Cancun Highlight Reel

If you were at TBEX Cancun, see if you spot yourself in this highlight video.

If you weren’t, see what you missed.

There’s still time to register for TBEX Athens, where’s we’ll be announcing TBEX 2015 plans. Be there!


Good Morning Riviera Maya: A Video Look at TBEX Cancun

Just a peek at what you missed in Cancun

Do those voices sound familiar? Those are the voices of TBEX community members Sue and Kevin McCarthy.

Don’t miss out on all the fun we have planned in Athens – register now.

Hasta Luego Cancun

Cancun registration

With its warmth of spirit, as well as temperature, Cancun welcomed TBEX attendees to sample its hospitality and culture during a week of TBEX activities and events. Whether you did it all, filling your schedule with as many activities as possible, or enjoyed a slower pace from a hammock or by the pool, we hope you leave TBEX with new friendships, deeper knowledge, opportunities aplenty, and maybe a few selfies.

We want to know what you thought about TBEX Cancun. If you write a blog post about the conference itself, one of the sessions or speakers, about an activity or trip, or just about what you discovered in the Cancun area, we want to know about it. This post will serve as a list of links to stories coming out of TBEX Cancun. Although we try to keep an eye out for the stories, you can help us out by emailing your link to Mary Jo or Stevie (no need to send to both) and we’ll get it added to the post. Or, you can leave your link in the comments and we’ll add it to the post and then delete the comment.

A big thanks go out to our hosts, Cancun CVB and Moon Palace Resort, for making our time in Cancun so enjoyable. Hasta luego, Cancun, we look forward to seeing you again.

And thanks to all of you for coming to TBEX North America 2014. We hope to see you again next year!

  1. TBEX Cancun – The North America Travel Blogger Conference – Andrea on Vacation
  2. Interview:  Dr. Martha Honey on Ecotourism, Dolphin Tours, and Bloggers – Green Global Travel
  3. TBEX Takeaways – Just Cherished
  4. Mexican History at Xcaret Park – Adventures of the Repatriate
  5. Moon Palace in Cancun for TBEX 2014 – Johnny Jet
  6. Postcard from Moon Palace Hotel, Cancun – Traveling with MJ
  7. Highlights from TBEX Cancun – Travel Blog Success
  8. Stunning Street Art on Isla Holbox – Exploring the Blue Marble
  9. Opening with TBEX in Xcaret Mexico Spectacular – Tales of a Traveler with a Backpack
  10. A TBEX First Timer’s Recap – Turner PR
  11. TBEX 2014, Cancun, Mexico:  The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly – Marginal Boundaries
  12. Xoximilco – Experience an Evening of Mexican Fiesta – A Brit and a Southerner
  13. Moon Palace Cancun:  Is an All-Inclusive My Best Option – Thriftista
  14. 10+ Things I Learned At TBEX Cancun From 12+ Interactions/Observations – Travel Blogger 101
  15. 5 Things I Learned as a TBEX Newbie – Adventures of the Repatriate
  16. TBEX North America 2014 – Kim on a Whim
  17. TBEX Lessons Learned and to Share – Valerie and Valise
  18. Business and Pleasure in Cancun at the TBEX Travel Bloggers’ Conference – The Practical Nomad
  19. TBEX is Love Made Visible – Nicholas Andriani
  20. A Memorable and Unforgettable Day of Adventure at Xenotes Oasis Maya Cancun – Traveling Well for Less
  21. Floating Down an Underground, Secret River in Mexico – Gypsy Nester
  22. TBEX Organizers Request Cancellation of Captive Dolphin Tours for Cancun Travel Media Event in Support of Sustainability and Animal Rights Advocacy –  Via Papera
  23. TBEX Short but Sweet – What am I still doing in Cancun?
  24. TBEX Cancun: A Newbie’s Perspective – The Everyday Journey
  25. What I learned at my First TBEX – A Week at the Beach
  26. Floating Down an Underground, Secret River in Mexico – Gypsy Nester
  27. Snorkeling with the Largest Fish in the Ocean: the Whale Shark – Living the Dream
  28. Moon Palace Resort, Cancun – Carmen’s Travel Tips
  29. Encuentro en Xcaret con Blogueros – TBEX Cancun – Luiser de la Garza (Autoplay video in Spanish)
  30. Swimming with Whale Sharks in Cancun Mexico – Pint Sized Pilot
  31. My Amazing Cancun Experience – Vanilla Sky Dreaming
  32. Is it the Destination or the Experience – Vanilla Sky Dreaming
  33. Moon Palace Resort & Spa Review – Vanilla Sky Dreaming
  34. My Cancun Tour of Xenotes – The Lazy Travelers Handbook
  35. Understanding Mexican Culture through Xcaret Mexico Espectacular – The Girl and the Globe
  36. CasaSandra:  A Boutique Hotel on Isla Holbox – Exploring the Blue Marble
  37. 5 Reasons You Should Attend TBEX – Mags on the Move
  38. TBEX Cancun 2014 – De Paseo
  39. Street Food:  Eating Our Way Through Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula – GypsyNester
  40. Impressions on My First TBEX:  Knowledge and Fun – EcoColors Blog
  41. IZEA Takes on TBEX in Cancun – IZEA
  42. How to Grade Dolphinarium Facilities – Green Global Travel
  43. Swimming and Snorkeling with Sea Turtles in Akumal, Mexico – Wanderlust & Lipstick
  44. 5 Things I Learned at my First TBEX Travel Blogger Conference – Adventures of the Repatriate
  45. My Thoughts on TBEX Cancun – Globe Totting
  46. Poseidon’s Adventure: Cancun’s Underwater Museum – Points and Travel
  47. Gliding through Hidden Worlds:  Riviera Maya – Points and Travel
  48. Foodie Heaven:  Benazuza, Cancun – Points and Travel
  49. AllTOURnative Coba Maya Experience tour: Zip-lining, Rappeling, and Climbing – The Every Day Journey
  50. YOU


