TBEX Speaker Post: Working with travel PRs and Tourist Boards

 

michael-collinsYou’ve sent numerous emails, you’ve pitched to the best of your abilities, you’ve even followed up with phone calls BUT you still seem to be getting nowhere with that PR person or Tourist Board representative. You may have even already featured their client in an article or blog post but now the conversation has suddenly gone quiet. Why?

Unfortunately there are usually a number of reasons why you are not getting the results you had hoped for – all of which I plan to tell you about in my session at TBEX Dublin. Working as a travel PR, with a background in journalism and publishing, I am lucky to have stood on both sides of the fence when it comes to media/PR relationships.

Let’s begin with the obvious – first impressions count! Travel PRs receive numerous media requests and pitches on a daily basis so you need to make sure that you spark their interest and stand out from the crowd. Saying that, standing out from the crowd is only beneficial if it is in a positive way.

In the case of Travel PRs and Tourist Boards, the first impression normally IS the last impression.

Travel PR’s are somewhat like elephants – they never forget and they have long memories, so make sure your first encounter is a positive one.

Here are some tips on how to ensure you are remembered for the right reasons:

  1. Manners cost nothing – Be polite and courteous. It will stand to you.
  2. Do your research – Know our clients and how we work.
  3. Be pitch perfect – Have your pitch prepared and ready. This is guaranteed to impress.

Once you have passed the first hurdle and built a relationship you then need to make sure you maintain it. Having a good working relationship with Travel PRs and Tourist Boards is essential as it will ensure the following:

  1. Invites are being sent for a press trip to a far off location. Travel PRs and Tourist Boards are likely to think of people that they know and have had positive experiences with – make sure you are one of them!
  2. Media outlets often liaise with PRs when they are in need of a travel-specific journalist for a feature, TV slot or radio interview – if you have impressed in the past then they are sure to recommend you.
  3. Need a favour? You’ll be in luck, but only if you have built up a good relationship.

Yes I know, it’s all well and good knowing how to maintain this working relationship – but how do you go about building it? I plan to tell you this and much more during my TBEX session in Dublin. During my session, I will also share some real-life examples with you of good and bad approaches and dealings between media and Travel PRs and Tourist Boards.

Come along on the day and you will be guaranteed to pick up handy tips and advice which are sure to help you in your future dealings with Travel PR’s and Tourist Boards.

TBEX Dublin speaker Michael Collins loves to travel. He is based between Dublin and Paris. Michael has worked in the Irish travel and media industry for 13 years. During this time he has worked as a travel journalist, editor and publisher, editing and publishing the magazines Backpacker Europe, Abroad and Irish Business Traveller. He has also worked in television and radio as a presenter and travel expert. Today Michael runs TravelMedia.ie, representing international tourist boards, hotels, airlines and tour operators in the Irish market. You can follow TravelMedia.ie on Twitter, too.

TBEX Speaker Post: Collecting Information From Your Contact List

 

If you are doing any kind of business you should be collecting leads so you can grow your business. In the travel business, it’s no different – travel bloggers, PR Agencies, DMOs, hotels, airlines, etc. all collect leads everyday. The big question is usually how much information should you collect on initial contact?

Kerwin-McKenzieThink of collecting leads as meeting someone at a cocktail party. You introduce yourself by name, then the chit chat starts. If you have anything in common, you exchange a business card or better yet bump your phones or perhaps follow each other on one of the social media channels. So, at that point, you are only collecting the information you need to continue the conversation later.

The amount of information you collect depends on the type of business you have and what you wish to do with the information. For example, if you are a travel insurance company and wish to send a quote, you may ask for name, email address, telephone number, state and country. The state and country is needed as insurance rates vary by your location. But if you are a travel blogger, all you may need is the name and email address – the rest is irrelevant at the moment. And if you are a DMO, you may just need name, email address and country of origin as that last piece of information can be used to trigger a different reply to the customer.

So, let’s talk about what is the minimum information to ask for when collecting a lead on your blogs. Is first name, last name, email address sufficient to get the dialogue started? (Remember, that’s what you’re doing here – starting a dialogue with your customers.) You need a way to address them (name) and way to contact them (email address). But do you need more than that at the beginning?

