Happy Thanksgiving From TBEX


We wish our TBEX community – travel bloggers, industry representatives, and friends – a very happy Thanksgiving. We are thankful for the opportunity to have been of service to you in the past and thank you for your trust and friendship.

TBEX Minnesota Tourism Preview


As some of you may have gathered from my calm and subdued stage presence in Fort Lauderdale, I have a considerable amount of pride in my home town and state. If my personal, anecdotal evidence means anything to you, after being nomadic for 4.5 years, visiting nearly 50 countries in that time, I could have settled anywhere, but I chose to return to Minnesota. It really is a special place.

For starters, Minneapolis/St Paul is literally the “Absolute Top City In the US to Live In,” according to Patch of Earth, based on our ranking on seven key livability lists, including Greenest Cities, Best Cities for Foodies and Best Cities for Walkability and Public Transpiration.

Minneapolis and St Paul are figuratively and literally green. In addition to being one of the top bike-friendly cities in the world, and scoring high on walkability and public transit, we have an incredible amount of green space. There are over 10 lakes in the inner metro area and no Minneapolis resident lives more than six blocks from a park. But the most remarkable feature is the Grand Rounds National Scenic Byway, the only scenic byway in the U.S. that’s contained entirely within an urban area.

Minneapolis grew up and around St Anthony Falls, the only naturally occurring falls on the Mississippi River. Using this unlimited source of power, Minneapolis developed into the flour milling capital of the world, a title it held for some 50 years beginning in 1880. The Mill City Museum tracks Minneapolis’ history in a series of engrossing displays, including the film “Minneapolis in 19 Minutes Flat” and the Flour Tower, an eight-story, multimedia exhibit in a moving elevator.

One of the most unique aspects about the Twin Cities is our skyway systems, which connect innumerable buildings in both downtown Minneapolis and St Paul. Minneapolis’ skyway network is the largest of its kind in the world, connecting 72 blocks of businesses, stores, hotels, restaurants, government offices, sports stadiums and more. It’s an amazing self-enclosed space. I once spent two weeks straight without leaving the Minneapolis skyways.

St Paul’s Como Zoo and Conservatory is the most visited attraction in Minnesota after Mall of America. While its obvious selling point is a trip to see the animals, you’ll find some of the most stunning plants in the 100-year-old Marjorie McNeely Conservatory and the Japanese garden.

The Wabasha Street Caves are a great option for anyone who’s interested in Saint Paul’s notorious gangster history, as wanted gangsters (including John Dillinger) would openly hang out here as a kind of safe haven in the 1930s.

Also, in St Paul, Summit Avenue is American’s longest stretch of preserved Victorian housing, and it’s synonymous with wealth and fame in Saint Paul. Here’s where visitors can see the Governor’s Mansion, the James J. Hill House, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s house and more.

Why Minneapolis/St Paul are awesome – the lightning round

  • Minneapolis’ robust art scene is anchored by the venerable Minneapolis Institute of Art and Walker Art Center.
  • The world renowned Guthrie Theater has been at the forefront of Twin Cities’ theater since 1963. Fun Fact: The Twin Cities are second only to New York in theater seats per capita.
  • The cinematic Target Field, home of the Minnesota Twins, is a memorable spectacle on a spring day, whether you’re a baseball fan or not.

The National Parks Centennial Celebration is in 2016, so it’s an optimum time to take in one of Minnesota’s six outstanding national parks.

Water is the primary form of transportation at Voyageurs National Park, a 218,000 acre expanse located in northern Minnesota on the Canadian border. There are no roads, so travelers navigate the four large freshwater lakes and 26 interior lakes that cover 40 percent of the park itself by boating, houseboating and paddling.

Minnesota’s beloved Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness is the biggest wilderness east of the Rockies, composed of 1.3 million acres and a network of 1,200 lakes and 1,500 miles of canoe routes connected by streams and portages. The BWCAW is one of National Geographic Traveler magazine’s “50 Places of a Lifetime.”

