Before I start my TBEX 2012 review, I want to say HAPPY BIRTHDAY LatinAbroad! It was June 18, 2011 when Jodi from Legal Nomads helped me come up with the name, I bought this domain, and published my first post.
If you only wish to read my TBEX 2012 review, please scroll down the page until you see the appropriate heading
While my first write ups are not stellar, I’ve always kept my voice, written from the heart, and shared my love for travel and how it transformed my life. After attending TBEX 2012 though, I’m fully loaded: this second year travel blogging will be better than ever! I’ll focus much more on defining my brand, quality, travel advice articles, and more inspirational/personal posts.
My goals are set: branding, further engage my audience, win the hearts of new visitors, and inspire all of you to overcome your fears and follow your dreams through my travels and personal experiences. Furthermore, I’ll work even harder on my dream of becoming a full-time digital nomad! And after the great connections (and even contracts!) made in Keystone, I can already see the light at the end of the tunnel. Here’s to the next seven decades! 😉
2011-2012 at a glance
Most clicks: Puerto Rico: Beach Thursday photo essay
Most commented: Travel Bucket List Wednesdays are now #TravelBL!
Most personal: Travel and a broken heart: How they changed my life forever
Most popular photo essay: Traveling through Spanish food (after PR essay)
Most popular travel series: Cultural Tidbits Monday (superstitions and food)
Best travel advice: How to dress in Egypt or any conservative country (photos)
And that’s a wrap! Did your favorite blog post make the cut? Whether your answer is a yes or a no, please tell me on a comment below! I would love to hear what you enjoy, beyond what Google Analytics tells me 😉
At TBEX: A local brew and me with Keystone on the background
TBEX 2012 review: What was done, what could have been done
With my first blogiversary came my first TBEX (June 15th – 17th). After much preparation, I arrived to Keystone, CO last Friday with great expectations and willingness to learn. Overall, I was very satisfied: I enjoyed most events and the schedule of the conference. However, certain sessions left much to be desired! Thus, I give the whole weekend a B+/A-. I hope this TBEX 2012 review helps speakers and organizers alike make the 2013 gathering even better.
Welcome Party: A
We were welcomed with a party at 11,444 feet: “Taste of Vail Resorts.” Unfortunately, my flight and shuttle came in all too late, and just 10 minutes upon arrival I had to head down. I didn’t miss the champagne and cookies though–nice touch! Oh yeah, it was given to us when switching cable cars on our way to the summit.
Champagne and a view: Couldn’t ask for a better ride to a welcome party! (Photo: Jennifer Huber)
Even more food (Photo: Dave Cynkin, Flickr)
Cookies by the gondolas! (Photo by @earthXplorer, Twitter)
“Smoked Gouda Cheese with Crab Meat Fondu” (Jennifer Huber, Flickr)
Yep, those are PASTRIES! (Photo by @KLadyga, Twitter)
After interviewing some attendees and seeing all their photos, I can confidently give this event an A. Chefs were imaginative, the selection of food was plentiful, and everyone left with happy tummies.
Registration: A / Sessions & keynotes: B
Registration was speedy and gets an A — no need for a different section, as it is a straight-forward process. The goodie bag was awesome and we even got a free Scottevest, which I’ll be reviewing on a different post.
The sessions, however, fell somewhat short. While the Opening Keynote and The Branding of You were excellent, the ones about How to build a business with your blog and SEOmoz’s SEO without Selling your Soul were pretty elementary. In fact, I learned more about blogging from the Q & A section and I was already familiar with all the SEO techniques presented by Rand.
One of my favorite quotes during the particularly-inspirational Open Keynote
I understand that the speakers wanted to cater to newbies, but that’s what other sessions were for. I felt like there was some repetition and lack of substance. For instance, I thought the SEO for Beginners session was going to be the “inspirational” one, getting you pumped about the subject while covering the basics. But heck, the SEO Without Selling Your Soul session didn’t even talk about meta keywords or SEO plugins available! And even that is 101 material.
