So last week I told you all about the fear and horror of visiting a city such as Manila!
I also told you how well we were looked after, because I couldn’t be in Manila on my lonesome.
Oh dear me no!
I have the feeling that people are reluctant to open their purse-strings and spend $100+ on something that they know very little about so have no fear, Victoria is here!
Yep! I’m here to clarify your mind on whether going to a TBEX conference is worth the money that you will undoubtedly, spend.
WHAT IS TBEX?
Well, TBEX is the holy grail of the travel blogging world and stands for Travel Blog Exchange.
WHAT IS TBEX ALL ABOUT?
TBEX is 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!
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.
Last year, I went to the TBEX conference for the very first time.
In previous years, the bloggers conference had been in Dublin (whisky & beer. Yay!) and Athens (ouzo & wine. Double Yay!). Last year it was on the seaside coast of Costa Brava. In Spain.
And I spent most of my time crying, as it was a complete and utter disaster!
I love going to Spain and after that horrid experience I needed to go back to Spain again. So I did!
In fact, I went one step further, and travelled to Portugal too!
I had planned to once again go to the TBEX European conference in Sweden, but a window opened up. That window was the fact that I took up a new job for a German company called LOGO Sprachenschule, as the Vice-School Principal responsible for their English-speaking business and their Social Media Management too!
We’re in the process of setting up a new website, but I’ll let you know when it’s done!
So back to TBEX!
And this year. It was brilliant!
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!
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!
BUT WHAT DO YOU DO THERE?
Whatever you want really!
But seriously, there is a conference agenda crammed with pre-BEX tours, workshops, keynote speeches, break-out sessions in Content, Commerce, Community, TBEX Business, Speed Networking, a Closing Keynote about the future of travel by Patricia Schultz – the bestselling author of 1,000 places to see before you die, and fun things like pub crawls, an opening night party, refreshments, lunch, coffee-breaks, a Second Night Party, a Farewell Party, Roof-Top Pool Parties, cocktail bars, meet-me-at-the-front-parties, FAM tours, all great fun, and all included in the price!
During the TBEX conference, I hardly slept at all!
There were shuttle vans and buses to take bloggers to the conference venue and since, I’m weird and actually like learning new things, I went to quite a few sessions.
I went to:
- Writing like a Human Not a Robot: SEO With Soul (Community) by Michael Briggs
- You Want Publicity? Use G+ to Reach Millions (Community) by Shane Dallas
- Practical Ways to Improve your Affiliate Sales (Commerce) by Chris Christensen
- How to Trend on Twitter (Commerce) by Michael Collins
- How To Build A Thriving Real Community Around Your Blog & Brand (Community) by Anton Diaz
- And Speed Networking
I wanted to go to:
- How to Improve Your Architectural Photographs (Content) by Ajay Sood. Thankfully, I met him again as he was on my FAM trip too!
- How to Monetize your Blog with Print on Demand (Commerce) by Betsy & Peter Wuebker. I opted to go to a session conducted by a local Filippino – Anton Diaz instead. And I enjoyed it very much. In fact, the room was packed!
- How to Creat Eye-Catching Hyperlapse Videos Today Using your Smart Phone (Content) by Scott Herder. I regret missing this the most as I love my iPhone 6 smart phone, and actually prefer using it to a more sophisticated camera! It’s small. It’s in my handbag, and it’s less invasive. I’m a strong believer that you ask your subject before taking their photograph!
And I missed it ‘cos by the last day, I was exhausted and really, really tired. So I nipped off for a nap instead! Happily, Scott was on my FAM trip too!
YOU MENTIONED REFRESHMENTS. WOULD WE STARVE?
Not in the least! I’m sure people do worry, because food n’ stuff has to go in the budget, but once you’re on the doorstep of the TBEX Convention Center, you wouldn’t have to pay for a single item of nibble!
All soft drinks, water and coffee were provided free of charge. Getting a cup of tea was slightly more difficult, but the staff were awesome and ran around making sure that I had a good cuppa. With milk and sugar!
During the breaks we had tables full of snacks, cake, fruit, nibbles and ice-cream. I’ll let the pictures do the talking!
Lunch was amaaaaaaazing, and at one of them, we all had to eat standing. And with our bare hands!
It was quite hilarious too, as most of the Asian bloggers were using cutlery delicately provided, while we international bloggers all tried our best to use our fingers!
The food was quite delicious too!
As for drinks, I’m more a cocktails and champagne type of girl so when we went to the Second Night Party at the Long Bar at Raffles Makati, hosted by Travel Massive, I bought the All-You-Can-Drink for four (4) hours ticket, and bought cocktail after cocktail. I also sneaked a few to the local Filippino bloggers as the bar price was beyond their local budget!
And let’s not forget the TBEX Farewell Party which was themed for Oktoberfest.
Well, this girl didn’t let you down ‘cos there was German food, Filippino food, and Indian food, as well as good ‘ole German craft beer, and German beer on tap!
The service staff even wore the football uniforms of the German 2016 FIFA World Cup winners!
And because blogging can be a lonesome game so it’s pretty nice meeting others.
Hanging out with real people, and people who “understand” why it’s important to position an item just so, before you take a photograph! You should have seen the angles that people were taking with some even standing on the table, in order to get “that photograph” just right.
