TBEX Summary from Girona Spain

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Girona’s Cathedral in the rain–So many steps, so little time – Chris Ciolli

I attended TBEX, the Travel Bloggers Conference in Girona, Spain in September. First of all, it’s only fair to confess that large networking events are so not my thing.

I find big group settings where I’m expected to interact with hundreds of people exhausting, I much prefer meeting up with people one-to-one, or in groups of ten or less. That said, I know these types of events are often what connects us with new friends that we can then see on our own terms.

But beyond my own nerves and general discomfort with this type of setting, my feeling about attending the conference over all can only be described as mixed, so I’m going to break it down into the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Let’s start with the good, shall we?

Talks by industry experts and bloggers. I attended the following useful and entertaining presentations with a clear call to action.

Title links should go to the downloadable slides at TBEX’s official website we were promised, but I can’t find them, so non-attendees can’t get an overview yet, sorry.  I’ve been told the slides will be up soon, and when they are I will link to them below. Presenter links go to their main sites.

How to Write an Effective Pitch presented by Amy Moore and Jessica Parker

How to Effectively Use Pinterest, Instagram and Google+ presented by C.C. Chapman, Kirsten Alana, and Michael Hodson.

How to Effectively Use Facebook presented by Amy Porterfield.

How to Run Your WordPress Site like a WordPress.com VIP presented by Sara Rosso.

How to Write Flagship Content to Maximize SEO presented by Matt Kepnes and Shannon O’Donnell.
The food and drink included was high-quality, and copious. While I didn’t attend evening events, I heard great things about them, and at the conference itself, coffee/juice breaks and a multi-course lunch featuring authentic Catalan cuisine were included both days. There was also a handy supply of bottled water on hand at all times.
I’m still a little upset my work schedule didn’t permit me to attend the opening night dinner at Castell Sant Gregori. There was a flash mob and food from Celler de Can Roca *Sigh*.
The Girona Conference Center was clean and easy to navigate and staff were very helpful. The sponsors at the event were friendly and generally happy to connect with bloggers.
Now for the bad:
  1. Girona is not well-connected with Barcelona via public transport (oh, the nightmare trains) and Girona’s Fira is hard to find on foot from the train station.
  2. TBEX was held the same weekend as Barcelona’s main city festival, La Mercé which meant choosing between amazing free music in Barcelona, and the evening events at the conference.
  3. Many of the presenters seemed unaware that this was an international conference, and that many attendees were second-language English speakers. It would have been a plus for presenters to make an extra effort to speak slowly and clearly so more attendees would be able to understand them.
  4. Because the conference was organized into break-out sessions, it was impossible to attend all of the workshops.
  5. A lot of bloggers were behaving like high-schoolers, swaggering around in small, giggly mobs and turning their noses up at writers or sponsors they saw as “beneath” them. Hilarious, really.
The truly ugly:
  1. The opening keynote by Peter Shankman was packed with sexist and misogynist jokes, references to American pop culture and of all thing pornography. Not only did he mention Honey Boo Boo to a supposedly international audience, he repeatedly talked about how things in “this country” work obviously meaning the U.S. and paying no attention to the fact that we were in fact, not in America, but in Girona, Spain. All of this filler was made worse by a very elementary main message that came down to three main points that could have been explained in about five minutes, one of which was know your audience. Ironic, isn’t it?
Overall, I’d say TBEX was worth my investment, but then, I didn’t fly all the way to Spain to attend. I’m interested in what attendees who sprung for a transatlantic ticket have to say.

Chris Ciolli
Chris Ciolli is a Barcelona-based writer, translator and artist with Midwestern roots. She shares her escapades as a Missourian in the world at Midwesternerabroad.com, and writes about Barcelona from a guiri-gone-native perspective at Barcelonaforidiots.com. A closet foodie and self-proclaimed art addict, Chris typically blogs about the drinks, eats and other cultural attractions she encounters on her travels. In her spare moments, she reads obsessively, slurps excessive quantities of coffee and tea, and plays with art supplies and kitchen tools. Oh, and travels as much as humanly possible.
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