TBEX Speaker Post: Creating Your Own Job Security (in a World Without Any)


Creative Commons photo by Tim Patterson

Creative Commons photo by Tim Patterson

We all should know by now that getting a degree from a good university or landing a job with a big company does not mean a secure future anymore. Half of recent college graduates are either unemployed or under-employed. We’ve gone from a world of pensions and steady paychecks to one of job-hopping, joblets, and hustling to build up enough freelance gigs to pay the bills.

Expecting someone else to secure your future career or finances is no longer a reliable strategy. Companies go from hot to not in an instant, flying up and flaming out faster than a half-price restaurant sale. That boss who hired you for that secure staff job will probably be gone in a year. The editor who has been buying all your freelance articles will likely get sacked at some point and leave your last two pieces in limbo. Making a living from “a real job” only goes so far in a recessionary climate of compressed wages and rising time demands.

The safest solution in this climate is to run your own show, no permission required. Self-employment is the new job security.

That blog you’re running, however, is not immune to a downturn, either, if more than half your income is from one source. For the modern writer, editor, or publisher – and you probably need to be all three – any stability you have is going to come from diversifying your own efforts.

If there’s a reliable blueprint for the digital age, it is this:

  1. Build unique content you own.
  2. Build an audience that finds that content useful.
  3. Branch out into other sites, services, or products from that established platform, cross-promoting each step of the way.
  4. Create multiple streams of income from the widely varied sources.

That last one means varied advertising sources, but also sources that have nothing to do with advertising: a book, a product, leading tours, freelance writing, a course, or whatever else relates to your skill set. When one source disappears, you may be scratched, but you won’t be mortally wounded.

Many bloggers have seen their traffic drop off for no good reason the past couple years as Google changes its algorithms behind the scenes and emphasizes paid results over organic ones in their layout. Others have seen their income from certain types of advertising plummet as those methods go out of favor. If all your eggs are in one basket, it can get depressing and scary when that one basket drops.

If your blog is just a fun hobby, that’s fine, but if you want it to ever be a real income generator, it needs to be a platform for a business, not the business itself. Becoming a business owner, rather than just a blogger, means diversifying. It means adding more income streams from existing sites and adding more sources for those streams through other projects.

Answer these questions if you want to be more than a hobbyist:

  • What can I be doing to earn money besides putting up the same kind of ads 1,000 other travel sites are putting up as well?
  • What do I or can I do better or differently than anyone else?
  • What expertise do I have that others are willing to pay for?
  • What does my audience care about and what are they indicating they might buy?

If you don’t have a big enough or dedicated enough audience, work on that first. Develop a unique angle or point of view that’s all yours. Write quality posts that attract a tribe, not cheap list posts.

Meanwhile, take a walk in the woods, exercise, talk to your readers. You need big ideas and creativity, not more time at a virtual water cooler. Think beyond your baby (the blog) to what’s next, then what’s next after that. Float things out and see if there’s traction — failure is cheap now, and failure is a great educator.

You’re living in a golden age of inexpensive technology, low start-up costs, and the freedom to make your own future. The best job security is making your own job and creating success on your own terms. It may not be as predictable and straightforward as your father’s career, but the 21st century career you make for yourself can be a lot more fun and satisfying. And the only person who can fire you is you.

Author bio: Tim Leffel launched the Cheapest Destinations Blog in 2003 and went on to found multiple other websites including the award-winning Perceptive Travel and review blog Practical Travel Gear. He is the author of several books including Travel Writing 2.0 and the new 4th edition of The World’s Cheapest Destinations. See more at TimLeffel.com and catch Tim speaking on empire expansion at TBEX Toronto 2013.

TBEX Toronto: 1,000 Travel Lovers* (and Counting)



What does a crowd of 1,000 travel lovers look like? We don’t know yet – but we will when we get to Toronto! That’s right, we’ve surpassed 1,000 registered attendees for TBEX Toronto. This will be the biggest TBEX yet, and we can’t wait.

