14 Tips to Crush Your First TBEX Travel Conference

TBEX Travel Conference

Planning on attending your first TBEX conference? Maybe you’ve already been, but are looking for tips on how to get more out of your next event? Well, we got you covered! Our first TBEX travel blogger conference was Phuket Thailand in 2022. Since then, we’ve been completely hooked. Here’s all our tips from how to work with companies at the conferences to actually implementing what you learned from the workshops. After reading this we’re sure you’ll see the power of networking at TBEX! 

How We Picked TBEX Travel Conference 

When we first started looking into different blogger conferences we picked TBEX (Travel Blog Exchange) because of how everyone in the industry raved about it. We had grown our blog quite well, but honestly just kept in our own little bubble up until this point. We would travel, write blogs, and work on our own schedule. 

At the time of our first travel blogger conference we had worked with many hotels, tourism boards, and companies already. Still, that wasn’t necessarily ever our main focus. We stuck to growing our website, adding content, and increasing page views. 

TBEX is an amazing conference to check out. We especially recommend it if you’re new to the travel blogging world. Also, you should know it’s not just for bloggers, but travel creators of all kinds.

It extends to the social media world with everything from Youtuber’s to Instagram pros in attendance. While the helpful talks and brands are worth it in itself, the networking is really a priceless benefit of TBEX.

We’ll give you plenty of examples of this and even tell you how one random conversation eventually landed us on a $10,000 Luxury River Cruise! Below are our top tips and how to absolutely crush your first TBEX. 

Travel Blog Exchange

14 Tips For TBEX Travel Blogger Conference

1. Grab Your TBEX Tickets Early!

The first thing to know is that you do have to pay to attend TBEX. However, the ticket prices can vary depending on when you actually buy them.

The cheapest possible option is usually right when a new destination is announced. If you are able to get an early bird rate then this is the most inexpensive tickets will be. Obviously, not everyone can commit to their travel many months or a year in advance.

We highly recommend signing up for the TBEX newsletter. That way if you miss the early bird tickets you can get notified of an upcoming sale! In the last email there was a 20% discount offer for any upcoming TBEX travel conference. They even had 40% off for Black Friday.

So let’s talk a little more about money quickly. The best way to think about TBEX is that it’s an investment in your business. Yes, the flights, hotels, transportation, and conference tickets can add up fast.

This is especially true for us being two people. This is why it’s so important to really think about what you want to get out of the conference. 

Did you just start blogging and want to learn how to grow your website? Then TBEX is a great place to start! We’ve met plenty of people there that have a decent sized blog but are having trouble monetizing it. 

There’s also those veterans in the blogging game that use the travel blogger conference to meet with tourism boards, companies, and brands. Know that everyone is at a different stage with their own business, and TBEX is set up well for that. 

TBEX Travel Conference Ticket

2. Plan Your Accommodation  

There is sometimes an official conference hotel for TBEX. This is the best place to book if you can afford it as you can simply walk out of your room to the different events. However, we understand that this option isn’t for everyone! 

Fortunately, TBEX will put out a list of conference hotels that are nearby. This is super helpful as they are usually a wide range of prices. Depending on where the conference is held, they often provide transportation between the different hotels. 

Booking Our TBEX Hotel

As we mentioned, our very first TBEX was in Phuket Thailand. After spending a lot of time in Southeast Asia we were super relaxed about accommodations. So much so, that we didn’t book a hotel until a week beforehand.

In our defense, we had been in Asia for almost 10 months out of that year and were on a much more go-with-the-flow lifestyle. We had actually been on the road for almost three years straight at this time!

Due to this, we weren’t planning as much in advance. All the recommended conference hotels were either sold out or way too expensive. We ended up booking a hotel which was just a quick scooter ride away.

For the conference, we jumped on our motorbike and traveled back and forth. It wasn’t far so it worked out fine, but this may not be ideal for everyone.

One night when we got back from an evening event it was absolutely pouring. This certainly wasn’t the best time to have to drive back to our hotel on the scooter!

Phuket Thailand TBEX Asia

TBEX Europe Conference Hotel 

For our next TBEX in Kalamata Greece we booked the actual conference hotel far in advance. We compared the prices between the TBEX rates to different websites and found it to be the cheapest on Booking.com

The main draw of staying at the conference hotel is clear. On the days where it was a packed schedule with speakers, speed networking sessions, etc… We could quickly go back to the room.

