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.
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.
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.
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!
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!