The comprehensive list of travel blogging conferences in 2015 – and why you should attend them

Updated - September 7th 2020

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As 2014 draws to a close, I look back – and forward.

This year has been a big step forward for One Weird Globe and life as a travel blogger While the front-end received switched hosts and received a makeover in November, one big thing I learned in 2014 was that conferences are great places to network with businesses seeking to work with bloggers.

In 2014, I spoke at the ITB Asia panel in October (on the subject of “Building Your Online Community – Tips from Travel Blogging Pros”) and at the Digital Innovation Asia in June (on the subject of “From Outreach to Engagement – Top Tips to get the most out of working with bloggers”) – and yes, I want to brag a bit =)

Until I went to a conference myself, however, I hadn’t realized the power of attending a conference first-hand. While slides and livestreams are great, technical gremlins can and will pop up at any time – if it can happen to Apple, it can happen to anyone).

It’s time for the next level of your travel blog.

To be frank, I was skeptical at first. A few of the questions I had:

  • Is it worth the time / effort / money to attend?
  • What do I say to the people I meet?
  • Was I becoming a sell-out by focusing on the business side of the blog, instead of the travel side?
  • What do I offer them?
  • How do I follow up with them?

For now, let’s start with the most basic questions.

What makes a travel conference worth visiting?

It’s a way to connect – first-hand, face-to-face – with people within the industry. Whether they are other bloggers (fellow travelers with great stories and connections), potential clients and partners, or government representatives, that face-to-face contact facilitates future chats. In short, that first handshake and meeting is the stepping stone to working together.

What should you do to prepare?

Start by understanding the nature and purpose of the conference. Every single conference on this list, while focused on travel, blogging, or travel blogging, is different. Some conferences will feature ‘speed networking’ sessions, something you may want to sign up for ahead of time. Other conferences will feature the opportunity to make appointments with other business types – again, you may want to sign up for this ahead of time. Scour the website and any e-mails you receive after registering.

What should you expect once arriving?

A mix of chaos, action, and an overwhelming amount of info! One big goal at the conference (which can be partially done before you arrive) is to narrow down which speakers, events, or people you specifically want to make contact with. A bit of research will do wonders here – read up on the speakers or panels to discover the ones most relevant to your blog.

How much time should I spend networking?

How much time do you have? Seriously – for better or worse, minutes spent away from networking are minutes not spent on the primary reason you came to the conference. Take some downtime when needed, but getting lunch or dinner is a great excuse to chat someone up on a more casual level.

The parties, by the way, are another great place to chat people up. Be they the official or the unofficial types (e.g. the sort you’ll hear about at the conference), make it a point to show up. Drink water or something non-alcoholic if you like, but let the different venue (and alcohol) shake things up a bit.

What if I’m an introvert?

You mean showing up to talk with hundreds – or thousands – or people for days on end doesn’t just thrill you?! OK, seriously. Get away from the crowds is one common tip, but take it to the next level – consciously schedule that downtime when there isn’t an interesting speaker or something else going on. When it’s time to socialize, asking lots of questions redirects the conversation to them – letting them do more of the talking takes away the need for you to. Practice some responses about you and your blog – sometimes, knowing what to say if half the battle.

Enough from me. Here are some other reasons to go.

I asked some other travel bloggers about their thoughts regarding conferences. A few of them:

“There were times when the convention room of the Women in Travel Summit (WITS) felt a bit like a stock market- information was being traded so fast and furious! There was such an incredible energy in the air and it was so refreshing to ask for hotel recommendations (without having to double check that it was well lit and safe at night), photography ideas (without needing to explain why you wouldn’t feel comfortable in a certain neighbourhood) or technology tips (minus the fear of being talked to “like a girl”). Travel writing and travel blogging is different for women – it just is. The geo-political, socio-economic, and cultural-linguistic mazes of the world require us to march to a different beat and there is such an utter relief to find yourself surrounded by colleagues who really, really get it.

Last year, I was a part of the budget travel panel at WITS and it felt like the conversation could have gone on for hours. There were so many eyeopening discussions, like should solo women try Couch Surfing, and so many valuable resources put forward – like how to sleep in convents! The room was packed and the crowd lingered long after the time was up, which for me is a solid sign of a great discussion. There were so many women participating from so many different walks of life and it was so motivating to see how we all shared common goals.”

Vanessa Chiasson – TurnipseedTravel.com

What I learned from attending travel conferences was how to network with other bloggers and agencies via Twitter, engaging on Instagram via hashtags, and where to find PR agencies. I knew very little about Twitter prior and how hash tags are great for networking and expanding your audience. It’s not just about putting great content out there, but making others notice it. Plus, meeting PR agencies in person help you learn about others that exist in the world.

Angelica Wilk – BrooklynChickTravels.com

I attended my first blogging conference this year, the Problogger training event. I went mainly to connect with others in the industry, but I was shocked just how inspiring the whole event was. I met and listened to so many different successful bloggers who not only had fantastic advice and tips to share but interesting stories about how they have been able to make a full time living from blogging. The sessions were very informative and I learned a lot from industry experts in areas where I have struggled, such as email marketing or using G+, but for me, the biggest plus was learning all the different ways bloggers had successfully monetised their blogs. I no longer think its all about advertising, affiliates, eBooks and sponsored posts. They really opened up my mind and changed my direction and focus. I would not think twice about attending again.

