TBEX Sponsor Post: #OntarioWithLove – TBEX Toronto Twitter Giveaway



“If you could handcraft a love letter from Ontario that could be shared with the world, what would it be?”

We asked the members of the Ontario Craft Council this question. They answered with some of the most beautiful Ontario keepsakes you can find, and we’re giving them away in our #OntarioWithLove contest at the TBEX Toronto Conference!

Get ready for some eye candy. Here’s a look at what the Ontario artists created:

Canadiana Pin – by Anneke van Bommel

Anneke was inspired by classic Canadiana to create these pins. She told us, “These pieces embody the concept of ‘From Ontario with Love,’ in that they are iconic images that we associate with the idea of Ontario. The stubby pin pays homage to the bottle design that Canadian bottlers exclusively used prior to the longneck. The iconic Beaver brooch is the symbol of our country, and a symbol of Ontario.”

Show off where you’ve been – we think these pins would be a great addition to a backpack or luggage.

Prizes Available: 12 individual pins

Toronto Scarf – by Anu Raina

For Anu, the Ontario with Love concept reminded her of her very first months in Ontario: “Shortly after immigrating to Canada in 2004, we witnessed our first fall in Canada. It was an experience beyond words … with many warm hues and splashed across the city. In these Textile prints, I have tried to trace those sweet memories of my first fall.”

If you look closely at the scarf on the left you’ll see a reproduction of the Toronto Transit map – a great way to remember your TBEX adventures, and a great accessory too!

Prizes Available: 18 individual scarves

Metal Moose – by David Hickey

One of the most exciting experiences you can have in Ontario is to venture into the Canadian wilderness. For David, one of these trips sparked his creativity: “The largest member of the deer family is the moose, and it is one of the most recognizable symbols of Ontario … one spring morning I saw in the distance a moose sitting in a pond of water lilies. As it started to stand I remember thinking that although being majestic in stature it also demonstrated elements of awkwardness as it tried to stand. People who see a moose for the first time are usually struck by its massive size, and similarly, I was too.”

Prizes Available: 6 individual moose

Souvenir Tea Towel or Ontario Napkins – by Jen Kneulman

If you have a family member who liked to travel in the 1970s, chances are you’ve seen a vintage tea towel or two. This retro influence was the inspiration behind Jen’s Ontario souvenir tea towel. She describes the piece like this: “The inspiration for Freshly Printed’s designs are often drawn from local flora and fauna, northern Ontario cottage life, and Canadiana.” Jen also submitted the beautiful napkins below, inspired by the Ontario pine tree.

If you take these pieces home would you use them or save and display them?

Prizes Available: 6 tea towel sets, 6 napkin sets

Canadiana Necklace – by Kate Singer

The moose, the beaver and the canoe – a combination of classic Ontario symbols – is celebrated on these necklaces by Kate.

Here’s the story behind the necklaces: “In my mind, there is nothing more special about Ontario than the majestic wilderness. In my childhood I spent many hours in a station wagon with a canoe on top travelling with my family to various Ontario campgrounds. On the luckiest of occasions, I paddled by moose and watched beavers build their dams. I spent my summers throughout university planting trees in the backwoods of Ontario’s north and came to know that there are few places as beautiful on earth as Ontario’s wilderness.”

Fun fact: If you visit Canoe Restaurant, acclaimed as one of Canada’s best restaurants serving Canadian-style food, you may see the servers wearing cufflinks featuring Kate’s designs!

Prizes Available: 18 individual necklaces

Beer Box – by The Noble Beaver Trading Company’s Graeme Marrs

For many Ontarians there’s nothing like a cold beer by one of Ontario’s lakes and rivers, and the many microbreweries across the province prove that people here are just as passionate about how beer is made. This Beer Box by Graeme Marrs of the Noble Beaver Trading Company celebrates this Ontario tradition.

Prizes Available: 6 Beer Boxes

“You’re Great” Print – by Kid Icarus

The Kid Icarus Print Department in Toronto’s Kensington Market is the home of master screen printer Michael Viglione, who has been creating posters and art prints for over twelve years. The “You’re Great” wall art up for grabs at TBEX is based on their best-selling postcard. The five Great Lakes, four of which border on Ontario, are the perfect way to celebrate the over 250,000 lakes that Ontario is home to.

Wouldn’t this make the perfect addition to a home office?

Prizes Available: 6 “You’re Great Prints”, 6 Surprise Prints

Forest Collectable – by Sally McCubbin

If you’ve always wanted to have a conversation piece in your home or apartment, this forest collectable by Sally definitely fits the bill. Her glass creations, which represent the Canadian forest, are what she describes as “…a statement about the natural beauty and preciousness of our exports, it displayed our Canadian sensibility of subtle concept and simple design.”

