As you know in my earlier post last week, I went to the ITB, Berlin. Berlin is my adopted home town and a wonderful place to go to an international tourism travel trade fair.
As a coach and trainer, I like to prepare myself in order to ensure that I am always a few steps ahead of my students and clients, and so I did some online research. There isn’t an awful lot about how to prepare yourself for the biggest travel trade fair in the world but what there is, is pretty sound.
According to the Reiseblogger Kollective the “How To ITB” guide is a pretty comprehensive piece. You can get the low-down of the travel bloggers guide to the ITB Berlin by the TBEX (the Travel Bloggers Exchange), of which I hope to attend one of their conferences either in Athens this year or in 2015 but we’ll have to see! You can also get a few tips about the rise of travel bloggers from Yvonne a German blogger at JustTravelous. The gay travel guide at the ITB from Travels of Adam, and of course recommended blogger top tips from the ITB Berlin itself.
It was my very first time there as a blogger and OMG, it was so daunting but I learnt an awful lot. Let’s not forget that I started blogging only 5 months ago! Here goes:
1. Find and meet other bloggers: I would say that this is the most important point. I’m new in the blogging game so it was important to me that I met flesh and blood bloggers or at least people who work in social media. In order to do this I went to the pre-ITB party, bloggers meet-ups and various other after-parties. It wasn’t difficult and I met a few interesting people that I have to follow up in the next fortnight or so. They were all helpful, lovely, and encouraging, and that is what you need when you’re a new blogger.
2. Prepare. Organise. Prepare. Organise. Have all your stuff with you. Pens, paper, business cards, paper tissues, sweets for your throat after all the talking, drinking, or both. Get a map of transport availability, route of the rooms and halls, where the bathrooms are, and your stats or press kit! Happily, after reading about the mistake of other bloggers, I ordered two extra boxes of business cards but I forgot the cough sweets and ended up with a bit of a sore throat and a slight hack in my voice. Thankfully, nobody asked about my press kit, because I don’t have one!
3. Dress up: German businesses and corporations are conservative when it comes to meetings so being slightly formal and wearing a suit or at least smart-casual, will go a long way. I spied a few ladies wearing flats, sandals and flip-flops.
4. Have some sort of schedule or plan to your day: I wasn’t accredited as my blog was too new but that didn’t mean that I couldn’t map out what I wanted to do. I had a sheet of paper every day with what I wanted to attend, what the topic was about, where it was, and how to get there.
5. Be flexible: Even though I had a schedule, it didn’t mean that I couldn’t change it and I did. There were a few moments where I found myself in a seminar and it wasn’t the seminar that I expected, so after a polite 10 minutes, I quietly slipped away. Having said that, I met a few more experienced bloggers who advised me to do something else, or that something else would work out better for me, as a new blogger instead, so I shifted gear, and they were right.
6. Focus on you: What do you want out of the ITB, Berlin? Since this was my first blogger event. Ever. My priorities were to learn what blogging was really all about, how to get better, and basically introduce myself, and meet the star-bloggers in my vicinity. In this case: Germany. You can’t believe how the fact that I speak German actually opened a few more doors as many people hadn’t actually met a British blogger and a person of colour ……I’ll let you know how things progress!
7. Ask for help: If you don’t know something. Ask. Better to learn now, then disappoint later.
8. Go to seminars and workshops. There were over 200 lectures, discussions and workshops and 2,000 social media events. There’s bound to be something of interest. Take advantage as it’s free.
9. Network and network: Exchange business cards and don’t forget to note who or where you got the business card from, and follow-up and follow-through. It can sometimes be over-whelming to meet so many people and after a while, it all becomes a bit of a blur.
10. Enjoy yourself: How many opportunities do you get to have 10,147 companies at your fingertips and bloggers from 25 countries all over the world. It’s amazing! Remember just because you’re not on the list doesn’t mean you can’t join the party. I gatecrashed the bloggers speed-dating event, a few lounge parties and a couple of networking events. I just introduced myself, handed out my card, smiled, and grabbed a glass of champagne!
Right. Enough of the lectures. What did I personally learn? Well……
- A lot of businesses in Germany have absolutely no idea what a blogger is and what a blogger can do for the industry.
- Scientists don’t know anything about bloggers either.
- Speed-dating blog style and getting out the important facts about myself and my blog in 5 minutes flat, and in German!
- Where the free food and drink is. I made it one of my personal missions to search out the free grub and nosh as commercially sold food was awful and expensive…..
- How bloggers can work in professional corporation with industry.
- Expectations of and about blogger trips, or press trips, if one is so lucky.
- The myths and realities of being a travel blogger.
- The importance of networking.
- How to implement a social media marketing plan.
- How to use, and the benefits of Twitter.
- How many people were happy to help and advice me ranging from the staff at the ITB Berlin, to travel organisations and other bloggers. Again many thanks, ITB Press Team.
- How to throw a few punches in Thai Boxing and look good at the same time!
The most important thing that I really learnt was the fact that I, as the British Berliner, don’t have to go to far-flung countries to find my niche or to compete with others, because I can start doing my stuff right here in my region.
Where I live, and isn’t that something of a revelation.
P.S. I would like to mention a person who I met for the first time, at the pre-ITB launch party, who I kept bumping into during the travel convention and who continuously, gave me excellent advice, tips and know-how as to what to do. She is a blogger who switched to travel journalism. Her name is Maja. She held my hand and was wonderful. Thanks Maja.
As a last note, you can now catch me on Twitter: http://twitter.com/britishberliner
This article is not sponsored and all opinions are my absolute own.
Have you been to a bloggers conference or congress? Have you been to a networking event? Have you met other bloggers? What was it like? Were they as you expected them to be?
Have your say.
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