Live from TBEX Cancun: #TravelSkills Chat


Are you a travel blogger or someone who dreams of being one?

If yes, then pop in on our “pop-up” #TravelSkills chat with @Gogo TOMORROW at 8 am CT (9 am ET).

Topic:  How to Live the Life of a travel blogger!

Chris and Johnny are live at the Travel Blog Exchange in Cancun this week with 500 of the best travel bloggers in the world! Chime in on the chat to gain inspiration and learn about how to get started as a travel blogger, how to grow your blog, dealing with travel burnout, find advertisers or other partners, and more!

We will be live from #TBEX so if you are attending TBEX Cancun, you’re invited to come to the Speed Networking/Expo Room (rooms B And C) where we will be having a Twitter party with breakfast and prizes!

The TBEX Effect

toronto skyline nearing dusk

Hello TBEX Friends,

As you gather this week in Cancun we hope you reflect fondly on last year’s conference in Toronto. You certainly shared your experiences here at the time: 30,000 tweets (we counted), 500+ blog posts (we counted those too).

And look what happens. People take notice. Just this week Vogue Magazine named Toronto’s West Queen West the #2 “Coolest Neighbourhood in the World.”  ( ). Many of you were there. In fact the Queen West preBEX tours were the most jam-packed and popular, from the arts to the food to the famous Graffiti Alley tour. If you missed it or just want to explore more of Toronto’s neighbourhoods, we hope to see you again soon.

In the meantime, while I can’t be with you in Cancun this week, Team Toronto is there led by Vanessa Somarriba (@vanimartina). It was a privilege to host you in Toronto last summer and we raise our glasses to the TBEX community for telling wonderful stories to and from every corner of the world.



Moon Palace: Snap a Picture, Win a Free Stay


TBEXFront (1)Moon Palace Golf & Spa resort welcomes TBEX attendees to Cancun for what is shaping up to be an amazing event.