It was also great after returning from the nightly events to be able to go to bed right away. In the morning, it was super relaxing as well before the craziness of the TBEX conference started up.

This is was important to us for a few reasons. Apart from the ease of getting around, Greece is the country we have the most content on in Europe! We knew it would be better for us to be at the conference hotel to stay fresh and have time in our room to regroup after the different sessions.

If you’re not staying at the official conference hotel we recommend picking somewhere within walking distance. We met a fellow blogger who was staying far away and regretted having to taxi to and from every event.

TBEX Europe

3. Apply For FAM Trips

This is one of those situations in life where there is literally no harm in applying. It doesn’t matter what size of a blog or creator you are, it’s a must to fill out the application for a FAM trip.

TBEX works with the host destination to set up these incredible “Familiarization Trips” directly following the conference. The press trips are organized by the different towns and regions of the country which are present at TBEX. They are typically two nights and all your travel and accommodations are included.

So what if you’ve never been on a FAM Trip? Then honestly this is the perfect opportunity! Many creators have spent time growing their platform, whether it’s a travel blog, YouTube, or something else. Yet, maybe you haven’t worked with a tourism board or had any luck pitching companies or hotels yet.

Know that this might be because you don’t have solid examples to share. If you are invited on a FAM trip then you can 100% use this experience to make the best possible content. That way you can share it to highlight the host destination, and also use it to pitch companies and brands in the future.

TBEX Fam Trip

Our Thailand TBEX FAM

In Thailand we joined the Bangkok FAM Trip. They flew us from Phuket on Nok Air and put us up in a nice hotel with a great view over the city. From there we ate Michelin Star street food, went to the Jim Thompson House Museum, had a private tour of the Grand Palace, visited the reclining Buddha, and had an incredible luxury massage. 

We ended our FAM sailing on a river cruise as a wild firework display lit up the sky above us. The activities were non-stop fun, but just a small taste of some of the best things to do in Bangkok

There’s no way we could’ve have seen or done as much in the capital city in such a short amount of time on our own. As you can see from our links above, we also created some awesome blogs from the trip, too!

Our next TBEX FAM Trip took us to the Peloponnese region of Greece. Over two nights, we stayed in the magical UNESCO village of Monemvasia and the charming town of Gytheio. We ate endless seafood, visited a local winery, hiked through the Taygetus mountains, and swam in the sparkling Mediterranean Sea. 

TBEX Fam Trip Tips

4. Join the TBEX Facebook Group 

As soon as you get your ticket make sure to join the Facebook group for your conference. This where they post important information including schedule updates, events, and much more.

It’s also a fun way to connect with other bloggers who will be attending the event, or stay in touch with those you meet. Our TBEX Fam Trip had a Facebook messenger group so we could stay up to date on each others travels.

After the TBEX travel conference it is so much fun to see others post their blogs and videos from the trip. They even add your articles to the TBEX roundup page so you can get a backlink from it!

TBEX Tickets

5. Keep an Eye on More Opportunities

This tip is also connected to the Facebook group we mentioned above. It’s a place where you can look for new opportunities before or after the travel blogger conference. While these press trips aren’t always available, you won’t want to miss out when they pop up!

A few months before TBEX Greece we were living in Da Nang Vietnam for the winter. One day Jake walked in the room and asked why we didn’t apply for the pre-BEX cruise. A few weeks earlier we sent in our applications for FAM trips after the conference and I knew for certain there wasn’t a cruise being offered.

Quickly, we realized this was a brand new FAM Trip. We excitedly opened our laptops and applied right away.

A few weeks later we received an email that we had been invited on a Celestyal Cruise with just a handful of other travel writers and creators. This was in addition to our FAM Trip we were planning to go on after the TBEX travel conference.

Before we knew it, our TBEX conference had now turned into a four day cruise, a pre-conference day trip, the actual conference, AND a two day post-FAM Trip! During speed networking, we were also invited to Meteora Greece for three nights which we will share more about soon.

The point we are trying to make is that if you’re already traveling and paying for the conference you shouldn’t be afraid to put yourself out there. The best way to make the most out of your investment is to apply for partnerships, make amazing content, and enjoy it!

Tbex Conference Tips

6. Sign Up for a Pre-BEX Tour

Whether you are accepted to one of the FAM trips or not, everyone attending is invited to join a pre-BEX day tour. This is a good reason to arrive to the destination early before the travel blogger conference starts. The tours take place for two days before the actual conference begins. 