And everybody completely understood!!
HOW CAN I GO TO TBEX?
There are three (3) conferences held annually in North America, Asia-Pacific, and Europe. Choose the region that is closest or more appropriate for you. For instance, going to TBEX in America would be pretty useless for me, as many of you are actually from North America, Europe, or the UK, and are more interested in Europe!
Truthfully, I decided to go to the Philippines because I could!
WOULD IT COST ME AN ARM AND A LEG?
‘Not at all!
TBEX Asia (2016) cost me (with a Travel Massive discount) just $125.00!
TBEX Europe (2017) (early bird) cost a mere $117.00!
Of course, you do have to factor in your flight cost.
In my case, I knew that the cost of flying to the Philippines would effectively be cheaper than flying to Sweden as Nordic countries are hideously expensive!
BUT WHAT ABOUT HOTELS?
Whilst in Manila, I stayed at three (3) different hotels.
TBEX usually recommends a bevy of hotels which I would definitely check out as they’re usually near the TBEX Convention Center venue, and loads of other bloggers will also be there which is all part of the fun…!
Do your own research as to prices.
I found that my hotel was actually cheaper without the TBEX discount code, and gave me more extras like breakfast and bottles of water!
The first hotel I stayed at was the Golden Phoenix Hotel Manila.
There was free WiFi, a buffet breakfast (mainly Asian), a swimming pool, and a fitness center.
It was in a really nice area, the staff were great, my room was large, and the twenty (20) or so bloggers that were staying there, were awesome!
Cost: PHP 3,002.52 or €57.00 per day
The second hotel that I stayed at was the Belmont Hotel & Resorts.
We were all moved there, so that we could fly out for our FAM trips pretty early in the morning!
The night before our FAM trip and the night after our FAM trip were complementary, and I liked the set-up so much that I paid for two extra nights out of pocket!
The Belmont Hotel is very near the airport, and my room was large. And of course, the fact that all the bloggers who had gone on a FAM trip were accommodated there, made it a pretty social place to be.
There were roof-parties, pool parties, and generally, come-to-my-room-we-have-whisky-and-rum-parties!
Sadly, towards the end of my time in Manila, I was horribly ill.
Perhaps, it was 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, so I was very happy to still be in only one place, and one room!
The service wasn’t that fantastic as the staff were over-whelmed. It took one hour for someone to come to my room with a pair of scissors, numerous calls for someone to bring me a bar of soap, and an extra towel, and sometimes, it would take ages to get reception on the phone! However, when I was ill, they sent for a doctor, and honestly, I was glad that I was at a more up-market place, than elsewhere!
They had free wifi, a lovely swimming pool, a nice restaurant, breakfast, a lovely view, comfortable beds, and free bottles of water.
Cost: PHP 6,000 for two nights or €57.00 per day. If you booked a room at this first anniversary price, you would get the second night for free.
So that was what I did!
The third hotel I stayed at, I would definitely not recommend!
At the end of my stay in Asia, I flew back to Manila for 24 hours and this time, I chose the more humble 3-star Vieve Hotel.
The staff at the Vieve Hotel were nice enough, but I wouldn’t recommend it if you were travelling solo. I wanted to see the more “authentic” Manila, and I certainly did!
To be candid, I was scared.
I didn’t go out that night but stayed in my room, double-locked the door, and jammed a chair behind it!
WHAT DID I LEARN AT TBEX ?
- Leave plenty of time for trips, tours and meet-ups both before and after the TBEX conference
- Use the TBEX recommended hotel list when booking your hotel or B&B, but do your own research for prices
- Networking is key to putting a face to a name in the blogging community
- Just because you don’t have an appointment, doesn’t mean that you can’t go to the Speed Networking event to meet potential clients
- Don’t be afraid or shy to say “hi” to some of our blogging stars or key-speakers who are just as human as we are
- Realise that some people might consider you to be a blogging star too!
- Make sure that you’re in the right session room….!
- Think about your future and where you would like your blogging career to lead to
- Don’t be afraid to monetize if that is what you want to do, just be realistic as nobody ever “made it” by blogging alone. There’s a huge amount of hard work behind the facade of “success.”
- Think about what your niche market is and if you’re a local destination expert – own it!
- Google+ could be the next big thing. Don’t under-estimate it
- Don’t spend more than you can afford to lose.
- It’s not about the best camera in the world, it’s about you!
- Improve your photography
- Drink lots & lots of water
- Try not be sick
- Give back to whatever local community you happen to be in
- If you’re tired, take a nap
- Be professional
- Be appreciative of all the hard work that the host country / region has done
- Listen to your readers
- Look at what excites YOU
- Educate yourself
- Get started
- Build your audience
- Do things your way
- Sunglasses can never be too huge!
- Have a great time!
I’m going to be there. Are you?
HOW I WENT TO TBEX AGAIN, AND WHAT I LEARNT!
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 magnificent time that I had, are my very own!
Next week I’ll be writing about Taiwan, and then returning to the Philippines again later!
Save the Date!
November is going to be wind-biting!
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!
Do you want to be a blogger? Have you ever been to TBEX or a conference of any kind? Is it worth the money? Let me know!
See you in Berlin.