Attending my fifth TBEX Future of Travel Media conference, I had the chance to also travel in Killarney and Kenmare in Ireland.
I produced a vlog on the experience to share so you can see highlights like seals, donkeys, history, nightlife, traditional dancing and much more.
Ireland is amazing! If you want to know more about TBEX and why you should go, press play, or search TBEX on this blog for learnings and adventures from over the past few years in Costa Brava, Athens, Stockholm and Dublin.
If you’ve been to TBEX or have questions drop us a line and say hi in the comments.
In my opinion, TBEX never fails to deliver, and this year I thought the calibre of speakers was particularly high, sharing the best travel blog ideas and content tips of the year.
I have an Evernote-file overflowing with travel blog ideas, tips and tricks, and as part of my post-event review process, I’ve summarised the best take-aways below. I hope you find it helpful.
The best of travel blog ideas and content tips – take note:
Ian Cleary on influence
I’ve followed Ian’s work for a few years now (actually, had a nice chat with him back in 2012 at TBEX Dublin).
His content (via Razor Social) is super helpful and he’s renowned for sharing the best social tools of the trade and really great content.
In his keynote which opened TBEX Europe 2016, he told us that if there’s one thing to focus on (among the plethora of things we know we ‘should’ be doing), it is to build your influence online.
By this, he means for content creators to really think about the niche we’re working within, identify other influencers in that niche and interact with them on social media, blogs and even at conferences.
Follow them around (in a non-creepy way) and network.
Another tip he shared was to really make sure your ‘about’ page and subsequent pitches on ‘you’ include ‘evidence’ on your work in the form of things like testimonials, statistics, case studies or your ‘brand’s reputation’.
Matt Kepnes (aka Nomadic Matt) on improving e-marketing newsletters
Matt insists we should always be testing – test travel blog ideas as well as your headlines, content, copy ideas, promotional strategies. Whatever you can measure.
And he should know, as a super successful travel blogger and online entrepreneur.
No matter what type of newsletter distribution app or software you’re using (e.g. MailChimp, AWeber, ConvertKit, ActiveCampaign etc.) see if you can discover ways within their offerings to better optimise and target your audience.
Use ‘if-then’ statements to segment data, so that if for example, a reader clicks on a certain type of content you distribute (such as a review on a book about social media), they can be shifted to a user-group you might want to work with separately (for example, down the track if you release a book or e-book on similar subject matter, this group could potentially be more interested than others on your mailing list).
This is all particularly helpful as your offerings, content, products and services expand, and means you are likely to have more interested groups of readers to target different things to.
On subject lines, he reminded us these are very important and pretty much determine whether an email will be opened or not.
Try to make your subject lines personal in nature, offer help; keep it short but not too specific.
An example: ‘How to travel for free’ worked well for Matt; on the same content, ‘The ultimate guide to travel hacking’ did not.
On a side-note about the blogging world as a whole, he also mentioned that we shouldn’t be so tied up creating content that we forget to read and educate ourselves too.
The more we read: travel, business, marketing, history, personal development, and so on, the better we’ll become at everything! Makes sense, right?
Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini
The Power of Persuasion by Robert V. Levine
The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right by Atul Gawande
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change by Stephen R. Covey
Ask by Ryan Levesque
Spud Hilton on storytelling
In this inspiring address, one of the few truly experienced newspaper travel editors working in the world today, shared some brilliant tips on how to craft compelling content.
Spud Hilton reminded us that in order to enhance even our best ideas for a travel blog, we need to:
Write to a point – who is the audience and what message do you want them to take away? Work this out before drafting your copy or visual content.
Defy expectations – find things people aren’t doing somewhere or that wouldn’t be expected of a particular place. Be different. It’s also nice to share what’s great about a destination that others either overlook or perceive is a bit rubbish. We think a great example is Hastings in the UK – a place we had a lot of interest in because no-one in England cared about it but we sung the destination’s praises and shared why it is a cool place to go.
Move past ‘tourist vs traveller’, because everyone is a traveller, really. They just fall between being a discoverer (e.g. climbing a mountain, seeking a monk and spiritual enlightenment) and a leisure traveller, that is, taking a break and unapologetically sipping on cocktails by the beach.
And it’s important to report, not repeat content – find the story, don’t rehash what’s already been shared. He reminded us to look which way the pack is going, then head in the opposite direction, because that’s where the unique story will be.
