This post originally went up before TBEX Toronto, and proved so useful to conference newcomers that we’ve updated it with some Dublin information and we’re republishing it. We hope it’s as handy for Dublin folks as it was for Toronto attendees!

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Who goes to TBEX?

Do I have to be a blogger to attend? What if I’m a podcaster?
TBEX is about “the future of travel media” – and that’s media of all kinds. We welcome bloggers, podcasters, videographers, photographers – as well as people who want to learn more about any of those things. TBEX attendees also include travel industry representatives such as destinations, PR agencies, tour companies, travel products, and more.

What level of experience do I need to have for TBEX to be worthwhile?
TBEX welcomes attendees at all levels of experience. With sessions and topics focused on different skill levels, you’re sure to find something that’s just right for you – wherever your skill level or interest area might be.

How can I find out who else is going to the conference and connect with them?
When attendees fill out Twitter names during registration, giving us permission to use it, we create Twitter lists of attendees for each conference, which you can follow and scan for people who interest you. Not everyone fills out a Twitter name during registration, so although these lists don’t represent 100% of the attendees, they’re a great place to start. You can use and search through the #TBEX hashtag on Twitter to find other people talking about the conference, and check our other social media channels for discussions among fellow attendees.

The Twitter lists for Dublin are:

What happens at TBEX?

I’ve never been to any sort of conference before. What should I expect?
TBEX has become a multi-day event that combines workshops, inspirational keynotes, and educational breakout sessions, with business networking opportunities. Our blogger sessions are built upon three core components: Content, Community, and Commerce. We also offer TBEX Business, a series of educational tracks for the travel industry.

Besides the keynotes and classroom sessions, what else happens during a TBEX conference?
We give attendees and sponsors as many opportunities to network as possible, during both Speed Dating and the Open Marketplace as well as coffee breaks, lunches, and evening events. Our host destination works with their partners to create tours, activities, and press trips before and after the conference. That list of events changes with each conference. There’s all the learning and networking going on during the conference, the special events in the evenings, and tours in the days before and after the conference. In short, TBEX is both serious – and seriously fun.

What is “Speed Dating” at TBEX? How does it work?
Speed Dating is a structured networking activity that’s become fairly common in the travel industry. Bloggers and sponsors create a custom schedule of meetings in timed eight-minute segments, each of which provides a chance to meet, start a relationship, and consider future business opportunities. Speed Dating is open to all bloggers, but only industry attendees who are sponsors or who have purchased a Speed Dating table may participate. Here’s information about Speed Dating. Complete guides to the Speed Dating system in BloggerBridge – including setting up your profile, requesting appointments, and replying to appointment requests – can be found on this TBEX Speed Dating in Dublin page. Just be sure to click on the guide that goes with your registration – either the “Blogger Guide” box or the “Company Guide” box at the bottom of the page. And follow the instructions carefully so your profile is set up properly.

Note: We got lots of questions at TBEX Toronto from bloggers who thought that they could only participate in Speed Dating if they had purchased a table. This is not the case! All registered bloggers can participate in Speed Dating – that’s included in your registration. It’s only industry attendees who must purchase a table in order to participate in Speed Dating.

What’s the difference between “Speed Dating” and the “Open Marketplace?”
Recognizing that the Speed Dating appointments won’t meet everyone’s needs, we’ve created the Open Marketplace as an unstructured session when bloggers and sponsors can network outside the pressure of timed meetings. We hope you’ll take advantage of the Open Marketplace time to meet with people with whom you were unable to schedule an appointment during Speed Dating.

Are there opportunities for press tours while I’m in town for TBEX?
The availability of press tours before and after TBEX varies by conference destination, as these tours are put together by each host destination. In order to make sure you don’t miss an announcement about applying for a press trip, be sure to sign up for the TBEX email newsletter and stay tuned to the TBEX blog and our social channels.

How do I choose which sessions to attend? I don’t want to miss anything.
With multiple sessions going on concurrently, you’re going to have to make some tough choices. This is where a buddy system can come in really handy. Divide the sessions you and your friend(s) really want to attend (so you’re not all going to the same ones), take copious notes, and then swap notes afterward.

How should I prepare for TBEX?

What should I do BEFORE I get to TBEX to make sure I’m properly prepared?

