Saturday, June 24th, 2017

TBU Innsbruck — A Week of Inspiration


Flying to Europe to attend the Travel Bloggers Unite conference in Innsbruck, Austria, was one of the best decisions I’ve made this year.

More than anything, this week was an investment in my site as a business, which is a pretty good thing, as it’s my full-time business at the moment.  I am so glad I decided to come here, and my ticket be paying for itself several times over.

Here’s what I took away from the past week:

The Tides are Turning

The travel blogging industry is changing — for the better.  I think the place where we are seeing the most traction is with PR agencies and tourism boards, who are beginning to see bloggers as a source for getting their message out.  This can only lead to good things for us all.

I’m not going to use this forum to compare bloggers and journalists an argument that never goes anywhere) or discuss whether travel bloggers should be paid for press trips (as much as I’d love to get paid, I don’t think we should).  But the discussions were incredibly useful.

Overall, travel blogging is so different today from where it was only a year ago.  It’s incredibly more professional.  There are more kinds of travel blogs than you can imagine, and more ways to make money and sustain a professional blogging career.

That said, with the prominence of our profession growing, we have a responsibility to continue to be professional in every act.  When you slip somewhere, or even when you undervalue yourself, you make things a bit more difficult for the rest of us.

But the ones who are doing well are setting an excellent example for us.

I was surrounded by brilliant people all week long, and I’ve never been filled with so much inspiration.  There’s so much more that I can say, but that really is the crux of it.

The Learning

We had a number of seminars over the course of the two-day conference.  John O’Nolan‘s WordPress presentation was the equivalent of learning about The Matrix for the first time — I think I may have blacked out.  Keith Jenkins and Janice Waugh talked about monetization; Andy Hayes talked about email marketing; Abigail King talked about writing.  All of them were rock star choices.

Built into the conference were two photography tours from two exceptional travel photographers, Kirsten Alana and Ken Kaminesky.  I went on Kirsten’s tour and was thoroughly impressed with the level of photography that is possible with just an iPhone!

There were also two extremely relevant panels — on blog trips and niche blogging.  The discussion on niche blogging, particularly toward the end, gave me a lot to think about on personality versus niche blogging, since I’m kind of straddling both areas at the moment.

The Networking

Had I attended a lesser conference, I’d say that I got some new readers and made some new friends, and probably nothing more than that, as it was impossible to tell who the PR people were.

At TBU, I met loads of potential business partners — developers, designers and marketers who make excellent partners for projects I have in mind — with ideas I had never imagined.

But best of all was the PR seminar given by Ruth Haffenden of FourBGB, which focused on media kits and the importance of them (my current media kit is my advertising page).

And then we actually got to spend time pitching to a number of PR agencies!   This was an absolutely excellent way of getting our names out there to some agencies and tourism boards and familiarizing them with our work.  I’ve pitched to tourism boards in the past, but learning how boards work with PR agencies taught me how to go about it better.

The Location

I have fallen completely in love with Innsbruck and Tyrol, and even go so far as to consider Innsbruck one of my favorite European cities.  What a fantastic, gorgeous city, and what incredible natural beauty surrounding it.

I never would have thought to visit myself, being winter-phobic.  But Innsbruck is SO much more than a winter destination!

The Travel

How awesome is this — Travel Bloggers Unite included post-conference blog trips!  There were several to choose from, presented by the tourism boards of Austria, Tyrol and Innsbruck, and they covered several genres of travel.

I ended up on the Action Adventure trip and ended up climbing mountains in the Alps, whitewater rafting on a glacier-fed river, and, um, hiking strenuously, more than once.  It was amazing, and the fact that these were included in the conference makes TBU all the more exceptional!

The Fun Stuff!

If you live and breathe travel blogging, like I do, spending time with other travel bloggers is something that you NEED to do.  I’ve already done a lot of it, particularly in Asia, but hanging out with all travel bloggers for a FULL WEEK was beyond amazing.

Anyone who is a serious travel blogger can relate to this — we have all of these online, oddly intimate relationships with each other, each of us passionate about travel blogging, so when we finally meet in real life, it’s like we’ve been friends our whole lives!

Oh my God, did we ever have fun.  And that’s all I’ll say about that.

TBU 2012: Umbria, Italy

The next TBU will be taking place next April (dates are currently being finalized) in Umbria, Italy!  Umbria is a fantastic region — it’s east of Tuscany and they have fabulous truffles and chocolates.  I’ve been twice before and look forward to returning.

This conference is worth every penny.  If you can manage to be in Italy in April next year, I highly, highly recommend that you join us at TBU!

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32 Responses to “TBU Innsbruck — A Week of Inspiration”
  1. Romana says:

    Thanks for sharing your experience Kate. It’s inspiring and I’m definitely tempted to go next year 🙂

  2. JohnONolan says:

    Blacked out eh? I’ll take that as a compliment I think – sort of. Yeah…

    Seriously though – was awesome to meet you and hope to see you on many more trips in the future, Adventurous Kate 🙂

  3. Random says:

    I didnt know travel was synonym with drink and party ! Was great to meet you all !

    By the way John, tomorow is Friday….

