos at conferences. Thanks Jen. So what did I learn here? Well, you don’t always make a connection the first time you meet someone. Take your time, it comes eventually and naturally.
So, get your act together, attend a conference that is related to your niche and also attend one that is not in your niche (its how you learn other things). Get out there and meet other bloggers, share your craft, study them, its the only way you will move forward. Give, give and then give some more.
If you were at TBEX Cancun, what are your thoughts? If you were not, I want to hear your thoughts too. Please leave a comment below.
— Kerwin McKenzie (@mskonfa1990) September 18, 2014