My second huge FAM / Press Trip to the Philippines – How to work with #TBEX, and how to do it right!

Victoria Ade-Genschow - The British Berliner (me) in the Philippines. But could this be a James Bond moment! ©Scott Herder - BoboandChiChi.com
Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner (me) in the Philippines. But could this be a James Bond moment!
©Scott Herder – BoboandChiChi.com

I’m back in Europe you guys!

It’s a little sad ‘cos Asia is one of my favourite continents, but still, it’s good to be back home.

I’ve just returned from that most exotic of continents – Asia – and to a region unfamiliar to travellers and visitors – the Philippines!

BUT WHAT WAS I DOING IN THE PHILIPPINES OF ALL PLACES?

Remember when I told you that I had astonishing news! Well, that astonishing news was the introduction of my journey to the Philippines for the very first time.

As you know, I had originally planned to go to the European conference in Sweden, but a window opened up. That window was the fact that I’m taking up a new job!

Yep!

I'll soon be working for Logo Sprachenschule!
I’ll soon be working for Logo Sprachenschule!

Now you all know that I work for a British / American company as a corporate trainer, but from November 2016, I’ll be working for a German company as the Vice-School Principal. And get this.

I’ll be responsible for their English-speaking business and their Social Media Management too!

It’s a small business and will be focused on international languages. The company is called LOGO Sprachenschule, and is based in my gentrified hipster neighbourhood of Prenzlauerberg. In the best place in the world – Berlin!

As usual, I’m an advocate for smart travelling, so I’m not quitting either my travels or my job anytime soon, thanks very much!

My family & I in Thailand - All smiles and bunny ears at the end of a great day at Baanchang Elephant Park.
My family & I in Thailand – All smiles and bunny ears at the end of a great day at Baanchang Elephant Park.

I didn’t go to the conference in Sweden, so I decided to go to the TBEX Asia-Pacific 2016 conference in the Philippines instead!

WHAT IS TBEX ALL ABOUT?

Me at TBEX - Travel Blog Exchange Asia Pacific 2016 - The future of travel Media!
Me at TBEX – Travel Blog Exchange Asia-Pacific 2016 – The future of travel Media

Well, TBEX is the holy grail of the travel blogging world and stands for Travel Blog Exchange.

It’s the world’s largest conference and networking event for travel bloggers, writers, online travel journalists, new media content creators, travel brands and social-media-savvy travel industry professionals. There are three (3) conferences held annually in North America, Europe, and Asia-Pacific, attracting 600-1000 delegates from all over the world!

At the Travel Massive Party with Filipino bloggers, in Manila! ©Kenneth Ephraim Surat
At the Travel Massive Party with Filipino bloggers, in Manila!
©Kenneth Ephraim Surat

It’s also a medium for the creative minds of the travel industry to come together, to network, to learn, to negotiate with the travel industry, and for those who are so inclined, to take the business of blogging to the next level.

How exciting!

Last year, I went to the TBEX conference for the very first time.

And it was a disaster!

The headless main in Barcelona, Spain.
Look. No head! In Spain!!

But this year. It was marvellous!

Every year, TBEX partners with fantastic destinations so that bloggers and media people get the opportunity to meet potential business partners or sponsors, meet influential bloggers, get new strategies and tips, network with each other, discover new destinations, share a new experience and well, be entertained and paaaaaaaarty like it’s 1999!

And party we did!

At the TBEX Asia Pacfic Oktoberfest Farewell Party, with local Filipinos!
At the TBEX Asia-Pacific Oktoberfest Farewell Party, with local Filipinos!

Most importantly, TBEX affords participants the opportunity to experience the destination hosted by the country itself!

You see, going to TBEX doesn’t only mean the conference weekend but actually a few days of serious jollification and pre-tours before the conference, and a week of a bit of a jolly, after the conference! In fact, even though the conference officially took place from October 13th – October 16th, many people arrived early, and some people are still in the Philippines NOW – Living the life of Riley!

Last year, I wished it had been me.

And this year it was!

TBEX 2016 Asia Pacific "The Visayan Charms" - Cebu/Bohol - Familarization (FAM) Tour in the Philippines
TBEX 2016 Asia-Pacific “The Visayan Charms” – Cebu/Bohol – Familiarization (FAM) Tour in the Philippines

Yes, your favourite blogger – The British Berliner – was invited to participate in the TBEX 2016 Asia-Pacific – The Visayan Charms – Cebu/Bohol – Familiarization (FAM) Tour in the Philippines.

