How to make the most of a Travel Blog event

by Heather Cowper on April 10, 2011

Having just returned from a fun weekend in Manchester at Travel blogger’s Unite, I’ve been reflecting on how you can get the most out of this type of blogging event. After all, although you’re there to have fun with other bloggers, you will be spending time and money to attend the event, so you want to get maximum benefit. Here are some things for you to consider;

Travel Bloggers Unite 11 in Manchester

Travel Bloggers Unite 11 in Manchester

There are different groups or individuals that you may want to impact or influence during this kind of event  and it’s good to work out in advance what you hope to achieve with each of them – they include;

  • Other bloggers attending the event
  • The Event organisers
  • The Event Sponsors
  • Other bloggers not attending the event

Before the blogging event

  • Once you know you will be attending, you can let other bloggers know that you will be there though Twitter (using the event #tag), Facebook or mentions on your blog. This will help to build momentum for the event and encourage other blogging friends to sign up – the more the merrier!
  • To keep the cost down I normally contact hotels well in advance to see if I can get some sponsorship in the form of a free night or reduced media rate. This may be through the local tourism board, through contacts that the organisers have given me or through other PR contacts I may have.
  • I’ll also book flights, train or other transport as early as possible as costs are normally lower if you book well ahead.
  • I  check who will be there, either through the attendee list if published, or by checking out who is mentioning the event on Twitter. As I review the list of attendees I might visit their blogs and leave a comment, or perhaps follow any that look interesting on Twitter. This will help bring myself to the attention of any bloggers I would like to connect with and that they may register a flicker of recognition when I say hello. If there are any particular attendees who are new to me but look like kindred spirits, then I might make a list of them or a mental note to seek them out at the event.
  • You may like to check out the attendees from PR companies and in particular look at their client lists – that way you can make a note of any who have travel clients that you’d particularly like to work with and have a chat about that at the event.
  • As ever on any trip, I will pack my camera, video camera and audio recorder, ensuring that everything is fully charged and ready to go and that I have stocked up on my supply of business cards.
Heather Cowper presenting at TBEX Copenhagen

Heather Cowper presenting at TBEX Copenhagen

During the blogging event

  • This is the great opportunity to network, make new blogging friends and contacts and generally have a good time with like-minded souls. However, it’s also useful to follow up on the list of bloggers or PR folk that you especially wanted to meet and actively seek them out for a chat, or you’ll be kicking yourself afterwards.
  • As the event unfolds I am normally thinking about what articles I might write following the event, and ensure that I have everything I need, such as hand-outs, links to presentations, photos to help me write those articles.
  • It’s great to take photos at the event, of presenters and other bloggers, especially those that you might want to collaborate with in some way. You can use the photos to Tweet at the event, making sure you include the person’s Twitter name, post on Facebook while tagging those in the photo, or use to illustrate articles about the event. Everyone likes to see a photo of themselves having fun and by tagging all the photos appropriately, you will get your name in front of their followers too. (Tip – always get a business card from those you photograph, to ensure you get their name right)
  • Tweeting about the event live will also raise interest as long as you add value, perhaps picking out interesting quotes and messages from the speakers, mentioning funny things that happen, or voicing your opinion. If you try and mention other bloggers or speakers using their Twitter name and the event #tag, you will also maximise the number of people seeing your tweets.
  • Sponsors are also appreciative of any buzz that’s created around their support, so if there’s a special event that is put on by a sponsor, be sure to use their Twitter name or link to them in some way.
  • It’s great to swap business cards like crazy, so that you have all the names and contact details you need to follow up and check people out when you have more time after the event.
  • Although it’s a bit more effort, a blogging event is a great place to tap into other bloggers to create some great content, such as videos or podcasts. In the past at TBEX I’ve recorded video interviews with other bloggers and at Travel Bloggers Unite, I took the opportunity to record some podcasts that I’ll edit and post later.
  • If you get a chance, be sure to get out into your destination, soaking up some atmosphere, taking photos, picking up information about any places you visit, so you can write at least one good article about the destination (you are a travel blogger after all)
Eva Keogan, Darren Cronian, Heather Cowper and Karen Bryan at Travel Blog Camp

Eva, Darren, Heather and Karen at Travel Blog Camp

After the blogging event

  • It’s always good to thank the organiser after the event to show appreciation for all the hard work that goes on behind the scenes.
  • When I get home I will also try to drop and e-mail to anyone that I’d like to connect with going forward, or make sure I am following them on Twitter or liking their Facebook page, to reinforce the connection
  • Once again it’s good to mention the sponsors in any articles that you write, or through other social media where appropriate. The Sponsors have to justify the support they give to these kind of events and their measure of success is often the coverage through articles, links, Twitter and Facebook mentions. The price you pay for the event is subsidised by this support so it’s in everyone’s interest to give something back to the sponsors.
  • Once you write the articles or produce videos or podcasts, it’s about spreading them as widely as possible. This might be through letting the organiser know so that they can place a link on their site, tweeting using the event #tag or by linking back to other similar articles about the event. This helps to continue the buzz around the event which you will then be part of. ·
Laptops at the ready at Travel Bloggers Unite 11

Laptops at the ready at Travel Bloggers Unite 11

Ideas for content you could produce following the event;

  • Destination articles – covering some aspect of the place that you enjoyed during the event
  • Round up or personal perspective on the event
  • Interviews with other bloggers that you did at the event or connected with afterwards (this could be written, audio or video)
  • ‘How to’ articles, drawing on things that you learned at the event (always acknowledging and linking to the source of your ideas)
  • Videos that you have made during the event (obviously with permission and credit to those you have filmed)
  • A photo diary or slide show from the event (other bloggers love to see photos of themselves having fun)

Now, I’m looking at this long list and I have to admit that I’ve never managed to do all of the above, all of the time. But in between having some fun, I managed to do some of the above, some of the time, and that’s probably good enough!

Here’s what I wrote about the Travel Blog events I attended;

Blogging Tales from Travel Bloggers Unite in Manchester
Burning the Midnight Oil – My TBEX Copenhagen Diary
Travel Bloggers Meet up at the Travel Blog Camp 09

This article is originally published at My Blogging Journey. You’ll also find lots of great travel stories, videos and podcasts at our travel blog at Heather on her travels

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