Before I even left for my very first travel blogging conference known as TBEX in Ft Lauderdale, Florida, the divergent viewpoints came to fruition. “What? You are going to that conference? Don’t you know it’s all a big lie?” said one of my travel blogging comrades. He had heard the same viewpoint from other various bloggers. Yet another told me that I should go, but that I should actually skip the breakout sessions and focus on networking with bloggers and potential companies behind the scenes.
Here’s my opinion about TBEX: Just as anything in life, it’s EXACTLY what you make of it! If you don’t see any advantage in meeting other travel bloggers or companies face to face, then you probably will never see the value in it no matter what. It doesn’t make it wrong or right, and it may not be your cup of tea, but that doesn’t mean it’s not somebody’s cup of tea.
It was absolutely amazing for me to connect with others far and wide who revel in the same type of lifestyle that I do. And just for matters of authenticity, I actually DID skip half of the sessions, but that was because it was my mission to speak with pertinent companies I felt would bring me the most value. But to be fair, I did hear that there were several sessions others felt were incredible!
Without further ado, here are my TBEX highlights, tips, and takeaways, including a pre-TBEX airboat ride in the Everglades at Everglades Holiday Park brought to you by Greater Fort Lauderdale! You’ll have to actually read the whole post to find out my overall opinion of TBEX!
PREPARATION AND TIPS
Before you depart for your first TBEX conference, I highly recommend you follow these tips below. I’ve also added some tips I picked up from other bloggers along the way!
- Make sure you don’t forget your business cards! I brought these, but there were a number of people who forgot and they’re crucial.
- Wear a t-shirt representing your business and/or brand! There was small percentage of people who did this and they really stood out to me so I’m doing it next year.
- Print off a small scale version of your site’s media kit or if possible, print some of your site stats on the backside of your business card. Although companies will be able to access your site stats on Blogger Bridge, it’s always handy to have when you want to make a great first impression.
- Bring an extra pen and a small notebook to take notes from the businesses you meet with. You will meet a LOT of people at TBEX so you don’t want to forget what these businesses were seeking.
- Bring snacks! You’ll need a lot of energy throughout the day, and while most lunches and dinners are provided at TBEX, sometimes it’s nice to have a quick protein bar to keep your energy flowing.
The TBEX conference was held at the Broward County Convention Center, which allowed for a variety of flexible hotel/hostel options in the surrounding area. However, being that I decided to fly by the seat of my pants, my options were a bit more limited. I ended up staying at the both Blarney Castle Motel the Comfort Inn courtesy of Priceline.com, my FAVORITE travel website for booking hotels. I used the express deals feature for hotels and WAMMO, I was instantly set up with a $150 room for $90, which was cheaper than even walking in and asking for a room. (note to self: Consider whether WAMMO is new catch phrase for travel deals) Neither of them were worth writing home about, but it was an affordable bed to say the least!
Another TBEX highlight included my visit to the remarkable B Ocean Resort, which was notable for two reasons. The first, is that the Wreck Bar, a B ocean Resort staple, also happens to be the site of a scene in Analyze This. The second reason is because there is a captivating MERMAID show there on the weekends that I was so sad to miss. Yes, MERMAIDS! Does it get any better than that?! (Hey, a girl’s gotta make it back home in time to construct a Halloween costume!)
EVERGLADES HOLIDAY PARK AIRBOAT RIDE
Bar none, the most riveting aspect of my entire trip in Ft. Lauderdale was the airboat ride excursion ride provided by Everglades Holiday Park in cooperation with Greater Fort Lauderdale! To begin with, I really enjoy seeing animals in their natural environment so I was amped to see some gators. Secondly, I’d never been on an airboat before so I was tickled pink to be able to ride in one. Little did I know, this excursion into the Everglades held more history than I could ever imagine and that our airboat tour guide would be so knowledgeable and charming! Take a look at just a few of the pictures I snapped below of this extremely underrated TBEX highlight and excursion.
Overall, my first impression of TBEX was a five star ranking, kind of like a 5 star hotel that and leaves your favorite chocolate on the pillow and gives you free massages. Wait, everybody doesn’t get this? I kid, I kid. With all of these TBEX highlights and tips, I hope you will find the value in it that I did. Or maybe you’re just drinking the wrong tea. (you see what I did there?)
Which of these TBEX highlights did you find the most interesting? Have you been to TBEX, or Florida, before? Inquiring minds would like to know!