I was ecstatic!

Me!

Out of hundreds of other bloggers!

Whoop! Whoop!

WHAT IS A PRESS OR FAM TRIP?

The 50 Shades of Tan Girls - Visayan Charms - Megan Indoe, Victoria Ade-Genschow, Charlotte Anne de Peralta & Ruchika Shankar! ©Trixie Lago - the Tourism Promotions Board Philippines
The 50 Shades of Tan Girls – Visayan Charms – Megan Indoe, Victoria Ade-Genschow, Charlotte Anne de Peralta & Ruchika Shankar!
©Trixie Lago – the Tourism Promotions Board Philippines

A PRESS TRIP is normally described as a visit to a destination, country, city, hotel, venue etc, organised for media groups. It usually introduces and presents the best bits of a particular itinerary and is usually for a small group of journalists or bloggers, or an organised private trip. Although a press trip could be for a few hours, it usually refers to a trip of a few days.

A familiarization trip, or FAM TRIP as it is better known, is similar to a press trip however, it usually includes a visit to a number of sights, venues, activities, accommodations, or restaurant spots, in one area or region. It is typically organised for travel industry professionals, to give them a better understanding of the regions and products they are trying to sell to their clients. Lots of different activities are included so that as much as possible can be experienced. Sometimes journalists might attend a FAM TRIP too.

The cost is covered except for personal spending and tips. That usually means no shopping. Awwww!
The cost is covered except for personal spending and tips. That usually means no shopping.
Awwww!

In both instances your costs will usually be covered, though this will vary depending on the organiser.

In this case, I made my own way to the Philippines and paid for the conference fee and my own hotel costs while at the TBEX conference (4 days) in Manila, which was where our FAM trip week was to start.

Once the FAM trip started, we didn’t have to pay for a single thing!

Of course, if you suddenly fancied a spot of your finest whisky monsieur. That was a hefty bill, and all on you!

HOW DID I GET INVITED?

I absolutely love walking! ©Pascale Scerbo Sarro
I absolutely love walking!
©Pascale Scerbo Sarro

Well, my big break came just five (5) months after I started writing as a blogger. And to be quite frank, I have been extremely lucky to be at the right place, at the right time. In 2014, I happened to be at the Sony Centre in Berlin where I got chatting to a PR person who promised to put me on the guest list of the Berlin Music Video Awards. She did, and even though, I never saw her again, my pro-active activity coupled with an outgoing personality, and a genuine interest to get involved, opened the door to being invited into the VIP section, a glimpse into the media world, and a whole host of people who had a friendly eye, and were willing to help me in my quest for knowledge and information.

Press documentation for Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week - Autumn/Winter 2016.
Press documentation for Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week – Autumn/Winter 2016.

A press card and a TV documentary about me came about because of the simple matter that when I undergo to write a piece, I make a thorough job of it.

People really like my personality, so I’ve often been an invited guest of city-destinations in which trips have been organised and customised to my own personal requirements. This is the best type of press trip to have, so I consider myself extremely lucky and very honoured.

However, I’ve only ever been on a group FAM trip once before, and that FAM trip was to France!

You can imagine my  anxiety ‘cos I was the only British person there, and the only blogger!

It's embarrassing. I had no idea who I would be meeting, I just knew that I would be going to France!
It’s embarrassing. I had no idea who I would be meeting, I just knew that I would be going to France!

This was only slightly different ‘cos not only was I the only British person in my group, I was the lone European too!

WHAT WAS I SUPPOSED TO BE DOING ON THE VISAYAN CHARMS FAM TRIP?

The Visayan Charms of the local Filipino people!
The Visayan Charms of the local Filipino people!

The point of this FAM trip was to introduce the region as not only an interesting place to visit, but a historical cultural one too. A destination that would hit all the right spots for someone like me. And ultimately, someone like you!

This FAM trip was a five (5) day exploration starting from Sunday night and finishing mid-Friday evening.

I didn’t have any information as to who was going to be there and what type of bloggers would be attending.

You tend to get a little anxious that you’re going to be too shy, people aren’t going to like you, you’re not going to like them, you end up being that blogger, or that you’re going to be completely out of your depth and thus, comfort zone.

Yes, I know.

Silly isn’t it, but there you have it!

I knew only one person - Nathan Aguilera! ©Ajay Sood - Travelure (a.k.a. Ajay Sood)
I knew only one person – Nathan Aguilera! ©Ajay Sood – Travelure (a.k.a. Ajay Sood)

As I said earlier, I didn’t know who would be there except for one person – a crazy young American foodie blogger called Nathan Aguilera – Foodie Flashpacker.

