Are travel blogger conferences worth the investment? That's the question I posed to the Travel is Life Tribe, our private community of professional travel bloggers. After all, these conferences can monopolize significant resources, like the cost of the event itself which can range from several hundred to several thousand dollars, airfare to and from, accomodation, food and drinks, plus any marketing you plan on bringing with you like business cards, media kits, and merch. Not to mention the opportunity cost of putting these resources into attending a conference as opposed to other areas of your business.
I've never been to a travel blogger conference before, and chances are you haven't either if you're reading this. So for our sakes, I wanted to ask the pros whether or not they felt like it was worth the investment.
View my complete list of 100+ Travel Blogger Conferences in 2020.
Here are the exact questions I asked travel bloggers, and below that are their responses. If you're on the fence about attending a travel blogger conference this year, hopefully these anecdotes can provide some insight about what to expect and help you decide whether it's worth the investment for you.
Are travel blogger conferences worth the cost, time, and energy to attend for bloggers who don't make a full time living from their travel blogs? Why or why not?
If yes, what have been some values/benefits that you've personally experienced by attending (ie: financial, personal, relationships, motivation, etc)?
If no, what did you feel would've been a better use of your resources in hindsight? Or alternatively what were you hoping for at the conference that didn't deliver?
💬 I received answers from nine travel bloggers:
“It showed me that my dream of blogging full-time was actually possible.”
Maria Haase | MariaAbroad.com
TBEX Manilla in 2016 was my first travel conference. I decided to go to the Philippines, because it was actually cheaper than going to the US conference, due to flight and hotel costs. Yes, it was cheaper to fly to the Philippines and stay in Manilla for 5 days (duration of the conference, but I extended for 3 weeks) than flying domestically to the North America TBEX and staying at a hotel there.
I had been blogging for a while, but was not earning anywhere near a full-time income. At TBEX,I went to the sessions and learned a lot. I also met some incredible full-time bloggers who were sharing extremely helpful tips and tricks with me. Even more importantly, it showed me that my dream of blogging full-time was actually possible (and not some get-rich-quick-scheme online).
When I came back, I hit the ground running and connected with all the people I met at TBEX and implemented their tips and tricks. A few weeks later, I came across an offer to buy an established travel blog and jumped on it. While the blog made less than $500/month when I bought it, I was able to apply a lot of the techniques I had learned at TBEX and push it to a very comfortable full-time income within 6 months. Yes, I put in all the work, but TBEX gave me the motivation, tools and confidence to take my blogging career to the next level.
Since then, I have spoken at 2 TBEX conferences and have attended a total of 6 TBEX conferences around the world. I highly recommend this conference.
“Having a strong community is critical to succeeding in blogging. And attending a blogging conference is a great way to find that community.”
Nicola Rae | SeenicWander.com
In June 2019 I attended TravelCon in Boston. This was my first travel blogging conference and even though I wasn’t making a full time living from my blog, it was still well worth the trip.
One of the most important lessons I’ve learned in the past few years of building my blog is how energizing it is to have a community around you. This community should include people who have similar goals to you who understand the struggles of trying to carve out an untraditional lifestyle. They should be people who don’t mind when you ramble about whether or not you should change your theme and who will happily nerd out over the latest blogging trends with you.
When I attended TravelCon, I met several great blogging friends who I still talk to regularly. We celebrate each others wins, ask technical questions, and brainstorm together about all things blogging related.
Having that little group of friends who are just as passionate about blogging as I am keeps me inspired, even when I doubt myself or when I realize I haven’t changed out of my pajama pants in 5 days.
Having a strong community is critical to succeeding in blogging. And attending a blogging conference is a great way to find that community.
“Do visit, be open to everything and you will learn a lot from people and places you wouldn't expect.”
Ania J | The-Travelling-Twins.com
I heard about See Bloggers a few years ago, but the conference was happening in Gdansk which was a few hundreds of kilometres away, so I never bother to attend. Once the conference moved to my home city, I decided to give a try. And it was a good idea.