The answer depends on your goals.

The less information you ask for, the easier it will be for the users, which means your chances of getting more sign-ups will increase. But asking for a name and email address is not too much to ask of a user if they are interested in what your site has to offer or what you are giving them in exchange for the information. Yes, you can “bribe” them by offering a free report that will add value to their lives. If you offer this kind of incentive, make sure it’s something that will make recipients say, “I would have paid good money for that, I wonder what else they have to offer?”

For all my sites, I collect first name and email address on first contact, as I like to address my audience by name when I send them an email. I don’t know about you, but when I receive an email with my name in it, that makes me feel a bit more special. In addition, I like to write my emails as a conversation piece so I may interject their names within the piece for an added degree of personalization. Your goals may differ, but it’s something you have to decide in the beginning of your email marketing campaign.

If your goal is to build a list quickly and not necessarily a relationship with your readers, then perhaps just collecting an email address is all you need and you can start your emails with Hi, instead of Hi ,, although I personally prefer the latter.

It is possible to setup your opt-in form and make the name field optional. Most users will enter their name if you ask for it; only a few will test the form by just entering an email only. I recommend not asking for last name, just ask for name and users will often enter their full name in the name field. My stats for my most popular site shows that 0.55% of my users did not enter anything in the name field. So requesting name and email for that site had little effect.

I have not looked at data on how many users left the sign-up page as they did not want to give me their name, but those are not the users I want anyway, so I’m not worried. I could check the abandonment rate of the subscription page using my analytics though as well as test different pages to see what works best for my audience. That’s the beauty of email marketing – you can test what works and do more of it. A review of my subscription data showed that the names entered are actual names and not just a bunch of random letters/numbers.

If you want to mail a brochure to your customer based on initial contact, then you will need more information, such as full name and address. I’d recommend keeping everything electronic, though, so collect name and email address and then send out a welcome email with links to the information you would like them to have. This way they can download it from your servers and you save money with mailing costs.

If you can’t keep it electronic, ask for a mailing address after the initial contact. This way you at least have the name and email address for follow-ups. Asking for too much information on first contact may seem too intrusive to prospects. Think of how that feels to you when you meet someone and immediately they want your details and you don’t know them that well. Online, it’s the same feeling. Get to know your customers better first, before asking them for too much information. Once you know them and they regard you as “friends,” you’ll be surprised at what they will give you if you ask.

If you have an opt-in form on your site, are you asking for both name and email address or just email address? What drove your decision? Leave a comment below.

Kerwin-McKenzieTBEX Dublin speaker Kerwin McKenzie is an ex-airline employee turned Travel Blogger. At TBEX Dublin, he’s teaming up with Corey Taratuta from Irish Freside for a session covering the ins and outs of email marketing. We’ll be loading attendees up with achievable action steps to get them building and sending their lists… and, of course we’ll be using email to check up on their progress afterwards.

TBEX Speaker Guest Post: Creative Email Marketing for Travel Bloggers

 

Travel bloggers are a funny group. Dangle a new social media outlet in front of them and they’ve got a username and password faster than they can upload a snapshot of tonight’s dinner. Ask them how they use their email list, and they usually answer, “Ummmm, I’ve been meaning to work on that.”

coreyorangeEmail isn’t dressed in a cute logo or backed by a cast of too-cool-for-school entrepreneurs. It’s functional, not flashy. It’s proven more than a trend, and for some reason ends up on the to-do list rather than the must-do list.

Yet when Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest want to send YOU a message, they use email. When YouTube, StumbleUpon, and LinkedIn want you to click on content, how do they reach you? They send an email… an email YOU ASKED THEM TO SEND.

So why aren’t you following their example?

You send important emails every day, so you’ve already been honing the skills required to become a successful email campaign creator. Yet, you’re reluctant to put your list to work.

Most bloggers plead lack of knowledge, lack of a list, or lack of time when dishing out their excuses. The truth is, you’re email list is an extension of everything you do online. It’s your way of treating your most dedicated fans as VIPs. By inviting you into their inbox, they’re practically counting you as part of the family. As family, they trust your recommendations (sometimes more than their blood relatives), they click your links, and they prove to be your most loyal, vocal fans.