Before the Phuket conference we went on a scenic catamaran tour. The next morning we were off on ATV adventure through the jungle. In Greece, we spent the morning exploring in the small town of Koroni and had a delicious meal at a local taverna. 

Not only are these tours super exciting, but they are a great way to meet fellow bloggers and creators. This is especially key if it’s your first conference! On our Phuket catamaran tour we met Tess who runs Tessomewhere.com and Nikki from She Saves She Travels.

Nikki actually saved my life with sea sickness medicine that day, and we ended up meeting with Tess after the Greece conference on the island of Kefalonia. These tours are such a great way to connect with others in a smaller group setting. 

We want to reiterate that these events are for everyone! You can use your day of exploring to make great content and as another example when pitching for future projects. 

Tbex Pre BEX Tour

7. Take Part in Speed Networking 

Have you ever done speed networking?! This is one of the biggest draws to TBEX and something that we always look forward to. Tourism boards, travel brands, and hotels have tables set up where you can pre-schedule meetings to pitch yourself.

This is really just the first step in the process of forming a partnership, but the quick face to face meetings are a great start. We’ve had a lot of success when it comes to speed networking at TBEX.

These 10 minute sessions have resulted in both sponsored and paid partnerships! Directly following TBEX Thailand, we spent the next month traveling the country working with companies and hotels we met through speed networking.

We stayed in a luxury overwater bungalow in Khao Sok, tested out the TAGTHAi App in Bangkok, and had our own tropical pool villa in Krabi with a floating breakfast! We even were invited to stay at one of the top luxury hotels in the country on Koh Lanta.

Following our speed networking in Phuket, we worked with over ten companies. We actually had to turn down other opportunities because we ran out of visa days in Thailand.

Our time in Greece was slightly different as we didn’t have as much time following this TBEX conference. Still, we were able to fit in a three night trip to Meteora Greece to see the famous monasteries. We made sure to stay in touch with the contacts and DMO’s we met which we will work with next year when we return to Greece.

TBEX Speed Networking 

How to Crush TBEX Speed Networking 

The first step to speed networking is to learn how to use BloggerBridge. We’ve heard a few travel content creators complain about how it’s not user-friendly. Yet, that’s probably just because they didn’t take the time to understand how to use it.

We recommend watching the video that Chris Christensen from the Amateur Traveler made. Here you can see the step by step process for using BloggerBridge which was extremely helpful.

As soon as open the program you’ll want to go in and make a profile. You can attach your social media profiles and website which will show your statistics to the brands from TBEX.

This is where you can sell yourself, what you do, and anything else you’d want people to know. Also, you’ll be able to see which companies are taking part in speed networking beforehand.

If it’s your first time attending we recommend scanning through other profiles to get an idea of what to write. Below is a screen shot from our first conference. We’ve made some changes since then, but hopefully it gives you an idea of where to start. 

TBEX Blogger Bridge

8. Be Prepared For Your TBEX Meetings 

After you get your profile set up and connect you can start to request meetings. You should only meet with companies that you are genuinely interested in and feel like you could work with.

If that’s everyone, then awesome!! On the other hand, if there are some brands that just don’t make sense then don’t bother applying.

There’s no reason to waste someone’s time or your own. The TBEX travel conference sometimes feels crazy blur of information and getting the most out of it is essential. Be sure to check BloggerBridge regularly as more companies will be added leading up to the event.

Don’t worry if you don’t hear back right away, or even at all if you’re not accepted. From our experience, a select few tables didn’t use BloggerBridge and you were able to walk up to without an appointment.

Slowly you will start to get meetings and your schedule might look like this below:

Speed Networking at TBEX

Perfecting Your Pitch

Since you have such little time for speed networking it’s important to be prepared for each meeting. You’ll want to work on your “pitch” which may be different depending on who you’re speaking with. 

We use the word “pitch” lightly as speed networking can be uncomfortable if you’ve never done it before. You basically have to sit down, quickly sell yourself, and explain why you would be a great fit for their brand. 

To be completely honest, we absolutely bombed our first meeting! We were immediately flustered as we could tell they weren’t interested in working with with us at all. 

Something that really helped was one of the speaker sessions by Andrew Dobson from dobbernationLOVES. His pitch was very compelling and had us rethinking our strategy going forward.

