I like meeting new people and that’s probably my favorite aspect of social media – laying the foundation for building relationships. I’ve met some pretty cool people (and most have been genuine). It’s also refreshing to hold a conversation with someone from outside of the travel industry.
In October 2008 I was web surfing, trying to figure out this blog thing. I saw a banner ad looming at the top of a post
It grabbed my attention. I looked at the date and noticed it was less than a week away! I knew deep down inside at that moment that I had to make it happen. I didn’t know how I would pay for it or if I could find anyone to go with me. I priced a trip on Travelocity and found a halfway decent deal for airfare and a few nights at The Signature at MGM. I went to bed that night wishing and hoping that something would come through.
The next day the mail passed. I think my mailbox must have been glowing. Inside was a check for a writing assignment from six months before. I had pretty much written off the money because people always seem to pay their freelancers last, if at all. The check was enough to cover the entire trip and then some. I sent an email to three gals I knew, hoping they’d have some spark left in their personalities and would jump up and go. Two poo-poohed the idea (they’re boring) but one said she wanted to go.
That was my first blogging conference and man, oh man, was it the right decision to attend. It was one of the best networking and learning events I’ve ever attended. Blogworld was my introduction to more than just starting a blog. The expo hall was full of companies that offered plugins for blogs, tips and tricks for getting genuine traffic (readers that actually return), and even syndication services. There were panels and sessions for various industries.
One thing I noticed, was the lack of a travel industry presence. While I was there, I found a BlogWorldExpo representative and mentioned that they needed to add some travel aspects to their community tracks. I gave them my card, and a few months later they contacted me to get things rolling for travel.
Since then, I’ve seen many other events come out of the woodwork to offer travel at their tech conferences. Most seem to offer the same sessions – How to be a Travel Blogger and How to Get Invited on Press Trips. It’s nice to be able to network with people in your community, but for me, I like exploring new communities and being introduced to fresh ideas.
I personally gained more knowledge for my blogging business at BlogWorld Expo than I have at any other conference I’ve attended – an I’ve been to most of the biggest ones. Conferences aren’t cheap, so you’ll need to ask yourself which ones are important to you.
I’ve personally stopped going to travel industry conferences and only attend those events if I’m asked to present, especially now that I’ve seen a focus of all the travel related companies shying away from working with travel bloggers. Major brands and companies in travel and hospitality are shifting towards working with mainstream bloggers. This has its pros and cons, but that is an entire post on its own.
Get out there and explore new communities and get a fresh outlook on your niche. BlogWorld and New Media Expo is coming up soon and if you can’t make it to Las Vegas mid October, do a search for other conferences near your area.
BlogWorld and New Media Expo conference schedule is now live. Each year I am amazed at the excellent panels and sessions available for bloggers and writers of every level. And if you decide to attend, be sure to give me a shout. I’m not only moderating a travel track session, but I’m also the travel community track leader. There will be two days of travel, with a fabulous Tourism Currents workshop on Oct 14 (a smart workshop for DMOs and those in the hospitality industry), the full travel track on Oct 15 (great for bloggers of every level and travel marketing pros), and plenty of networking opportunities.