…and we’re chuffed to bits to have been a part of it. This post is a little late getting off the ground, but I hope it’s better late than never.
A couple of weekends ago, smack in the middle of a stressful period at work, with overtime hours racking up at an alarming pace, Sarah and I met up with the Zurikas at Munich Airport and hopped a plane to Manchester, England after work Thursday night for a three-day distraction I greatly appreciated. It also gave us a chance to hang out with The Honourable Husband and Master Right, also in attendance, which we always relish.
We’d heard Jul sing the praises of TBEX Europe in Copenhagen, and especially about getting stuff for free. Travel Bloggers Unite (TBU) sounded like an equally good time. So I registered on the TBU website to poke around there and get more info. Lo and behold, I happened to be the 200th website member, and Oliver emailed me out of the blue to congratulate me on getting free admission to the TBU11 conference in Manchester. Well, shoot — now I had to go (hate to turn down free travel-related stuff!). I had my doubts about leaving work at a critical phase. But der Bossmann insisted, however, that I get outta town and cut loose a bit, so we did.
I was still a little skeptical at the outset that this was a good fit for me or us; the focus seemed to be on travel blogging as an industry. “Crikey,” I thought,
“we’re not in this for the money. What are the seminars going to be like? The schedule for the weekend is pretty dense; I really hope it’s not going to be a sales pitch or some kind of cult.”
But my misgivings were ill-founded. Even before TBU really got underway, the recommended accommodations made a classy first impression and our conference fees scooped us some free tours through the Manchester visitor information center. There were three to choose from, and all three were open to us, but in the end we were sort of tired and opted only for the tour of Manchester’s recent musical past. Inspiral Carpets‘ drummer Craig Gill gave us a great look into the 1980s and 1990s scene. Given that Noel Gallagher of Oasis was once Craig’s roadie, he had plenty of insider scoop to share. Some bands I’d never heard of and some were well-known to me; nevertheless the tour was fascinating.
Even though once the conference got down to business, at times, I thought my ears would fall off if just one more utterance of “monetize” made its way into them, I came away from it all with clear applications for all of the break-out session seminar topics:
- Branding with Sophy Norris and Lewis Shields of Flagship Consulting
- Podcasting with Andy White
- WordPress with John O’Nolan
- SEO with Mike Briggs of Caliber Interactive
- Writing at Ground-Level with Lola Akinmade-Åkerström of Matador U
Lots of the panel discussion about bloggers and public relations firms working together didn’t really apply to us. We blog for our own personal enjoyment and with the hope that someone else will benefit from our experiences or read what we’ve done and where we’ve gone and suggest a new direction for our future travels. But even then I am pleased to have made contacts in the European P.R. industry. Lots of the contacts and concepts travel bloggers are using to structure and even finance their travels could be applicable to future WEBMU event planning activities as well. Sooner or later, we know that the Whiny Expat Blogger MeetUp will make it to Berlin, and when it does, I want to have Visit Berlin in our corner, helping to give that Meetup a little extra Berlin flair.
With that in mind, together with the personal connections we made before, during and after the sessions, we’re completely excited about the upcoming TBU conference in Innsbruck, August 25-27. We’re looking forward to seeing some familiar faces but new seminars and discussions, including one on travel blogging photography. See you there!