They say the “money is in your list.”

The wealth I’ve accumulated from simple, sincere emails have ranged from increased page views; bumps in sales; and the growth of my online community.

I thought I’d share a few memorable moments courtesy of my email subscribers.

Perfect Timing: Most people check email and Facebook more often than they scan their RSS reader or browse the web. Last St Patrick’s Day Facebook’s algorithm didn’t seem to favor my post about Lonely Planet’s free digital download of their Dublin guide. I countered with an email to my list, and within an hour my inbox was flooded with thank you messages.

Meaningful Engagement: For my latest podcast episode, I asked my audience for alternative destinations to Ireland’s most popular tourist spots. A Twitter mention and post on Facebook came back with a few replies. A day later, an email to a segment of my list returned four times as many suggestions. Best of all, they were written in paragraph form instead of Facebook and Twitter fragments.

  • The End of the World (Almost): During a 48-hour nightmare last year when an un-updated WordPress plugin wreaked havoc on my website, a simple alert to my email subscribers let them know the problem was being addressed, and two IT professionals stepped forward and helped fix the problem fast.
  • Connection and Interaction: For the last five years, a handful of my e-newsletter subscribers participated in a Secret Santa Gift Exchange. The entire activity was organized in the virtual world through an email list, but it resulted in real gifts with handwritten notes being sent via snail mail to people around the globe. The good will and online conversations that resulted were probably the best gift I could have received at that time of year.
  • Audience Development: One of my favorite projects came from a museum that was undergoing a 3-month renovation. Without people walking in the front door, I worked with them to develop new email membership. Within two weeks we were seeing almost 100 new sign ups a day. For 180 days, these e-members were given a weekly stream of useful, interesting information. When the museum opened again, over half the email subscribers downloaded tickets to previews, and it’s estimated that at least 17% bought a paid membership.
  • Sales: I don’t hard-sell anything to my email list, but I do let subscribers know about my projects and products. By December last year, I sold an extra $15,000 worth of my own products thanks to my lists in 2012.

Activating Your Email Marketing

At TBEX Dublin, I’m teaming up Kerwin McKenzie for a session covering the how-tos and what-to-dos of email marketing. We’ll be loading attendees up with achievable action steps to get them building and sending their lists… and, of course we’ll be using e-mail to check up on their progress afterwards.

Author Bio:  Corey Taratuta is best known as the host of the Irish Fireside Podcast, Corey’s “previous life” included days (and nights) as the senior member of a museum creative team, a newspaper features editor, and an unenthusiastic cowhand on his family’s dairy farm. After launching the podcast in 2006, he set out on a 40-day, cross-country trek meeting fans and telling the story through video and words. He now works as a freelance writer and designer specializing in e-mail marketing and online content. He unveiled the Ireland Travel Kit app in 2013, and his first book on Irish travel goes to press next year.

TBEX Sponsor Post: Bridging the Differences of Travel Bloggers in Europe & the USA

Almost 240 years ago a group of upstarts in a backwater colony decided to declare independence from the United Kingdom – then the most powerful Empire on the planet. But it wasn’t just political freedom that emerged from this act of revolution. The emergence of new personalities, characteristics, and even language evolved as a result of this rebellion.

ryan levittFast forward to 2013 and the results of that little tiff can be felt in the blogger world – and in social media in general. It might not be the most important difference that evolved, but this is a blog for a blog conference so give me a little leeway for a bit here.

People act differently on each side of the Atlantic. I know, because I have lived in Canada, the US, France and the UK. Every country has its quirks. In New York it might be fine to tell anyone and everyone about your lithium prescription. In London? Not so much.

Every day in my position as Head of Communication at HouseTrip.com, I get approached by bloggers from around the world pitching me for partnerships, free accommodation and more. Before I even look at the blog, I can usually tell you where the blogger comes from just by the way the pitch is written.

American bloggers always focus on the numbers. If the pitch is littered with Klout scores, traffic numbers and any other random bit of tracking data you can think of, then the pitcher is from the U.S. of A. Brits are much more apologetic. Common phrases include: “I hope I’m not asking too much, but” or “It would be really helpful if.” Not for them the jugular vein.

