So this past weekend I went to my very first travel blogging conference! While I’ve been blogging for a while, it’s only recently that I’ve really started to treat my website like a business and I wanted to go somewhere I could meet and get advice from other bloggers. I actually found out about the conference through Young Adventuress, a travel blogger who I have been following for a month or two, and who was planning to speak at the conference. So I emailed and applied and found out a couple of days later that I was accepted to the conference!
This is the first year of Travel Blogger Destination Italy, and so there were pro’s and con’s to the experience, but overall I think it was an amazing first conference experience. A lot of people attending the conference were much more experienced and had much bigger followings than yours truly– so I definitely learned a lot! The first day (Thursday) was dedicated to a bunch of sessions about blogging and was mainly in English, though there were a few sessions in Italian. The whole weekend was a lesson in expectations and making assumptions– there were many more Italian bloggers, most of them older than me and much more established! The conference was also attached to a massive travel and tourism trade show, and was held in a huge building. It took me half an hour to find the check-in desk!
One of the amazing things about the conference was that all I had to pay for was my train ticket– once I arrived, everything was covered. The conference put me up with some other bloggers in Hotel de la Ville in Riccione, a suburb beach town quite close to Rimini. It was actually directly across from the Riccione train station, so very convenient for anyone making a quick stopover that wanted easy access to the train station. Unfortunately because the summer is over and most tourism with it, much of Riccione was shut down for the season, hotels boarded up and restaurants closed. I’m sure that there is an amazing local scene but unfortunately I didn’t have time to explore and find it! I would advise keeping tourist season in mind when considering an Italian beach trip, though.
The second day was the primary day for bloggers and consisted of meetings through the day during an event called “Meet Your Blogger.” Each blogger was given a desk for the event and travel and trade representatives could walk around and talk to bloggers they were interested in potentially working with. Here’s the view from my desk:
I talked to quite a few people, and definitely got some good experience in pitching myself. It was also much less intimidating to be approached by other people as opposed to having to go up to the travel booths, as many other conferences apparently require you to do! I would recommend taking business cards and any other material you may wish to share, if you are a blogger considering attending a similar event. Many people took the small slips of paper I had printed out with my email and website on them. Other people had brought supporting materials, laptops to exhibit their website (I did this as well– tip: pull it up ahead of time in case the Internet crashes), social media statistics, etc. I definitely have a better idea of how to be more prepared next time!
Both nights the conference hosted events that we as bloggers were able to attend; the first night the local area sponsored the welcome dinner and the second night Puglia, another area in Italy, sponsored, sharing their food, dance and traditions with us. This time was a great time to network and get to know fellow bloggers– everyone in the travel blogging industry is so nice and really open to getting to know new people, which was wonderful. I met a ton of great bloggers through the event, and it was one of my biggest takeaways.
I’ll share some photos in a few days from the weekend, but I had a truly wonderful time at my first blogging conference and would highly recommend it to others. The opportunities to network are priceless, and it’s always good to get advice through sessions from others who are more experienced than yourself (in my case). Personally I was able to attend the conference in particular because it was all expenses paid, and most conferences are not, but I think that the investment in yourself is definitely worth whatever fees you have to pay. This is just a very broad overview of what a travel conference is like– because for me, never having attended one, I had no idea what to expect. If you have the chance to go to a conference, do it! You never know who you may meet or what that might turn into down the road.
Have you been to a blogging conference before, travel or otherwise? What did you think of the experience?