Closer to civilization, St. Croix National Scenic Riverway forms 164 miles of the border between Minnesota and Wisconsin. It was one of only eight waterways originally designated as a “National Wild and Scenic River” by the federal government and is widely considered one of the best canoeing rivers in the nation.

Not enough to time drive out of the metro area? The Mississippi National River & Recreation Area stretches for 72 miles, passing right through the heart of Minneapolis and St. Paul. Explore this photogenic section via your favorite form of locomotion.

Of course, this is only a taste of the activities and sights one can indulge in next May before or after TBEX North America 2016. Stay tuned for more Minnesota tourism tips as TBEX approaches.

TBEX North America 2016: Minnesota (VIDEO)

Just a few of the reasons why we think Minnesota is a great destination for TBEX North America 2016. Won’t you join us?

Farewell Fort Lauderdale: TBEX North Amercia 2015 Clips

paddle boarding fort lauderdale

A very big THANK YOU to our host Fort Lauderdale and all your partners for the hard work it took to make TBEX North America 2015 a big success. Also a big THANK YOU to the team at Visit Florida, along with all our other TBEX sponsors. You support of the TBEX community is greatly appreciated.

We had a great time in Fort Lauderdale, from the FAM trips to the tours and activities around the city, from the warm hospitality of the convention center staff to the delicious food at all of the events, from the (mostly) warm sunshine to the days of professional development. Through it all, it seems like everyone you a wonderful time.

As you’re writing about your time at TBEX, what you discoverd in Fort Lauderdale, how you enjoyed your day trips and activities as well as your blogger FAM trips, what you learned that will improve your craft, grow your business, or build your community, we want to collect your “clips.”

Please add your link for content created as a result of attending TBEX North America 2015 to our list below. To do so, click on the Add Your Link icon at the bottom of the post (you’ll find it at the bottom of all the existing links). That will open a form to easily allow you to add your link to the list of TBEX clips. Please use the title of your story/blog post in the “name”  field. The links are moderated so please be patient if your link doesn’t appear right away, and please don’t enter your link more than once.

TBEX North America 2016 To Be Held in Minnesota


We’re very excited today to announce that TBEX North America 2016 will be held in Minnesota on May 28-31. Our venue will be the Radisson Blu at the Mall of America.

Our host sponsor will be the Mall of America, with presenting sponsors Explore Minnesota, Meet Minneapolis, and St. Paul.

Registration for TBEX North America 2016 is now available for the super early bird price of $107 for bloggers and $497 for travel industry professionals. Super early bird prices are non-refundable and not-transferrable, and no discount code is applicable. These are the lowest prices that will be available to TBEX North America 2016 registration, and are available through November 16, 2015, 5 pm Pacific Time. No lower price will be ever available.

We’re looking forward to seeing you in Minnesota!

Registration for TBEX North America 2016 is NOW OPEN.

7 Reasons Why You Should Record an Interview at TBEX North America

Chris Ducker of ChrisDucker.com and Shawn Smith of TheMobilePro.net, recording a Mobile Pro interview at FinCon Expo Conference.

Chris Ducker of ChrisDucker.com and Shawn Smith of TheMobilePro.net, recording a Mobile Pro interview at FinCon Expo Conference.

Have you ever wanted to be able to record a quick interview on your iPhone at a conference like TBEX? I have…for years.Can you imagine…recording 10-12 podcast interviews, all in-person, with key leaders and colleagues in your niche? How about recording and banking all of that content for a future Audio Blog or Podcast in less than 3 days. Wouldn’t that be smart!What if through these in-person interviews, you were offered:

  • Several Joint Venture opportunities
  • Five offers to become affiliates for your product
  • Four offers to be a guest on podcasts
  • Two offers to be a guest on webinars
  • A potential speaking engagement
  • An offer to write a guest blog post for a world-class conference in your niche

Wouldn’t that be incredible? Well…it was for me, and that is what happened to me in August at the second annual Podcast Movement Conference in Dallas, Texas. But here’s the crazy part: This is the 5th time in the past year opportunities like this happened at a business conference – all because I had a pro-quality, mobile recording setup with me at the event.Some of the best interviews happen spontaneously – in the hallways at the events.