Prizes Available: 6 individual glass pieces

Autumn Maple – by Robert Wu

While we love all four seasons in Ontario, there’s something extra special about fall, which transforms the countryside into a rainbow of reds, oranges and yellows. Robert told us this marbled print was inspired by his travel in the rural Ontario countryside with the beautiful display of fall colours of Ontario maple trees.

Did you know? The marbling in this print is the ancient art of painting on water surface. Colours are floated onto a bath of liquid size, and a comb or rake is then used to move the colours on the surface in order to create patterns. A sheet of paper is then rolled onto the bath in order to pick up the colours or patterns. Each pull is one of a kind!

Prizes Available: 10 Prints

How to enter:

  • Open to TBEX attendees. Contest open from May 27th – June 6th, 2013.
  • While you are in Ontario, tweet your favourite Ontario photos with the tag #OntarioWithLove for your chance to win a special keepsake for you and one of your followers.
  • Enter as many times as you’d like – one winner per Twitter account.
  • There are 50 prizes up for grabs!
  • See full rules and regulations here.

How to claim your prize:

  • We’ll be randomly drawing winners throughout the conference and notifying them on Twitter via @ShareOntario.
  • If you are notified that you are a winner, Direct Message us your mailing address & phone number.
  • We will ship your prize and your additional prize to give away to one of your followers to the address you provided.

Thanks to the Ontario Crafts Council and their wonderfully creative members for putting together these special TBEX prizes. While you are in Toronto, stop by the Ontario Craft Council’s Guild Shop at 118 Cumberland Street in Yorkville. Good luck!

This contest is void where prohibited, and entry is not permitted by anyone who is a resident of any country, region or state, where this contest would be restricted or subject to any filing, registration or other requirements. For full rules and regulations click here.

Travel Blogger Exchange: Toronto Welcomes You to TBEX


A year ago we won the opportunity to host TBEX in Toronto. It’s the kind of event every destination wants to host. We’d do it every year if they’d let us. At the time, TBEX was a 600-person conference growing quickly to meet the new professionalism of blogging.

Now here we are – and here all of you are, 1,200+ strong. And we simply couldn’t be more proud and honoured to be your hosts this week.

Toronto can be easily explored on foot, and just as easily by bike, streetcar, subway, boat, bus or even segway. Visit as many neighbourhoods as you can. In a city where 50 per cent of the residents were born outside of Canada, diversity is our hallmark and nowhere is it more vibrant than in Greektown, Indian Bazaar, Little Italy, Chinatown (any of them – there are five in the metro area), Little Portugal, Koreatown, as well as the Gay Village, Yorkville, Queen West, Liberty Village, Leslieville, and so on.

Today and tomorrow most TBEX delegates are taking advantage of the 75+ city tours we have made available. Those are in addition to the pre-TBEX tours offered by our partners at the Ontario Tourism Marketing Partnership and and the Canadian Tourism Commission.

As you explore the city, be sure to play along on the TBEX PhotoQuest game. How many of the Toronto icons can you identify, find and photograph this weekend? Check the Tourism Toronto TBEX Pinterest boards or click the above link for the icons to find and post your photos to Pinterest and Twitter.

When you’re not taking a tour you can use your VIP Attractions Passport that provides free admission to more than 20 Toronto and regional attractions. You can pick up your passports at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre today and tomorrow at the Tourism Toronto TBEX Concierge Desk.

After all the tours, things really get started with the official opening night reception hosted by Tourism Toronto where you’ll enjoy food from Toronto’s neighbourhoods, the outstanding wines of Ontario and some of Toronto’s best craft beers, plus a few surprises.


Friends, we are honoured to have you here. You are professional storytellers and we think you’ll find some exciting, one-of-a-kind and ever-changing stories here that we hope you’ll blog, tweet and generally shout about. Because it’s simply too good a story to keep to ourselves.

The Tourism Toronto team is here to assist with anything you need and answer any questions you have throughout the weekend and afterwards. And of course the many enthusiastic Toronto-based bloggers are rich troves of information and tips (and may even help you find some of the PhotoQuest icons if you ask). We look forward to an inspiring weekend and hope you’ll visit again soon.

Andrew Weir is Vice President, Communications of Tourism Toronto. Follow him at @ABWeir.

TBEX Sponsor Post: Content Partnerships: Blogs and Brands Working Together


Expedia party Keystone

How do I work with a brand? How do I work with a blogger? For some TBEX attendees, those are two of the top questions they are looking to have answered in Toronto.

