I went to the ITB in Berlin, so am I a professional travel blogger?

At Travel Massive - 2015.
At Travel Massive – 2015.

Last week, I told you that I would be revealing where I’ll be travelling to in the next few months. I can’t tell you exactly when for security reasons, but you’ll be the first to know next week LOL!

But first:

WHAT IS THE ITB BERLIN?

Learning stuff at the ITB Berlin.
Learning stuff at the ITB Berlin.

The ITB Berlin is the world’s leading travel industry think tank in which the convention trade fair establishes itself as the industry’s main knowledge platform.

As the leading Travel Trade Show, ITB Berlin is the foremost business platform for global tourism business. This year, we had participants from:

  • 5 Continents.
  • 180 Countries.
  • 600 Qualified Top Buyers.
  • 10,000 Exhibitors.
  •  20,000 Convention Visitors.
  •  50,000 Private Visitors.
  • 110,000 Trade Visitors.
  • Bloggers from all over the world.
  • 160,000 Square meters.
  • Over 5 days within 4th March – 8th March, 2015.
  • Bringing in a €6 billion turnover to Germany.
Mongolia at the ITB Berlin.
Mongolia at the ITB Berlin.

The ITB Berlin is a big deal and the partner country for 2015 was Mongolia with the motto: Nomadic by Nature.

Wow!

This is the first time that I have participated as an accredited blogger and with travel blogs becoming popular, interest in them has begun to grow within the tourism industry. I mean, last year was the first time that I had even heard of Twitter! As such, ITB Berlin went all out and organised a platform in which international contacts could meet up with bloggers, and bloggers could network with each other and industry, via discussions and presentations.

In 2014, I did not go to the ITB as an accredited blogger as by then, my blog was roughly only four (4) months old and I gate-crashed networking events! However, the ITB ladies were amazing and sent me a VIP ticket to encourage and motivate me.

Myself with the photographers. Courtesy of Pascale Scerbo Sarro
Myself with the photographers.
Courtesy of Pascale Scerbo Sarro

I’ve improved a lot since then. In fact, I’d even go as far as saying that I’m a professional blogger.

Wooooooh there missy!

This topic is a controversial one and begets no real solution.

Last year, I met one of the biggest bloggers in the German market, I approached this person for advice and was dismissed because according to them “I was only a hobby blogger!”

Exxxxxxxxxcuse me!

I have to confess that I was upset and annoyed but most importantly, I refuse to take that comment lying down.

Celebrating diversity at the British Embassy.
Celebrating diversity at the British Embassy.

WHAT’S A PROFESSIONAL TRAVEL BLOGGER ANYWAY?

According to the Professional Travel Bloggers Association, The association consists of travel bloggers from various career paths who come together for the purpose of furthering the profession of travel blogging, aim to legitimize travel blogging as a business, and facilitate business relationships within the industry, with emphasis on the following goals:

  • Accuracy.
  • Accountability.
  • To not plagiarise or knowingly accept plagiarism.
  • Being polite, upholding the freedom of speech and refraining from personal attacks and hate speech.
  • Being professional in the way the blogger works. Upholding all applicable laws, regulations, and rules concerning the prevention of unfair, deceptive or misleading advertising and marketing practices. Disclosing financially benefits or discounts and not abusing the position as travel bloggers.
  • Not pressuring travel companies into working with bloggers, or discounting services.

REQUIREMENTS TO JOIN THE ASSOCIATION:

A minimum of nine months blogging and more than 3,000 page views in the last thirty days, and an annual fee of $75.

On the red carpet at the Internationale Filmfestspiele, Berlin or at the International Film Festival, Berlin.
On the red carpet at the Internationale Filmfestspiele, Berlin or at the International Film Festival, Berlin.

According to MIke Snowden. A professional travel blogger is:

According to TBEX (the Travel Blog Exchange), you are not a blogger unless you are:

  • A talented story-teller (regardless of whether your stories are told via print, audio, or video).
  • Constantly trying to improve your craft and provide value to your sponsors and readers.
  • Have entered an agreement with a client or a sponsor, and that agreement includes the expectation that you will act like a professional for the duration of that relationship.
  • A professional blogger who looks for mentors and teachers from whom they can learn.
  • A blogger who networks with their peers, copy their successes, and tries to avoid the mistake of others.
Me. Myself & I. Summer In Berlin.
Me. Myself & I.
Summer In Berlin.

According to Matt Kepnes, otherwise known as Nomadic Matt, the tips he gave on the real business of travel blogging were simple:

  • Be an expert.
  • Find your niche.
  • Don’t dismiss traditional writers. Learn from them, as they are people who really know how to write, and write well.

According to Dave & Deb from The Planet D:

  • Put in long hours.
  • Love what you do.
  • Do research on respective destinations.
  • Take countless photographs.
Asian girls having lunch together.
Asian girls having lunch together.