What’s in store for those 1,000 attendees? Well, there are still spots open for the pre- and post-TBEX Toronto tours, available May 30, May 31, and June 3. We’ve got an opening party hosted by Toronto Tourism on May 31, and an Expedia party on June 1. There’s an awesome slate of companies who’ll be there, ready to meet with travel bloggers. And we just published the program for TBEX Toronto.

Yeah, very exciting, indeed.

Will you be joining us in Toronto? There’s still time to register!

* That tally includes travel bloggers, destinations, industry representatives, and PR people… But we’re pretty sure that every single attendee is a travel lover. And having 1,000+ travel enthusiasts in one place is pretty doggone cool, no?

TBEX Speaker Post: Ask Me About Art

I’ve been blogging since 1997. I have work in the early archives of Matador and BlogHer and World Hum and Travelblogs. I used Tripod (gone), MSN Communities (gone) and Blogger (now owned by Google) before joining the church of WordPress in 2001. I have a loyal audience, readers that have been with me for 15 years. Parallel to my blogging timeline, there’s a career in technology; I moved to Seattle right before the tech bubble hit and built a portfolio of skills that has served me very well.  Given all this, it’s not surprising that from time to time, a newbie asks me how to make money blogging about travel.

You’d expect the answer to this question to be an established plan of strategizing, optimizing, monetizing, and socializing. Here’s your rule book, travel blogger, go forth and prosper. Instead, I have a much shorter answer to that question. How do I make money travel blogging? I don’t. Not much, anyway. Make no mistake about it, I know how to make money blogging, but that is not my path. I’m in it for art.

vintage typewriter

Let’s back up a little bit.

I was contracted for my first real job shortly after my 30th birthday. I worked as a caption writer for Encarta, Microsoft’s CD-ROM multimedia encyclopedia. It was my job to put accurate, pithy remarks beneath photos of dictators and geographic wonders and great works of art. I was good at it, the work was interesting, and it prepared me, though I did not know it at the time, for Twitter.

When that project was over, I went to work on travel planning software, a tool called Trip Planner. It became part of Expedia, and Expedia became its own company, but at the time, Trip Planner was Microsoft software that allowed you to plan your vacation in the US and Canada. I was a fact checker, which meant I made sure that all the attraction and restaurant and hotel listings were accurate and up to date. This prepared me, though I did not know it at the time, to write guidebooks for Thomas Cook.

I did many things that readied me for a career in today’s travel web. Natural language indexing, which evolved into keyword indexing for search. Web production work, coding HTML and XML, which made me bold enough to edit php in WordPress. Writing online help, which taught me to explain complex tasks in a simple way – perfect for those travel “how to” pieces. I even had a brief stint in management, but candidly, I hated it. I like doing things, not shopping them out.

In case you’re wondering, no, I didn’t hit the technology jackpot. Not by a long shot, I didn’t even win a nice nest egg. I was offered a number of full time positions at companies that were making people rich.  But every time I was recruited, the fat salary and stock options and benefits had to compete with the lure of elswhere. I can’t take this job because I am crossing The Outback in eight weeks. I can’t take this job because I am spending the winter in the Austrian Alps with a man I met while crossing the Outback. I can’t take this job because I have six weeks of summer road tripping planned. I can’t take this job because your two week vacation package is like a prison sentence, but hey, I really like working with you, let’s keep it casual! I wanted to travel more than I wanted financial stability.

I never settled into traditional employment, and now, it’s impossible for me to take a desk job that requires my daily physical presence; I am constitutionally unsuited for regular office work. But I know how to give people the information they are looking for, to make it findable, to make it understandable, and to publish it. Companies pay me well for these skills and my work is project based, so I still have time to travel and work on the writing I love. You’d be forgiven for thinking that I would put this muscle behind my blog to build it into a thriving business. But.

I don’t blog for business. I do it for art.

I came out of university with a degree in drawing and painting and a rock solid commitment to the creative. The fine arts students were one floor up from the graphic design students. Downstairs, they learned how to assemble the portfolio that would ace the interview while upstairs we wondered how we’d pay our rent and pray we had a future in teaching. The graphic artists would have jobs when they graduated; we would eat ramen noodles long after the ceremonies were over. We optimistically hoped we’d find a way to make a living without compromising our art.