But social media use goes beyond the way bloggers pitch. It’s also reflected in how the locals of each country decide to interact and engage with their friends and influencers.

Bloggers need to make choices in the way they choose to promote themselves, create, and amplify content in order to attract the natives of the countries they want core readership from. Content questions need to be asked:

  • Am I being too personal?
  • Am I using the right language and tone?
  • Am I blogging about the kinds of topics readers from (insert country here) want to read about?
  • Am I using the right platforms to publish and distribute my content?

Brands also want to know that you are aware of your market and readership. I work for a European brand so I am always going to be more interested in European readership or viewership when I am choosing bloggers to create partnerships with. The fact that you have big numbers is great. The fact that you have big number in the UK, France or Germany is even better.

Know where the brand wants to target and rule out the ones you know are looking to attract different visitors. There is no point in trying to go after the Bhutan Tourism Board to sponsor your trip if France represents just 200 inbound passengers a year and your blog is read by the French market.

Think smart and vive la difference. Make your content decisions work for you – and you might find that a new market opens up to you if you make simple changes to your site or URL.

Author Bio:  Ryan Levitt is PR Director of HouseTrip.com, one of the world’s largest holiday rental websites offering over 230,000 rentals in more than 19,000 destinations worldwide. Prior to this time, he spent almost a decade in travel PR representing NYC, Bermuda, Mauritius, Queensland, Malaysia and many other destinations, hotels and cruise lines in Europe. Also a former travel journalist, he has written over 20 travel guides and contributed to The Independent on Sunday (UK), Arena Magazine, Wallpaper, South China Morning Post, Toronto Star – and was a guide writer for VisitBritain and the German National Tourist Office.

TBEX Speaker Post: Re-Think Video – Screencasting for Travel Bloggers

 

When we talk about video, everybody assumes that video requires complex equipment, a big crew and plenty of time and money.

But video can be much more that what we see on TV. Video in the web uses different forms that can help us promote and expand our brands. Yes, also for travel bloggers.

I am going to explain how to do a screencast, a tool normally used by gamers, to present travel related content to your users. A screencast is a video recording of what happens in the screen of your computer. It’s as simple as that.

And the best way to explain it is with a video:

As you can see, I’ve recorded my own desktop. Some of the things that you can use a screencast for is:

  • A how-to video on how to navigate your own website.
  • A how-to video on how to navigate and or use a brand website that you might want to promote.
  • Showing your travel pictures and explaining them in detail.

Some of the free tools that you can use to create screencasts are http://www.screenr.com/ and http://www.screencast-o-matic.com/ . I normally use a program called Kazam in linux, that gives me some extra flexibility, but those two websites are an excellent way to start with screencasting.

Screencasting is one of the tools that allow you to create zero-cost video to expand your brand and engage your audience. At TBEX Dublin I will be explaining how to create live video broadcasts using Google Hangouts on Air, a fantastic tool that allows us to create zero-cost live video streams that reach millions of people. Not only that, it also allows us to create useful content because it records the live broadcasts.


eduardo-perezAfter 24 years working in Shipping for Chemical companies, TBEX Dublin speaker Eduardo Perez decided to pursue his passion and started working full time in travel blogging. He has a videoblog with more than 1600 short videos that he personally recorded in 35 countries. Several thousand people follow him around the world. You can find his main blog (in Spanish) at Hombrelobo, his twitter at @hombrelobo and his English blog at http://travel.hombrelobo.com.

TBEX: The World is Round

 

TBEX Toronto stage

It took a long time for humans to prove that the world is round. Anyone pre-16th Century bold enough to make that claim was labeled heretic, excommunicated, placed under house arrest, or killed. Fast forward a few centuries, from Galileo to Google, and as Thomas Friedman indicated with the title of his book, “The World is Flat,” well, the world, thanks to technology, is flat again. It’s no great revelation that the Internet has led to incredible change, flattening the world and allowing for tremendous opportunities. But it’s also transformed in-person networking into something as alien as life on Mars.