We met on the TBEX Facebook Group page, and ended up in the same conference hotel – The Golden Phoenix.

I was so relieved to see him, and hung out with him quite a bit. I hope I didn’t stalk him too much but I don’t think so, as I ended up giving him my hotel room for free!

WERE WE GIVEN ANY DETAILS AT ALL?

Press Trip!
Press Trip!

Yep!

The Host was the Tourism Promotions Board Philippines. They were highly organised and thoroughly fantastic.

I’ve been on a FAM trip with the Germans. I should know!

On this FAM trip we were expected to be doing the following:

THE VISAYAN CHARMS

The Visayan Charms of the local Filipino people!
The Visayan Charms of the local Filipino people!

NUMBER OF PARTICIPANTS: 10

DEPARTURE: October 17th

RETURN: October 21st

A DESCRIPTION:

The Tarsier - the sallest monkey in the world!
The Tarsier – the smallest monkey in the world!

Cruise the river of Loboc, view the mountain trails of kisses of the Philippines known as the Chocolate Hills and do a selfie with a tarsier. Explore Bohol’s eastern side with the island’s long stretches of white sand beaches and pristine waters. Discover Lamanoc Island known for its mysticism.

Have a taste of “lechon – the best (roast) pig ever” according to Anthony Bourdain. Walk along the streets of Colon, the oldest street in the Philippines. Explore the city’s rich past with a visit to its historical landmarks such as the Magellan’s Cross, Basilica de Santo Nino, one of the country’s oldest relics. As a major trading port and site for some of the nation’s fastest-growing industries, it reinforces its multiculturalism with progression. This heady mix of urban vibes and casual provincial airs makes it a favorite destination of those seeking a showcase of the harmonious co-existence of history, culture and modernity.

ATTIRE: Light casual clothes with comfortable sandals for walking and beachwear
THEME: Nature and Culture
DESTINATION: Central Visayas Region – Cebu and Bohol

Just me and my horse in Manila!
Just me and my horse in Manila!

TOUR PROGRAMME:

DAY 1

Leave the humdrum of city life in Manila behind!
Leave the humdrum of city life in Manila behind!
  • Depart Manila
  • Arrive Tagbilaran Airport
  • Proceed to Bohol Countryside Tour
  • Loboc River Cruise with lunch
  • Drive to Carmen to see the Chocolate Hills
  • En-route, stop at the Butterfly Sanctuary
  • Arrival in Chocolate Hills view deck
  • Depart view deck then drive to resort
  • Check-in at Amorita Resort
  • Dinner

DAY 2

  • Breakfast at the resort
  • Proceed to Balicasag Island using an outrigger boat
  • Arrival at the island for some snorkelling and leisure time on the beach
  • Picnic-style lunch in Balicasag Resort
  • Depart island and return to the resort
  • Back to hotel / freshen up / Free Time
  • Arrive in South Palms Resort for cocktails
  • Dinner at South Palms
  • Back to Amorita Resort

DAY 3

Have breakfast at the Resort. And sushi!
Have breakfast at the Resort. And sushi!
  • Breakfast at the Resort
  • Check out
  • Transfer to the seaport
  • Ferry: Depart Tagbilaran to Cebu
  • Arrival in Cebu
  • Lunch at Circa 1900 featuring Cebu’s famous lechon
  • Proceed to Mactan Island Tour
  • Proceed to Shangri-La Mactan / Check-In
  • Free time
  • Dinner at Cowrie Cove

DAY 4

  • Breakfast at the Hotel
  • Proceed to Island Adventure
  • Lunch at Cow-Oy
  • Back to hotel / freshen up / Free Time
  • Scheduled Spa & Massage for the group
  • Dinner

DAY 5

Flying is safe in the Philippines so proceed to the airport! Scott Herder & Megan Indoe - ©Victoria Ade-Genschow - The British Berliner
Flying is safe in the Philippines so proceed to the airport!
Scott Herder & Megan Indoe – ©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner
  • Breakfast
  • Free time / Check resort programmed activities
  • Check out
  • Proceed to Mactan City
  • Lunch
  • Proceed to Airport
  • Depart Cebu
  • Arrive Manila

HOW WAS IT?