We hope you find time to explore our resort, Cancun’s largest resort and premium entertainment destination, through special activities we’re offering exclusively to TBEX attendees:

  • Surfing Lessons on Flowrider 8am – 9am available daily September 10 – 15.  Limit of 25 people each day
  • Salsa and Merengue Dance Classes at Noir 8am – 9am available daily September 10-15.  Limit of 30 people each day
  • Beachside Yoga 7am – 8am available each day September 10-15.  Limit of 30 people each day
  • Sushi Cooking Class at Momo 2:00pm- 3:00pm available September 10-11.  Limit of 30 people
  • Beachside Turtle Release at Sunset 6:30pm – 7:30pm  available daily September 10-15.  Limit 30 people each day.

To sign up for one of these special activities, email Sandra Gonzalez, Conference Concierge to make arrangements.

We hope that your time here at TBEX is so enjoyable that you’ll want to return to Moon Palace. To help make that possible, we’ve created our Snap. Post. Win Giveaway.  Take a photo of one of the resort’s famous landmarks listed on the postcard (the FlowRider, poolside at Nizuc, our nightclub Noir, margaritas on Moonlight Terrace, a paparazzi shot of a TBEX Presenter, your in-room jetted tub and other in-room amenities, and, of course, at the More Selfies in More Places party). Tag the photo with #TBEX and #PalaceResorts and post on Twitter, Facebook and/or Instagram. Every post counts as a separate entry. More details can be found on the postcard in your welcome bag, and be sure to follow Moon Palace at @PalaceResorts.

Palace Resorts representatives will be present throughout the conference and we hope you take a few moments to say hello. Cessie Cerrato, Public Relations Director, will be a co-presenter on the topic of Multi-Platform Destination Marketing on Saturday at Noon.

Again, welcome — and here’s to an awesome TBEX 2014!


A Story From the Best Friends You’ve Never Met


Successful brands like Starbucks have made their fortune offering a consistent experience for everyone – every visit is the same, no matter who you are. But my hunch is that if you’re an avid traveler, having the same experience as everyone else is not what you’re all about.  If your blog is about what you can’t find in a guidebook, then Hostelling International USA (HI USA) has you covered.  Because you never know who you might meet.  And it’s the people you meet who make the best stories.

HI-USA-logo-2015-webHI USA is the only North American hostel collection to be awarded a coveted Hoscar by HostelWorld in 2014, and we have raised the bar on what it means to be a hostel. Yes, HI USA hostels offer affordable accommodations – but they offer much more than that.  HI USA hostels are a community of kindred spirits from every corner of the globe. And here’s why you should consider staying with HI USA:

You’ll get the inside scoop.  With rooms, common spaces, and activities designed to encourage conversation, HI USA hostels make it easy to learn from fellow hostellers about the best day ever or how to avoid that wrong turn everyone else makes.  Wherever you’re staying, someone else has tips to share, and as a fellow hosteller, you’re privy to know their insider knowledge.

You’ll learn something new.  Guests from more than 100 countries pass through HI USA hostels each year, so you’ll meet people from all walks of life.  As you chat about life back home and what to do on a Tuesday night, you’re bound to learn something you didn’t know before about another country, language, or way of life.

You’ll have a richer story to tell your readers.  Set apart your blog post about New York, Boston, or Los Angeles by writing about the adventure you had wandering through side streets with your group of Brazilian college students, Australian gap year adventurers, and Romanian vacationers, who you met at breakfast in the dining room.   It’s a unique experience that your audience can’t read about anywhere else.

You’ll have a fun group of friends waiting for you.  Once you’ve seen the sights and written your post, come back to the hostel and strike up a conversation with someone in the lounge.  You’ll meet plenty of other solo travelers in search of a friend-for-the-day as well.

You’ll feel at home. When you’re tired of eating out and going out, return to the hostel to make your own home cooked meal, relax in the lounge, or play a board game with a stranger-turned-friend who is on the same wave length. HI USA staff are experts in local fun, whether you’re in for the night or out on the town.