“Even if you’re starting with a template, be sure to target it to the specific client. Brands want to work with bloggers who show a genuine interest in and understanding of the product or location they’re aiming to work with. Brands, you’re not off the hook – the same holds true for you. Don’t reach out to bloggers with a one-size-fits-all proposition.” – Kent & Caanan, No Vacation Required

“For bloggers, embrace humility. Just because you have a blog doesn’t mean you are God’s gift to journalism. Treat every colleague with respect and every encounter with the utmost professionalism. “– Matt Villano, Wandering Pod

“For brands, remember that “biggest” isn’t necessarily “best.” A blogger with a relatively small number of monthly unique visitors overall may have a niche readership focused on exactly the type of audience you’re trying to reach.” – Kara Williams, The Vacation Gals

“This tip is for both bloggers and brands (and bloggers, yes, you have a brand too). Before the approach, the most important first step is to determine if your values align. Brand values are the basis for every strategy, decision and reaction. In other words, it forms the basis of your potential marriage.” – Trish Friesen, Trip Styler

“Put the brand first and ask the questions, ‘How can I help you?’ and ‘Is this a good fit?’ Sometimes the fit isn’t right and sometimes the timing’s not right. Be patient, consistent, and don’t take it personally if you get a “no” on the first ask.” – Beth Whitman, Wanderlust and Lipstick

“Don’t try to do all things. Keep your deliverables simple and stick to what you are good at and you will shine.” – Anne Taylor Hartzell, Hip Travel Mama

“Develop a relationship. Follow each other on Twitter, like them on Facebook, comment on their posts, and participate in their conversations.” Rick & Sandi, Midlife Road Trip

“Make it easy to say ‘yes’ (For both bloggers and brands). The more detailed you are and the more questions you can head off in your initial pitch, the more likely you are to get a ‘yes’. – Spencer Spellman, The Traveling Philosopher

“When working with brands, make sure to keep communication open. Ask them what their goals for the project are and be clear as to what your goals are as well. When you are both working on the same page and know what the other person wants out of the project, you can achieve great results.” – Dave & Deb, The Planet D

“When approaching brands, be sure to explain in detail how the partnership is beneficial to both parties. Think not of what the brand can do for you, but what you can do for the brand.” – Chris & Tawny, Captain and Clark

Sponsor Bio:  The last year has continued to see Expedia expand its partnership with bloggers, even more so with today’s launch of Expedia’s first blog, the Expedia Viewfinder blog. In providing these tips, we’ve gone straight to the source – our Expedia Viewfinder bloggers – who shared these great ideas and recommendations on how brands and bloggers can work together.

Photo credit:  TBEX photo pool on flickr

Travel Blog Exchange: The Ultimate Guide to TBEX 2013 in Toronto



Are you joining us in Toronto this week for TBEX? If so, this is the post for you! We’ve compiled all information about TBEX 2013 in Toronto in this post, so you can make sure you didn’t miss a single announcement.

The Conference:

DAY ONE: Pre-BEX Toronto Experiences (May 30, 2013)

  • Day Trips 1 and 2 start at 9:30 AM.
  • All other tours start at 2:00 PM.
  • You must sign up ahead of time for Pre-BEX experiences.
  • More information about Pre-BEX experiences on Day One is available here.

DAY TWO: Pre-BEX Toronto Experiences and Workshops (May 31, 2013)

  • TBEX registration is open from 8:00 AM – 6:00 PM.
  • The first tours and workshops start at 9:30 AM.
  • You must sign up ahead of time for Pre-BEX experiences and workshops.
  • More information about Pre-BEX experiences on Day Two is available here, here, and here (there are three pages of experiences to look through for Day Two).
  • More information about Pre-BEX workshops on Day Two is available here.
  • Our opening party is hosted by Tourism Toronto at Roy Thomson Hall, a short walk from most hotels.

DAY THREE: TBEX (June 1, 2013)

  • TBEX registration is open from 7:00 AM – 5:00 PM.
  • The Welcome and Opening Keynote with Trey Ratcliff starts at 8:45 AM.
  • The breakout sessions start at 10:15 AM.
  • There will be a lunch break at 12:30 PM.
  • The General Session, including a keynote with Dave and Deb from ThePlanetD, starts at 2:40 PM.
  • Speed Dating (see more below) starts at 4:00 PM.
  • Expedia’s Viewing Party at Shopsy’s on Centre Island starts at 7:00 PM. Complimentary ferry transportation is provided – please RSVP via the email listed here, and you must bring your TBEX badge to get in!

