I recently attended Travel Bloggers Unite conference in Porto, Portugal. The conference was well worth attending and the contacts and experiences I had were outstanding. I can’t stress the importance of getting out there, meeting people and introducing your brand as well as sharing and learning from your peers plus building new experiences.
If you want to see what went on during the conference go to twitter and search for the has tag “#tbupor”. But I’d like to share my own experiences in an effort to stimulate your interest in attending conferences and networking.
I arrived at TBU a day early just so I can go to the pre-arranged meet up at a local bar (La Boheme) in the city. This was great as I knew very few people who were attending the event. Meeting folks pre-conference is recommended as it makes the conference itself go by quicker. It was great to finally meet Keith Jenkins from Velvet Escape as we interact over on the facebook Group, Global Bloggers Network, but never met face-to-face. I also met a number of other new travel bloggers and got to understand and interact with them a little more.
The next day, we had early morning tours setup with the Portugal Tourism Board; these were sensational as we all got an opportunity to experience Porto from a local Guide’s perspective. I went on a tour of the old Porto Stock Exchange as well as parts of downtown Porto including the bookstore that J.K. Rowlins used at some point during her writing of the Harry Potter book series.
The Stock Exchange is magnificent, especially the Arabian room. There was a bit of a commotion over photos, since photos were not allowed; but as we were with the local media, Publico, who were filming and interviewing us, it all went well in the end.
Our story made the local paper the next day, so that gave some of us additional publicity. As it turns out my site Cruisinaltitude.com as well as this site, travelblogger101.com has increased traffic from Portugal as a result. If you go to Porto, ensure that you see the Stock Exchange and see the Arabian Room; I’m pretty sure you’ve never seen anything like that before. Its also the room where the Euro Treaty was signed.
That night, we were the guest once more of the Portugal Tourism Board for a welcome party at a local place called the Pousada do Porto Freixo Palace Hotel. Wine, food and music were all provide, plus we had a chance to meet other travel bloggers as well as members of the Tourism Board. Plus, we did not just walk there, we took a sunset boat cruise down the Douro River to the venue.
The next day was the first full Conference Day where we got to listen to our peers educate us on different aspects of the business. I think everyone came away with some task from these sessions. Our day started with a keynote talk from Deb & Dave from Planet D talking to us about our Passions and how to use them as the basis for our businesses. I had a great talk with them after about their passion and their life and business.
The folks from World Travel Market were also on hand encouraging us to attend their conference. I’ll also do the same again as its an excellent conference to meet the Tourism Boards from almost 200 countries worldwide all in one place. WTM is also treating us as journalists so we get full access to the event. Chek out more details at WTMLondon.com.
One of my best takeaways is that I went to a talk about 10 SEO Tips by Scott McLay and learned that the plugin I use on all my sites was not exactly as friendly as I was led to believe. So Scott helped me to get rid of it and installed one from Yoast, the WordPress for SEO from Yoast. I’ll now update the other sites to suit. Scott also answered a few other questions that I had as well. He’s just a simply brilliant guy especially in the SEO world.
I attended a WordPress Advanced Talk and met Chris Richardson who runs RTWLabs.com. Chris has a lot of knowledge and will take care of your site while you go away and blog for what I think is a nominal monthly fee. His task is to take the worries out of the tech. I loved his talk as I have a few things to implement as a result. Check out his site and tell him I recommended him. He is also a fellow traveler blogger known as The Aussie Nomad.
The afternoon of the second Conference Day was an Unconference. if you don’t know, an “Unconference” is where the attendees write down topics they’d like to present and then other attendees sign up. I’ve never been to a conference where this never turned out well and TBU was no exception. I learned what a “jogger” is (U.K. term for a journalist) from Sarah Lee from LiveShareTravel.com, who is a jogger herself and also a blogger; Craig Martin from Indie Travel Podcast talked about Affiliate programs and Rachelle Lucas from TheTravelBite.com told us all about video editing using iMovie which spawned into learning Animoto. A great afternoon of learning.
The night was capped off by a meetup organized by the guy with the most energy from the Conference Kash from BudgetTraveller.org; he blogs about luxury hostels, yes, there is such a term :-). Of course we met up at a luxury hostel, the Gallery Hostel in the center of Porto. We had a great meal sponsored by the hostel which included chicken, beef, rice and of course wine. Afterall, we are in Porto. A great end to the main part of the conference.
The Bloggy Awards was the event that capped off Saturday night. The event was held on the banks of the Duoro River at the Communications Museum, transformed into a dinner venue just for us. This was the perfect place to see the Porto sunset. Here I took the opportunity to add my entry to Mario’s Web site SomeoneOnceToldMe.com. This site let’s you submit a picture of you and something that someone once told you. I was thrilled to make my entry.
Perhaps the best part of the event was visiting the Douro Valley with a local tour guide. This event was organized by the Portugal Tourism Board and lasted two days and was basically, eating, drinking and experience nature and the vineyards and restaurants of the Douro Valley. The tourism team of Filipe, Rui and Helena just did an incredible job of organization the local Visit Portugal events, so thanks to everyone once more.
We were a small group of 16 people who were randomly thrown together as we had to pick our tours beforehand. I was delighted to meet everyone and get to understand why they blog, what they blog about and learn some tips and also share my knowledge as well. The group was varied in sex, age ethnicity and experiences so it all worked well.
So the bottom-line is that you should be seeking out these conferences and attend the ones that suit your budget. The next Travel Bloggers Unite Conference is not yet scheduled, but hope on over to the Web site and the details will be posted soon.
What was your take on the event? Please leave a comment below if you attended.