The Travel Blogger Show – Orlando, Florida

This weekend I attended The Travel Blogger Show in Orlando, FL.  I wasn’t going to write about the trip, but I figured that my husband might be interested in knowing I actually learned something and did not just use it as a weekend to get away with a friend!  These are my thoughts, questions and things I took away from the experience.  If you aren’t interested in the business of blogging, come back later today or tomorrow when I will be reviewing the amazing hotel we stayed at and comparing an Orlando trip with kids to one without! 

The Travel Blogger Show was attached to the beginning of The Tradeshow, a travel retailing and destination expo, which is why it was scheduled on a Sunday morning from 9am to 12!  

Things I Loved:

  • Sitting in a room with 165 other bloggers or travel industry people who want to start a blog
  • Listening and getting to meet 2 speakers that I have read and admired long before I started my own blog
  • The fact that with the exception of a minor mic issue during the niche panel, there was little to no technical difficulty that I noticed and I could hear the speakers.
  • Listening to real bloggers tell what they do and how they do it

Things I Did Not Love:

  • I doubled this trip as a girl’s weekend away after I wooed my friend with thoughts of poolside drinks sans the 50SPF so we explored Orlando together all day Saturday.  This means I skipped the tweetup at the Rix Lounge Saturday night.  I also have never met anyone who was going on this trip so when I walked in about fifteen minutes before the event was scheduled to begin I felt kind of like I did when I walked into the first staff meeting of the year at a high school that had over 100 faculty members and staff with that deer caught in headlight look/feeling.  
  • My plans were already set in motion when I learned that there were going to be activities throughout the day Sunday.  I am sure it was written somewhere, but I guess it just wasn’t clear to me.  I was disappointed that I had to leave town and miss out on the rest of the evening activities.
  • To me as an outsider looking in, it looked like there were two very distinct groups that morning-the people who had already met in person and said hi and the people that didn’t know anyone and were sitting by themselves.  I wish that there had been some time for a forced mixer of sorts.  I am not normally a shy gal but for some reason, I felt like a wallflower.   
  • The conference room was warm and the tables were tight.  With my broken booted foot, I had to sit on the outside table so I had a little bit more room but not much.  I did notice the room cooling off once things settled down. 
  • Even though the program was put together well, you could tell that it was the first annual event!  Christopher Elliott got up and introduced himself to get everything moving.  There were supposed to be 15 minute breaks in between each part of the program but all three ran right up to the next section.  This meant that bathroom breaks/water and coffee refills had to be taken care of while the speakers were doing their thing.
  • Because I only arrived about 15m before the event started, lots of seats were taken and I had to sit towards the back of the room.  There was lots of talking during the presentations.  There were also lots of people that obviously had somewhere else to be about halfway through the morning because the place cleared out…all while the speakers were presenting.  The teacher in me just has no tolerance for this!
  • There was no family blogger representation on the niche panel.  Granted the niche speakers didn’t necessarily talk about their own niche but it would have been nice if family blogging was represented (I am sure lots of other types of travel bloggers felt the same way).  There are lots of us family bloggers out there but it seems like we are always in the back of the line behind backpackers, solo travelers, and round the world trippers (then again, other types of travel bloggers probably feel the same way about their own niche!).

Things I Learned About Blogging Conferences/Programs in General:

  • Take notes.  There is so much information coming at you in all directions and when you leave the conference you aren’t going to remember much.
  • Get a phone that has data capabilities.  I feel like I missed half of the conference.  After my six hour drive back home, I logged onto Twitter to catch up and it seemed like there were two different conferences going on…the program itself, and all of the #trvlblog10 tweets.  We have been going back and forth on whether or not to take the plunge, but this sealed the deal.  Daddy J and I are going to upgrade our phones this weekend (then maybe I won’t be the last travel blogger with a phone from 2006).
  • Jump in head first.  I was so excited to meet The Mom Maven and because I didn’t jump right out and introduce myself I found out at the end of the presentation I had been sitting one seat away from her the whole time!

