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Observations from my first travel bloggers conference – TBU in Austria

I attended the Travel Bloggers Unite (TBU) conference in Innsbruck, Austria last week on behalf of Flight Centre UK and never has ‘work’ been so much fun! The first thing I observed was how beautiful Innsbruck is. I had visited Innsbruck as a child and formed the rather immature opinion of it being boring. After a short and comfortable flight with Easyjet from London Gatwick, however, we were soon landing in a valley in the middle of the Austrian Alps. With snow capped mountains and clear blue skies on both sides of the plane it must be one of the most beautiful landings in Europe.

Landing at Innsbruck Airport

A very pretty runway – Innsbruck Airport

Throughout my stay in Innsbruck I never failed to be awed by the majestic mountains that framed the intricate architecture of Innsbruck’s historic buildings. From the rooftop terrace of the Penz Hotel I was able to take in this breathtaking view every morning over the ample breakfast buffet. The pictures say it all really!

penz

Breakfast served on the rooftop terrace at the Penz Hotel

Old Town Innsbruck

Old Town Innsbruck – simply stunning

Travel bloggers snapping pics of the Golden Roof

The purpose of the conference itself was to bring travel bloggers from across the world together to talk about their trade alongside the PR representatives and tourism boards who they are beginning to work with more and more. It was brilliant to meet IRL (twitter speak for ‘in real life’!) bloggers whose lives, travels and adventures I have been following online for many months. Michael Hodson, the voice behind ‘Go, See, Write’ who I had previously had the pleasure of interviewing via email , I got to meet face to face at TBU and discovered he was charming in real life – perhaps more so than his sometimes grouchy persona online (I think Michael would agree with me on this one!) I met Adventurous Kate whose adventures in Asia reminded me so much of my own and whose presence in Europe seemed almost surreal as I had begun to equate her with South East Asia so much in my mind. I was enthralled by the nomadic lifestyles of women such as Ayngelina of Bacon is Magic and learnt about how a travel blog can become your business from Velvet Escape and Solo Traveler. Most of all I learnt that travel bloggers are a hugely sociable bunch, that the friendships, conversations and banter that takes place between this community online is easily and successfully transferred to real life when they are bought together at an event such as this.

Panel session at conference

A panel session at TBU with bloggers and PR

For travel blogging is very much about being part of a community. This was really apparent throughout the whole of the conference. Many bloggers shared their tips for sucess including Andrew Hayes who shared his learning’s about the highs and lows of email marketing and Abigail King who spoke about travel bloggers learning from the print media. They also support each others work and at TBU in Innsbruck the very first Travel Bloggy Awards were announced. After open nominations attendees of the conference voted for their favourite blog in different categories. The winners should be delighted by this accolade and recognition by their peers – seen as their peers are as savvy and talented as this bunch.

Check out the winning blogs for yourself:

Best Design – The Aussie Nomad

Best Expat/RTW – 48 Hour Adventure

Best Foreign Language and Best Newcomer – Just Travelous

Best collaboration with Industry – Traveldudes

Best photo/video blog – Ken Kaminesky

Best travel writing – Inside the Travel Lab

Best niche – Trains on the Brain

It wasn’t all friendships and smiles – there were also some really heated debates. People following the event hashtag from home were joining in some of the more controversial discussions such as the question of paying for bloggers on press trips and the quality of writing on travel blogs. Whatever one’s opinion is on these matters it cannot be denied that travel bloggers are passionate about their craft. Whether their blog is a hobby or a business it was clear that the travel bloggers at TBU are passionate about travelling and even more passionate about sharing their travel experiences, and for this, I for one, am very grateful.

Kudos to the organiser of TBU, Oliver Gradwell, for organising such a well thought out conference – the content, format, networking and blog trips were pretty much spot on. Nice work sir!

For more information on what happened at TBU check out the hashtag #TBUIBK on twitter and for news of the next conference in Umbria, Italy check out #TBUMBR

Did you attend TBU? What were your thoughts/learnings? Will you be attending the next one?

About Author

Travel blogger and freelancer writer who loves boutique hotels and brunching. I've been blogging for 10 years, visited 60+ countries and called London, Sydney, Melbourne and (oh so briefly) New York home at various points during the last decade. Now travelling with a baby and trying to make it as stylish and stress-free as can be!

32 Comments

  • Andy Hayes
    September 5, 2011 at 5:35 pm

    Was great meeting you!

    Reply
    • Jayne
      September 5, 2011 at 5:44 pm

      Great meeting you too Andy 🙂

      Reply
  • Kirsten Alana (@KirstenAlana)
    September 5, 2011 at 5:49 pm

    I think you really got this right – there were some heated debates and a bit of drama – overall, it was a terrific conference and I so enjoyed meeting so many new people in travel and blogging. The best part for me was the clarity. It really helped me to define what I want to be doing for/in the future in the world of travel and tourism.

    Reply
    • Jayne
      September 5, 2011 at 5:56 pm

      Thanks Kirsten, sorry we didn’t get to chat more but I think you were busy taking photos a lot of the time 🙂 Heard great things about your photography tour so was sorry to miss it. It was pretty inspiring meeting the other bloggers and realising what a serious business your hobby could become. Certainly was food for thought. Hopefully see you at the next one!

      Reply
  • silviaceriegi
    September 5, 2011 at 6:13 pm

    interesting experience…I’ll be on TBU umbria 2012…we’ll meet there??