According to Kate McCulley otherwise known as Adventurous Kate, her professional advice can be read on her piece –  The reality of being a professional travel blogger and includes:

  • Travel blogging requires a tremendous amount of work.
  • It also requires a hell of a lot of investment in time and effort, before any benefits can be seen.

According to Liz Carlson otherwise known as the Young Adventuress in her piece  – So you want to be a travel blogger, do you? Professional travel blogging is all about:

  • Having a passion.
  • Having a purpose.
  • Becoming an authority.
  • Not giving up.
  • Setting goals and building your audience.
  • Owning social media.
  • Knowing your own value.
  • Being ethical.
  • Producing good content.
  • Joining other professional bloggers associations and groups, in order to get mentoring, advice, and support.
Fresh fish that we caught. Bones and all, although they chopped off the head on the boat!
Fresh fish that we caught. Bones and all, although they chopped off the head on the boat!

As much as travel blogging has become the new brain child, not everyone is convinced or think it’s worth a second of your time, and so I enclose a piece from Theodora Sutcliffe also known as the Escape Artistes. She wrote a scathing piece on Why I’ll never be a Professional Travel Blogger.

So back to my original question, am I a professional blogger?

Well, let’s see.

I am professional in the way I work and when I meet clients and travel industry. I also qualify to be a member of the Professional Travel Bloggers association. I make presentations and talk about everything. I write stories and constantly strive to improve my craft by going to seminars, lectures and workshops, and learning from my blogging peers.

If only you could read my thoughts. Oh, you can!
If only you could read my thoughts. Oh, you can!

I love my traditional job of being a corporate teacher and trainer. I love imparting knowledge and leading and advising entrepreneurs. I also get a hefty salary and a respectable position for doing so.

That’s not going to change anytime soon.

I went to 10 countries in 2014, if that’s not working as a professional travel blogger, I don’t know what is.

My niche is Europe and believe you me, I put in more hours than I can ever recommend. I have a corporate job, a husband, a child, a Masters dissertation to write and yet, I still spend 38 hours a week working on my blog in some form. 38 hours! I refuse to let anyone say that blogging for me is a hobby.

It isn’t.

I have a passion for what I do, and as I told you earlier in the year, not a single dollar has been exchanged but I perform, as if it has. I have a purpose: lifestyle expat travel blogging, and I enjoy and love what I do.

I am a professional travel blogger.

In Vietnam.
In Vietnam.

This article is not sponsored and all opinions are my very own!

I have so much to share with you.

Next week, I’ll be giving you more details about the International Travel Trade Fair – ITB, what I did there and whom I met, as well as the next travel destination!

As usual, you can also follow me via daily tweets and pictures on Twitter & FB!

If you’re not in Berlin in March, you’ve made a mistake!

March is going to be excellent.

Watch this space!

In Kurdistan at the ITB 2015.
In Kurdistan at the ITB 2015.

What do you think? Are you a professional travel blogger. Do you want to be a professional travel blogger, or do you think travel blogging is over-hyped?

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, or send me an Email: victoria@thebritishberliner.com

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10 things to do if you’re a new blogger and what I learnt – ITB Berlin

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.

Berlin / Brandenburg
Berlin / Brandenburg

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.

The Grand Closing Ceremony: Mexico - ITB Berlin.
The Grand Closing Ceremony: Mexico – ITB Berlin.

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.

Bloggers here. Bloggers there. Bloggers everywhere!
Bloggers here. Bloggers there. Bloggers everywhere!

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.

The Bloggers After-Party sponsored by Mrs. Berry.de and Tirol Werbung.
The Bloggers After-Party sponsored by Mrs. Berry.de and Tirol Werbung.

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!

Blogger Speed Dating-Networking at the ITB Berlin.
Blogger Speed Dating-Networking at the ITB Berlin.

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.

Press Fam Trips: The Good, The Bad And The Very Funny“ Percy von Lipinski from CNN.
Press Fam Trips: The Good, The Bad And The Very Funny“
Percy von Lipinski from CNN.

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!

ITB Berlin: Talking about Hospitality and Tourism.
ITB Berlin: Talking about Hospitality and Tourism.

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.

I'm the one with dark hair poking out, wearing glasses and looking quite serious!
Sebastian Canaves from Off-The-Path.com. I’m the one with dark hair poking out, wearing glasses and looking quite serious!

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.

Prost! Cheers! Bottoms Up!
Prost! Cheers! Bottoms Up!

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!

Austrian food provided at the Bloggers After-Party sponsored by Mrs. Berry.de and Tirol Werbung.
Austrian food provided at the Bloggers After-Party sponsored by Mrs. Berry.de and Tirol Werbung.

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!
Thai Boxing at the ITB Berlin.
Thai Boxing at the ITB Berlin.

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.

In Europe.

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?

Myself and an Asian girl at the ITB Berlin.
Myself and an Asian girl at the ITB Berlin.

Have your say.

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