TBEX is a US conference dedicated to Travel Bloggers’ education and networking. The 2014 European edition held in Athens was our first experience and we can say with no doubt that the investment is worth the heap of information and connections with which we came home.
The level of the speakers, the quality of the topics and the perfect organization made the event impeccable.
Below, some important information we want to share.
THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN TRAVEL BLOGGERS AND DMOs (Destination Marketing Organizations)
(Jaume Marin’s speech, Costa Brava rep.)
If we want the meeting between these two players of the tourism world to be fruitful, it’s important that both parties know what they want and have clear in mind the mutual goals to reach.
The potential of this relationship is very high, because the destinations are in desperate need of new contents and creative ideas: bloggers are the best people to provide them.
If today the websites collecting reviews written by ordinary people have more authority than the tourism professionals, it means that something went wrong in the past and bloggers should not make the same mistakes that agencies and tour operators did.
Authoritativeness and credibility are key elements for bloggers, together with the quality of the work they do and the type of audience they have.
Insight: "5 signs you are working with the wrong travel bloggers"
(Green Global Travel’s speech)
Like any other type of professional activity, a blog must have first of all a defined and recognizable identity, able to attract readers, fans and suitable partners. Branding is a healthy ecosystem of elements that contribute to a long term blog’s success.
In 2015, there will be more companies that will work with bloggers than before and the elements that will lead to the choice of the bloggers to cooperate with are tangible parameters (number of readers, community engagement, audience reach etc.) and intangible.
Among the latter, the most important are content quality, professionalism and brand alignment.
Generally speaking, companies prefer by far to work with a blogger that has a well defined brand that matches with their target than a popular one who’s not aligned.
The attention to the above mentioned ecosystem must refer to all elements through which the blog is interfaced with the world:
• Name, logo and graphic (that have to combine creativity and practical evaluations)
• Type of content
• Ethical code
Insight: "Build a better blogging brand"
The content posted on the blog and on social media must be original, useful, emotional and entertaining. The quality of texts and photographs is of the utmost importance: you are as good as the ugliest pictures you have posted.
Simplicity and irony facilitate the pleasantness of the relationship with readers, but “wow contents” undoubtedly increase sharing and viralization attitude
Listening to your audience helps you to better understand what works in the editorial segment you work in, facilitating the identification of suitable topics. Having an active and interactive audience which responds to solicitations is not an easy goal to achieve.
Obviously a great content is useless if nobody reads it and the importance of SEO and a good social media strategy are key factors to determining a blog’s success.
MONITORING AND ANALYSIS
Keeping the results of your activities monitored is crucial to understand on what to focus your efforts and, on the other hand, what to stop doing. Be informed about the tools available and know how to use them to their full potential is extremely important, analytics included.
Identify the topics most appreciated by your readers, the media on which you get more feedback and the more fruitful communication tone are essential steps for the resources optimization.
PR BETWEEN BLOGGER AND AGENCIES
(Carol Cain’s speech)
Like any business relationship, the one between bloggers and agencies has its own rules, which are sometimes made simply by the general good sense, sometimes the result of this specific sector.
The relationships that bloggers are able to establish have as much value as their audience, since in the majority of cases the most important business opportunities come through word of mouth.
It is therefore essential not only that bloggers collect reference letters testifying the good job done on certain occasions, but that treat with care and professionalism the relationships with agencies, companies, destinations and other bloggers.
When a blogger make a pitch to a potential partner, it has to be personalized, substantiated and well-structured, so as to produce an immediate positive effect on the recipient. His concern should be first of all to make a professional and attractive pitch, facing only in the final part of the proposal any budget related inquiry. Even if the proposal is not accepted, however the interaction will have produced a favorable impression, useful to consolidate the blogger’s reputation and facilitate future opportunities.
A company that decides to organize a press trip is already heavily investing in bloggers and it’s not appropriate to ask for a fee.
On the other side, the agencies will evaluate several elements to select bloggers to work with: numbers, reputation, engagement, content quality.
The press trip is a very important moment of mutual evaluation: attitudes, interaction with others, professionalism represent a first level of acquaintance that can lay the foundation for fruitful and long lasting collaborations.
For the rest of the time, we have attended workshops dedicated to travel video, social media analytics, freelance time optimization, the importance of image management and so on.
A moment of useful training that also gave us important insights into the Anglo-Saxon world.