He showed us how to explain what makes you special while still not sounding too salesy. Remember that this is your time to shine! It’s okay to humbly brag and pump yourself up. You’ll want to list your stats and reach, give examples of similar brands you’ve worked with, and what sets you apart from everyone else. 

TBEX Follow Up

The last thing you need to do after speed networking is follow up for potential partnerships. Even if you don’t have time to work with someone immediately, the follow up is important for doing anything in the future. We had business cards ready which we handed to them as soon as we sat down.

If you give someone your business card at a TBEX conference you can almost always count on getting their information back. Now you have their name, email, and title all in one place. Having a direct line of contact is the easiest way to work together going forward!

Travel Conference Thailand

9. Attend the TBEX First Timers Meeting

If this is your first year at TBEX then you should definitely go to the first-timers session. On the opening day of the conference there is always a meeting about attending your first event.

They share all about how the conference days work, what to expect, and how to have a great experience. This is perfect to give you and idea of what you’re in for over the next couple days.

For us, it was encouraging seeing how many new people were there as well. It’s pretty amazing the level of talent that is assembled under one roof!

10. Go to Helpful Speaker Sessions 

Sounds easy enough right? While it’s easy to see the benefits of TBEX, we’ve learned that not all the sessions were for us.

It can feel overwhelming as there are several speakers going at once and you can’t go to all of them. We are very lucky that we run the blog with two people so we can go to multiple talks at the same time.

Try and pick your schedule and speakers based on what will be most beneficial to your business in the next two to three months. Are you trying to improve your SEO? How about website monetization? Then maybe a start with sessions that cater to that. 

We recommend not only looking into the different talks, but also who the speakers are. TBEX brings in industry leaders from around the world that are open to sharing what has made them successful. 

One of the best sessions we attended was by Christopher Lau from See Lau Travel. He stressed the importance of knowing your value and exactly how to turn that into paid collaborations. It was awesome to learn from a professional who runs his own sales mentor program.

This is information we used after the conference that has helped us land huge projects. There’s so much valuable knowledge about the travel world to obtain from TBEX! 

After all, if you’re paying to go then you should absolutely try to get the most out of it to help grow your business. Also, don’t worry if you miss out on a couple sessions. All of the talks are recorded on video and emailed to everyone after the conference.

Tbex Speaker Session 

11. Attend All the TBEX Events

In addition to the speakers and speed networking, there is an opening and closing party. Lunches are provided on the conference days and made with specialties from the host destinations region. All of these events are a great opportunity to chat with others and introduce yourself.

The days of the conference are long, but they are super fun and exciting! If possible, you should attend the majority of these events. The closing party is the final exclamation point to TBEX and not to be missed.

Our closing party in Kalamata Greece was at a spectacular bar up on the mountainside with sea views. It was three hours of open bar with local wine, specialty cocktails, and tasty food. We danced the night away and it was something we will always remember.

TBEX Travel Conference Party

12. Network, Network, Network!

The initial reason we chose to go to TBEX was to grow our business and work with different companies. However, we couldn’t believe how many fellow travel bloggers and content creators we would connect with.

From our very first post-TBEX Fam Trip we realized we were learning just as much from the speakers as we did from one on one conversations with other attendees. It was big for us to understand the ways people are using affiliate marketing and hearing about alternative programs we haven’t used yet. 

One of the best things about TBEX travel conference is meeting others in the industry who have the same work ethic and passion for travel. Make sure to chat with everyone you can! You never know what you will find out even if they aren’t in the same niche as you.

TBEX Travel Conference

TBEX Networking Example

For instance, we were having dinner in Greece on the second night of our FAM Trip. Over some fresh calamari and wine one of the people in our group asked if we subscribed to the “This Week in Blogging” email newsletter. We had never heard about it before and signed up right there at the table.

The next day we got our first email. It was packed with information and there was a section toward the bottom called “opportunities.” It was then that we saw a PR email for a new cruise company who were looking for content creators. We sent off a pitch a few days after and didn’t expect much from it.

Fast forward to a few weeks later. We’re sailing down the Danube River on a Five Star Luxury Cruise, taking in the stunning Austrian countryside, and wondering how we got there! This is one of our favorite partnerships to date and it was all thanks to connecting with others at TBEX.