Team Visayan Charms - It's more fun in the Philippines! ©Trixie Lago - the Tourism Promotions Board Philippines
Team Visayan Charms – It’s more fun in the Philippines!
©Trixie Lago – the Tourism Promotions Board Philippines

It was a pretty packed programme, but awesome!

As I write this, it’s October 30th, and so much has happened since then.

Due to the very hot weather, the over-indulgence of wonderful food, a few sneaky gulps of whisky, and the intensity of foreign travel in a developing country, I ended up with the trots!

For the non-British people among you, I mean Delhi-belly.

Still don’t get it?

Diarrhea!

It had to happen.

It had to happen. I ended up with the trots: aka diarrhea!
It had to happen. I ended up with the trots: aka diarrhea!

Thankfully, our FAM trip had already ended when I was struck down.

And luckily, I was in the nice Belmont Hotel when it happened too!

Otherwise, it could have been rather.

Akward!

ANY TIPS GOING ON A FAM TRIP FOR THE FIRST TIME?

Arriving at Nalusuan Island in Cebu with Jonathan Espiña, Ajay Sood, Victoria Ade-Genschow (me) & Ruchika Shankar! ©Jonathan Espiña - Jon to the World
Arriving at Nalusuan Island in Cebu with Jonathan Espiña, Ajay Sood, Victoria Ade-Genschow (me) & Ruchika Shankar!
©Jonathan Espiña – Jon to the World
  • Leave plenty of time for trips, tours and meet-ups both before, and after the conference
  • You don’t have to have a huge following to be accepted onto a FAM trip
  • Improve your photography
  • Have great content
  • Educate yourself and if you don’t know, ask your fellow invites
  • Networking is key to putting a face to a name in the blogging / press community
  • Take your business cards
  • Try to get some sleep
  • Get comfy but smarten yourself up, if the venue demands it
  • Be punctual
  • Stay professional
  • Don’t whinge
  • Follow the programme
  • Be a team-player
  • Keep smiling
  • Don’t be afraid to get into the sea.
  • Don’t be stupid either
  • Be yourself
  • Write about your FAM trip and send it to the host or organiser
  • Thank the host or organiser
  • Have a great time

VERDICT?

Nobody got bitten / attacked by strange creatures of the sea in the Philippines!
Nobody got bitten / attacked by strange creatures of the sea in the Philippines!

The staff of the Tourism Promotions Board Philippines (Maria Gracia, Grace, Mary Ann, Trixie and Zyrah), were warm, welcoming, funny, and professional. They made sure that we were well-looked after, nobody got lost or forgot anything (except for me. I lost my MAC lipstick)! Nobody got bitten / attacked by strange creatures of the sea, and nobody got left behind or ostracised.

In fact, we all got on extremely well!

There were huge moments of laughter, hugging, leaping, jumping, screaming, but most importantly, lots of smiling, laughing, and learning from each other.

On quite a few nights, there were some on-the-spot-learning workshops, the sharing of tips, links, talents, and skills, and the promise of future collaboration / partnership.

In fact, I might even have got myself a new employee for my brand – The British Berliner – and once it’s all confirmed, I’ll let you know who it is, and why!

ANYTHING ELSE?

Team Visayan Charms on the way to Balicasag Island using an outrigger boat. ©Trixie Lago - the Tourism Promotions Board Philippines
Team Visayan Charms on the way to Balicasag Island using an outrigger boat.
©Trixie Lago – the Tourism Promotions Board Philippines

Yep!

We were a small group of just nine (9) bloggers (including myself) from five (5) international countries:

Nathan Aguilera – America

Ruchika Shankar – India

Charlotte Anne de Peralta – Philippines

Ajay Sood – India

Jonathan Espiña – Philippines

Scott Herder – USA

Megan Indoe – USA

Karl-Philip Vallée – Canada

Victoria Ade-Genschow – England / Germany (me)

Our job for that week was to visit and see the region for ourselves and hopefully, discover the many interests and joys of Manila, Bohol and Cebu, so that other travellers and visitors are encouraged to come and visit themselves.

And we did!

Thanks guys!

MY SECOND HUGE FAM / PRESS TRIP TO THE PHILIPPINES – HOW TO WORK WITH #TBEX, AND HOW TO DO IT RIGHT!

Delicious slices of Lechon - that tasty famous suckling pig!
Delicious slices of Lechon – that tasty famous suckling pig!

This article is not sponsored and even though I was invited on this trip as a guest of the Tourism Promotions Board Philippines and as a member of TBEX, all opinions and the tasty famous suckling pig, and beautiful landscape that I saw, are my very own!