DAY FOUR: TBEX (June 2, 2013)

  • TBEX registration is open from 8:00 AM – 12:00 PM.
  • The Morning Keynote with Erik Lindbergh starts at 8:45 AM.
  • The breakout sessions start at 10:15 AM.
  • There will be a lunch break at 12:30 PM.
  • Open Marketplace starts at 2:30 PM.
  • This Week in Travel Live with Chris Christensen, Gary Arndt, and Jennifer Leo starts at 4:45 PM, followed by an invitation to TBEX Europe in Dublin, Ireland, as well as closing announcements.
  • Our evening event starts at 7:00 PM (Time and location TBA).

DAY FIVE: Post-TBEX Toronto Experiences (June 3, 2013)

Other Events:

  • For those of you in town early, check out the G Adventures Party at Tryst Night Club on May 29, starting at 7:00 PM. Space is limited, and the event is full, but there’s a waiting list. Learn more and sign up here.
  • We’ll be holding a “newbie Q&A session” in the American Express Lounge on June 1 at 10:15 AM, directly following the morning keynote. If you’re new to TBEX, this is a great session to attend for TBEX information and to ask questions. More details are available here.

Speed Dating and Open Marketplace:

Miscellaneous Info and Announcements:

About Toronto:

Toronto Attendees on Twitter:

Follow TBEX via Social Media:

TBEX Sponsor Post: Psst, Your Blog Looks Nice. Let’s Speed Date.


Left to Right: April Robb, Dianne Hallock and Keith Leong of TripAdvisor for Business  on our own world travels

Left to Right: April Robb, Dianne Hallock and Keith Leong of TripAdvisor for Business
on our own world travels


It’s a big world out there, with room for all of us to specialize. Road warrior gurus. Hotel news experts. Malaysian eco-tourism bloggers on a shoestring budget. Okay, some of us are more niche than others.

Our niche at TripAdvisor for Business? Building a community of people in and around the hospitality industry. And what we’d love more of is additional content that interests hoteliers, restaurateurs and attraction owners.

That’s why we (April, Dianne and Keith from TripAdvisor for Business) are coming to TBEX to connect with you.* Because you’re the boots/loafers/flip flops on the ground.

Your first-hand experience and unique perspective just might go well with our high-level expertise and information. Sure, we know in real-time what destinations are hot, thanks to site searches and page views. And we know what’s on the mind of hoteliers and travelers around the world, thanks to our annual TripBarometer survey. What about all the great insight you could add? Maybe you specialize in luxury travel, or know just what a family on the move is looking for when they pick a hotel.

So let’s chat. Whatever your angle is, if you have expertise to share with our hospitality folks maybe we can expose your blog, podcast or photos to a huge new audience.

Sound good? Keep an eye out for us! Our Speed Dating slots are almost full, but you can always say hi if you see April, Dianne or Keith around any of the TBEX sessions or events.

*We’re also coming to Toronto to eat at Ruby Watchco (that 4.5 rating on TripAdvisor means business…delicious, delicious business).

Sponsor bio: With 200 million unique monthly visitors, 100 million reviews and opinions, global surveys and far-reaching connections, TripAdvisor connects travelers with other travelers and hoteliers. Our TripAdvisor for Business group focuses on connecting people in the hotel, restaurant and attraction businesses with the latest news, trends, insights and more. Want to learn more about what kind of content we create and how you might contribute to our rapidly growing community? Visit tripadvisor4biz.wordpress.com.


TBEX Take Two: What One Travel Blogger is Doing Differently This Time Around


Lauren Aloise in Madrid

Lauren Aloise in Madrid

Last year, blogger Lauren Aloise came to TBEX Girona – and when the representatives from Toronto got onstage during the closing session to introduce their city as the host of the next conference, they announced that the winner of a trip to attend TBEX Toronto was Lauren. Attending two TBEX events in a row gave her a chance to think about how she would do things differently this time.

Upon hearing that TBEX Europe would be in Girona last year, I was thrilled. It seemed like things were falling into place as I took a big leap by quitting my job as an ESL teacher to focus my energy on making my blog a business. Something that had once seemed scary – impossible even – was suddenly a reality, and to make things even better TBEX was set to take place not too far from Madrid, my home base.

I bought a ticket without hesitation, and started making plans for which sessions I’d attend. I even played around a bit with the speed dating appointment system, accepting a few appointments from people and checking out who I might want to talk to.

In retrospect, I prepared the best I could. But this year, only eight months later, I feel far more prepared – thanks in part to what I learned last September. Here’s what I am doing differently this time around (and why!):

I’m reading up on the region

Sure, it’s fun to see a place with few expectations and an outsider’s perspective. But I quickly realized that doing a bit of prior research can make all the difference in producing a good story. With so many bloggers exploring the same place, one of the key ways to produce unique content – not just the cookie cutter stuff we often see – is to have questions ready for the places and people we will encounter.