Many bloggers and online entrepreneurs get their start by conducting research on the Web, chatting in online forums, scouring the Internet for competitors and a niche. And many have launched businesses without ever meeting, in person, one individual from their field. But the lost art of face-to-face communication is crucial if you’re looking to take your blog or business to that next level.

In an interview, Tim Ferris, author of the 4-Hour Work Week, said, “I chose the least crowded channel… to connect with people who are thought leaders.” That least crowded channel was events like South by Southwest Interactive and BlogWorld Expo.

Instead of hard-selling his book, Ferris used his time to discuss his idea, but more importantly to ask attendees, “Is there anyone else at the conference that you think I should meet?” When he was pointed to the right people, interest in his book developed naturally and these individuals became the future champions of his other successful projects. Who knows if Tim Ferris would have been as successful if he had only made his connections on the Flat World Wide Web?

At the end of 2012, a few months after I started my travel blog, Somewhere Or Bust, Twitter started chirping the acronym #TBEX. It was the first time I had ever heard of the world’s largest travel blogging conference. Though I would be unable to attend the gathering in Spain, Twitter once more informed me that a few travel bloggers would be hosting mini-TBEXes in cities around the world. I live in New York and, needless to say, my city was on the list.

I’m looking for a bunch of travel bloggers,” I said to the bouncer, who filled up most of the entryway into the bar, where New York’s mini-TBEX had been scheduled.

ID,” he demanded.

Are there travel bloggers here?” I said to the girl guarding the door to the private party upstairs.

This is for Doug,” she said, rolling her eyes.

Before giving up, I asked the bartender.

I think those six girls are travel bloggers.” The bartender walked me over to the table and introduced me to half dozen ladies.

I had expected a bigger turn out, but even six bloggers opened my eyes to things I had never considered for my infant site, things like sponsorships, monetization, and press trips. They answered endless questions, which would have never been tolerated online. (Read a forum and there’s usually that one forum guard who barks you off with: “Didn’t you read the answer dated…”) And one pair of bloggers even interviewed me for a series they run called “Jetsetters.” These take-aways would have been difficult if I had met these ladies online, even if I had been the most committed Gravatar beefing up their comment sections. We were all real people who had broken bread in the third dimension. (There ain’t an app for that.)

But I needed more. I needed less Facebook and more face-time. I wanted to meet at least a baker’s dozen of travel bloggers because I had myriad questions, most of which I had previously hurled into Cyberspace where they remained floating unanswered like orbital debris. I wanted to chat with representatives from destinations and travel companies to discuss collaboration or potential partnership because my prior online introductions were sitting in their inboxes (or sucked into that black hole shaped like a trashcan). My next big idea – an ebook, a podcast, or a blogger campaign – looked like an unreachable galaxy because I remained stuck wasting time trying to determine how best to proceed and who to enlist from that overwhelming pool of unidentifiable online assistants.

And while my mini-TBEX experience was worthwhile, I was blown into orbit (which actually wouldn’t work as well on a flat earth) when I went to Toronto for TBEX. The conference allowed me to engage with speakers, troubleshoot with experts, pitch to bloggers, determine potential collaborators, eavesdrop on dreamers. The face-time shifted everything from anonymous to real. Ninety percent of the emails I sent after the conference received immediate responses. At TBEX, PR reps related to me because I had bowled (at an after-party) as poorly as they had. To one DMO representative, I’m the guy he might remember that next time he sits down for foie gras and ice cider because we had an intense conversation about the pairing. I even discovered bloggers who I will reach out to when I take that plunge – Scratch that – when I sail off, over the horizon, to collaborate on that next big idea.

Tips:

  • Plan in advance. I purchased an early bird ticket and probably got my money’s worth in the food and coffee alone.
  • Identify the speakers and attendees that you want to meet. Come with questions and know what you can offer them.
  • Don’t just think in the present. Consider where you want to take your blog and/or business, and link up with attendees who seem like they can become future partners, collaborators, or promoters for your upcoming projects.
  • Be sociable. If this doesn’t come naturally, attend meet-ups or events to practice. Lunch is a great time to chat.
  • Attend as many events as possible. Even if you make one worthwhile connection at each event, between conferences, lunches, parties, after-parties, and the lobby, you’re going to walk away with some solid contacts.

