I attended the Travel Bloggers Unite (TBU) conference in Innsbruck, Austria last week on behalf of Flight Centre UK and never has ‘work’ been so much fun! The first thing I observed was how beautiful Innsbruck is. I had visited Innsbruck as a child and formed the rather immature opinion of it being boring. After a short and comfortable flight with Easyjet from London Gatwick, however, we were soon landing in a valley in the middle of the Austrian Alps. With snow capped mountains and clear blue skies on both sides of the plane it must be one of the most beautiful landings in Europe.
Throughout my stay in Innsbruck I never failed to be awed by the majestic mountains that framed the intricate architecture of Innsbruck’s historic buildings. From the rooftop terrace of the Penz Hotel I was able to take in this breathtaking view every morning over the ample breakfast buffet. The pictures say it all really!
The purpose of the conference itself was to bring travel bloggers from across the world together to talk about their trade alongside the PR representatives and tourism boards who they are beginning to work with more and more. It was brilliant to meet IRL (twitter speak for ‘in real life’!) bloggers whose lives, travels and adventures I have been following online for many months. Michael Hodson, the voice behind ‘Go, See, Write’ who I had previously had the pleasure of interviewing via email , I got to meet face to face at TBU and discovered he was charming in real life – perhaps more so than his sometimes grouchy persona online (I think Michael would agree with me on this one!) I met Adventurous Kate whose adventures in Asia reminded me so much of my own and whose presence in Europe seemed almost surreal as I had begun to equate her with South East Asia so much in my mind. I was enthralled by the nomadic lifestyles of women such as Ayngelina of Bacon is Magic and learnt about how a travel blog can become your business from Velvet Escape and Solo Traveler. Most of all I learnt that travel bloggers are a hugely sociable bunch, that the friendships, conversations and banter that takes place between this community online is easily and successfully transferred to real life when they are bought together at an event such as this.
For travel blogging is very much about being part of a community. This was really apparent throughout the whole of the conference. Many bloggers shared their tips for sucess including Andrew Hayes who shared his learning’s about the highs and lows of email marketing and Abigail King who spoke about travel bloggers learning from the print media. They also support each others work and at TBU in Innsbruck the very first Travel Bloggy Awards were announced. After open nominations attendees of the conference voted for their favourite blog in different categories. The winners should be delighted by this accolade and recognition by their peers – seen as their peers are as savvy and talented as this bunch.
Check out the winning blogs for yourself:
Best Design – The Aussie Nomad
Best Expat/RTW – 48 Hour Adventure
Best Foreign Language and Best Newcomer – Just Travelous
Best collaboration with Industry – Traveldudes
Best photo/video blog – Ken Kaminesky
Best travel writing – Inside the Travel Lab
Best niche – Trains on the Brain
It wasn’t all friendships and smiles – there were also some really heated debates. People following the event hashtag from home were joining in some of the more controversial discussions such as the question of paying for bloggers on press trips and the quality of writing on travel blogs. Whatever one’s opinion is on these matters it cannot be denied that travel bloggers are passionate about their craft. Whether their blog is a hobby or a business it was clear that the travel bloggers at TBU are passionate about travelling and even more passionate about sharing their travel experiences, and for this, I for one, am very grateful.
Kudos to the organiser of TBU, Oliver Gradwell, for organising such a well thought out conference – the content, format, networking and blog trips were pretty much spot on. Nice work sir!
For more information on what happened at TBU check out the hashtag #TBUIBK on twitter and for news of the next conference in Umbria, Italy check out #TBUMBR