I’m defining my mission

Last year I didn’t really have a mission at the conference. Sure, I wanted to network, to learn from the sessions, and to experience a fantastic place – but I hadn’t defined any specific achievable goals. This year I am going a different route, and making some very specific goals for myself and my business. From meeting a specific person, to asking specific questions, I know what I want this time around!

I’m making peace with what is doable for me

I am a Spain based blogger who writes about Spanish cuisine, Spain travel, and short European escapes. As much as other areas of the world may tempt me, I know that I am unable to experience them at the moment, and also that they don’t fit my current demographic. Last year I felt pressured to make as many contacts as possible – go, go, go! And while I agree that a contact can be valuable no matter what, I will definitely be focusing on quality over quantity this year, setting up fewer meetings with more defined and realistic goals.

I’ll be balancing downtime and nightlife

I was so worried about missing something important last year, that I barely gave myself bathroom breaks. And while every session and meeting is valuable, learning to balance what you personally require as far as downtime goes is equally important. This year I plan to take a break when necessary, and if it means not getting everything in, I accept that I’m not Superblogger.

On the other side of the equation is nightlife and socialising. In Girona I quickly realized that blogging conferences can be extremely social events, with some of my fellow bloggers staying out into the wee hours of the night. With the last point in mind, I didn’t partake – I wanted to get as much sleep as possible to keep moving the next day. So while it’s not to say that this year I’ll be in party mode, I certainly hope to socialize a bit more than last time.

I’m bringing the same passion with a new game plan

Attending TBEX Girona motivated me to keep doing what I love. I was able to meet so many hardworking, positive, and motivational people, and their go-getter outlook helped me return to Madrid ready to work hard for what I love doing. This year I am going to take on Toronto with a slightly different game plan, but with the same passion and motivation that had me turn down this path in the first place. I look forward to meeting all you likeminded people there.

About the author: Originally from small-town Massachusetts, Lauren Aloise always planned on trading cold, rural winters for the buzz of a big city. Currently going on her fourth overseas, she lives happily in busy Madrid where she runs Madrid Food Tour and writes about European travel and expat life at Spanish Sabores. She appreciates fantastic cuisine and the high quality ingredients found in any Spanish kitchen, and when not writing is surely out for a tapa and a glass of Spanish wine.

Travel Blog Exchange: Night of Stars Viewing Party at TBEX 13


Join Expedia, along with our gold sponsor Travel Alberta and silver sponsor Tourism Australia, for our 2013 Night of Stars Viewing Party to celebrate TBEX 2013 as well as the launch of the Expedia Viewfinder Blog.  

A night of food, drinks, dancing, networking and pure enjoyment awaits all registered TBEX attendees. Pop into the photo booth, have your picture taken on the red carpet and dance the night away! Enjoy the gorgeous cityscape of downtown Toronto while getting into the viewing party spotlight. We’ll provide accessories and swag to make you feel like a celebrity.

Want to really get into the mood of the party? Walk the red carpet dressed as your favorite celebrity! Festive attire will be rewarded! All attendees are eligible for trip giveaways!

This party is opened to registered attendees only, and a badge will be required for entry. Not registered yet? You still have time to register and enjoy the best TBEX ever.



Date: Saturday, June 1st, 2013
Time: 7:00pm – 10:00pm
Location: Shopsy’s on Centre Island
Getting There:  Complimentary Ferry Transport from Toronto Island Ferry Docks from 6:15 – 7 p.m. (use the TBEX VIP entrance East of the Westin Harbour Castle Hotel)

Please RSVP to ExpediaTBEX@hlgrp.com and bring your TBEX badge for ferry and party access. We’ll see you there!

TBEX Sponsor Post: Last Minute Toronto Tips from Tourism Toronto


Toronto skyline at night

One week today it all begins. For many TBEX attendees it will be a first visit to Toronto while for others it’s a return and a chance to dig deeper into the city and region’s riches. For others still, Toronto is home. These bloggers are at once delegates and also hosts, elevating the visiting delegates’ experiences with their insider knowledge.

Whatever distance you are travelling, as you pack those final items into your suitcases, double-check your passport and tweet your way to Toronto, here are five last-minute tips to help you make the most of your TBEX Toronto weekend.