Over three days, I attended several lectures and workshops. Some of them were for me so irrelevant that I was tempted to go home. Though instead I left one and tried another lecture and another. Thanks to this, I attended a few talks I didn't plan, and you know what from these I learnt most.
Another big bonus was that during the conference I made several contacts. And thanks to them, I attended different free courses which helped to progress faster my blogging career.
My advice to everyone who hesitates to attend the bloggers' conference. Do visit, be open to everything and you will learn a lot from people and places you wouldn't expect.
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“Meeting the big brands offered me their perspective about bloggers. And now I want to attend other travel fairs and make new connections.”
Corina Preda | AnotherMilestone.eu
ITB Berlin is the biggest travel fair in the world and, even if blogging is just my part time job, I wanted to attend the event. I prepared myself before it, but things were a little different than expected. It was very good that I set up some meetings with tourism boards and hotels, because it is hard to find anyone available directly at the fair. Meeting them made me realize what are they looking for and how can I present my blog to attract their attention. After the fair I took the big decision to rebrand my blog!
Next year, with a new blog name, I attended the ITB special event for bloggers, Blogger Speed Dating. The best part was that in only 1.5 hours I made 8 connections interested to develop new projects together. Indeed, it was a time and money investment, but I think I also got several benefits: meeting the big brands offered me their perspective about bloggers. And now I want to attend other travel fairs and make new connections.
“The first thing to remember is that everyone at the conference is just people regardless of the size of their audience.”
Adam Sterling | TheSterlingTraveler.com
Conferences, particularly for travel bloggers, can feel daunting for anyone. That is especially true if you don’t feel like your blog is big enough for the conference to make a difference. Rest assured that when you are at the conference that your worries will be for naught. I had trepidations before I attended my first travel blogger conference. It wasn’t even halfway through the first day that I was more than happy I went.
The first thing to remember is that everyone at the conference is just people regardless of the size of their audience. I met and networked with a ton of people. Many of whom have helped me grow, and have a better blog. Making these connections is how I landed my first press trip at a time when my blog was a small fish in a large pond. That happened only because I was able to meet them in person.
I highly recommend going to a travel blogger conference. No matter how much you think you know, there is so much to learn and the connections you make will be quite valuable.
“I haven’t had any regrets about attending back then and have attended other conference since.”
Kasia | KasiaWrites.com
I attended my first blogging conference with no intention of making it my full time job. At that time, I only had my blog for about a year and didn’t know a whole lot about the industry, best practices or even what opportunities I could explore. The conference (Trablin) was a new one, but the content was interesting and it was in Iceland, which made my decision to attend an easy one.
While at the conference, I made some really great connections and learned that a) I can totally make my blog a full time thing, b) there are so many intricate layers to blogging that I had no idea existed, and c) it gave me a lot of ideas and direction for what my blog could become.
Just like in other industries, networking for bloggers is a great asset for making connections and finding learning opportunities. Both are, in my opinion, invaluable to future success. I haven’t had any regrets about attending back then and have attended other conference since.
For someone starting out or blogging on the side, the additional cost of conferences can be quite off-putting. I would recommend selecting one conference to start and going from there. Even if you’re not making money off your blog, you’ll benefit by learning from others and making connections otherwise inaccessible to you.
“The idea of meeting with folks from tourism operators, airlines, and tourism boards set a whole lot of brainstorming and prepping in motion as my blog is mighty but still tiny!”
Martina Grossi | TheGlobalCurious.com
TravMedia's networking days ran as a fancy ‘speed dating' event where bloggers and journalists get to meet one-on-one for 15 minutes with some big names in the travel trade. As only pre-approved members can attend, when I got accepted I felt both excited and overwhelmed! The event is free, dynamic, fun and it's all about matching both ends of the thread without the hassle of ‘conference awkward networking.