We were committed, regardless of the known economic challenges. We would make the work we wanted, we were Artists. We would strive for truth over popularity, the purity of our expression was more important than making money. We would never sell out our vision to The Man. We believed in the power of art. Even now, my classmates, many of them still close friends, hold solid to these ideals. We’ve all found ways to stay true to our art.

When I began to blog, as an expat West Coast Jewish girl in a tiny alpine town, I did so with an artist’s mind, a mind towards making stuff I wanted to make. I wrote about what it was like to be an outsider. I wrote about snow and cake and Nazi themed graffiti and racism. I wrote to make my readers feel something, and to see my stories outside myself.  I wrote to understand my experiences. I still write to understand. I am not always successful, but I write to make art.

I didn’t worry about getting readers or being found by Google. I didn’t give a second’s thought to optimizing or strategizing or monetizing or socializing. I was surprised when people offered me trips, gear, ads, but I remained anchored in art. I wanted to write, I wanted to get better at it, I wanted to share my stories. Blogging allowed me to do that; it was my classroom and my gallery all at once.  15 years later – albeit with some digressions into commercial experiments — these are still my goals. Write. Get better. Share. Make art. I am first and foremost an artist, writing and blogging is my medium. I still do it for art.

There are lots of reasons to blog. Making money is one of them, but it is not the only one.

Blog because you are teaching yourself to write – blogging’s time driven nature creates an excellent framework for homework.  Blog because you are compelled to share your stories – blogging is perfect for that. Blog because you can’t not write – a blog is a good place for you to see your story outside your own head, to see your work made real. The roots version of “Why blog?” is still 100% valid – because you’re having an adventure and you want to document it. Or blog for the same reasons I do, because blogging is your medium and writing is your art.

I make a little money as a travel writer. I have some nice bylines – Afar, Lonely Planet, the San Francisco Chronicle — to name a few. I work as technical writer and I design website architecture. The geeky work pays well, I learn things, and I genuinely enjoy it. Recently, I’ve worked on several projects that tap my social media and travel experience; it’s cool when worlds converge. I stay freelance so I have time to travel and write. And best of all, because I’m not locked into making my blog pay, I’m free to do the kind of writing I want to do. I get to keep making art.

Not for a second would I argue that my approach is right for you. If you blog because you want to attract sponsor attention and fund your travels, the lofty high art perspective is the long slow road – though all of my successes as a travel writer have come from exactly this choice. Lay a good foundation in writing and journalism basics. Strive for good grammar. Get your facts straight and be honest with your audience. But where you go beyond that is your call, it’s your blog, your business, your writing.

You can choose art, though, and it is liberating. Try this.

Don’t focus on making money today or tomorrow or next year, instead, focus on making amazing writing. Dig into the dark places the tourist office doesn’t want you to see. Tell a good story purely for the satisfaction of telling a good story. Experiment, write backwards, unravel history, ask hard questions, tell stories that leave your readers feeling dizzy or angry or exhausted as though they have made the journey with you. Turn away from all the optimizing and strategizing and monetizing and socializing because they do not have to be why you blog.

I could make more money travel blogging, but it’s not my goal, so anything I can tell you would be untested. My goal is to make art. If yours is too, ask me about that. I think we’ll both find it’s a much more interesting conversation.

This is a guest post from TBEX speaker Pam Mandel. She’ll be leading Friday’s extended TBEX writing workshop (along with Andy Murdock and David Farley) as well as speaking on a panel about self-editing your work.

Pam is a freelance travel writer and photographer who’s been blogging about travel (and other topics) at Nerd’s Eye View since 1997. She’s created stories for Gadling, World Hum, Conde Nast Traveler Online, NPR station WGBH Boston, MSNBC, SF Chronicle, Afar, Lonely Planet, inflight magazines, custom publications and more. She’s a surviving guidebook writer (for Thomas Cook) and says never is too soon do guidebook work again. She’s currently procrastinating on her book about the ukulele by working as a user experience architect. She lives in Seattle with her Austrian husband where she shreds with Seattle’s loudest ukulele band, The Castaways.

