TBEX, aka The Travel Blog Exchange, held its annual USA conference last week right here in the Twin Cities. The days were packed with speakers, sessions, networking, partying, and of course, all things blogging/SM/podcasting/etc. Some serious sponsors lined up to show themselves off—and show the travelers a good time.
My wrist hurt from taking notes. And my head hurt from trying to absorb all the info. As the only career-break evangelist in attendance, I both owned my turf and found myself defending the validity of BreakAways for work-addicted Americans.
But I gained good ideas to put to use—and happily share these fave 11 takeaways.
You meet the most interesting characters at a TBEX conference!
- Avoid headlines like “11 Things I Learned.” So says Tom Bartel of the Travel Past 50 blog and past publisher of this metro’s City Pages. He’s right! (That’s why I rarely do it.) Tom’s session on writing with emotion included high-ed-level musings on literature and composition. Refreshing reminders in this age of txtng!
- Minnesota is cool—not just cold. This biased local saw our surroundings in a new and bright light and was blown away by the hospitality, generosity, and richness of our towns. Standing O to the many tourism and visitor orgs that made it happen, and made it easy. But don’t even think about hosting such an event in January!
- The Mall of America is here to stay. Before this Church of Spendology opened, some friends and I placed bets on how many years MOA it would succeed. We were all wrong. The place appears is clearly thriving and expanding. High 5s to comrade Leif Pettersen—travel writer, blogger, juggler, and happily employed MOA Tourism Communications Manager who worked his butt off and shook 555 hands.
Travel author (and pal) Doug Mack gets his mind blown by Leif Pettersen’s MOA-goggles.
- Closing keynote speaker Andrew Zimmern is The Real Deal. This I already knew, as I used to play poker (get it?) with him (thanks to a mutual friend). But the menu of things he’s shuffling these days? Other-worldly. Transformative. Inspiring. Well done, Zim!
Celebrity chef Andrew Zimmern—The Real Deal.
- E-books offer a viable way for us writers to get the word out quickly and affordably. And they keep getting more popular and do-able, according to Linda Aksomitis. There’s already a free one on my site (355 Days, about a one-year sabbatical in the Virgin Islands and Europe). But I’ve got two more drafts to polish up for publishing…if I can just find the time and, uh, stick-to-it-iveness.
- Canadians are mighty fun, friendly people—and many were there. Thanks to Jillian Recksiedler and the Travel Manitoba folks for some rollicking opening-night hospitality. And bless forward-thinking Canada for building the profound Canadian Museum of Human Rights. Nice to have such nice neighbors to the north!
- Bloggers who obsess about analytics may have it all wrong, assert the good people behind Travel Green Media and Green Global Travel. Better to have an engaged community than countless short-sighted eyeballs.
- Video is the new photo; FB and IG are the new photo album; and digital advertising will soon bury TV—according to Sara Meaney of bvk, a super-savvy ad agency based in Milwaukee. Her presentation on curating content your audience craves was packed with powerful info, even it made one worry about the future of the written word.
- It’s a good thing Lou Mongello left law. “We are storytellers,” he shouted from all over the stage as he told some great stories and shared smart tips. Who knew you could ditch the law firm and make a mint as a Disney expert and entrepreneur? Lou! That’s who!
Entertaining entrepreneur Lou Mongello asks the hard questions.
- Digital nomads are everywhere all the time. Some of them are even getting paid to wander. Just ask Mike, whose road trip just keeps going and going…
- TBEX rocks. My expectations were modest. And one hears mixed reports about such gatherings from our oh-so-worldly tribe. Yet this event was first-class—one of the best (and cheapest) investments around. Their tagline, “The Future of Travel Media” is both ballsy and spot-on.
Stay tuned. And please support your local travel blogger.
But please remember to unplug from your screens and explore the real world too!