Sharon Gourlay – digitalnomadwannabe.com (also authors the blog Where’s Sharon?) 

Attending travel conferences for me has been an amazing way to meet other travel journalists, get education about my craft and allowed me access to business opportunities I would not have otherwise had. Specifically, meeting the editor of BBC.com/travel and learning her insights into the latest travel trends and how to market my small business.

Dr. Cacinda Maloney – http://www.pointsandtravel.com

The list

Bear in mind this is a living document, which can and will be updated over the coming months. If you have any changes to suggest, please contact chris AT oneweirdglobe DOT com. To share, edit, or to see this Google spreadsheet outside this post, use this link.

For another list of 80+ Business, Online Marketing, and Tech Conferences, see http://kristihines.com/blog/80-business-online-marketing-tech-conferences-2015/, and note there might be some overlap there.

Which conferences are you going to? Share in the comments.

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This Post Has 27 Comments

  1. Probably going to DNX cause I’ll be in Germany around those dates, but I will try to do my best to came back to Thailand for TBEX Asia or wait to see the TBEX North America location.

  2. I’m excited that TBEX is close this year (to Western Australia) and hope to get there – and I go to every Problogger conference just because they are fabulous. Great list – thanks! Some inspiration for future years.

    1. Welcome Amanda! If you hear of any other regional conferences, please feel free to share them!

  3. Great article and list. This is the year I go to at least one conference (TBEX Asia) and perhaps more.

    1. This is the one year TBEX Asia is FINALLY coming to the country where I am now… and where I won’t be when it’s actually time… I’ll probably go to TBEX Europe (applied as a speaker!) to have some fun =)

  4. Thanks so much for compiling this very comprehensive list! Being based down under, I have to plan out the conferences like an expedition. Everything you said about attending the conferences are so true. I’ve only started attending the last couple of years (1 conference each year – TBEX and WTM) and now I can really say they are imperative if you really want to take blogging on a more serious level. You wear many hats being a blogger: an entrepreneur is one of them, and this is the role you play when attending these.

    1. You’re welcome Jean – and I LOVE your blog’s name! Being a blogger definitely means wearing lots of hats (or outsourcing some of them, which is a whole different can of worms…) Share and enjoy!

  5. Wow, what a comprehensive list Chris, I never realised there were quite so many.

    I must be honest that I’ve never made a conference to date. Time commitments with work travel and a partner waiting for me at home makes it difficult to make such an expensive trip a priority for me at the moment.

    But, never say never, we might meet at one of these one day.

  6. Great post Chris! Everything in one place – fantastic! You made my life so much easier now :) There are at least 3 I really wanna visit in the upcoming year.

  7. Chris, thank you for this great list of conferences for 2015. We’ve never attended a travel conference before so this is very helpful!

    We are planning to go to NY travel show, as travel bloggers, do you recommend for us to go as trade professionals or consumers?

    We are also planning to go to Asia TBEX.

    1. To be honest, I don’t know. You’ll want to really look at the differences in access and price – the speed networking events may only be open to the pros, but it might cost a lot more. Review the website, or consider reaching out to them via e-mail =)

    1. You’re welcome! Any idea which ones you’ll be going to?

  8. Thanks for putting this list together, it’s great! I’ve never been to a travel conference but I’d love to meet other bloggers! :)

    1. You’re welcome! They’re fine for meeting bloggers, and I’ve found posting to Facebook groups also helps figuring out who’s in the nearby area.

  9. Great list! Thanks for putting it together. I’ve submitted my prequalification form to the Travel Media Showcase and have applied for a media pass to the Chicago Travel & Adventure Show. I’ve been to both in the past. I’m going to check out some of the others on your list, too.

    1. Yay! Good to hear – how much time did those processes require?

  10. Thanks for taking the time to put this list together!

    1. Welcome Ric!

  11. I believe the VEMEX dates you have listed are for 2014.

    1. Thanks for catching that, Jake! Just took a look at their website and updated the chart to reflect a ‘TBA’ status =)

  12. Chris – Many thanks for putting together this comprehensive list and sharing your thoughts about the value of business networking at conferences. We’ll be at TBEX Costa Brava. We are seriously considering DNX in Berlin and TBEX BKK to round out our year. Hope to connect with you in person at one, if not all, of these events. :)

    1. You too! I’ve applied as a speaker to TBEX Europe, but will be going either way. Since I have a non-travel-blogging spouse to consider, we try to fit in conferences as they fit our traveling plans – the other way around would probably feel like too much bouncing around for our slow-traveling sensibilities =)

  13. Great post. Chiming in to add one that isn’t on the list — Women’s Travel Fest in San Francisco Feb 27 – March 1

    1. Thanks – and added =)

  14. Great post and a very useful list! Thanks a lot! We’ve thought about starting to go to a few conferences as a part of taking our blog to the next level. And to meet and network better with other bloggers. What conferences would you suggest would be great places to start?

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