The Writes Stuff
Travel bloggers and travel industry professionals from around the world were invited to attend Travel Bloggers Exchange (TBEX) Asia in Bangkok, Thailand, in October last year. It was the first time organisers had held an event in the Far East.
The purpose was to provide networking opportunities while giving bloggers opportunities for professional development and to explore and write about the host destination.
Challenges and measures
The biggest challenges for organisers were the logistics of hosting such a large event from afar. Based in the US, TBEX had organised events in North America, Europe and even onboard a ship sailing in the Caribbean, but never one from such a long distance.
Pre-event activities were arranged for bloggers to give them an insight into the host destination and to stimulate their creative juices. These included writing workshops, walking tours, cooking and martial arts lessons, spa treatments and museum visits.
The event kicked off with a sumptuous opening night party in the grounds of the Queen Sirikit National Convention Centre that featured a buffet dinner, free-flowing drinks, live entertainment and fireworks.
The next two days involved keynote addresses, 40 breakout sessions, buffet lunches and speed-networking sessions between bloggers and industry professionals.
The event ended with a farewell party. Post-event activities similar to pre-event activities followed. Two-night familiarisation trips around Thailand were also organised.
"The Tourism Authority of Thailand and its partners were amazing at helping us organise the event from 15,000 miles away. They helped select the venues and the vendors needed to produce the events and organised the evening activities," says Patti Hosking, director of business development of event organiser NMX Events.
A total of 500 travel bloggers from 35 countries attended the event, 75 per cent of whom were from outside Asia. About 100 industry professionals also took part.
Bloggers were generally upbeat. Many said the networking opportunities were the key benefit.
Nathan Anderson, who publishes The Open Road Before Me (www.openroadbeforeme.com), says the event was a real confidence booster. "The biggest benefit came from sitting in on the lectures. I learned a lot from other people's advice and best practices, and I found almost all the talks to be very engaging and worthwhile."