The point we are trying to make is that networking isn’t just pitching yourself to companies. It’s learning about different tools, ideas, and resources across the travel industry. You never know who you are going to meet or what information you’ll learn… Whether it’s your first travel blog conference or tenth!

Tbex Travel Conference Networking

13. Hold Yourself Accountable Post-TBEX 

After each TBEX we go to we feel both excited and inspired. It’s like receiving a burst of contagious energy from others who share the same interests.

Realistically though, once you leave TBEX you will have a crazy amount of notes, new info, and things that you suddenly need to change or update.

We recommend making a to-do list and giving yourself enough time to follow through with everything. Your action plan after TBEX might look something like this:

  • Follow Up with Speed Networking (Future Projects)
  • Post Articles and Social Content Related to Your FAM Trips
  • Change Email Hosting Plan 
  • Automatic Welcome Email for New Subscribers
  • Perfect an Email Marketing Campaign 
  • Update Your “Work with Us” Page 
  • Create Specific Case Studies 
  • Sign Up For New Affiliate Programs

TBEX is great for those just starting out as you’re getting a massive amount of expertise from industry professionals. If you already have a more established travel blog, then it will still be a great way to help you grow your brand and business.

TBEX conference tips

Breakout Session Example

In one particular breakout session we were sitting there thinking, shoot! It was all about automating your welcome email (we’ve been meaning to change that) and how important it was.

He said to be an award winner then you simply need to apply for awards (that’s been on our list, too). This seemed simple enough to us. The talk also went over the power of case studies (we had been meaning to update them) and many other things. 

Running a profitable website is literally a business, not a hobby. Sometimes it can be easy to fall into a routine with blogging. Yet, TBEX will help you to tackle that long to-do list that you might have been putting off. 

Yes, we changed our email hosting to MailerLite and automated a sweet welcome email. We also submitted a photo to our first contest and can say Brigitte is officially a FIRST PLACE AWARD WINNING TRAVEL PHOTOGRAPHER! We updated our case studies and now include them in every pitch for partnerships.

It’s hard not to feel motivated while you’re hanging out with hundreds of people who love to do exactly what you do… Especially when you consider the years of our friends and family being confused about what we do for work! 

Nothing Familiar Travel Blog

14. Don’t Limit Your TBEX Travel Destinations

Our last tip for TBEX travel conferences is something that we actually need to work on. We’ve now been to European conferences and one in Asia because it’s the most convenient for us. We typically spend our summers in Europe and winters in Southeast Asia.

Just know that TBEX holds events all over the world that you can attend! We haven’t been TBEX North America yet and are pretty disappointed about that.

While we don’t spend much time in the United States anymore, the content we do have there is crucial for our website. We should also mention that our success with TBEX has led us to larger travel blogger conferences such as ITB Berlin and WTM London. 

TBEX Conference First Time Tips

Okay, that should about cover it. If you have any questions about TBEX conferences feel free to leave us a comment below. Hopefully, we’ll see you at one in the near future!

Safe Travels,
Brigitte & Jake

PIN FOR LATER 

TBEX

How to Plan Your Next Trip

 Flights: We always find our cheap flight deals using Skyscanner. That’s how we flew from Norway to Poland for under $20 USD, and Thailand to Vietnam for less than $50! 

 Accommodation: Compare multiple sites to get to the best deal such as Booking.com, Agoda, & Vrbo.

Rental Car: We use Discover Cars to explore when traveling. A quick travel tip is to ask for a weekly rate than just booking 2-3 days.

 Tours: Check out Get Your Guide to find thousands of activities around the world. From street food tours to skip the line entry passes! 

 Travel Insurance: Never travel abroad without protection. We’ve been using SafetyWing for the last few years on the road and they are there when we need them.

 Packing Lists: Find all the inspiration you need with our Amazon packing lists. Including our electronics and camera gear, must-have medical items, and long flight essentials.

Nothing Familiar Travel Planning

*We receive a commission for purchases made through links in this post. This allows us to continue our travels and keep providing great content to our readers! Also, as an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.
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2 Comments

  1. Jenn
    November 23, 2023 / 1:28 pm

    Thank you for the great insider tips on TBEX! I’m hoping to attend the next conference and have bookmarked your post to refer to so I’m totally prepared!

    • Brigitte & Jake
      Author
      November 23, 2023 / 1:42 pm

      Awesome! Let us know if you make it there

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