The Vacation Gals is a travel blog. Sounds simple, and certainly most of you understand that, but you’d be surprised to see how much our inbox in filled with requests to book travel, reserve hotel rooms, and the like. This confusion (am I reading a travel agency site?) is understandable, considering the fast-paced evolution of writing for the web in general. Some internet users have a hard time keeping up — heck, some bloggers have a hard time keeping up, and we’re the ones who supposedly know what we’re doing. This is why blog conferences have become a major industry. From Type A Parent (nee Mom), to the Travel Blog Exchange (TBEX) conference, to the hugely respected BlogWorld & New Media Expo, conferences help fill gaps in knowledge for bloggers and other media specialists in face-to-face interactions that just can’t be replicated on the web. In short, blog conferences are important.
The fact that Blog World & New Media Expo has bought Travel Blog Exchange and will now run the associated annual conference is welcome news. Blog World is the world’s largest blog and social media conference of its type, and the people running it have years of experience fine-tuning the organization. I’ve been to the Blog World & New Media Expo conference in Los Angeles (full disclosure: I spoke there about both travel blogging and also about search engine optimization in general) and was absolutely blown away by how organized the conference was. It ran like a well-oiled machine; any glitches or issues that likely occurred were behind the scenes and didn’t hinder any attendee’s time there. The staff I met — Deb Ng, Patti Hosking — were completely professional and on task, yet friendly and warm. Balancing the two is harder than it sounds! I learned a lot at the Blog World conference in Los Angeles, and hope to, again, next year.
Meanwhile, the Travel Blog Exchange conferences I’ve attended, in New York City and Vancouver, were filled to the brim with excited, eager travel bloggers: lots of great socializing with friends, lots of meeting people “in real life” that I’d only interacted with on Twitter. Fun. But did I learn a lot? Honestly — not so much. The lack of organization at the NYC TBEX was embarrassing, if not downright appalling, and I thought it was vastly improved, from an organizational standpoint, the next year in Vancouver…but first-time attendees thought that TBEX Vancouver was a mess. Yet I bought my ticket to this June’s TBEX conference in Keystone, Colorado right away. The joy and almost tangible relief that comes with a weekend of socializing with “me people” cannot be understated. Or undervalued. TBEX is, and will continue to be, high on my list of conferences simply because travel blogging is my niche, and I am so fond of so many of the other attendees.
Blog World & New Media Expo owning the Travel Blog Exchange and its conference is more than a net positive; it’s completely a good thing. I am very excited to see the impact that Blog World’s higher-order leadership and organizational skill can bring to the almost lackadaisical, fun approach to running a blog conference that marks TBEX. The joining of Blog World and TBEX makes sense. It’s a natural fit, bloggers across niches can learn from each other, and mark my words: the TBEX conference is going to get better and better.