 Photo:  Courtesy of Pam Mandel

TBEX Toronto: And Still More Speakers


megaphone announcementIt’s time for some more speaker announcements for TBEX 13.  We’ll happy to announce the following people will be on stage in Toronto.

We’ve been burning the midnight oil trying to notify everyone who has been selected. Between traveling and time zones, there are still some people who we have not connected with. That should all be wrapped up in the next couple days, and everyone who submitted a speaker proposal will get a response – either a confirmation that you are speaking or notice that we’ve declined your proposal.

TBEX Sponsor Post: 7 Things to Consider in a Travel Insurance Policy


mountain climbing adventure travel

Whether you are traveling across the country or around the world, consider protecting yourself – and your wallet – with travel insurance. From trip cancellation to medical coverage, here are a few things to look for when you shop for a policy.

1.  Trip Cancellation Coverage

Trip cancellation is often the first thing people think of when they hear “travel insurance.” This type of coverage provides you with financial protection should you have to cancel your trip. If you’re searching for a trip cancellation policy, verify the covered reasons for cancellation benefits. Some insurance plans will let you cancel for any reason and others will let you cancel for work reasons. Other programs will only cover you for emergencies, such as unexpected illness or death.

While you’re reviewing the policy details, also check to see what percentage of the trip costs will be covered.  Will the plan cover 100% of non-refundable trip costs? Or only up to a specified dollar value? You’ll need to decide the type of coverage with which you are most comfortable.

2.  Emergency Accident and Sickness / Emergency Medical Coverage

Emergency medical coverage supplements your home health insurance while you’re away. In fact, before you purchase emergency accident and sickness coverage, check your primary health insurance – they may or may not cover you for treatment, particularly when you’re abroad. If you are already covered for medical care, verify whether or not you will have to pay out-of-pocket for treatment. Many travelers, particularly international travelers, benefit from having a travel insurance policy to pay directly for medical care received, rather than paying out-of-pocket and then waiting for reimbursement from their primary health insurance carrier.

As with primary health insurance, check your travel insurance policy for benefit limits and deductibles.

3.  Evacuation and Repatriation of Remains

Emergency evacuations can be costly, often adding up to tens – if not hundreds – of thousands of dollars. If there is an accident or you become ill and need medical care, you may need to be moved to a hospital better equipped to handle your illness or injury, or even home. With evacuation coverage, not only will you have financial protection against having to pay the costs of the evacuation, you should have access to a team of people who will help make arrangements.

And, sadly, repatriation of remains is sometimes a necessary benefit. If a tragedy happens to you or your traveling companion, this benefit will pay for the body or remains to be shipped home, as well as coordinate between funeral homes and transportation providers.

4.  Hazardous Sports Coverage

Many travel insurance policies have exclusions for activities that can be considered hazardous. Such activities may include parasailing, SCUBA diving, spelunking, mountain climbing, and even skiing. If you plan on participating in any activities that may even remotely be considered hazardous, contact your travel insurance provider before you buy.

In addition to hazardous activities, many policies also exclude sporting competitions, races and games. If you are traveling to run a marathon or compete in a rugby tournament, you may not have medical coverage for injuries sustained during these events. Check your policy before you buy.

5.  Security Evacuation / Terrorism Coverage

If you travel to politically volatile countries, you may want to consider coverage for security evacuations. This way, if things deteriorate and it’s in your best interest to leave, you’ll be covered for expenses relating to that unexpected departure. This may be dependent upon your home country’s state department issuing an evacuation order. Some plans may also provide trip cancellation benefits if you’re scheduled to arrive in a country in which a terrorist attack has recently occurred.

6.  Pre-Existing Medical Conditions

A common exclusion in the travel insurance industry is based on pre-existing conditions. Each provider defines and treats pre-existing conditions differently, and such conditions can affect both the medical and the travel coverage of travel insurance. Don’t let this shy you away from researching travel insurance – some companies waive pre-existing conditions if travel insurance is purchased within a few days of the initial trip deposit date (the number of days varies by company), and most companies make exceptions for “controlled” pre-existing conditions. (Again, what is considered “controlled” may vary with travel insurance provider.)

