I’ve just completed the annual TBEX conference, held this year in Keystone, Colorado. Here are a few of my thoughts on this year’s event:
- This was by far the best TBEX ever. It was not only well run, the parties were top notch, the networking was great as was the attendance.
- This was probably the best conference I’ve ever attended. This is no exaggeration. I’ve attended dozens of conferences in and outside the travel industry. In terms of a straight return on investment, it was easily the most productive conference I’ve ever attended. It was also one of the most fun.
- The industry is warming up to bloggers. I don’t think anyone should get too excited, but things are starting to change. There were many great companies represented, but there were even more who weren’t there.
- Big companies still haven’t figured it out. There were several big companies who spent a great deal of money sponsoring the show. Having talked directly to them, I still get the impression they still really don’t know what they are doing with bloggers yet. They know they should be doing something with bloggers and sponsoring shows is something they are used to doing. I still haven’t seen any projects with bloggers by big companies in the travel space that I’ve been impressed with.
- Medium size companies do get it. Almost all of the medium size companies I met with did seem to have a much better strategy of how to work with bloggers. That includes some of my sponsors, some companies I didn’t meet with (but I got reports from other bloggers), and some companies I met with for the first time. I was very impressed with the direction some of them were heading. I am eagerly awaiting to see what projects get hatched by bloggers over the next few months.
- There are a lot of bloggers. Nothing new here, but I was amazed at the number of people I met who had sites I had never heard of. I like to think I keep abreast of these things, but I clearly do not.
- The closing keynote made no sense for a blogger conference. Having a guy who doesn’t blog tell bloggers how he makes money not blogging really wasn’t a good fit. I don’t disagree with some of his general points of working hard and having an expertise, but writing guidebooks and doing freelancing really isn’t the business plan for most bloggers.
- I can’t really comment on the sessions. I only attended one session other than my own. My entire time was spent in meetings, which was a testament to quality of the networking opportunities.
- There is enormous potential to grow. Prediction: TBEX is going to become HUGE. This is going to go well beyond blogging. I think this is poised to become the new media show for the whole travel industry. There is no reason why companies and destinations couldn’t attend for their own sake to learn about new media, beyond just going to meet with bloggers. If TBEX keeps its strategy of keeping costs low for content creators (which they intend to do) this is going to become more and more attractive for industry people. I think word of mouth is going to make TBEX very popular next year. I think there will be double the companies/destinations present and over 1,000 attendees.
- TBEX is a must attend show for new media people in travel. If you are in the travel industry in any sort of marketing, public relations or content creation capacity, you need to come to TBEX. If there was only one conference I could attend each year, it would be TBEX.
I haven’t heard any serious complaints about TBEX this year. Even skeptics came away saying it was a great conference. I know I’m gushing, but this weekend was probably the most productive I’ve had in 6 years of running my blog.