Author bio:  Noah Lederman writes the travel blog Somewhere Or Bust. His travel writing has appeared in the Boston Globe, the Chicago Sun-Times, Islands Magazine, the Economist, and elsewhere. Visit his blog to get your free copy of his humorous travel ebook, Misadventures in Southeast Asia. You can also follow his (mis)adventures on TwitterFacebook, Instagram, and Google+.

Travel Blog Exchange: Welcome to Our New TBEX Dublin Speakers!

TBEX Dublin is coming up quickly! We’re already made several speaker announcements to let you know who will be presenting in Dublin. Today, we are happy to welcome another large group of speakers to the TBEX stage. Check out who you’ll see in Dublin:

Alastair McKenzie

We’re happy to welcome Alastair to the TBEX stage for the first time! Alastair has experience in both traditional media and new media., and bring the perspective of someone who has worked in both.

Learn more about Alastair >

Carol Cain

Carol is an award-winning travel and food blogger who we’re excited to have coming to the TBEX stage. Her stories have appeared in Better Homes and Gardens magazine, Forbes Travel Guide, and more, so we’re excited to learn from her in Dublin.

Learn more about Carol >

Cedric Giorgi

Cedric’s company, Cookening, combines the love of travel and the love of food to connect people from different cultures from around the world. We’re excited to have him on the TBEX Dublin stage!

Learn more about Cedric >

Chris Christensen

We’re always happy to bring Chris to the TBEX stage! Not only is he the popular host of AmateurTraveler.com, but he is also the co-host of This Week in Travel.

Learn more about Chris >

Diane Letulle

Diane combines two things we love at her blog: wine and travel! She’s written Wine Lover’s Journal for over six years and will be sharing what she’s learned with our culinary inclined attendees.

Learn more about Diane >

Eduardo Perez

Eduardo took that brave leap of becoming a full time travel blogger after over 20 years in the shipping industry. Since then, he’s recorded over 1600 videos from locations around the world! We’re super impressed by his dedication to video blogging and know you will be as well.

Learn more about Eduardo >

Fionn Davenport

We’re happy to announce that Fionn will be joining us at TBEX Dublin. He’s been a writer and broadcaster for over 20 years, has written guidebooks for Lonely Planet, and recently started “Taking Off,” a new online radio show for the Irish Times.

Learn more about Fionn >

Gina Tarnacki

Gina’s got experience working with travel companies through her boutique online marketing and writing company, and she’s also a travel blogger. We love that she sees this industry from both perspectives and are happy to have her coming to our stage

Learn more about Gina >

Heather Greenwood Davis

If you don’t know Heather yet, you should! She’s an award-winning travel writer and journalist who has appeared in O Magazine, National Geographic Traveler’s Intelligent Travel, Travel Channel.com, Canadian Family and more. This year her family was named “Travelers of the Year” by National Geographic Traveler.

Learn more about Heather >

Kash Bhattacharya

Kash is one of the go-to guys out there about budget travel. He and his blog have been featured in the New York Times, Guardian, Vanity Fair, National Geographic, and more. We can’t wait to see his presentation in Dublin.

Learn more about Kash >

Martin Macdonald

Through his work with Expedia, Martin has become a leader in the world of inbound marketing. He has experience in organic SEO, paid search, social marketing, and more, so we think he’s the perfect speaker to add to our industry roster.

Learn more about Martin >

Mona Wise

We couldn’t be more excited about bringing Mona to TBEX as a speaker. She writes an award-winning blog, as well as regularly contributing to the Sunday Times as a columnist with her husband, and to Galway Now Magazine.

Learn more about Mona >

Shane Dallas

Shane is both the Community Manager for Travelblog.org and a blogger himself at The Travel Camel, so we’re excited to have him coming to the TBEX stage to share his knowledge

Learn more about Shane >

Vanessa Chiasson

Vanessa’s travels have taken her everywhere from a marathon in Paris to a coffee farm in Hawaii. We’re happy to have her coming to TBEX Dublin as a speaker to share her knowledge.

