TBEX 2012 review and my 1st Blogiversary! Hard work paying off

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 😉

TBEX 2012 review, Keystone village view

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.

TBEX 2012 review, Keystone gondola champagne

Champagne and a view: Couldn’t ask for a better ride to a welcome party! (Photo: Jennifer Huber)

TBEX 2012 review, welcome party food

Even more food (Photo: Dave Cynkin, Flickr)

TBEX 2012 review, Outpost Gondola

Cookies by the gondolas! (Photo by @earthXplorer, Twitter)

TBEX 2012 review, welcome party dinner

“Smoked Gouda Cheese with Crab Meat Fondu” (Jennifer Huber, Flickr)

TBEX 2012 review, welcome party dessert

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.

TBEX 2012 review, sessions quote

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.

TBEX 2012 review, Expedia Shindig

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.

TBEX 2012 review, networking

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.

Location: A+

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.

TBEX 2012 review, Keystone lake view

Gorgeous Keystone lake view

TBEX 2012 review, Keystone Colorado

Road to Keystone, Colorado

TBEX 2012 review, Keystone road

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!

TBEX 2012 review, meeting Legal Nomads

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!

TBEX 2012 review, meet ups

Me (bottom) surrounded by some big names! Guess who? 😉

TBEX 2012 review, Runaway Juno

Me (left) and @RunawayJuno (right) at the Expedia Shindig

Did you go? Write or post a link to your TBEX 2012 review below!

31 thoughts on “TBEX 2012 review and my 1st Blogiversary! Hard work paying off

  1. I’ve never been to a TBEX event before so its interesting to hear what goes down in one. I’d definitely go if they had one closer to Australia, although I think they’re mostly in the US/ Europe :s

    • yeah, unfortunately, most travel blogging conferences are held in North America and Europe. Although I believe some folks are trying to change that! Stay tuned and make sure you follow the #TTOT on Twitter for travel blogging community updates 😉

    • would be wonderful to meet you! And welcome to this crazy world of travel blogging. It takes a lot of dedication, hard work, but most importantly, you gotta LOVE it. If you don’t, it becomes a chore and it is not worth it anymore. Have fun! 😉

      • Thanks for the advice. I can see how it can be a lot of work, but luckily for me I am beyond passionate about doing this. I spend most of my time now reading and commenting on other people blogs so I can learn the ropes. Traveling is my life and my obsession! I want to be a successful travel blogger more than anything. Failure isn’t an option :). Thanks for the welcome.

  2. What a fantastic recap Maria.

    I hope next year will be my first TBEX, waiting to hear where it will be. It’s such a trek North for us Southern Hemisphere folks! Some advance planning is definitely required.

    As a new blogger, I appreciate your first year in review. Glad it was a good one! Hard work pays off, huh?

    • Thanks, Bethaney! I’m glad you think so. TBEX is definitely worth it, especially after BlogWorld acquired it. I’m sure I’ll make it to the North America or Europe one next year, hope to see you there!

      Hard work pays off, indeed. Although most of my success has been in my translation and nomadic career development, they would have not been possible without my blog. In fact, my blog has catapulted my nomadic translation and travel writing careers. 99.9% of my gigs were offered to me by employers who contacted me directly via LatinAbroad. Quite amazing! Keep pushing Bethaney


  3. It was nice meeting you at TBEX and Happy Birthday! I wish I could have stayed both days but had to squeeze two days into one. My one complaint about the weekend was having it on Father’s Day. They wouldn’t have had this conference on Mother’s Day so hope they find a better weekend next year.

    As for the sessions, I agree that I wish there was a lot more on writing. Content is king and we all need to become better writers. I didn’t get a chance to do the speed dating but I will say the conference overall was better organized than last year (and last year was my first TBEX).

    • Most of what I got out of TBEX was via networking, not much of the sessions. I do agree with you that having it on Father’s Day weekend was a bad idea. I hope they change that next year. Looking forward to many more improvements, even though it was pretty good this time around. Nice meeting you as well, Jeremy! Thanks

  4. Congratulations Maria! Your determination and enthusiasm is inspiring! I agree with most everything you have written here and will be sure to include a link here in my review! Congrats on the anniversary too! Glad we were roomies!