If you’ve never hostelled before, check out one of HI USA’s more than 50 hostels from Maine to California, run by area residents passionate about helping you discover the cool, the underground, the random, and the profoundly awesome “real” side of your destination. As you journey, you’ll find a hot tub on the cliffs of the Pacific Ocean, the largest private outdoor space in New York City, and the only LEED certified accommodation in Boston.  You’ll also meet our enthusiastic local staff who make recommendations based on personal favorites.

When you put this all together, your overnight stay becomes part of your experience – and part of the story you share with your readers.  And you might just have a the most blog-worthy experience sitting on the floor of your dorm room chatting with three people you just met and will never see again, but will be hard-pressed to forget.

Author Bio:  HI USA is a nonprofit, member organization founded on an enduring belief in the power of travel to foster a deeper understanding of people, places, and the world around.  It’s our mission to promote a dynamic community of global citizens who have the wisdom and humanity to actively make the world a better place.  As the nation’s leading hostel brand, HI-USA hosts more than 1 million overnights annually, with guests from more than 100 countries.  For over 80 years, HI-USA has provided a network of affordable hostels in converted mansions, reinvented lighthouses, and historic urban buildings all across the country. Visit for more information.



4 Tips for Navigating TBEX

Walking into TBEX is a little like taking those first tentative steps into your high school reunion–you’re in touch with a few folks regularly and a bunch of others you may know only in passing, your entire relationship based on a Retweet here, a “Like” there.

This is where the power of online interaction runs into the reality of face-to-face contact. Meeting your contacts in person – and getting something out of it – calls for true interpersonal skills and a reliance on networking in the pre-digital sense.

But have no fear! Making the TBEX leap from virtual to real-world connections can be mastered. It can even be fun! (After all travel is the great equalizer, and you are an ace at that.)

Toward that end, here are four tips for getting the most out of TBEX 2014, as tendered by the travel pros who have been there and not only survived but thrived.

The SPG AmEx Lounge at TBEX 2013 in Toronto

The SPG AmEx Lounge at TBEX 2013 in Toronto


Just like a little bit of pre-departure itinerary-setting helps you get more out of a trip, you’ll find TBEX to be way more navigable and digestible if you go in knowing what you want to accomplish. So set some specific goals. They can be as simple as “find my next destination” or as practical as “make three new business contacts.”

Going in with a short list will provide structure, keep you on course, and still leave you open to great possibilities and being in the moment.


We may be living in the digital age, but the real workhorse of TBEX is still the humble business card – the ones you hand out and, just as important, the ones that get handed to you. Keeping them organized is key.

Veteran travel expert Johnny Jet advises, “Separate your business cards. Keep yours handy in a dedicated pocket and stow the cards from the people you meet in a separate pocket. When you get back to your room jot down notes on the back of each card about the person who handed it to you, then promptly send them a note when you return home.”


Back in its fourth year, the SPG AmEx Lounge returns courtesy of The Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card® from American Express. It’s a great place to arrange your first real-life meetings or recharge for those who to need regular breaks throughout the day.

“The SPG AmEx lounge was a great meeting place to network with other like-minded travel bloggers. It was the perfect spot to find answers to topics not covered in TBEX sessions, and anything was on the table with the top travel bloggers from around the world,” said Clint Johnston of

With comfortable lounge seating and plenty of work-ready “Recharge Stations,” you’ll always be fresh, prepared, and on top of your game.

4. K.I.T.

Family travel maven and founder of KidsNTrips Jennifer Leo advises: Meet as many people as you can – in line for lunch, waiting for the next panel to begin or just milling around at the check-in desk – and keep in touch with them.

“Even if it doesn’t seem like someone I meet can be an immediate lead, there’s always a possibility he or she will be in need of my services at some point down the road,” she says. “Some of my most productive relationships started as chance conference meetings that stayed dormant for months or even years – but then sprang to life once that person got a little further down the career track and decided it was time to call on me for help.”