Learn more about Vanessa >

If you don’t have your ticket to the show yet, don’t miss out on seeing all of these great speakers live from the TBEX Dublin stage! Register now to reserve your pass (tickets are limited, so don’t delay).

TBEX Speaker Post: Travel Blogger Gary Arndt on Web Piracy

 

During the closing keynote at TBEX Toronto we took questions from the audience after our live round table discussion on This Week in Travel. One of the questions from the audience dealt with how to deal with websites that steal your content.

Gary ArndtMy rather abrupt answer was, “obscurity is a bigger problem than piracy.” 

I should note the quote originally came from Tim O’Reilly who said back in 2002, “Obscurity is a far greater threat to authors and creative artists than piracy.”

He is right. The problem for bloggers isn’t people stealing your stuff, the problem is no one ever reading it in the first place.

Mary Jo asked me to elaborate on the point I made at TBEX and to explain in greater detail why bloggers shouldn’t waste their time pursuing most people who steal content.

Let me start by staying that I am not defending plagiarism, piracy or theft. It is wrong morally and violates the laws of every country that I know of. The argument against getting worked up about piracy is a straight forward practical and business argument.

I am also not claiming that people should NEVER worry about piracy. As I’ll explain in a moment, there is a time to be concerned about it, but it, too, is based on hard pragmatism and business.

The vast majority of cases where bloggers have their content stolen involve scraper sites. People create websites that automatically download content from an RSS feed and then republish it on a different domain.

This is something that happens to me every single time I hit publish on my blog. To see for yourself, here is a list of exact match Google searches for a recent post I published about my trip to the Caribbean.

Some of the results are from my website. Some are from social media platforms where I shared the article, like Facebook. Most, however, are sites which republished the post without my permission. Google returned 211 results for the search and I estimate half are for domains that I know nothing about.

What have I done about this rampant piracy???

Nothing.

If you look at the search results, you will see that my website and my social media outlets rank ahead of everyone else. If someone is searching for my content, odds are quite high they will end up on my site or one of my social media outlets. Given search clicks break down, I’d say the odds are over 90% that someone would end up coming to me.

To put in more direct terms, the combined efforts of almost everyone amounts to nothing compared to my original content. Toss in Google Authorship, and it is very clear where the original article came from and who wrote it.

Like many bloggers, when I started out I was agitated when I saw someone scraping my content. I would send angry emails, contact Google, and occasionally even the ISP that hosted the website. What did I get for my troubles?

Nothing.

I didn’t get any money. I didn’t get more traffic. The only thing I did was spend a lot of time in an effort which did nothing other than to vent some steam.

Some of you might be reading this and saying to yourself, “Gary, it doesn’t matter if you get more traffic or money. It’s wrong! You should pursue wrongdoers!

Fair enough. It’s wrong. So is jaywalking. You are certainly free to spend time pursuing scrapers if you see fit.

However, it isn’t going to stop anything. Scraping is automated. It is done by computers. Stop one, they just start a new domain and begin doing it again. The cost of pursuing legal action will be far greater than any amount you will ever hope to collect, assuming you can even find the people who did it and assuming further that they are in the same legal jurisdiction as you are.

Is there anything you can do?

There are two things most people can do mitigate any possible problems which might arise:

1) Put links in your RSS footer

Use a WordPress plug-in that puts a link at the bottom of your RSS feed that links back to your website. If someone scrapes your content, then they will, in fact, be doing link building for you and tossing some link juice back your way. Granted, the links aren’t high quality, but you will be doing a form of SEO judo where you are using the scrapers for your benefit.

2) Rank higher than scrapers.

If your content ranks higher than scrapers, then there is little damage being done to your traffic. Scraper sites are by nature very low in quality. No one links to them and no one reads them directly. The whole reason they exist is to game Google. Having higher authority than a scraper site is very easy to do. If you find yourself being outranked by a scraper site, then your efforts should be focused on getting ranked higher, not tilting at windmills trying to shut down the scrapers of the world.

If you can’t out rank a scrapper site, you have far bigger problems than piracy. An hour spent chasing down scraper sites is better spent creating new content.