Me:      “Do you have a few min’s for a quick interview?”
Guest:  “Sure, how about now?”
Me:      “Perfect! There’s an empty table over there…” 
Five minutes later, and we’re recording!

(To hear audio clips recorded on my iPhone with Lou Mongello, Chris Ducker, both speakers here at TBEX, and others, go here)

Attending conferences has helped me network, and connect with key people in my niche more than any other step in building my online platform.

Recording these in-person interviews on my iPhone at events have led to more business opportunities, and more sales, than anything else I’ve done. And they can do the same for you too.

Lou Mongello from WDW Radio, Jared Easley from Starve the Doubts and Founder of Podcast Movement Conference, and Shawn Smith, The Mobile Pro at #PM14.

Lou Mongello from WDW Radio, Jared Easley from Starve the Doubts and Founder of Podcast Movement Conference, and Shawn Smith, The Mobile Pro at #PM14.

Here are my 7 reasons why YOU should record an interview on your iPhone here at TBEX this week (even if you don’t have a podcast).

  1. Record 10-15 interviews in 3 days – Yep, in 2-3 days, you can easily knock out a dozen, 20-30 minute interviews, and still attend your key sessions. That’s two to three months of high-quality, high-value, weekly content you can bank for an audio blog post or podcast episode.
  2. Secure on-the-spot interviews –  Only at an event can you snag hallway interviews with Keynote Speakers, Session Leaders, Event Organizers, and colleagues in your niche – many that you might not get by phone or Skype. And again, the audio quality will be much better.
  3. People will remember your name – Hosting an in-person interview creates a much stronger bond than a business card swap. When you meet for 20-30 min’s face-to-face, and you shamelessly promote your guest and their latest project during the interview, and then again on your Audio Blog or Podcast, they will remember you. Plus, here’s your opportunity to give back to others who have blessed you, by promoting them.
  4. You have a digital recorder in your pocket – If you have an iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch, you already have a pro-quality recording studio! No need for lots of expensive, complicated recording equipment – and no extra batteries, cables, and chargers, like with a digital recorder. (Android users can record with their internal mic and the Auphonic App – it’s free in the Google Play store.)
  5. Cheap mobile microphoness – Just this past year, a bunch of tiny, lightweight, simple, cheap, pro-quality mics have been released and are available NOW (i.e. Use the ATR2100 ($60) for noisy locations, and the Zoom iQ5 ($99) for quiet spaces and to record interesting background sounds. I keep these two mics in my backpack all the time. They set up in 1 minute.
  6. Cheap apps – There’s a ton of simple-to-use, cheap, but pro-quality apps that you can download and start using NOW. BossJock Studio iOS App ($10) is my go-to favorite. These apps have auto-gain control, and auto-limiting built right in, so you and your guest will sound great every time.
  7. Your readers and audience love road trips – Take them with you when you’re on the road! You can feel the excitement, and buzz – both in the room, and in the voices of you and your guests during an in-person interview. Plus, with all the amazing places you travel, you can capture those vibrant background sounds not found anywhere else in the world.

If you have an iPhone or iOS device, for about $110, you can get a pro-quality app and mic that will fit in your backpack or purse, and you’re in the big-leagues. And they’re NOT that complicated to use.

Recording a podcast interview at TBEX North America can be the opportunity to finally get started with audio. Doing in-person interviews have transformed my business, and they can do the same for you.

So here’s your call to action:

BEFORE you arrive in Ft. Lauderdale (or before you arrive at your next conference), commit to recording at least ONE podcast interview at the event – even if you’ve never done one before!

Buy a small mic, download an app, or just bring your smartphone, and TAKE ACTION! If you need your first interview to prime the pump, let me know. I’d be honored to be your guest!