Embrace photography

Toronto is a city of and for photographers. It’s steadily been among the top ten photographed cities on Flickr and it’s also home to the world’s largest photojournalism collection and the largest photography festival in the world, which just happen to be going on as TBEX begins. Here’s how to embrace photography while in Toronto for TBEX:

  • With bold architecture, public art and the most diverse population on the planet, grab your camera and shoot everything. Bring extra memory cards and batteries. Trust me.
  • Visit any of the 250+ venues of the Contact Photography Festival on through May 31. It’s the largest photography festival in the world with more than 1,500 artists showing at free venues all across the city, including more than a dozen outdoor public installations.
  • Pop into the Ryerson Image Centre to see a sampling of the famous BlackStar Collection of more than 280,000 photojournalism images from the 20th century
  • Join the TBEX PhotoQuest game by finding, shooting and posting hidden images all around Toronto. Of course there are prizes (big ones) but in this game the photos and sights themselves are worth the quest. (More details on this to come.)

Pop into an attraction (or five)

The major attractions throughout Toronto and the surrounding region are generously offering free admission to TBEX delegates not only during the conference but for several days before and after. Time is tight on these trips, so even if you can’t see it all use the pass to pop in for some high art at the Art Gallery of Ontario, Royal Ontario Museum or Gardiner Museum, or a high view from the glass floor of the CN Tower. Go hands-on at the Ontario Science Centre or focus on feet at the Bata Shoe Museum. Visit a shrine to hockey at the Hockey Hall of Fame, or a shrine one man built for his wife, the urban castle Casa Loma. Tour the city by hop-on-hop-off bus or the water by harbor cruise (which we don’t advise hopping off).

More than 25 attractions are extending the offer to TBEX and we encourage you to take seize opportunity. Attendees will be receiving more information on how to take advantage of this offer (see update at bottom of this post).

Mind the mess

We’ve gotten used to the forest of cranes and construction hoarding but it’s often the first thing people notice when they visit. Sure it’s a pain to have to walk around street closures but it’s the price of living in a city with some wind in our sails and development moving at warp-speed. Toronto has more than 112 new high-rise projects (30+ stories) in development – more than any other city in the western hemisphere.

Since TBEX visitors will inevitably encounter some major construction sites, here’s a handy guide to the major ones and some renderings so you can see why all the fuss will, in the end, be worthwhile.

Union Station

Front Street West between Yonge and University is closed to cars for the massive five-year redevelopment of Union Station – Toronto’s principal intercity rail and bus terminal and local subway hub. Crews are excavating three stories below the 100-year-old Beaux Arts building to improve the transit infrastructure and add extensive new restaurant and shopping options, a new visitor centre and a new street-level plaza, scheduled for completion in 2015, (the Visitor Information Centre opens in summer 2014.

Queens Quay and Harbourfront

While the Queens Quay West is closed to most car traffic, just beyond the street it’s all ice cream, wave decks and cold beers on hot patios along the waterfront. The Queens Quay revitalization is remaking the street into a waterfront promenade with extensive bike and pedestrian areas.

South Core

When the central business district started to run out of space, head office towers started springing up south of the railway tracks for, among others, RBC, Telus and PWC, along with new Delta Hotel, a dozen condo towers, all anchored by the Air Canada Centre and Maple Leaf Square. Also the new Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada that will open later this year and a new visitor plaza that opens up the space between the Aquarium, CN Tower and Rogers Centre.

Stay an extra day

The more you explore, the more you’ll want to go even deeper. So pack an extra change of clothes and give in to that inevitable impulse to stretch your Toronto TBEX experience that little bit longer.

One week to go. Pack well and we’ll see you in Toronto.

UPDATE:  Pick up your VIP Attractions Pass at registration at the Convention Centre on May 31. Or, if you arrive earlier and want to take advantage of the pass sooner, you can pick it up at the Tourism Toronto TBEX desks as follows:

  • Tuesday, May 28, 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at Sheraton Centre Toronto (main lobby), 123 Queen St. W.
  • Wednesday May 29, 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at Sheraton Centre Toronto (main lobby), 123 Queen St. W.
  • Thursday May 30, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Metro Toronto Convention Centre, South Building

Passes are valid from May 28 through June 4.

 Andrew Weir is Vice President, Communications of Tourism Toronto. Follow him on Twitter at @ABWeir.

TBEX Speaker Post: Take a Marketing Tip from Major Brands & Write “Creative Briefs”


garybembridgeMajor brands working with advertising, PR, or digital agencies to create ads and communication always develop a “creative brief.” This ensures that before they leap into creating new ads, promotions, or activities, they are really clear about exactly what their unique angle and story should be. This is something that every blogger also needs to do before creating a blog post, podcast, or video.

Using the tools and techniques that big brands use to develop their communication can help bloggers to develop more unique and compelling content. In particular, the “creative brief” is used successfully by major brands to ensure they create competitive, cohesive, and convincing ads and communication – all of which can also be useful to determine before writing blog posts, recording podcasts, or creating videos. I also believe using a “creative brief” will revolutionise and simplify content creation for travel bloggers.

