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

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

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


Tracey Friley
Tracey with a new TBEX friend

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

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

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

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

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

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

I’m going. Are you?

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21 Responses
  1. great post! i remember reading about your ‘little venture’ last year after TBEX. i had just started my own travel blog when the event happened in 2011. i am super excited to meet other bloggers as well as scope out opportunities for myself and learn along the way!

    see you there! cheers – lola

  2. I am definitely going to TBEX. This will be my first time at both the conference and in Denver. I agree with you wholeheartedly that you have to be in it to win it. Social media is wonderful but there’s something to be said about good ol’ fashioned in-your-face hand shaking. It’s an opportunity to show WHO you really are and not just what you do. That can make a difference between someone wanting to do business with you or not.
    We never stop learning. When you think there’s nothing more for you to learn or know, that may be the time when you need to make a graceful exit and do something else.

  3. Great points Tracey. Like you, I went to TBEX last year with no real plan, just an idea of learning and meeting many of the people that I had been reading for a few years.

    This year’s a no go for any travel or conferences for me but am looking forward to hearing all about it via attendees posts, video, twitter etc. Sounds like it’s going to be bigger and better than 2012.

    1. Thanks, Liz!
      Sorry you won’t be able to make it this year, but that’s what I love about Twitter and post-conference blog posts — when you can’t get away, you can still get a pretty good idea of what’s going down AND some nuggets of inspiration. Hope to see you next year!

  4. Your TBEX experience is a great testament of how powerful it is to just show up and be open to opportunity and possibility. And you’re right, there isn’t a better place for travel bloggers to be (yet). 🙂

    Happy finally make my first TBEX experience and volunteer at the Denver Passport Party Project! I’m confident it will be a productive and fun time.


    1. You’ve been supportive FROM THE START, April, with your donations, your time and your commitment, and for that I will be forever grateful. Can’t wait to see you and think it’s TheBomb.com that you’re coming in from Jamaica. Thanks again…

  5. I’m a newbie blogger and will be attending this year with no “strategy” or specific plan but I am so excited to soak up every nugget of information provided by more experienced bloggers. See you there!

  6. I LOVE that you got the opportunity to pitch at TBEX last year, and I love even more that it’s now TOTALLY real. It’s super awesome, and many, many, many congratulations. Your project is incredible and it speaks to my heart.

    1. Thanks SO MUCH, Pam! I had NO IDEA there was going to be an opportunity to pitch and even while my hand was raised, I had NO IDEA what I was going to say. But I took some deep breaths to shake away the excitement of the moment (aka opportunity) and to clear my head and spoke directly from my heart, something I learned from Simon Sinek when I was fumbling a prepared pitch on MSNBC. Nothing beats the things we are passionate about, not even if it’s the best idea in the world. Passion wins every. single. time. Thanks again. =)

  7. Wow, I’m sorry I’m not going now. And I’m sorry I didn’t go to the others as well. 35 speakers, seriously? I’m missing out. Oh well, I’ll be in France on a press trip. It’s hard to beat that.

  8. Tracey- Very well summed up! At the end of the day, TBEX is what you make it of it. Last year was my first year, and it was a very eye opening experience. It was awesome meeting people from philanthro-bloggers (such as you) to hardcore Mom bloggers, and I really appreciated that people we’re so passionate about their different vantage points of travel. Needless to say, I am looking forward to hearing more about this amazing year of yours during your session.

    Cool picture…I wonder who that dashing gentleman is? LOL!

    See you soon!

  9. Thank you for a wonderful post Tracey. I told you during our first conversation that we could talk about this stuff for hours and I am so looking forward to meeting you in person and doing just that in Denver and Keystone!

    Obviously we are very proud of TBEX and we think this will be the best one ever but 99% of your comments apply to most face to face events. They are rare opportunities for people to connect in ways that simply are not possible any other way. That is why I love events so much.

    By the way, travel is so similar. You get an understanding of a place and the people who live there that you can never learn from books, videos etc. Showing up and being there is the only way.

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