 Author Bio:  D. Kornhaber on behalf of The Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express. Be sure to stop by the SPG AmEx Lounge, the official lounge at TBEX 2014, from 8am to 6pm on 9/12 and 9/13.


Ultimate Guide to TBEX Cancun


TBEX Cancun is just about to get started. If you’re joining us, here’s the information you’ll need to get the most out of the event. We hope it’s everything you want and need to know, all in one place.

General Conference Information

Day One – Tuesday, September 9, 2014

  • Pre-BEX Day Tours have variable departure times and locations, depending on the tour. You will be contacted by the tour operator with instructions on where and when to meet for your activity. For a list of these activities, as well as some last minute add ons, go here.
  • Some tours are weather-dependent. Tour operators will notify participants if there must be a cancellation, so please be sure to check your email. You will be able to re-transfer to another available activity.
  • The writing workshop with Don George will be held at the Moon Palace Arena, adjacent to the Moon Palace Resort, from 10 am-4 pm. Check in at the registration desk for directions to your meeting room. The entire time will not be spent in the classroom, so be prepared to re-locate around the resort as part of your assignments.

Day Two – Wednesday, September 10, 2014

  • Pre-BEX Day Tours and activities continue. For a list of these activities, as well as some last minute add ons, go here.
  • The writing workshop with Don George continues
  • Bus for the Speakers Reception departs at 5-5:30 pm. Contact Mary Jo for additional information. (speakers only)
  • The Travel Massive Party will be at Tacos Caminero, 7-10 pm. More info here.

Day Three – Thursday, September 11, 2014

  • TBEX registration is open 9 am-5:30 pm at Moon Palace Arena.
  • Pre-Bex Day Tours and activities continue.
  • Our opening night event is at Xcaret, and sponsored by them. Transportation is provided from Moon Palace Resort and from the Cancun Convention Center. You’ll find information and the transportation schedule here. This event is open to registered TBEX attendees only, and badges are required. If you have not picked up your badge before the opening night party, we will have a registration table set up at Xcaret so you can attend the opening event.

Day Four – Friday, September 12, 2014

  • TBEX registration is open 8 am-5:45 pm.
  • Shuttle service to and from Moon Palace Resort will be on this schedule.
  • The opening session, and the keynote featuring Dr. Martha Honey and Bret Love, starts at 9:15 am. Badges are required for all keynote and educational sessions.
  • The breakout sessions start at 10:45 am.
  • There will be a break for lunch (served at the resort) from 1-2:30 pm.
  • Breakout sessions resume at 2:30 pm.
  • Speed networking starts at 3:45 pm.
  • Our evening event is “More Selfies in More Places” and is sponsored by Expedia. It will be at the Moonlight Terrace (at Moon Palace Resort), and you’ll find all the details here. Be sure to use the #ExpediaTBEX hashtag, in addition to #TBEX for this event. This event is opened to registered TBEX attendees only; badges are required.
  • Schedule your airport shuttle at the Best Day booth at Moon Palace Arena.

Day Five – Saturday, September 13, 2014

  • TBEX registration is open 8 am-6:30 pm
  • Shuttle service to and from Moon Palace Resort will be on this schedule. Badges are required for all keynote and educational sessions.
  • The morning keynote with Lee Abbamonte, Paula Froelich, and Sherry Ott starts at 9:15 am.
  • The breakout sessions start at 10:45 am.
  • There will be a break for lunch (served at the resort) at 1-2:15 pm.
  • Breakout sessions resume at 2:15 pm.
  • Speed networking starts at 3:15 pm.
  • The closing session starts at 5:30 pm
  • Schedule your airport shuttle at the Best Day booth at Moon Palace Arena.
  • Enjoy the final evening in Cancun around the many restaurants, bars, and pools at Moon Palace Resort. Learn more about the amenities of the resort here.

