5 Things Not to Say About Your Business Cards at TBEX

Today’s guest post is by TBEX speaker Andy Hayes, who has some tips for those attending any of our networking sessions.

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When I attended my first “business networking” event, a local government-sponsored organization in Scotland about 5 years ago, I witnessed a lot of tomfoolery. When you put 25 newly minted business owners in a room, you’re bound to feel like you’re in a live action comedy skit.

Unfortunately, to this day I attend networking groups and “speed dating” events, only to find that people have not learned. Before you attend this year’s TBEX networking sessions, take a minute and think about the kind of impression you want to leave on your PR contacts as well as travel blogging colleagues, both new and old.

One thing that causes me to chuck more often than not is the topic of business cards. The following are 5 real, genuine incidents I’ve experienced in recent memory – most of them travel bloggers. No names are shamed, but take my advice and skip these snafus.

Yes, this really is my business card.

1. “Here, take one. I’m trying to get rid of them.

A travel blogger mentioned this to me at Blogworld in 2010, before mentioning it to the next four people I was standing next to. If she was “trying to get of them” so desperately, then remind me again why I would want one?

Your goal at TBEX is not to give out a certain number of cards. Your goal is to make connections and build relationships. Quality, not quantity folks.

2. “Sorry I just printed these last night.”

This was one of those awkward moments where I was sharing a networking appointment at an event with another travel journalist. It was a little embarrassing to see their lack of professionalism, which started with the whole business card thing, but carried through the entire appointment.

Forgot your cards? Ran out and had to buy extra? No problem. Don’t highlight it. Most people won’t notice.

Speaking of running out….

3. “Sorry, I don’t have a card.”

This happens to the best of us. You forget your cards, or you run out, or they are still in your luggage which has taken a detour to Keystone via Bogota. All you need to do is to grab a notebook and write up a few scraps of paper with your name/twitter handle/email/phone. Then you’ve transformed that into a “Sorry I’ve ran out of my cards, but here’s my information so we can stay in touch.”

It’s not the most professional substitute, but it shows potential connections that you mean business and won’t let a small glitch get in the way.

4. “______________________________”

I can’t tell you how many networking events I’ve been to where someone I never spoke to, who wasn’t a speaker or a sponsor, just handed me a card and walked off without saying anything. It’s weird, right?

At events like SXSW, I see people spraying their business cards everywhere. It’s such a waste, you might as well drop them in the recycling bin yourself.

I’m sure if you hand out enough cards to strangers, someone will call with some paying work. That is an awfully expensive way to go about finding work, though.

5. “Before we talk, can I see your business card?”

Yup, this happened last year at Blogworld in LA. It made me feel really icky, as if the quality of my entire being was going to be judged solely by my card alone. I might point out that at this point, just post-handshake, the travel blogger didn’t even know if I was a PR person or a blogger or a sponsor or random-person-from-street. Slightly aggressive move, right?

Maybe they were nervous. Or maybe they were a jerk. I’ll never know; I didn’t hear back from them afterwards, so I guess my card wasn’t good enough.

Over to you: what’s the weirdest/worst thing you’ve seen someone do with their business cards?

Andy Hayes is a published travel author, entrepreneur, and busy IT consultant. He blogs about Edinburgh, Scotland and value luxury travel. Connect with him before TBEX on his personal site, andyhayes.com or via Twitter, @andrewghayes.

Tipping at TBEX

Today’s guest post is from travel blogger Billie Frank, who gives us a reminder and perspective on tipping at a luxury resort like our Keystone property.

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Many travel bloggers who’ll be at TBEX 12 in Keystone, Colorado, are budget travelers. If you’re not familiar with luxury resorts, or tipping in the United States in general, at TBEX you may wonder, “How much should I tip?” Others have been to high-end hotels on press or blogger trips where the hotel, PR firm, CVB or tourism board takes care of the staff for you. But at a convention, tipping is up to you. Understanding tipping can take the anxiety out of the process so that you can enjoy your stay without fretting about what to give the housekeeper, the valet or the bellman.

Here’s a suggested guideline to tipping:

Restaurants:  As with restaurants anywhere in the US, 18 to 20% is the norm for a tip, more if you have incredible service and less if the service is not up to par. Since your TBEX 12 registration includes meals, you don’t have to worry about tipping unless you have additional, non-included meals.

The valet:  There is plenty of free onsite parking, but if you opt to use valet parking there is a fee.  In that case, the first person you are apt to meet when checking in the valet.  These folks really hustle and earn that tip. Now, here’s the tricky part; do you tip on both in and out? A common valet tip is $2, given when the car is delivered. The valet that takes your car is often not the same one returning it and so some people tip at both ends with the larger tip when the vehicle is brought to them. There is usually more hustle on the return end as the valet knows you want your car quickly.