    • you are such a sweet girl, Heather. It was great meeting you and having you as a roomie at TBEX. Hope to see you again soon! TBEX 2013? 😉

  5. what a fantastic recap of TBEX. i have to agree with you on most of the feedback you have for the event! 🙂 also happy blogiversary!

    • Thanks! I looked at your blog and it looks great–I’m sure you’ll have good news for us before your first blogiversary! 😉

  6. Sounds like a lot of fun – but I gotta say, I don’t have a clue who any of the “big names” are, minus Jodi! Any hints? And yay, you met Juno! She’s one of my favourite travel bloggers out there 🙂

    • Yep! Juno is even prettier/nicer in person. That was the case with almost every blogger I met there.

      The Expeditioner writers (about 2 I believe?) and Ross (founder of Matador Network, far left) are in the group photo with me — such an honor! Met many other role models such as Michael Tieso/Erin de Santiago (Art Of Backpacking), Stephanie Yoder (Twenty-Something Travel), Dave & Deb (theplanetD), and many more. I can’t wait for everyone to post their pics, as my camera died a couple of times!

      You should def. come to the next TBEX 😀

  7. Happy anniversary! Glad you got to enjoy TBEX for the most part. Since Q & I didn’t get to attend, this recap was much enjoyed. Hopefully those maybe’s turn into some yes’s! Let us know how they go! We’re really curious.

    • Glad you enjoyed my TBEX 2012 review. I hope those maybes turn into yeses as well! Due to the nature of the partnerships, I’m not disclosing any details until we go “live.” You’ll know in the coming months though — and it *is* exciting stuff! 🙂 Thanks for your comment and encouragement

  8. So glad I convinced you to go! It was so nice to finally meet you. I’m really grateful for everything you’ve done on Art of Backpacking. See you again soon!

    • Oh Michael, if it weren’t for you, I don’t know where the Nomadic Translator LatinAbroad would be! All contracts, connections, etc. came to fruition thanks to TBEX, which was all your persuasion 😉

      It was great finally meeting you and the rest of the Art of Backpacking team. Happy to be working with y’all! Will be writing my next article this week btw 😉

  9. Happy Birthday to you and Latin Abroad!! Crazy that we have the same blog birthday, but also very cool.

    I’m interested in TBEX, but will probably give TBU (travel bloggers Unite) as go first, purely because their europe based and much easier for me to attend. I’m not very business orientated so I wonder if the networking etc will all be a bit much for me, but that said it sounds like you had loads of fun.

    Thanks for the write up!

    • My actual birthday is June 25th 😉 but it is really cool we share the same blogiversary 😀

      I don’t know much about TBU besides the fact that it is another travel bloggers conference. It is also in Europe–too far, so I’m unable to go over a weekend (I don’t get much vaca time in my current job). Yet, if the opportunity were to present itself, I’m sure I would give it a try.

      As for the “business” aspect, most people were very laid back and did business only during the designated times & sessions. I must admit, I took my first TBEX a little too seriously 😉 really wanted to kick-start my nomadic translation career, so I was more forward/business-minded than most. I did learn my lesson though and will relax and have more fun next time! So Neil, it is all up to you — if you go, I’m sure you’ll enjoy it and have a blast

  10. Happy birthday, LatinAbroad! And it sounds like a very interesting event. I’m not yet entirely convinced TBEX is worth the trip from a networking or educational point of view – but it does sound like a lot of fun!

    • Thank you! 🙂

      TBEX is really worth the trip, *especially* for the networking! It is much easier to forge partnerships once people meet you in person and trust you. If you are serious about your blog and partnering with influential brands in the industry, I highly recommend you go to the next TBEX. I was a first timer, but according to veterans, it improves each year. Seems like they listen to attendees’ feedback, so I am sure going back in 2013.

  11. This is a great recap Maria; thanks for allowing me to see TBEX through your eyes. Sorry we did not meet up at all; but with so many other bloggers, PR, etc. people there its understandable.

    • Indeed with over 700 travel bloggers and even more PR professionals, it was impossible to even meet half of the people we wanted. Hopefully there’s a tweet-up we can both attend soon! I’m unable to make it to TBEX Europe, but I’m def. going to TBEX North America in 2013!

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