Day Six – Sunday, September 14, 2014

  • Post-TBEX Fam trips begin. Departure times and locations are varied, you will have been provide information by your tour organizer.
  • Shuttle departures to return to the airport.
  • Safe to travels to all and we’ll see many of you in Athens.

About Cancun

  • Cancun is in the Central Time Zone (UTC – 6 hours)
  • Cancun weather forecast here
  • Standard US electrical plugs will work in Cancun.
  • Find more information about Cancun events, dining, activities, and more at their website.

TBEX Information

  • Don’t forget to use the #TBEX hashtag when you’re posting about TBEX-related events on social media! That means FAM trips, day tours, conference sessions, parties, meetups, etc. We want to know what’s happening!
  • Twitter list of Cancun attendees.
  • Twitter list of Cancun sponsors.
  • Twitter list of Cancun speakers.

Follow us on Social Media


Special TBEX Promotion Offered at Rio Secreto

Río Secreto

In 2005 a Maya farmer was chasing an iguana when he came upon a hole that caught his attention; upon looking into it the farmer saw that it was very deep, and so he set about making it bigger in the hope that he would discover a “cenote”, which in his culture represents both a sacred doorway to the underworld and also a valuable source of water. He soon discovered however that he had stumbled upon something much greater than he could have ever imagined: an underground river of extraordinary and incomparable natural beauty, a place that became Secreto, an underground system of rivers, caves, and intriguing geological formations.

Rio Secreto is an enthusiastic sponsor of TBEX Cancun and is offering attendees a special discount on all of their tours. Here is a sampling of some of their popular tours:

Rio Secreto Tour

A magical journey through an underground river of extraordinary and incomparable natural beauty, where the history of the planet is written on the myriad geological formations, and where floating in its crystal clear fresh water your life will change forever.

The tour includes: Specialized guide, helmet and wetsuit, life jacket, regional buffet and non-alcoholic drinks.

Rio Secreto Plus


Rio Secreto Plus

This tour includes the traditional Rio Secreto experience that offers a trip through Xibalbá (the Mayan underworld), a walk through its caves, a swim in the completely natural underground rivers, and the opportunity to admire the breathtaking formations that tell the geological history of the earth.  Without a doubt, all of this is a life-changing experience, but now the new “Dry Route” Tour offers even more: a visit to the Salón de la Paz (“Room of Peace”), where the spectacular INNER JOURNEY (original video & soundtrack) is projected on the natural formations.  This experience is sure to transport visitors back in time to the very creation and evolution of the universe.

The tour includes: Specialized guide, helmet and wetsuit, life jacket, regional buffet and non-alcoholic drinks.



Privilege Photo

Privilege is the most complete and exclusive tour in the Mexican Caribbean. This route forms part of an extremely extensive area of the cave. Due to its extraordinary beauty and distinctiveness, it was decided to allow only very limited visitor access and to instead allocate it primarily for scientific study and preservation. Privilege is a custom-made journey. The guide and visitor decide together on the degree of difficulty of the tour, always with a view toward the preservation of this natural wonder. Even more than breathtaking natural beauty and superb aesthetics, Privilege is an experience for every one of the senses. It is a lifetime memory, a unique and unforgettable experience. Very few humans walk on the moon or climb Everest, and also very few explore Privilege.

The tour includes: Specialized guide, personal photographer, helmet and wetsuit, life jacket, snack during the tour, regional buffet and non-alcoholic drinks.

The Special TBEX Deal

TBEX Attendees will have a special discount card in their registration bag that can be applied to any of the tours at Rio Secreto. If you’re already in Cancun, and want to visit Rio Secreto before TBEX, you can request the special pricing by email ( or by phone (from Cancún:  998.251.6567; from Riviera Maya:  994.877.2377).

The full list of tours can be found on the Rio Secreto website.  Most tours include transportation from Cancun and the Riviera Maya, but you can also find it via public transportation, taxi or car. The entrance to Río Secreto is conveniently right next to the Cancun-Tulum Highway.