Shawn Smith on using blab and Facebook Live (live-casting)
Shawn (The Mobile Pro) presented a really interesting workshop about his thoughts on live-casting services, with particular references to Blab and Facebook Live.
He maintains (and we keep hearing this) that this method of conversing with an audience will continue to grow, and inevitably boom. I really see the benefits of live-casting, although my only reservations are availability of Wifi and data when travelling. Personal mobile Wifi seems to be more accessible now though, which would alleviate these worries.
He shared a case study about how he managed to raise funds for much-needed stoves in a remote part of the world, because he had the chance to use this technology to show people first-hand how much of a difference their donation would really make.
Using live-casting technology you can:
Re-purpose content from your blog, but remember to talk about it, don’t just re-read it. Live-casting is about conversation, it’s not a presentation.
Chat about three to seven key points.
Talk to people by name – if they are commenting, chat back to them.
Be authentic and vulnerable – be yourself.
Invite calls to action (e.g. sign up to a mailing list).
Don’t be afraid to ask for comments and shares of your feed. Often people do not know to do this but will happily oblige.
If you plan a live-cast in advance, don’t forget to set up event invites (you could do this via Facebook) to remind friends to come online for a chat!
Why not have a go at it this week, but be mindful that Shawn advised you should try to broadcast for at least 15 minutes to gather an audience and have a ‘chat’ live across the world about your chosen topic. I suspect this is true, because I experimented with Periscope and Facebook Live (for the first time) while we were exploring the Vasa Museum in Stockholm and noticed the audience uptake was rather low within the five minutes I was playing around on both streams. Longer and I might have had the chance to have a proper conversation.
Shane Dallas on using Google+ to reach millions
My final workshop summery is from a very engaging Aussie traveller’s session. Shane Dallas (aka the Travel Camel) hosts The Road Less Travelled, one of the world’s biggest Twitter travel chats.
He spoke about how Google+ is far from ‘dead’ and that we should all be keeping an eye on its ‘collections‘ feature, and carefully curating our own meaningful collections while nurturing conversations about the subject matter within our chosen niche.
On social media, he insists more of us need to more mindful of what value our content is bringing to the party, how it makes us different (stand out) and its purpose.
He says we need to strive to be better at the three Cs:
Interestingly, Shane discussed using Google+ and the featured collections function in almost a micro-blogging capacity, rather than as a vehicle for driving traffic back to a website.
I can definitely see his point, particularly being that it is a truly different user-set that make the best of this social media platform.
He mentioned that Twitter, Instagram and Google+ are the social vehicles used by those who want to ‘network and learn’ (rather than those where you will mostly hang out with friends). I totally agree with this and have enjoyed these three services in this way.
I have also always found Google+ to offer a more beautiful interface for images, videos and interesting conversation, so I was glad to be reassured that it is embedding its place firmly in the world of micro-blogging, creative content and social media.
Do you have tips or questions? Let us know in the comments below.
We met again this past weekend, in Spain, no less. My fiance would be jealous – lucky he came along this time!
You’re a beautiful event – life-changing, many might say; and making a cameo at one of your spectacular soirees is becoming an annual pilgrimage for me.
“Pilgrimage” is, in fact, the correct word, for our first encounter was when I specifically flew from Australia to meet you in Dublin in 2013.
I ventured to Athenslast year to catch up on all the latest in travel tales and trends. Recently too in Costa Brava, set alongside the spectacular ‘brave coastline’ of Spain, about two hours from Barcelona.
I brought along a couple more TBEX recruits, my aforementioned fiance, Cooper, and our mate, The Hardy Traveller, Amy.
It’s easy to discover what you’re about simply by searching #TBEX on any social stream that counts (and then some).
‘The future of travel media’ is your usual theme, targeting bloggers, new media content creators and creative dreamers seeking experience above any other attachments.
Experience helps each of us learn more about ourselves, and how we can help share a message that might make the world a better place.
TBEX travel blogger conference, an annual get-together, usually hosted in North America as well as in Europe, and this year for the first time in Asia too.
I love that you’re an affordable and unique conference for new media and travel bloggers/writers/content creators, overflowing with learning opportunities in the form of wonderful workshops, networking functions, travel experiences and chic parties that showcase the host destination.
