#TBEX One Week Later: What I didn’t get out of it
I figured I’d start with the not-so-stellar parts of TBEX before ending on a high note with the great stuff. This was my first time attending the event and I will admit, I did have some preconceived notions. Most of those notions became realities, starting on the day when I went to the convention center to register:
I picked up my badge and received my swag bag. A colleague of mine and I gleefully went through the goodies and talked about how awesome the stuff was.
“YES! They have one of those collapsible water bottles!” I said out loud. I was super excited because I was super parched, and had left mine at home.
“Oh yeah,” a man I’d never met came up behind me. “It’s only the seventh one I’ve gotten…” he said, in a sarcastic tone.
Like, seriously dude? I’m sorry your life consists of receiving free stuff and traveling the world. Tough life.
Unfortunately, I was met with more pretentious attitudes as the conference went on. I’m not into that. As travel bloggers we should be proud of our profession but seriously? We don’t need to be bragging about it to other travel bloggers. We don’t really need to brag at all…
Aside from some sour attitudes, here are a few things that also fell short at TBEX 2013:
Connecting with others. I found it incredibly difficult to connect with the awesome people I talk to on a daily basis online. Without proper cell service/wifi access, the most I could do was tweet “Meet me outside the door of your lecture!” and hope someone recognized me. Even when I met up with people I knew, it was a quick “Hey! Great to see you in real life! Whoops! Gotta go meet with this DMO/attend this workshop!” and I never saw them again.
Solution: Make a better effort at organizing outside plans. Next time, I’ll schedule a meet-up for dinner, or sit with different folks each day for lunch. I’ll also try to meet up with people and travel with them to the parties.
Networking. Two things happened that discouraged me from networking at TBEX. The first thing was my TBEX badge – people would walk right up to me, look at my badge, look at my face, and then walk away, blatantly disregarding me because I was someone unfamiliar and therefore had nothing to offer them. This happened so many times that I stopped making an effort to reach out to others. And it bothered me a lot.
At other conferences, attendees usually network via open conversation. We exchange ideas, we find things in common. But we have to talk to each other first. It’s rude and a total turnoff when someone doesn’t even give me the chance to open my mouth and say “Hello” before turning around to find someone who can pay them to travel somewhere.
Speed dating was also…weird. I don’t think it’s a good model. Most of the people I met with during speed dating didn’t even really want to meet with me, and spent half the time explaining how I didn’t “fit their demographic.” Nice waste of my time, really.
Solution: Reach out on my own. I made WAY more connections and secured offers during the open marketplace, while everyone else was listening to the workshops. I sat down with vendors and had genuine conversations. They liked my personality and it gave me a chance to discuss what I do at Matador without the pressure of those ridiculous “You have one minute left” announcements. And now I know how to properly pitch so I can network outside of TBEX as well.
Solution: Make a plan of places to see ahead of time. I’d also like to do at least one of the free press trips – my schedule didn’t allow for it this time which was unfortunate. Also I would arrive early or stay late to hang out before the chaos occurs.
Didn’t get anything out of lectures. This is a common theme I’ve seen in other post-TBEX reports. And like everyone else, I thought they were very commerce/brand based. I wanted more informal discussions, round table events, places where I could genuinely exchange ideas with people from all walks of life. Some were over my head and some were just pretentious. That’s not my style.
Solution: Skip the lectures and hang out with the DMOs. The marketplace was EMPTY while everyone attended the lectures, giving me some great one-on-one time with some awesome vendors. That’s where I made connections and scored my first press trips. I’m also going to suggest to the TBEX powers-that-be to do more of what the CEO of Matador Network, Ross Borden, did during his ninja-style workshop on Sunday – more conversational discussions instead of panels of people talking TO us, not WITH us.
Don’t fear! My next post will be MUCH more positive, I promise!
But while we’re at it, did you experience any TBEX shortcomings? How will you remedy them for future conferences?