TBEX 2013 in Toronto, Canada: Pros and cons

TBEX 2013 is now over. It was my first one, and so I was exceptionally curious to see how it would be. And after missing my flight on Thursday night due to train delays at Penn Station, I was even more eager once I finally arrived on Friday afternoon.

Toronto skyline

Apart from having had a blast and already feeling nostalgic, I wanted to go over the main pros and cons about this year’s edition.

PROS:

The networking. Meeting people I had only connected with online. I was so happy to finally meet Jodi Ettenberg from Legal Nomads, Alexandra Kovakova from Crazy Sexy Fun Traveler, Johnny Jet and so many more. Meeting new people and consolidating prior relationships in the travel community is the number one thing you will always get from TBEX.

The panels and keynote speakers. I have been a fan of Canada’s adventure couple for a long time now, but seeing them in person at TBEX was so much better. Dave and Deb’s keynote presentation had a full house, as they went over how blogging now opens business opportunities more than ever before and predicted future travel media trends. I also enjoyed Gary Bembridge’s panel on How to write your blogging positioning statement and Walks of Italy‘s Stephen Oddo presentation on Increasing your ROI.

PlanetD Adventures TBEX 2013

Speed dating. I agree with most attendees that speed dating can be an aggressive 8 minute cold pitch which could be better achieved in a more natural approach, however it forced me to prepare more thoroughly, to put together a solid media kit and to position myself differently. Many of the companies I “speed dated” with perhaps I would have never had the opportunity otherwise.

The opening night sponsored by Tourism Toronto was better organized than I had expected. Plenty of hors d’oeuvres, wine tastings and beer taps, chefs serving Asian cuisine, several tables of desserts and countless servings of cooked dishes. The night also included a singer’s performance and the distinguished presence of the roaming gnome.

Roaming gnome TBEX 2013

The Expedia party. To celebrate the launch of the Expedia Viewfinder Blog, Expedia put together an awesome “Night of Stars Viewing Party,” inviting all attendees to dress up as their favorite star/celebrity. I remained classic as Audrey Hepburn, and headed along with Cleopatra and our accessory for the night – a globe – towards Centre Island. The party venue was right on the water, overlooking the Toronto skyline and the after party was even better.

Expedia party TBEX 2013


CONS:

The conference rooms were way to small for the amount of people that wanted to attend, which led to missing a few panels that I was really interested in. My assumption is no one expected 1,200 people to register for this year’s TBEX, which was almost double than last year’s.

Speed dating on Day 2 was not moderated as on Day 1, which created major delays, people taking their times at the tables and major confusion. Most attendees and exhibitors were tired after the first day and the Expedia party, and so additional chaos did not help.

The wi-fi, at least on my phone, didn’t work half the time. I am pretty hooked on my social media channels (Twitter, Facebook, Gogobot) and so it frustrated me greatly to see my battery life decrease trying to get a tweet to go through.

Conquering the world TBEX 2013

Regardless of my dislikes, I had an unbelievable time at TBEX and I highly recommend it, especially for new bloggers trying to network and to improve their skills. There is never too early or too late to attend TBEX – there were both newbies to the industries, as well as celebrated veterans. I’ve made new friends, new contacts and accumulated memories to last me for some time.

Thank you TBEX for an awesome travel event, and to Toronto, for hosting us.

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