Things I Learned at THIS Presentation:

  • Creativity – This blog and my Pensacola with Kids blogs are your basic this is where we went, this is what we did, this is what you can do blogs.  I like it this way.  That was why I started this blog.  I was tired of never being able to find real experiences from families who had been there.  I do some narrative writing but the majority of the posts read on these two sites are places to go, things you can do there, and how much it cost (example: one of my most viewed posts on my Pcola with Kids blog is how to have a successful blueberry picking trip!).  That being said, I can be a little bit more creative with my posts.  A lot of the places we go have been covered 1000 times so I need to come up with a better angle to make it stand out.
  • Advertising – I need to start researching advertising options and look into things like Google Adsense.
  • I learned about the Google Keyword Tool and how to utilize it.
  • Ebooks can be a very effective moneymaker and even a marketing tool.  I have been working on an Ebook…ok…not really…I have an outline and I am not sure where to go with it now…but this has motivated me a bit to get back to work.
  • I learned that I need to clean up my site a bit (well, I already knew that) and add a PR pitch page about what I expect in a PR relationship.
  • Trademark – There were mixed feelings on the niche panel about this, but trademarking is something that I am going to look at doing.  If you have been there done that and would like to share advice with me, please let me know!
  • I need to look at plugins I am not using.  One that was mentioned several times was What Would Seth Godin Do?  I came home, looked it up and realized that this is exactly what I have been looking for but just didn’t know what it was called!

Bottom Line: Would I go again?  I answer that with a resounding yes!

I am sure that there is much more that I can share.  I think I walked away with more questions than answers.  I am glad that I was able to attend this three hour program before I head up to Type A Mom in Asheville, NC at the end of this month.  What about you?  What was your experience at this conference or another?

Comments

  1. 1

    Thanks so much for sharing! I hoped that I’d be able to read someone’s assessment of the event. I would love to have gone. In fact, my husband and I did talk about it a bit before dismissing the option.I’d really like to break into travel blogging- which is why I wanted to make the trek to Orlando. I just couldn’t sell my husband on the idea yet and I have to admit that it’s because I’ve failed to follow through what I’d learned at a conference in July! Sounds like it was definitely worth the trip for you- hopefully I’ll be able to put the conference on my list of “must do’s in 2011”. Can’t wait to see that e-book!

  2. 2

    Interesting reading…thanks for sharing! I don’t have a lot of time or money to commit to conferences at this point, so I really appreciate your recap.

    I wasn’t wowed by Ad Sense when I looked into it, but I did decide to give the Amazon Affiliate program a try. It takes a while to kick in, but I’m starting to see a few results after getting into a groove with it. Like anything else, though, I’m not going to get rich off of it 🙂

    The one plugin I’ve been meaning try at my blog is Comment Luv. I finally found some instructions for using it with TypePad that seem to be written in plain English…now it’s a matter of finding the time to do it

    Ebooks and some pillar pages on my blog (inclu. a PR/advertising page) are other things I want to explore as well.

    So, where do I find out how to use the Google Keyword Tool?

  3. 3

    Excellent summary of the conference and I concur with many of the things you did not love. I was at the Tweetup Saturday night (early on) and it got crowded and loud fast!

    Some sort of mixer at the beginning of the blogging conference would have been good – like the speed dating they do during the BlogHer conference – you get about a minute or two to introduce yourself to a blogger then move on to the next person.

    I was disappointed two of the destinations I wanted to meet with on the show floor were not there – their booths were empty so don’t know if they just weren’t showing up to the show or if they were arriving on Monday.

    I felt a little awkward walking the show floor knowing the companies were being represented by sales people targeting travel agents and not the PR people. Time will tell if my business card with contact info reaches the right people.

    I’ve attended the past two TBEX conferences which were more in depth than The Travel Bloggers Show, but, this event (and any blogging event) was excellent for networking and connecting. I am shy and tend to stick with the people I’ve met in person before but was happy to meet other bloggers I’ve interacted with online.

    I took away great ideas and concepts from The Travel Bloggers Show and hope to get going on them sooner than later. Maybe I’ll see you in Las Vegas next year or perhaps you’ll make it to Vancouver for TBEX ’11!

    Again, great post!