7.  Maximum Trip Length

Many policies have a maximum trip length. Even annual policies may have a maximum trip length to provide coverage for multiple trips in one year, instead of one year-long trip.  Likewise, an annual policy may have a maximum number of trips allowed that year. If you’re taking an extended trip, make sure you purchase a policy that will cover you for your entire trip.


One travel insurance company, RoamRight, is a sponsor this year at TBEX ‘ 13, and is giving away seven free blogger passes to the conference in Toronto. Enter to be one of the lucky seven bloggers.


This is a guest post from TBEX Toronto sponsor, RoamRight. RoamRight offers travel insurance plans for leisure, business, student, and group travelers traveling within the U.S. or internationally. Our insurance is underwritten by Arch Insurance Company, a market-leading specialty insurer with an A.M. Best financial strength rating of A+ (superior). Our staff and customer service representatives are travel insurance specialists who offer customers expert information about trip cancellation and travel medical insurance coverage options.

UPDATE:  The winners of this contest have been contacted and we can now announce them here:

  1. Courtenay Strickland
  2. Nick Huggins
  3. Elaine J. Masters
  4. Jeff Broman
  5. April Thompson
  6. Jill Kozak
  7. Debbie Miller

Photo credit:  SXC 

Toronto Revealed: Travel Bloggers Podcast About the TBEX 2013 Host City


We know TBEXers are excited to see what Toronto and the surrounding area have to offer, both during TBEX and on trips they’ve planned before and after, but here’s the dilemma – with twice as many bloggers set to descend on the city as were at TBEX in Keystone, telling a unique story is going to be an even bigger challenge than it usually is. Rather than settle for letting your blog posts sound and look like every other attendee’s, then, it will be important to do your homework in advance to find story angles that will make your experiences stand out. To get more information on what to expect from the city and start to brainstorm your story angles, here’s an interview with Tourism Toronto.

Creative Commons photo by jbcurio on Flickr

Creative Commons photo by jbcurio on Flickr

One of things that stuck in my blogging brain from the last TBEX conference was that wherever I go, someone will already have written about that place. To bring something worthwhile to the travel content space, I need to seek out new personal experiences and new stories in any destination that I visit. So when I heard that the next TBEX conference was in Toronto and reviewed what I’d previously written about the city, I realised that I needed some help as I had not brought anything new and personal to the destination on previous trips. That’s why I reached out to Andrew Weir, the Vice President of Communications for Tourism Toronto, for an interview on my Travel Bloggers Podcast.

With an anticipated 1,000 travel bloggers coming to the city for TBEX Toronto, all of whom will be looking to write about the destination, the challenge for everyone will be to find an angle and perspective that will stand out. While asking an expert like Andrew specific questions about what bloggers coming to Toronto should know if they want to find new stories resulted in practical tips we can all use during our TBEX trips, I also learned some interesting bits of information about the city that helps to inform the rest of my planning process.

I interviewed Andrew for my Travel Bloggers Podcast, and you can listen to the interview using the online player below, via iTunes, or via this link.

I asked Andrew to help travel bloggers understand more about the city, what those of us attending TBEX Toronto could expect, what he suggests we do to prepare and do once there. In the podcast he talks about:

  • What is Tourism Toronto and its role.
  • Events and activities happening around TBEX in Toronto.
  • Advice and tips for travel bloggers visiting Toronto to attend TBEX to find their personal experiences and stories.

You can follow and find out more about Tourism Toronto:

Guest Post Author Bio: Gary Bembridge grew up in Zimbabwe, and has been London based since 1987. He has been travelling every month of every year for the last 20 years thanks to his job as a global marketer for Unilever, Johnson & Johnson and now a global brand consultant. He launched Tips For Travellers in 2005 with a podcast and blog to share learning on how to get the most out of every destination he has visited. His Travel Bloggers Podcast was launched in 2013.