Finally, don’t miss my TBEX North America session:  Mobile Audio Blogs and Audio Books Made Easy:  How to Record, Edit, Level, and Publish an Audio Blog/Podcast or Audio Book on your iPhone or iPad from Anywhere in the World.

No computer or tech skills needed. Newbies and Pros alike are welcome! I’ll bring with me all the recording gear mentioned above, and a variety of microphone sets ups for your to see. I’ll be on-hand throughout the conference, and will be happy to answer any questions you may have.

PLUS, everyone who attends my session, will have the chance to win an ATR2100 Mic Setup, so you can start recording pro-quality interviews right away!

Author Bio: Shawn Smith (a.k.a. The Mobile Pro) is the author of the ground-breaking eBook and step-by-step video course, “5 Ways to Record Podcast Interviews with an iPhone”. Since 1994, Shawn has flown over 800,000 miles all over the world as a musician, keynote speaker, missionary, and mobile technology expert at TheMobilePro.net, and he is quickly becoming the foremost authority on Mobile Podcasting. Shawn is passionate about equipping, training, and inspiring entrepreneurs to create pro-quality content and manage their business from anywhere in the world. When not on the road, Shawn lives with his lovely wife in South Florida, in the United States.

A Cruise for Everyone – Ideas for Each Traveler

2013-03-13 03.31.09

Sure, everyone knows that cruise ships visit well-trafficked islands such as the Bahamas and the Virgin Islands. Maybe you’ve checked out an Alaska trip or your parents got off a cruise that visits the Mediterranean.

But what many people don’t know is that cruising encompasses a range of vessels in a variety of destinations – think high-masted sailing ships, or boats custom built to sail the river in China or Southeast Asia. At Cruise Critic, the world’s leading cruise reviews site and online cruise community, we cover them all – and we specialize in finding the right cruise for the right person.

Wondering what cruise fits your personality? Read on for ideas.

If You Love Castles and Culture….Take a Rhine or Danube river cruise through Germany or Austria. Seeing this part of Europe by waterway allows you to travel a lot of ground, while only unpacking once. Bonus: On most river cruise lines, some shore excursions are included.

If You Love Wildlife…..Take an expedition cruise to Norway’s far north. Svalbard is polar bear central, and Arctic cruises from companies such as Hurtigruten run year-round (including in winter, when you can see the Northern Lights).

If You Love Food and Wine….you’ll be spoiled for choice, no matter what your price point. Choose a river cruise in France, looking specifically at the Rhone River, which goes through Burgundy and Provence, or Bordeaux, which gives you access to some of the country’s most famous vineyards. Or take a food-themed ocean cruise on a line like Celebrity, which took Cruise Critic’s award for best dining at sea in this year’s Editors’ Picks Awards.

If You Want to Sail Barefoot……Take a sailing cruise in the Caribbean. With as few as 12 passengers on some boats in their fleet, Island Windjammers is as casual as you can get, with barefoot being the rule and stops at beach bars dominating the itinerary. If you need more amenities, Star Clippers and Windstar also offer sailing cruises, albeit at a higher price point.

If You Love Scenery…..There’s a reason that Alaska is such an iconic cruising destination. A ship is the only real way to get into the nooks and crannies of the Inside Passage (and to capture those fabulous breaching whale photos). Whether you choose a small ship outfitter such as Un-Cruise or Alaskan Dream Cruises or a large cruise line that knows how to do Alaska well such as Princess or Holland America, you’ll come away with a fresh appreciation for how vast our 49th State is – and hopefully a few bear sightings.

If You Just Want to Relax….Take a transatlantic. With a schedule full of sea days, a transatlantic cruise allows you the time to get away from it all, often at a much lower price point than a land-based trips. More cruise lines have been updating their Wi-Fi too, so it’s easier to stay in touch or get work done while you’re onboard.