To me, the idea of meeting with folks from tourism operators, airlines, and tourism boards set a whole lot of brainstorming and prepping in motion as my blog is mighty but still tiny!
Overall, the whole experience was mind-boggling as the level of connections one can create and nurture there is huge. The biggest lesson though is that as I didn't have my business model and niche clearly defined at the time, I couldn't make the most of it. If I write for Budget-Minded travelers, then why did I have to meet with one of the owners of a luxury hotel chain in Japan?
“That was $677.18 I could and should have spent on my blog, a class on SEO, or upgrading my hosting.”
Debra Schroeder | TraveingWellForLess.com
I've been to several travel blogger conferences such as TBEX that were well worth the cost, time, and energy to attend. But WITS (Women in Travel Summit) was not one of them.
I attended WITS 2016 in Irvine, California. This was my 8th travel blogging conference but the first time attending WITS. I didn't have to buy a plane ticket because I live 45 minutes from Irvine. But with the early bird ticket, 3 nights of hotel, parking, food, and a pre-tour (more on this in a minute) it still cost $677.18.
That was $677.18 I could and should have spent on my blog, a class on SEO, or upgrading my hosting. Instead, I wasted it attending WITS.
At WITS 2016 there were fees for the pre-tours. Some fees were nominal like the $10 fee for beer tasting. But others were higher.
Now they no longer charge fees for tours but the cost to attend has doubled. I paid $116 for an early bird ticket, now early bird tickets are $299 and include pre-tours.
But the biggest difference between WITS and a travel blogging conference like TBEX is representation from destinations. At WITS2016 there were 5 destinations: the hosting destination and the 4 cities hoping to win the contract for the following year. At each WITS since there have been only 5 destinations in attendance.
At TBEX there are almost 30. You get to meet with thirty destinations looking to work with travel bloggers. Those meetings are how you get invited to press trips.
As a travel blogger, it makes sense to attend travel blogging conferences where you can meet destinations and make connections.
“If you don’t make money full time from blogging but would like to understand the business of travel blogging and ways to make supplemental income until you can blog full time then I would suggest a conference.”
Kim Hawk | WorkHardTravelWell.com
Travel bloggers can benefit from conferences when first starting out. It is important to determine your goal and outcome of having a travel blog. If you just want to blog for fun, conferences may not be for you. If you don’t make money full time from blogging but would like to understand the business of travel blogging and ways to make supplemental income until you can blog full time then I would suggest a conference.
Conferences helped me when I first started out. At the beginning of my blog, I did not know about blogging on WordPress or even capturing emails for an email list. I found out about TBEX during a Travel Massive meetup. TBEX was less than two weeks away but I booked a flight to the North America TBEX. In preparation, I saw others write that you should bring business cards and a media kit. I developed these in a short time and headed to TBEX. I met many bloggers that I keep in touch with years later. I learned about the fundamentals of developing quality content, tracking my audience and search engine optimization techniques.
You should invest in yourself but it is important to research the conference, the sessions, and if you will take the time to implement what you learned. Also, it doesn’t hurt if the conference is in a destination that you can develop content on for your blog.
I currently have a full-time job so I find I don’t have enough time to implement things after conferences. It’s better for me to offload the activities. I don’t attend many conferences now. After a couple, I’ve learned enough and use Google and YouTube and social media for keeping up to date now.
✈️ Would you like to attend a travel blogger conference?
After reading about the experiences of other travel bloggers, is attending a conference the right decision for you? If so, view my complete list of 100+ Travel Blogger Conferences in 2020 to find one near you… or near somewhere you'd like to be!
🙋 Are you a travel blogger who's previously attended a conference?
What was your experience like? How did it compare with the stories above? Please drop a comment below and tell us whether you think travel blogger conferences are worth the investment along with an anecdote (positive or negative) about a conference you've attended.
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