Travel Blog Exchange: Toronto pre-BEX & post-BEX Activities



With just over six weeks to go until TBEX Toronto, we’re in high planning gear. Later this week, we’ll be opening registration for some of the pre-BEX activities our host partners and we’ve been cooking up – and although we can’t give you all the details yet, we wanted to call your attention to them now so you don’t miss them when they’re published.

And remember, only registered TBEX attendees can sign up for these activities – so if you’ve been putting off getting your ticket, now’s your chance!

pre-BEX Workshops

A one-hour session during TBEX is great for an introduction to a new topic, or some general tips on an advanced level, but it’s hardly enough time to dig into a meatier subject. This is why we’ve been putting together a couple of what we’re calling “pre-BEX Workshops“, to be held on May 31st, that have been designed to give you more time to spend honing your craft.

We’ll have a writing workshop led by a trio of passionate writers and travelers – David Farley, Pam Mandel, and Andy Murdock – all of whom are enthusiastic about helping you up your writing game. We’ll also have two photo walks (one in the morning and one in the afternoon) with professional photographers, during which you’ll get to see a bit of Toronto and learn to get more out of your travel photographs. And, we’ll have an Instagram photo walk with TBEX Toronto speaker Katja Presnal that will give you a chance to learn more about combining iPhoneography with social media when you travel.

Space is limited for all of these Workshops, and you’ll need to sign up for the one you want to attend (it’s first come, first-served). These Workshops are timed so that if you choose to sign up for one of the Toronto Experiences (more details below), you’ll be able to do both.

You can sign up for the pre-Bex workshops starting on Wednesday, April 17th, at 12 noon (PDT).

pre-BEX (and post-BEX) Toronto Experiences

The Toronto and Ontario press trips that many of you will be going on before and after TBEX aren’t the only tours our hosts have been putting together for you. Some of you wondered why there wasn’t anything Toronto-related in those press trips – and the answer is there’s an entirely different set of Toronto day trips you can go on! These aren’t press trips, so won’t require an application process, and are open to ALL registered attendees. Space is limited, so you’ll need to sign up on a first come, first-served basis.

There are Toronto Experiences available on May 30th, May 31st, and June 3rd. Take a look at what else you have planned before choosing the date(s) that works best for your schedule. We’re pretty confident you will be bowled over by the sheer number and variety of experiences on offer. There is a leisurely canoe trip through the Toronto Islands, a look at the city’s graffiti art, a first-timer’s guide to Toronto, tours that focus on music, beer, gay culture, markets, sports, and architecture – and much, much more.

The start and end times for these tours vary depending on the tour and the day, so read the descriptions closely. Also note that tours are subject to change, and some activities may be weather-dependent.

Note the following important information about these Toronto Experiences:

  • These Toronto Experiences are open to all TBEX registrants – both bloggers and industry attendees – but registration is on an individual basis (you can’t sign up someone else).
  • Friday Toronto Experiences are limited to one experience per person.
  • Registration for these tours opens on Wednesday, April 17th – at 12 noon PDT.
  • You can preview some of the options now so you’re ready to sign up for the tour of your choice on Wednesday, but note that some tour changes, substitutions, and cancellations may still occur.
  • Here are links to the tour listings:  May 30th Toronto Experiences, the May 31st Toronto Experiences (note there are three separate pages of tours linked from this page!), and the June 3rd Toronto Experiences.

Travel Blog Exchange: Travel Bloggers Hit Dublin for St. Patrick’s Day Festival


St. Patrick's Day parade-goers (Monika Fuchs)

St. Patrick’s Day parade-goers (by Monika Fuchs)

TBEX Dublin doesn’t start for another six months, but our friends at Fáilte Ireland wanted to give some travel bloggers a sneak peek at our 2013 European host city during one of its biggest celebrations – the St. Patrick’s Day Festival. With the help of TBEX, they selected a small group of bloggers – Amber DeGrace (Tickling My Fancy), Andrew Dobson (Dobbernation Loves), Monika Fuchs (Travel World Online), JoAnna Haugen (Kaleidoscopic Wandering), and Yvonne Zagermann (Just Travelous) – to experience Dublin at its most green.