For over 30 years I have been working in marketing at multi-nationals like Unilever and Johnson, developing advertising and communication for brands as diverse as Johnson’s Baby, Neutrogena, RoC Anti-age, and Lipton tea. There are tools that I have used that are simple, focused, and yet powerful. I believe that if bloggers started using these tools, it would help them generate even more amazing content.

A passion for travel is not enough to be a great travel content creator. There is so much content available to travellers, you need to ensure you are focused on creating content that will stand out, be compelling, and provide value to travellers.

In my talk at TBEX Toronto, I will be sharing probably the most important tool in marketing – a tool that can help bloggers be more focused and more successful at building a loyal audience, and making themselves more valuable to brands looking to reach those audiences. That tool is the “Positioning Statement.”

Another tool that can be helpful to bloggers, podcasters, and video makers is a “creative brief.”

The creative brief is focused on completing the following sentence:

The objective of this ad is to convince (who?) that (what?) because (the reason they should believe it).

Take this example of Johnson’s baby shampoo, which could be:

The objective of this ad is to convince mothers with young babies who find bath time traumatic, as their baby gets distressed when shampoo suds sting its eyes that Johnson’s Baby Shampoo makes baby hair washing stress-free because it is the only baby shampoo with a patented “No More Tears” formula clinically proven not to sting a baby’s eyes.

This is how that creative brief breaks down:

  • The objective of this ad is to convince (who?)
    • mothers with young babies who find bath time traumatic, as their baby gets distressed when shampoo suds sting its eyes
  • that (what?)
    • Johnson’s Baby Shampoo makes baby hair washing stress-free
  • because (reason to believe)
    • it is the only baby shampoo with a patented “No More Tears” formula clinically proven not to sting a baby’s eyes.

This method could apply to to a blog, podcast, or video. Here is how I approached writing about Rotterdam recently. This is a city about which thousands of people have written, but I wanted to try and ensure I found something to appeal to a specific audience.

Here’s the creative brief:

The objective of this article is to convince travellers with the budget, interested in cruising and thinking of taking a cruise for a special birthday or anniversary that Cunard Queens Grill on Queen Mary 2 is the “first class” way to travel, and should be their first choice for their special cruise experience because unlike other cruise lines, Cunard Queens Mary 2 is a once off and unique ship, the only Ocean Liner (not cruise ship) and the Queens Grill harks back to the glory days of First Class cruise liner travel with priority boarding, an exclusive dining room where you can order off menu, a dedicated lounge with concierge, exclusive restricted access decks, and large suites with Butler service.

And here’s how it breaks down:

  • The objective of this article is to convince (who?)
    • Travellers with the budget, interested in cruising and thinking of taking a cruise for a special birthday or anniversary
  • that (what?)
    • Cunard Queens Grill on Queen Mary 2 is the “first class” way to travel, and should be their first choice for their special cruise experience
  • because (reason to believe)
    • Unlike other cruise lines, Cunard Queens Mary 2 is a once off and unique ship, the only Ocean Liner (not cruise ship) and the Queens Grill harks back to the glory days of First Class cruise liner travel with priority boarding, an exclusive dining room where you can order off menu, a dedicated lounge with concierge, exclusive restricted access decks, and large suites with Butler service

A creative brief forces you to think about who you are writing for, and their unique take on the world. It helps you to focus on what will be important to them, and also forces you to think about what you need to say to make that story convincing. It works for brands about to spend many millions of dollars on making and running ads, so why not see if it can work for your travel content creation, too?

I would love to see examples of your “creative briefs” and the articles, podcasts, and videos that came out of them. Please share them here on the TBEX blog.

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. Gary’s TBEX Toronto session is Write Your Blog Positioning Statement.

TBEX Speaker Post: 7 Tools & Technology Tips for Sharing Travel Content Online


Effectively managing your time online, monitoring results and sharing content with your most relevant audience is important. Simply providing the best content is not enough if your target audience doesn’t get to see it!

When we travel to foreign countries we love to sample the local cuisine. So here are 7 tips that are just a “taster” for what is coming up in my session at TBEX. I will share so many valuable and actionable tips that will help your business and I am so looking forward to meeting you all.

1. Increase traffic to your website by optimizing images for Google

There is a great session on photography that I’m looking forward to at TBEX, which is about ‘Telling your Travel Stories through Photography’ by Lola Akinmade Åkerström. Pictures are so important online and by just having a picture in a post you will get 94% more views!

So unless you consider Google when uploading your images you could be losing out on relevant traffic.