Maybe my expectations were too high: I wanted to learn more about SEO, beyond the plugins, focus keywords, and meta descriptions. Maybe I’m more “advanced” in SEO than I thought, eh?
Expedia Shindig: B
The Expedia Shindighad a lot of potential — but fell short in the end. I didn’t even know they were going to run giveaways! And lots of people that were drinking and missed the competitions on stage altogether will probably agree now.
Me at the Expedia Shindig
While surprises are nice, Expedia should have done a better job at announcing some of the contests and giveaways beforehand. A 4-day stay at the St. Regis in Vieques, Puerto Rico for Best Dressed? I’m sure more people would have dressed appropriately! In fact, I went forward for that contest and only heard the announcer’s call 2 minutes beforehand.
Also, I heard the host try to giveaway other prizes throughout the night. Yet, because I didn’t know much about them, I preferred to mingle with travel bloggers by the beer tent in the back instead.
That being said: The Stables = a great venue for the themed Shindig, service was nice, food was good (oh dear, the brisket!) and drinks were plentiful (both beers and cocktails). All comped. #ExpediaTBEX. I like.
Networking opportunities: B
The TBEX Presdo Match was a godsend. Unfortunately, some bloggers and PR reps got on the wagon a little too late. Those that updated their profile and began using the tool right when it launched, however, truly reaped the benefits.
As I said on my TBEX first timer pre-conference post, I scheduled 90% of my connections via the Presdo Match tool. It was easy to use, most users with full profiles were very responsive, and I knew what to expect and what to discuss during my appointments once at Keystone.
Black curly hair, golden streaks? That’s me in action! (Photo: @revealedrome, Twitter)
The only reason why I’m giving networking a B is because the Speed Dating event was disorganized. We were told that we would receive emails about where we were going to meet for our appointments. Instead, we only knew this event would take place on the Expo floor, a huge space flooded with people. Once there, there was only one person directing every blogger to where each rep was. I had to stay in line and wait until this one nice lady found all my reps on the big list. I was late to my first appointment because I had to wait in line for this. No bueno.
Still, the Presdo Match and networking events (once the reps could finally be located) were excellent. Thus, I can’t give them a B-. I was too happy with the connections and willingness of the PR reps to truly work with bloggers.
Beautiful. Unbelievably beautiful. Honestly, I was skeptical at first: Why such a “remote” location, instead of having a big travel conference such as TBEX in a big city? Once there, I got it. Keystone was the perfect setting: Quiet, yet stunning surroundings that allowed me to relax and fully recharge in-between sessions.
Gorgeous Keystone lake view
Road to Keystone, Colorado
Road from Keystone-Denver
Moreover, if you felt adventurous, there were so many outdoor activities to partake in. I was sad I had to leave so early–I was too busy during the conference and couldn’t squeeze in any special sightseeing. Still, the wonderful views of Keystone are stuck in my mind and I’m sure coming back for more! Stay tuned as tomorrow’s Travel Tuesday post will be all about Keystone, Colorado! 😉
The true highlight…?
Yes, I did get two translation contracts, lots of “maybes,” and made incredible professional contacts. I even cried during an interview with John from Travelllll, where I talked about my experiences at TBEX and how happy I was about all my hard work finally starting to pay off. However, the fact that I exceeded my own goals and expectations at TBEX 2012 was not necessarily my favorite aspect of the event. In fact, meeting my role models and connecting with some of my favorite travel blogging tweeps IRL was the true highlight of this weekend getaway.
After each official event, we would usually head to the Kickapoo Tavern to mingle. I was surprised at how outgoing almost everyone seemed to be and what a blast we had every single night. Also, as far as I know, no drama ensued either. I can’t wait to show you more photos on my next post!
Me (right) meeting my role model and first travel blogger I followed, since 2008: Jodi from Legal Nomads! I actually shed a tear when we hugged…felt so silly!
Me (bottom) surrounded by some big names! Guess who? 😉
Me (left) and @RunawayJuno (right) at the Expedia Shindig
Did you go? Write or post a link to your TBEX 2012 review below!