Author Bio:  Chris Gray Faust is Senior Editor at Cruise Critic, where she oversees all of the website’s destination and port content, as well as news coverage and blog. Creator and publisher of Chris Around The World, Chris has won a Lowell Thomas Travel Writing award for blogging and has worked as a staff writer at the (New Orleans) Times-Picayune, the Philadelphia Inquirer and USA TODAY, where she served as travel editor. She has a journalism degree from Northwestern University and a master’s degree from Brown University. She lives in a renovated barn in Bucks County, Pa. with her husband, two cats and a dog.

Chris will be speaking at TBEX North America about How to Write a Review. Cruise Critic is a sponsor of TBEX at Sea.

To Be or Not to Be (An Affiliate)


IMG_4334Affiliate. It’s a polarizing word, and most bloggers fall into one of two camps:

  • Anti-Affiliate Bloggers refuse to sign up for any affiliate program. They believe it’s a foolish strategy that takes up valuable blog real estate, distracts readers, pays dismal rates, and makes the blogger look like an amateur.
  • Pro-Affiliate Bloggers see an affiliate program as an easy way to generate extra revenue while sharing great products with their readers.

Which one are you?

Stephanie Yoder of Twenty-SomethingTravel.com has used affiliate partnerships for years and found it as one of the easiest ways to monetize her blog when she started. She suggests that people who are getting into the world of affiliates pick just a few companies that they know and love. “I try to limit the amount of companies I represent to ones I truly believe in. My audience trusts me and I wouldn’t want to exploit that,” she writes.

And she’s right. Bloggers should feel a connection to the product they are endorsing – it makes the referral actually real. Would you tell your readers to visit a country you’ve never been to? Of course not. The same holds true for product referrals.

Your readers believe that your blog was created for their interests – not your own. They expect for you to look out for them, and any recommendations you make fall into that expectation. So when you’re promoting an affiliate, it’s important to keep your readers in mind. Ask yourself, “Is this truly of value to my audience? Or is it just an attempt to make more money for me?”

Regarding her own affiliate program, Stephanie says, “Nobody likes a sales pitch, so I don’t push. I just try to provide useful information.” Your blog isn’t a Ron Popeil-esque infomercial, and if you are tempted to add “But wait…there’s more!” to a blog post, you may need to redirect the post to a more reader-focused topic.

As a company with an affiliate program, RoamRight encourages travel bloggers to consider using affiliate links. And, in an effort to help you understand the benefits of RoamRight, we have a travel insurance plan available exclusively to our affiliate blogger partners. Again, how can you properly promote a product when you haven’t used it? (Want to learn more about this unique opportunity? Visit us at TBEX in Ft. Lauderdale!)

If you are in the anti-affiliate camp, we fully respect that decision. In fact, some of our favorite bloggers will never advertise for RoamRight on their website. We understand that. We’d still love to meet with you at TBEX. After all, we’re always looking for freelance writers to help out with our own blogging and social media platforms. Come visit us at Table 5!

Author Bio:  TBEX sponsor 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.

Welcome to TBEX North America Party October 29th at Westin Diplomat

00001Join us down on the sand at the Welcome to TBEX party on Thursday, October 29th, 6:30-8:30 pm at the Westin Diplomat Resort and Spa.

Children (defined as those under 18) who are registered to attend TBEX North America, are welcome at this event. All attendees under 21 years of age will be required to wear an identifying wristband to comply with state law.

See you there!

The address is:  3555 S Ocean Dr, Hollywood, Florida.

Farewell to Thailand: TBEX Asia 2015 Clips


We had a great time in Thailand for TBEX Asia 2015, and from everything we’re hearing, it sounds like you had a great time, too.

As you’re writing about your time at TBEX, how you discovered Amazing Thailand, how you enjoyed your day trips and activities as well as your blogger FAM trips, we want to collect your “clips.”

Please add your link for content created as a result of attending TBEX Asia 2015 to our list below. To do so, click on the Add Your Link icon at the bottom of the post. That will open a form to easily allow you to add your link to the list of TBEX clips. Please use the title of your story/blog post in the “name”  field. The links are moderated so please be patient if your link doesn’t appear right away, and please don’t enter your link more than once.