    Reply
    • Jayne
      September 6, 2011 at 10:21 am

      Brilliant, yes I really hope I can go to the next one so hopefully see you there!

      Reply
  • joolsstone
    September 5, 2011 at 6:18 pm

    Nice round up Jayney. I esp like the quirky angle of the ‘bloggers taking pics’ pic. You were clearly listening to and heeding Mr K’s advice! I really miss TBU.

    Reply
    • Jayne
      September 6, 2011 at 10:23 am

      haha thanks Jools, I actually missed the photography tours which I was gutted about but perhaps I took onboard some of the tips via osmosis.. or something like that. Congrats again on your award! Look forward to seeing you at the next conference – I may even wear my glasses 🙂

      Reply
  • isabellestravel
    September 5, 2011 at 7:09 pm

    Nice wrap-up! It was lovely to see you again and I`m sure we`ll bump into each other at another London event. 🙂

    Reply
    • Jayne
      September 6, 2011 at 10:23 am

      I hope so Isabelle 😉

      Reply
  • greg
    September 6, 2011 at 7:00 am

    Great Post thanks Jayne.
    really wish i could have made it, but thanks for giving us the lowdown 🙂

    Reply
    • Jayne
      September 6, 2011 at 10:24 am

      Maybe next time Greg…?!

      Reply
  • Mike Cotton
    September 6, 2011 at 1:43 pm

    I loved this conference and Innsbruck. Such an eye-opening and potential life-changing event. And I’m glad you didn’t hold the fact I worked for Big Earth against me 🙂

    Reply
    • Jayne
      September 6, 2011 at 1:48 pm

      haha good to meet you too Mike – bloggers sure are a sociable bunch aren’t they!

      Reply
  • Reine Gammoh
    September 6, 2011 at 1:56 pm

    Was the first time I had attended a conference like this too. Great post, and spot on. Was great meeting you there 🙂

    Reply
    • Jayne
      September 6, 2011 at 2:06 pm

      Thanks Reine it was great to meet you too. I thought the conference was great fun but also really useful in terms of meeting all the bloggers face to face. Hopefully see you at the next one too 🙂

      Reply
  • Ayngelina
    September 6, 2011 at 3:08 pm

    Jayne it was absolutely wonderful meeting you!

    Coming from North America I was really interested to hear the perspective on the other side of the pond and found it really helpful in building my own vision for my site. I can’t make it in April but I’ll be back next fall for WTM.

    Reply
    • Jayne
      September 7, 2011 at 1:16 pm

      Hi Ayngelina, was great to meet you during your time in Europe and I shall look forward to your return. Look after yourself 🙂

      Reply
  • Abi
    September 7, 2011 at 12:08 pm

    Great to meet you – though sorry I only got to do so properly at the airport! Hope we’ll cross paths again soon – Abi

    Reply
    • Jayne
      September 7, 2011 at 1:17 pm

      Yes great to meet you too Abi, albeit on the way home!

      Reply
  • Paul / MyPostcardFrom
    September 7, 2011 at 12:48 pm

    Was great meeting you and like so many others I had a great time in Innsbruck.

    Wonderful scenery and brilliant people made the whole event so memorable. – Paul

    Reply
    • Jayne
      September 7, 2011 at 1:18 pm

      Agreed on all accounts!

      Reply
  • TBU Innsbruck - What Did Travel Bloggers Think?
    September 13, 2011 at 9:06 am

    […] Jayne of Flight Centre UK couldn’t get enough of the jaw-dropping scenery, and was grateful for all the heated discussion (which is always a sign that people really care)… […]

    Reply
  • JohnONolan
    September 13, 2011 at 4:02 pm

    Fucking no mention of me, like, anywhere – but you know – whatever! Nice to fucking meet you I GUESS!

    THE WEDDING IS OFF

    Reply
    • Jayne
      September 13, 2011 at 5:59 pm

      Well I was going to mention how you made the extremely dull topic of intermediate wordpress development seem vaguely interesting but I thought that would be patronising. Seen as you have pubicly ditched me I’m not so bothered about politeness anymore! I should like to add under my comment that Michael Hodson was nicer in real life that Jonh O Nolan was not – although he was hotter than his avatar suggests :p

      Reply
  • Travel blog conferences? | marmalade.ca
    September 14, 2011 at 6:44 pm

    […] on this topic.Powered by WP Greet Box WordPress PluginLately Ive been running across the mention of travel blog conferences, and am wondering if this is something I should be looking at attending. I […]

    Reply
  • Ken Kaminesky
    October 14, 2011 at 5:59 pm

    Good meeting you Jayne! Looking forward to seeing you again in 2012 at the next TBU conference. I had a great time in Innsbruck as well. Great people, educational workshops and what a spectacular location!

    Sorry to see that your wedding plans with John have ended, what a tragedy! You know what they say: “Better to have love and lost….” Wait a second, we’re talking about John here! Never mind loving and losing, just put that whole shameful episode behind you now. You can do better 😉

    Ha!

    ($10 says my blog is hacked within 3 minutes of John reading this.)

    Reply
  • Peter Sommer Travels
    January 9, 2012 at 10:25 am

    Fascinating post and great pictures Jayne. Never realised there was such a thing as a travel bloggers’ conference. Great to hear such a thing exists and that it was so stimulating.

    Reply
  • […] bored. It was just as well as I had the chance to return last month, when I attended the Travel Bloggers Unite Conference, as it totally transformed my immature perception. For Innsbruck is by no means boring, and this […]

    Reply

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