The bell-person:  If you use luggage assistance, give at least $2 per bag; $5 to $10 is reasonable for good service. Tip more for extremely heavy or unwieldy bags or if there are a lot of odds and ends on the luggage cart. A good bell-person will set your luggage on caddies in your room and hang appropriate garment bags and loose garments. Before leaving s/he will make sure you understand the intricacies of your room, including heating or air conditioning, audio-visual, telephone and Wi-Fi systems.

The housekeeper:  One of the hardest, most thankless jobs in a hotel is the housekeeper – people sometimes leave rooms in appalling condition. During your stay, the housekeeper is not expected (or in many cases not even permitted) to move your possessions, so leave the room in a cleanable condition. A suggested minimum tip is $3 per day; $5 is generous. If your room is really messy and requires a lot of work or really trashed when you check out, leave a larger gratuity. It’s a good idea to leave housekeeping tips daily in an envelope marked “Housekeeper.” If you wait and tip at the end of your stay, it might be a windfall for a fill-in housekeeper who has done your room once in a multiple-day stay. During your stay, the envelope is important. In many hotels, if housekeepers touch money left in the room, they can be fired. If you need something extra brought to the room, pillows, towels, etc., a dollar or two is appropriate. If a member of the housekeeping staff does something above and beyond, tip accordingly. I know that many travel bloggers are on a tight budget, but at the very least, tip these hardworking folks, especially if you’ve been very hard on the room. .

Room service:  Room service can be tricky. The hotel usually adds a service charge to the bill, although this is not a tip.  Sometimes a gratuity is also added.  It’s a good idea to ask at the time you place your order.  If the tip is not included, the amount should be the standard 18% and 20% of the food and/or drink bill before taxes. If the server sets your food up and goes above and beyond, you may want to tip them a bit extra.

Shuttles:  If you’re taking a shuttle from the airport, it’s a nice gesture to tip the driver, especially if they are stowing your luggage. A suggested tip is $2 to $5 per person.

Enjoy your time at TBEX12.  And remember, don’t forget to tip those who serve you.

Santa Fe based freelance writer and former concierge Billie Frank writes extensively about Santa Fe and Northern New Mexico for her blog Santa Fe Travelers. A former print journalist, she is a contributor to other online publications focusing on food and travel and is a Contributing Editor at Travel Squire. Billie was a consultant and contributor for DK Eyewitness Travel’s 2012 revision of the Top 10 Santa Fe, Taos and Albuquerque guide. She is co-owner of a trip planning and tour business The Santa Fe Traveler, designing unique experiences for visitors to Santa Fe. You can find Billie on Facebook and on Twitter.

Photo credit:  SXC

What a Difference a Year Makes: 5 Reasons I’m Going Back to TBEX

There are probably as many reasons to go to TBEX as there are people going.

Today’s Guest Post from speaker Tracey Friley explains that what she expected from TBEX and what she got out of TBEX are two different things.  Different in the very best way possible!

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Tracey Friley

Tracey with a new TBEX friend

TBEX was the first travel blogging conference I ever attended. In fact, it was just last year in June 2011 in lovely – and I do mean lovely – Vancouver, Canada. Touted as the biggest travel blogging conference in the world, I thought it would be (1) cool to hang out in Vancouver; and (2) cool smart to go to a conference I’d never been to. A lifelong traveler, I had just a few months prior won a national travel writing award and wasn’t sure how or if I wanted to formally fit travel into my brand and onto my blog. So off to Vancouver I went…with no strategy in mind and with no idea of what to expect.

Funny how one little conference can change your life. Read > Never in a Million Years.

So here we are just about one year later and I feel like this is an anniversary of sorts; TBEX is coming up again…and this time with new owners. Boy oh boy. What a difference a year makes. Not only did my global awareness initiative for pre-teen girls receive full funding from Expedia as a result of being in the right place at the right time (TBEX11), but I’m speaking more, my visibility has increased, and yes, so have the opportunities. And you can’t beat that with a stick.

Needless to say, I’m a TBEX advocate and plan to go again this year…and let me tell you why:

  1. Because of the opportunities. I should reiterate that I did not go to TBEX with a plan or strategy last year and there are loads of folks that will tell you that isn’t the best way to take on a conference. (For the record, however, I always have a plan for my business that I’m able to regurgitate on cue.) But my personal truth is that any small successes I’ve had have occurred because there was an opportunity that presented itself and I acted on it authentically. I didn’t push or insinuate myself in any situations. I just sat back and waited for the right opportunity to show up…and boy did it ever. And because with each passing year TBEX gets better, it only makes sense that the opportunities will get better as well.
  2. Because of the tips. Face it; you don’t need anyone to tell you how to blog, but you might need some tips to take your blog/business to that next level everyone says we should aim for. With more than 35 speakers at TBEX this year, surely you’ll glean something you can take home and use. You know what I mean: That one nugget of wisdom that changes your entire view about your brand that you can’t wait to get home to implement. I just love it when that happens.
  3. Because of the people. There is something to be said for spending time with like-minded people; people with wanderlust and tons of travel stories to share and destinations to dream about. And while I showed up solo last year (my typical MO) and some random dude told me I should change my brand name to something other than OneBrownGirl *snort*, I met some really nice people that I’m still in touch with today.
  4. Because of the location. I have participated in my fair share of seasonal outdoor activities and sports, but I have never been to Keystone, Colorado and I’m looking forward to checking out this part of America’s Great Outdoors. There’s even a super cool road rally that will take attendees from Denver to Keystone that will highlight many local points of interest. Of course, you can make this adventure anything you want it to be. I’ve decided to go to at least one of the pre-trip Denver activities at the Denver Art Museum – Yves Saint Laurent: The Retrospective, and will spend the week prior to TBEX in Denver at The Brown Palace Hotel and Spa (they’re hosting The Denver Passport Party), and look forward to the spa treatments getting to know the city better as well. *Grin*
  5. Because travel dreams can come true. Sitting back and not showing up is not an option if you want your travel dreams realized…no matter what they might be. And while there are no guarantees that you’ll end up with the Golden Ticket, you’ve got to be in it to win it. IMHO: If I were you, I would take my chances.

Look. In my view, TBEX is the place to be this June. Whether you go to forge relationships with PR firms, with other bloggers, or directly with brands; or whether you are there to learn about the host cities or get specific tips and feedback from speakers, I can’t think of another place in the US that focuses on the travel blogging community in this way.

I’m going. Are you?

TBEX Changed My Life: A 21st Century Love Story

Everyone loves a good love story, and when it involves travel it’s even better.  This guest post from Stephanie Yoder explains why.  And how.

TBEX2010Keystone in June will be my third time at TBEX. I’m becoming quite the veteran. I’m sure it will be an awesome event, as it was last year in Vancouver, but the truth is that neither of them could ever live up to my favorite TBEX. That’s because my first year, in New York, is when I met Michael.

They always say meeting the right guy will happen when you least suspect it, but in my case it was more like “it will happen when you’ve already definitely decided it’s not going to, not for few years at least, stop bugging me everybody.” I was planning to quit my job and travel around Asia, my travel blog was picking up in popularity and boys were absolutely the last thing on my mind.

In true blogger fashion, it all started on Twitter. While procrastinating one day I started chatting about travel budgets with some guy who had a blog called Art of Backpacking. After some playful back and forth banter (Twitter flirting? Is that a thing?) he sent me a Facebook friend request. “Wow, that guy is actually pretty cute,” I commented to a friend before promptly putting it out of my mind.

This was a couple of weeks before TBEX 2010 in New York City. It was to be my first major professional event and I was extremely intimidated at the idea of being around so many people that I felt connected to yet had never actually met. In a few darker moments of doubt I considered not going, but by the time I arrived and was sipping cocktails at the Thursday night PRE-BEX event I was glad I’d braved it. Everyone was so nice and so friendly.

That evening, at an Irish bar in Midtown, I finally met the cute boy from Twitter. He was tall with a mess of curly hair and really cute glasses (I have a weakness for glasses). He greeted me with a huge smile and a hug. Then he bought me a beer. And that was that. By the end of the weekend we were inseparable.

The stars weren’t perfectly aligned:  He was headed to China to teach English for a year, and I had my own travel plans but it didn’t seem to matter. I just wanted to be close to this guy. The very next weekend he came down to DC to see me. Shortly after that I changed my flight itinerary to pay him a visit in Xi’an.

UruguayThat was two years ago. Two years of traipsing around China, Thailand, Colombia and more with my new favorite travel companion. We’ve been white water rafting in Ecuador, wine tasting in Argentina and eaten our way through Vietnam. We share a love of exploring new places, meeting new people and the endless possibilities that travel brings. And eating, we both really, really love eating.

Sometimes I joke that I’m only dating Michael for the tech support, but in truth dating another travel blogger has all kinds of awesome perks. He helps me when my site goes down and I proofread his articles. We both understand the crucial importance of free wifi and that all food must be photographed before eating. We look at new sights with two different perspectives and our work often overlaps in fun ways. We inspire each other.

I will admit that sometimes it feels a bit nerdy to tell people that we met “at a travel blogger convention.” Everyone loves it though, and as a result TBEX will always hold a special place in our hearts. We’ve both made so many great friends and connections via the conference and learned so many things.

Through TBEX we haven’t just found each other, we’ve found a true support community.

Plus, it makes it hard to forget our anniversary!

Photos courtesy of the author

Stephanie Yoder is a girl who can’t sit still! She writes about Generation Y Travel on her website Twenty-Something Travel and tweets @20sTravel. She is speaking at TBEX Keystone.