What about sites that aren’t scrappers? What happens if another blogger or a bigger media company steals your stuff?

Even then, in all but the most egregious examples, you aren’t going to get any money or traffic by using the nuclear option.

If another website uses one of my images without permission, I usually just ask them to put a link back to my website giving me attribution. That’s it. I’m not going to get any money from them and I don’t want to waste the time it would require to pursue a real copyright case. I have never had a case where someone was obstinate about using a stolen image. A link back to my website has some small value and that is good enough for me.

The only time you might want to think about taking action is when a big company with money steals your stuff.

This very rarely happens because most large companies take precautions to make sure it never does. In the event it should happen, the value of the publicity you will get will probably be worth more than what you would have gotten if they had just paid for it. When caught red handed, most big companies will take down the offending content and maybe provide some compensation. Unless your work has been previously registered with the copyright office, you probably will not get top dollar for any settlement. Registering each piece of  your content will take money, and there still is no guarantee you will ever get your money back if you do it.

Piracy on the internet happens. You can’t stop it anymore than you can stop the wind by shouting at it.  The more popular you get, the more your content will be pirated.

To again paraphrase Tim O’Reilly, piracy is a tax on success.

Dealing with piracy is an exercise in picking your fights. 99% of the piracy issues you will face online are fights that aren’t worth your time and attention.

Play offense, not defense. Focus on creating new and great content, not trying swat an unending stream of pirate flies.

Author Bio:  Gary Arndt has been traveling the world non stop since 2007. During that time he has visited over 125 countries and territories and all 7 continents. He is one of the most popular and honored travel bloggers in the world and was named by Time Magazine as having one of the top 25 blogs in the world in 2010. His travel journalism has also been recognized with a Lowell Thomas Award, NATJA Gold Medal, Northern Lights Award, and a Travel + Leisure SMITTY Award.

Travel Blog Exchange Special Announcement: Our First Group of TBEX Dublin Speakers!

Today is an exciting day: we’re announcing our first group of speakers for TBEX Dublin! Obviously, we still have a ton of proposals to review, but we want to give a hearty welcome to the following speakers who will be coming to the Dublin stage in October.

If you haven’t picked up your ticket yet, you can do so here. Don’t miss your chance to see this awesome line-up of speakers!

Gary Bembridge

We’re so happy to welcome Gary back to the TBEX stage after a great session in Toronto. He has been blogging since 2005 and traveling every month of every year for 20 years, so we’re excited to have him share his wealth of knowledge with you. More recently, he has also become a successful travel podcaster, and you can listen to his chat with TBEX staff about the future of travel here on the blog.

Learn more about Gary >

Ernest White II

We can’t wait to see Ernest speak at TBEX Dublin. He blogs about international travel from a multicultural perspective at Fly Brother and is also a co-host on the Travel Channel television series “Destination Showdown.” He’ll have lots of good information to share with all of us.

Learn more about Ernest >

Leif Pettersen

Leif’s bio has us cracking up, and you can expect his session to be just as entertaining (no pressure, Leif!). He’s not just funny, though; he also really knows his stuff, which was clear to us after seeing him on stage at TBEX Toronto. He has worked with companies such as Lonely Planet and MSN, as well as running his own blog.

Learn more about Leif >

Mike Sowden

We’re glad Mike will be coming back to the TBEX stage after a great session about storytelling in Toronto. He’s spoken at several other conferences as well and has worked with publications such as Gadling, CNN Travel, and the San Francisco Chronicle. We knew we had to have him back for our European show!

Learn more about Mike >

Ryan Levitt

If you want to learn how bloggers and travel industry professionals can work together, Ryan is your man. He’s the Global PR Director for HouseTrip.com, one of the world’s largest holiday rental websites. His session in Toronto was extremely valuable, especially for advanced bloggers, so we can’t wait to see the session he’s putting together for TBEX Dublin.

Learn more about Ryan >

William Bakker

With 14 years of experience in destination marketing, William knows a thing or two about working with bloggers. Check out his TBEX guest post, 9 Criteria for Getting Invited on Travel Blog Trips. We’ve loved his sessions in the past and are excited to have him back for TBEX Dublin.

Learn more about William>

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.