In November, I’ll be travelling to Austria and starting a new job!

Save the Date!

October is going to be out of this world!

Watch this space!

Please also note that there is now a Booking.com affiliate link (for the very first time) connected to my hotel. Every time some sort of accommodation is booked via my link I get a little percentage, but at no extra cost to yourself! A win-win for all!

My second huge FAM / Press Trip to the Philippines - How to work with #TBEX, and how to do it right!
My second huge FAM / Press Trip to the Philippines – How to work with #TBEX, and how to do it right!

Did you know that the smallest monkey in the world is in the Philippines? Did you ever think a FAM or Press trip would be that intense? Is a suckling pig the type of thing you would have for breakfast? Let me know!

See you in Berlin.

If you like this post or if you have any questions send me a tweet, talk to me on Facebook, find me on Linkedin, make a comment below, look for me on Google+ or send me an Email: victoria@thebritishberliner.com
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30 thoughts on “My second huge FAM / Press Trip to the Philippines – How to work with #TBEX, and how to do it right!

  1. Glad you had a great time on your FAM trip! Those are wonderful aren’t they? A chance to get to know others in the same realm, eat some good food and meet some really lovely local people. Loved seeing your images on Facebook! Welcome back home 🙂 .

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much Megan! ‘The pleasure is all mine lol! And yes, I hope I did our Visayan Charms trip some justice! It was lovely meeting both you & Scott. Have an absolutely marvellous wedding, and we’ll definitely meet again.
      Some place on this wonderful little earth! xx 🙂 🙂

      Like

    1. Thanks so much Bianca! I highly recommend TBEX! I hear that London WTM is quite good too but I tend not to go, as it’s similar to ITB Berlin, and as far as the travel industry is concerned, ITB Berlin is the largest trade fair ever! And since I actually live in Berlin, it wold be silly to forego it lol!
      p.s. I’ll most likely be going to TBEX Europe next year as usual. ‘Hope to see you there. 🙂

      Like

    1. Thanks so much Taiss! TBEX is really worth going to. It can be a little daunting at the beginning but once you find one person to hang out with, you’re pretty good to go! Do give it a try, and if you have any questions, just holler! 🙂

      Like

    1. Thanks so much Ajay! It was a pleasure meeting you too. I certanly hope our paths will cross. I might not be able to go to TBEX Jersusalem as it’s roughly the same time as my beloved ITB Berlin, but I#ll definitely be at TBEX Europe. Wherever that may be lol! 🙂 🙂

      Like

  2. It’s so nice to see that you had such a great time at TBEX conference. We missed it this year but we will try to show up next year!!! As for your stay in the Philippines, awesome to see your smiley face around locals! x I didn’t enjoy the local food there and in general I don’t have many nice memories from that place but I am glad you liked it :)!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so muxh Agness! TBEX in the Philippines was so much more fun than TBEX in Costa Brava last year!
      I think we had a really good time as we had people to guide us at the initial stage, and show us what the Philippines is all about, as I’m guessing it’s not really an easy country to travel to. Especially for Europeans, and I remember well the article that you wrote, as you didn’t have a nice time at all. In fact, it was because of your article that my interest was piqued in the first place!

      Like

  3. Victoria, I’m glad you got in on a good FAM trip! I went to TBEX Bangkok in 2015, but I hadn’t booked myself enough time in Bangkok to participate in a trip. Bohol’s a cool island too. You got a much better picture of the Tarsier than I did!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you for all the kind words about our country. We’re happy to hear that you enjoyed the Philippines so much! TBEX Manila was an awesome event indeed and it warms our hearts to hear our foreign guests talk about our country so positively. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Fam trips are great fun and offer lots of fodder for blog posts. Sometimes, though, they pack in too much. I took one at a TBEX once that ended up just a blur in my memory. I ended up not having enough to write about some of the places because I hadn’t really learned enough about them or seen them thoroughly enough. On the other hand, it got me to visit again a year later!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much Rachel! It’s true! There’s lots of great material but you do have to pace yourself. I only write once a week so I’m selective of how I write and what I write about lol! The FAM trips can be a bit packed so I write notes, take photographs, and keep fliers, hotel material, etc along on the way.

      And yes, depending on location, I usually visit again too: Remember the awful experience I had in Spain at the last TBEX. well, I didn’t want it to marr the wonderful times that I had had, so I built our family holiday around Spain & Portugal this year! And did it work?
      Wonderfully!

      Like

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