For the rest of us who couldn’t be in Dublin over St. Patrick’s Day, here’s a round-up of the blog posts and photos by that group.

And yes, all this Dublin and Ireland talk makes us even more excited about going to Dublin in October. How about you?

St. Patrick’s Day Festival Blog Posts

St. Patrick’s Day Festival Video

St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland – Kilkenny and Dublin from Yvonne Zagermann on Vimeo.

St. Patrick’s Day Festival Photos

In addition to the blog posts about the trip, the St. Patrick’s Festival bloggers were prolific photographers. Here’s a selection of their great pictures (including the part where they got to meet the President of Ireland!). Click on each image below to get to the original.

#Ireland is welcoming home its ancestors in an incredibly open way with The Gathering. What an exciting #StPatricksDay to be #Irish! #celebration #green #party #balloons #instamood #instagood #happy #fun

Live: Meeting the president of Ireland - Michael D. Higgins #gatheringireland

Happy St. Patrick's Day!! #gatheringireland

Malahide Castle has expansive gardens full of rare flora from around the world. The castle tour is a must to learn about its history. Maybe you'll even meet one of the ghosts! #gatheringireland

It wouldn't be #Europe without a #castle! This is Malahide Castle just outside of #Dublin, #Ireland. #history  #culture #royalty #green #moss #towers #travel #stpatricksday #sliceoflife #instagood #instamood

Blaa blaa blaa sandwich!

My version of heaven: The Long Room at #Trinity #College in #Dublin #Ireland filled with thousands of #books.#library #history #culture #education #reading #instagood #instamood #dream

An American marching band going crazy at Kilkenny castle

#Drink and be merry! Happy #StPatricksDay from #Dublin #Ireland. Next on the agenda? More #Guinness! #beer #drinking #party #celebration #fun #green #instagood #instamood #nofilter #sliceoflife

Just a little friendly reminder about St. Patrick's Day: Drink Guinness for Strength! #gatheringireland

Celebrating St. Patty's Day with @candicewalsh and @justtravelous. #Snow or #rain, we are going #green! #Dublin #ireland #stpatricksday #instagood #instamood #parade


<a href=Happening now! I'm in the #Dublin #stpatricksday #parade!! #celebration #party #ireland #green #fun #timeofmylife #love #instagood #instamood

On #stpatricksday in #Dublin, this happens at the Temple Bar. #Green as far as the eye can see. #party #celebration #drinking #ireland #fun #instagood #instamood #outtacontrol #chaos

Travel Blog Exchange: A Dozen More Speakers Announced for TBEX Toronto


Toronto skyline

We’re very excited to announce a dozen more speakers for TBEX 13 in Toronto.

  1. Lola Akinmade Akerstrom
  2. William Bakker of Think! Social Media
  3. Ted Murphy of IZEA
  4. David Farley
  5. Pam Mandel of Nerd’s Eye View
  6. Lisa Lubin of LL World Tour
  7. Kelley Ferro of Trip Films
  8. Ryan van Duzler of Duzer TV
  9. Chris Ducker of Virtual Staff Finder
  10. Johnny Jet
  11. Jodi Ettenberg of Legal Nomads
  12. Annemarie Dooling of Frill Seeker Diary

This announcement means we’ve also sent out some additional decline notices. It’s one of the hardest part of the jobs – saying no to good people and good ideas. We work hard to provide a balanced program of topics, speakers, niches, and styles, so that we represent the diversity of our attendees, but it’s not an exact science. If you haven’t heard from us yet, it means your submission is still under consideration.

We are closing into the home stretch with our speaker selection and program. More information to come soon.

DMOs: 5 Signs You’re Working With the Wrong Travel Blogger


Most bloggers have traded “PR fail” stories – the spectacularly off-target pitch, the “dear sir” email to a female blogger, the unsolicited sending of enormous files – but destination marketing organizations (DMOs) have their own set of “fail” stories when it comes to working with bloggers. When forming a DMO-blogger working partnership, it’s critical to make sure it’s a good fit in order to avoid those failures. Sometimes it’s easy to spot a yellow flag early – and sometimes it’s not. Here, one travel PR professional lists five reasons that he says “no” to blogger press trip requests – or that make him vow not to work with a blogger a second time.