So when you are uploading an image think of the following:

  • Image Name – The name of the image should include relevant keywords that you want to rank on within Google.
  • Image Size – If you have too many large images on a web page Google will penalize you if it takes too long to download. So don’t upload large images unless there is a very good reason to.
  • Alt Tag – The alt tag is what Google reads to find out how to index this image, so again, include relevant keywords.
  • Caption – Always write a good caption with the picture, it will help the viewer to understand the context of the image, they will stay longer on your page and will be more likely to share.

2. Monitor the Results of Traffic to your Site using Google Analytics

In Google Analytics you can set up goals that can track how successful your site is at getting visitor’s to take certain actions. For example, you could set up a goal related to visitors subscribing for a travel guide and then monitor how well your site is performing against that goal. If you’re not measuring your results online then you are less inclined to try and improve on them!

There are different methods for measuring whether your goal has been achieved or not. For example, the goal could be achieved when a visitor lands on a thank-you page, which is only displayed after they have subscribed for your travel guide. This way you know this goal has been achieved.


Figure 1 – The goal is achieved when the visitor arrives on a thank you page after subscribing for the guide

Goals are really essential to set up and track so you are more focused on the results your content is generating.

3. Share content on Twitter using Buffer App

When you find lots of great content you naturally want to share it out but it doesn’t make sense to share it all out at the same time. You may want to spread out the sharing of this content over a day or multiple days.

This is where Buffer helps. When you install Buffer you set up the times you want content shared and the social networks where you want it shared to. You then add a ‘buffer’ button to your browser. As you come across great content you click the Buffer button and it gets added to the queue. The content will then automatically be sent out at the next time you specified.


Figure 2 Buffer is easy to set up and a pleasure to use!

So if you’re not at your computer all day and you like sharing out content to your friends or followers, Buffer is a really useful app.

4. Improve your branding in search results using Google Authorship

When you perform a search on Google and see a picture of a person in the search results this is normally achieved using Google Authorship. This is Google associating the content with a real person. In order to develop a profile as a writer this is extremely important to set up.


Figure 3 With Google Authorship your picture will start appearing in search results alongside your content

The best way of setting this up is creating a Google+ profile and within this profile you specify the websites where you publish content, such as, your own site or blogs where you guest post. The process of linking your content to your profile is called Google Authorship.

5. Monitor your brand online using Mention App

It’s really important to monitor what is being said about you, your business or even your competitors online. However, one of the issues is that the tools can be quite expensive. While you could of course use Google Alerts, the problem is there is no way to effectively manage the follow-on activity that results from any of the alerts.

Mention is a social media monitoring tool that monitors your keywords across Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, Websites and much more and provides a really nice user interface that is available on both the web and mobile devices. But what makes Mention stand out is the ability to view the source of the mention within the interface and then take action, whether that means responding to a tweet, a comment on a blog, or even assigning the follow-up to someone else.


Figure 4 Mention allows you to view results directly within the app

It has both a free option and a very affordable $20 per month option, so at that cost level it’s certainly an app worth investigating.

6. Share content on Facebook using PostPlanner

If a Facebook page is important to your business then PostPlanner is a great tool that will help you deliver regular content, on time to help build an engaged community.

It is specifically designed for Facebook, and unlike many other scheduling tools, it runs directly within Facebook. You can share out content at predefined times, post content out immediately or you can schedule any piece of content for a later time


Figure 5 Postplanner has great facilities for scheduling content

As we all know sharing content is not always about sharing your own content. PostPlanner gives you great functionality to easily add in content from other blogs/Facebook pages. This can either be content from predefined blogs/pages you trust and like or it can be from the library of content delivered by PostPlanner.


Figure 6 If you’re stuck for content ideas PostPlanner will give you some ideas!

7. Find Useful Content to Share using Scoop.it

Although Scoop.it is great for finding content to share it’s also great for sharing content and bringing relevant traffic back to your site.

On Scoop.it you can create one or more virtual boards based on topics of interest. When you find content you want to share, you simply add it to the relevant board. People can then follow and track your board, click on the links to come back to your website or share content on their own boards.


Figure 7 Scoop.it is great for collecting and sharing useful content

If you like these tips and want a lot more please come along to my session. I will be around for a few days so even if you can’t make it make sure to say hello and I’ll help in any way I can.

Are these tips useful to you?

There’s still time to register for TBEX Toronto to hear more tips like these!

About the Author: Ian Cleary is an entrepreneur, award winning blogger, speaker and digital marketer. He is founder of RazorSocial which is an award winning blog specialising in social media tools and technology. Ian also writes for social media examiner and other leading social media blogs. Ian has worked extensively in the Tourism Industry through his Digital Agency in Ireland. He’ll be presenting a session called Building Your Audience with Social Media Management Tools at TBEX Toronto.