Loving Costa Brava, TBEX 2015
Costa Brava was no exception – an especially cool and pretty little area of Spain, boasting beautiful coastlines, funky bars, mouth-watering cuisine and an array of interesting, welcoming locals.
This spot didn’t let us down, just as Spain’s other Med-facing destinations like Ibiza and Mallorca haven’t 💕
Highlights of our encounter include the opening night party at luxe Santa Cristina Beach, Nathaniel’s Boyle’s engaging presentation on pod-casting and how, “Its moment is now”; and Michael Collins‘ insightful, educational keynote on the future of travel media.
I really do walk away each year on a high; high on information, inspiration and motivation.
TBEX, you are the best of travel, providing a chance to visit new places, party and have fun; but also an opportunity to learn new things, meet inspiring people and be energised about the things that are possible.
Attendees are not just delegates from around the world. We’re a community of like-minded entrepreneurs who are passionate about travel and digital content creation; citizens of the world, all keen to encourage each other to fulfil aspirations to live a beautiful life, rich in experience, and to share this important opportunity with others through words, images, video and multimedia.
If you believe you can, but don’t know where to start – start here, just like I did. It will change your life.
Can’t wait to see you again in Stockholm for TBEX Europe 2016. Click the link for all the content tips we were taught!
TBEX travel blogger conference: the latest for you
Athens beckoned as the city is hosting TBEX Europe – the “Future of Travel Media” travel blogging conference, which I also attended in Dublin last year.
We enjoyed glorious sunshine yesterday – a marvellous setting for spending time in Athens Greece.
Even though I was weary from an extremely early start and a few minor airline dilemmas, I was determined to get out and explore because the next few days – aside from being busy – unfortunately threaten rain. Am hoping iPhone weather will be wrong as it often is.
After finding my accommodation, I ventured outside to take a look around, using a combination of walking, navigating the local metro and finally (as I grew confused and tired) taking advantage of the old faithful, Big Red Hop on Hop off coach, that was circling the city.
As unadventurous as it sounds, Cooper and I do enjoy participating in this kind of tour because if you’re short on time and energy, it’s an easy way to get your bearings in a city and to identify where you’d like to go back to for a better look later.
What I love so far is that Athens feels like a city brimming with character.
There are gorgeous squares and green spaces, a chic coffee and dining culture, and cool European types all over the place.
Obviously it is steeped in history. Athens is one of the oldest cities in the world, after all.
There’s nothing like the thrill of seeing extraordinary sites like the Acropolis and Parthenon outside of the pages of a book.
You can watch or read about the famous things to do and see in Athens in all manner of travel guides and documentaries.
For the moment, I’d like to share my personal impressions on Athens travel:
Spend time in Athens Greece: wanderlust top 7 travel
the not-so-obvious things to love about the city
1. It’s noisy and busy, sure, but I’ve found Athenians to be polite
Apparently pedestrians do not rule here, however, cab drivers consistently stopped to let me cross roads which I thought was polite.
At one stage though, I did wave courteously to thank the driver and I think he thought I was hailing a ride – oopsy!
When I was on the sight-seeing bus too, many people in cars or on bikes waved at passengers on board, and to me it came across as if they wanted us to know we should feel welcome.
2. Enjoying espresso slowly
I’m not sure what it is about Europe, but I ditch the usual lattes here and head straight for the mini hit of caffeine.
Unlike in Australia or the UK where you’re always on the go, here it is just “right” to be.
It’s almost instinctive to stop, sip slowly and watch the fascinating world go by.
I’ve spotted numerous squares where people appear to congregate over coffee for a chat – all surrounded by interesting buildings, nice sculptures and landscaping.
On the coffee note too, I read this morning that frappés (coffee, milk, sugar and water) are the thing here. It’s now on my agenda for this afternoon’s adventures… when in Rome! er, I mean, Athens.
Also, if you’re indulging in a more traditional hot coffee, you do not need to drink the bottom part of the it.
Often Greek coffee is made the traditional way, boiled on hot sand – you need to “let the dust settle… and only drink the liquid part” [City Guide].
Certainly, the hilly streets are haphazard in design, there are cracks that might trip you up, and everything is pretty much written in Greek, but that all adds to the character of the place.
I find the streets and alleys intriguing (as long as I’m not getting lost), and I also felt somehow drawn to many of the colourful gratified walls, interestingly designed and sometimes slightly shabby (I mean this affectionately) doors and archways, as well as the residential roof gardens.