  • Think about your goals, for your blog and for the conference. What do you want to get out of attending TBEX?
  • Stay in the loop about possible press trips, tours, or other activities that require applications and/or advance sign-up. The best ways to do this are to sign up for the TBEX email newsletter, subscribe to the TBEX blog, and follow our social media profiles.
  • Get business cards, and make sure they’ve got your social networks on them as well as site URLs and an email address.
  • Consider preparing your “elevator pitch” and a media kit.
  • Complete your profile in the TBEX Dublin Blogger Bridge system (when it’s available) and browse the lists to see who you might want to connect with at Speed Dating.

What should I bring to a TBEX conference?

  • A willingness to both learn something new and share what you know, and a friendly attitude!

Other things that can be really handy to bring along:

  • Business cards
  • Media kit
  • Fine-point Sharpie – This is so you can jot down notes on the business cards you collect, either descriptive information to jog your memory about who someone is or a reminder that you promised to send or do something. Any old pen may work, but with a Sharpie you know you’re covered regardless of what fancy card stock someone’s using on their business cards.
  • Refillable water bottle – Yes, we work really hard to make sure you’re fed and hydrated, but it’s always good to bring a refillable bottle if you’ve got one.
  • Notebook and pen – We also make every effort to have WiFi available during TBEX conferences, and many people prefer to take notes directly on their laptops or iPads. But keep in mind that when WiFi is burdened with a conference full of bloggers who are all logging in at once (and some of whom are doing things like uploading big videos) it sometimes gets slow or becomes inaccessible. So having a backup note-taking method is recommended.
  • Camera and/or video camera – Even if your medium is writing, we’re pretty sure you’ll want at least a camera on hand.
  • Power strip – Want to make friends at TBEX? Bring a power strip to the conference venue and share all those extra outlets you’re creating. We all need to recharge our phones and laptops midway through the day (especially given the extensive tweeting, Instagramming, and note-taking going on during the conference), and there never seem to be enough outlets. Attendees with power strips are welcome additions to any mass of bloggers huddled around an outlet, hungrily waiting their turn.

What should I make sure to do AFTER I get home from TBEX to get the most out of my time at the conference?

  • Organize the information from all those business cards you collected. If you don’t already have a system for managing blogging contacts, this is the time to create one (or find an app that works for you).
  • Follow up with the people you met. This is especially important when it comes to the companies with whom you are most interested in working.
  • Did you go on a press trip or any tours while at TBEX that you need to cover on your blog? Did you review restaurants or hotels or anything else during your trip? Did you learn something so incredibly valuable that you can’t bear to keep it to yourself? Did you stumble on a story in the host city that you simply have to tell? Do you want to write a “what I wish I knew before I went to my first TBEX” post for the next newbies? Make a content plan for the posts you want to write – and if it helps you to create a schedule of when you’ll publish things, do that, too.
  • And don’t forget – put what you learned into action!

Logistical Questions

How important is getting lodging close to the conference location?
It’s entirely up to you where you stay when attending a TBEX conference (lodging is not included in the conference pass). Many people find it easier to stay relatively close to the conference venue itself, especially when coming in from out of town and not renting a car. Wherever you stay, be sure to take transit time into account so you don’t miss morning sessions. Note that we’ve got accommodation partners listed under “Attendees > Lodging” on the main page of the TBEX website, many of whom have special discounts for TBEXers.

Are all the TBEX events within walking distance or should I rent a car?
The locations for various parties, tours, and meet-ups vary with every conference – but they are not always within walking distance of one another or the conference venue. We work with our hosts to make getting from point to point during TBEX as straight-forward and easy as possible.

Is there some kind of TBEX dress code?
Nope! We encourage you to be comfortable (you’ll be sitting in sessions for two days) and weather-appropriate (Dublin in October probably won’t require the same attire as the Costa Brava in September, for instance), and if you’re signed up for extra activities you’ll need to dress appropriately for those (it’s probably not a good idea to wear high heels on a walking tour, after all). We also think it’s smart to dress in a way that tells potential industry representatives you’re professional. What that means, exactly, is up to you.

How can I make sure I get all TBEX-relevant news?
The best thing to do is sign up for the TBEX newsletter (you’ll find the sign-up form on the right-hand margin of the TBEX website). It comes out weekly via email, and includes the latest from the TBEX blog, reminders about upcoming deadlines for things like press trip applications and ticket price increases, and other information we think is useful to the TBEX community. And while you’re at it, don’t forget to follow TBEX on our social channels, too.

What do attendees say about TBEX?

Okay, obviously we think TBEX is worthwhile. But what do our attendees think?
Here are some round-ups of what attendees had to say about past conferences.