Sunset on Kona, Hawaii

Sunset on Kona, Hawaii

1. Ridiculously Short Timing on the Request

Working in Hawaii with great travel-based clients, we get a lot more request for assistance than we can accommodate. Nothing is more frustrating than receiving an inquiry for travel support one week or days prior to a writer/blogger arriving in the Aloha State.

My team and I rarely ever say “No” to a writer and will always do what we can to help make that visit a productive one. However, bloggers need to realize that asking us to drop everything and magically put an itinerary together for you in a day is just unacceptable. Next.

2. It’s Your Way or the Highway

I understand bloggers have an agenda or a point of view in their writing or approach to covering our clients, however, please understand that there is another side to every story – and sometimes it’s more intriguing than the one you’re pursuing.

I appreciate writers who have done their research before contacting me and provide a wishlist of things to experience, people to meet, etc. But please be open-minded to what I’m suggesting as well. Hawaii is a unique place (like many destinations) that’s more sophisticated than sun, sand, and surf. I’m here to help make that story more compelling, more relevant, or correct by putting writers in touch with better contacts, suggesting changes to the story angle to be more accurate, and try to evolve their understanding or perception of Hawaii.

If it’s gonna be your way without any compromise or willingness to learn more about our side of the story, there’s the highway.

3. You’re Asking for WAAAAY Too Much

My team and I gladly consider all reasonable requests for assistance and will try to assist everyone who contacts us, even if it’s just providing information. But once the request for help starts to get excessive or greedy, that’s an instant turnoff to wanting to work with a blogger no matter how good they are.

Covering 100% of a blogger’s travel expenses never happens. Be reasonable with your requests and you’ll be amazed at how much more we’ll want to work with you.

4. You’re Bringing Who With You?

We understand there are some cases where it’s necessary for a blogger to travel with a spouse, significant other, child, or friend – to take your photos, shoot video, provide another perspective for the story, etc., etc., etc. We’ve heard all the reasons.

That’s fine, but what’s not fine is when the additional traveler (or travelers) starts to negatively influence a blogger’s commitment to the itinerary my team and I have labored over for weeks. The unexpected need to cancel the morning snorkel sail because your 3-year-old child didn’t have a good night’s rest and now you’re too exhausted to wake up really isn’t acceptable. Or backing out of an aerial adventure because the friend you’re traveling with doesn’t like helicopters.

My team has worked hard with our industry partners to organize these experiences for you. When you stop showing up for things during a visit, there’s a pretty good chance we won’t be assisting you again unless the terms are different.

5. Things Didn’t Turn Out The Way They Were Supposed To

You flaked out on scheduled activities and we didn’t find out until the provider contacted us. You were rude to our partners who are trying to go out of their way to assist you. You dropped our name for additional freebies and special assistance during your visit without us knowing. And my favorite of all, you failed to produce the content, stories, videos, etc. we agreed on at the conclusion of your visit.

Yes, these are true life scenarios I’ve dealt with. These folks typically end up on blacklists and get no future help from us. And the community of PR people in Hawaii are extremely tight, so there’s a good chance others may not want to work with you either. All we ask is that you behave like a professional during your visit. There’s a saying here in Hawaii that “to get Aloha, you need to give Aloha.”

Follow that and the Golden Rule and we’ll be fine.

Guest Author Bio: Nathan Kam has been immersed in public relations in Hawaii’s travel and tourism industry for more than 13 years and has worked on some of the state’s top leisure destination marketing campaigns. As a vice president at McNeil Wilson Communications (MWC) – a division of Anthology Marketing Group (AMG), Hawaii’s largest full-service integrated marketing company – he’s primarily responsible for managing the public relations activities for the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau (the state’s marketing agency for North America), Big Island Visitors Bureau, and Hawaii Food & Wine Festival accounts. Nathan is also a lead strategist helping clients elevate their brand presence in traditional and new media channels.