The city is full of life. Understandably Athens is a place that comes across as “well lived in”, but I feel the magic in that sentiment as I meander around town.
4. The opportunity to communicate beyond words
On the topic of getting lost, yes, my innate instinct is always to go the wrong way, but I can surely be forgiven for being a little confused during my first moments in a foreign city where the language is not my own.
I made it as far as the nearest metro station to my hotel, and from there needed help. The “two minute walk from the metro station” is pretty much accurate – but which way?
As it turns out, it may be left or right out of the station, then left or right down a street longer than I’d anticipated and right onto another main and busy road. With zero access to Google Maps, it was down to old fashioned communication to get me to my final destination.
I found the spot after about twenty five minutes and querying five people along the way.
My discovery was (and continues to be) that the locals here are not “over-sharers” of information, but this could be due to the language barrier, so keep asking questions until you understand (or find someone else to help).
For example, when I asked for assistance at the airport regarding which train to take, I was pointed in the direction of the entry to the train station. “Yes I see that, but which train, which platform?” I had to prompt. And when I arrived at my destination, the instruction towards my hotel was, “outside”. Yep, figured that out!
When I got outside however, it was the local store owners who helped me so kindly, albeit in Greek, but that made the positive end-result all the sweeter. One older gentleman managing a florist wasn’t 100 per cent on the address I showed him, so he rounded up his neighbours for clarification, and then explained to me using hand gestures how to navigate the lane-ways in order to find my accommodation. As did a couple of other people I encountered along my quest de la hotel.
During the morning, prior to arriving in Greece, I came into contact with some extraordinarily rude, grumpy and bitter-with-the-world people (either that, or they were totally not “morning people”); the locals here changed my day simply by proving to be friendly and helpful, despite a language barrier.
5. It’s an easy place to practice ‘travel mindfulness’
I noticed yesterday that I was taking everything in without much thought – ‘travel mindfulness‘, if you will.
It was all an ‘experience’; the sights, smells, quirks and charms all became part of one blissful travel adventure.
If there’s one lesson I try to pass on, it’s “don’t judge”. It comes with practice, confidence and time, and a willingness to embrace the “unfamiliar”, but I hear so many tourists of all ages complaining about this and that around the world (“too noisy”, “too expensive”, “too crowded”, “too untidy”), and I wonder, seriously, if “it’s better at home”, stay there!
There’s beauty in all things and I’m surprised by how much I enjoyed my first encounter with Athens despite being tired and apprehensive I’d get lost.
That said, if you can’t appreciate a place like this – 7000 years old, the birthplace of Western civilisation and aptly named after the Greek Goddess of Wisdom, then that’s certainly a shame.
6. I discovered a reason I should move here
During the summer it’s customary to enjoy a siesta for a couple of hours, 3pm to 5pm; eating large lunches is encouraged as is staying up late and having a good time.
If only more people in the world had this attitude, happiness might spread further, I reckon.
7. Celebrity-endorsed style
Cheese and wine are also important aspects of the culture (yes, please!) and it would be easy to simply hang out here and try all the renowned restaurants, sky bars, beach side cafes, and then dance it off in a popular club.
Alas I don’t have time, but I will let you know that I found out Ethan Hawke, Meryl Streep, Oliver Stone, Hugh Jackman, Pierce Brosnan, Bruce Willis and Moby, among others, have all spent time enjoying a venue called Island, a cosmopolitan seafront haunt that I feel I might have to make a cameo in at some stage too.
That’s it for now – I aim to visit more of the city and of course get up close and personal with ancient bits and pieces, plus fit in some shopping (hopefully Cooper doesn’t read this far…).
If you have an Athens travel tip, please drop me a line in the comments below.
Welcome to Travel Live learn, where we are passionate about living a life full of great adventures. We are Sarah + Cooper: we know life's short, and we're here to encourage you to make the most of it! We have worked in media, communication and creative roles for many years, and have spent over 10 years living and working abroad. Our hottest content topics here are pet friendly travel, house + pet sitting, and designing a life as expats or digital nomads wherever in the world you want to be. Join our community of over 11,000 like-minded adventurers - find out more by signing up for the mailing list and our Facebook Group. Find us on YouTube too. NEW podcast now live: search 'Freedom and Four Paws' on Apple podcasts, Spotify, Google podcasts or your fave podcast service provider.