  4. Audrey says:

    Sounds like such a fantastic event! I may just have to make it to Umbria in the spring 😉

  5. Anthony says:

    Copy cat! Haha naaa, this totally hammered my TBU post, THANKS KATE!

    Lovely to meet you and happy to be famous on your blog 🙂

  6. silvia says:

    You lived a really interesting week!! I hope to take part at tbu 2012…see you in Umbria!!

  7. Amanda says:

    Sooo jealoussss. I wish I could have been there! It really seems like people got a lot out of this conference. Thanks for sharing!

  8. jill says:

    Fun, Fun, Fun in the austrian alps. How cold does it get in the mountains, this time of year? Do I need a coat at night? I will put austria on my list of places to go, soon.

  9. I wish I could have went this year. Hopefully we can meet next year!

  10. Thanks for the info! I wish I could have gone – for a variety of reasons. For one, I love Austria and the mountains so it’s a fabulous location. I would have loved to met many of my European travel blog friends that I have not had a chance to meet. I like the topics, the trips after the conference, and would have loved the chance to learn more. I think it is a growing, changing, and evolving industry and it’s good to stay on top of what is happening.

    I hope to check out more TBU write ups – the more I can learn, the better!

  11. Lash says:

    Hi Kate,

    LAsh here of LashWOrldTour. We havean’t met. yet. But I’ve watched you flowing through FB a lot. You’ve been having some amazing- and envious- trips latley! Good for you!

    Thanks for this review of the TBU conference! It’s given me renewed hope… As I”m sure you know, it’s easy t o get discouraged in the beginning when working sooo hard to build up a following, SEO, and presence in the blogging world right now. Also, the TBEX sounded sooo disappointing.

    It was great to hear that TBU was so useful, informative and educational! HOw cool that you got to pitch to PRs and to join a blogger’s trip! How great to meet loads of other travel bloggers.

    Thanks for reminding me that the blogging world- and our potential- is changing and improving with potential!
    I hope I get to join the TBU next year! In fact, I guess i’d better make a point of it!

    cheers, Lash

  12. Erin says:

    Well said! I couldn’t agree more. And it was SO great to meet you! I expect to see your face again sometime soon in Madrid ;).

  13. Hmm interesting. Travel is a life long passion of mine, so I’ve done it since long before the Internet, in fact I started backpacking Asia when Lonely Planet was young LOL.

    I’ve read travel blogs over the last few years because a) if I’m not traveling I like to read about travel and research the next trip and b) because one day I hoped to put my online marketing skills to work on my passion, travel.

    What I see in this conference is not a good development for travel consumers. Obviously it was sponsored by the local Tourism authorities – so that even your recent post about taking photos around Innsbruck – which I read with interest – was at least at some level a sponsored post.

    The problem with sponsorship in travel blogs is exactly the same problem as the sponsored stories in many newspapers – they are (often undeclared) advertorials. They are not an unbiased report that many readers assume that they are.

    I don’t blame you for doing it – though pitching to PR firms would be my idea of hell – but I do think the sponsorship of some posts should be more clearly stated.

    Just my 2c

    • Lissie, I always mention when I’m on a sponsored trip (I had FOUR in the last month alone! Yikes!!). I don’t think it’s necessary to state that the conference itself was sponsored in this post, considering that I paid to attend. Just about every event these days has sponsors of its own in order to make a profit, and when we pay out of our pocket to attend, I don’t think it’s necessary to list the conference’s sponsors, whether travel-oriented and not.

      Later on, I will be writing about the post-conference trip that I took — and sponsorship will be clearly stated there, as always!

  14. Really appreciate this write-up! Looks like Italy will have to be on our priority list next year. Not that hard given that it’s probably our fav country out there. Q & I have been meaning to visit Tuscany anyway.

  15. Thank you. You have truly inspired me to make it to the next conference…just added to the bucket list 😉

  16. Sounds like it was very worthwhile. I heard lots of negative feedback from TBEX 11, along with my own experiences from TBEX 10, so I’m glad to know there’s a better alternative. I just couldn’t justify the airfare and hotels for an event so mishandled and cliquey. With that said, I am ALWAYS down for a trip to Italy and TBU Umbria may just be in the cards for me.

  17. Candice says:

    I’ve heard great things about TBU, I’m totally jealous! Looks like a wonderful time. Maybe the conference in Italy next year is the perfect excuse for me to hop over to Greece for awhile while I’m at it. 😉

  18. Annie says:

    I’m so glad that you had so much fun! I would have loved to go to this if I’d been in Europe still, I can’t believe next year it will be in Umbria, I just might have to fly back for that!

    Sounds like it was a lot more informative than TBEX and I have already heard that it’s much better, so it’s going on my list of things to go to in the future!

    • I haven’t been to TBEX, but just about everyone who went said something along the lines of, “It was great meeting everyone, but the conference was disorganized and useless.” At TBU, we met everybody and it was AMAZING.

  19. Deidre says:

    Ummmm I think I am winter-phobic. I’m so glad there’s an actual description/diagnosis. Thanks! 🙂

  20. FourJandals says:

    Just signed up to TBUIBK! Hopefully we will be able to make it along in April next year. Very jealous and gutted we missed out on this one.


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