At the beginning of September I attended TBU’s annual conference (TBU stands for Travel Bloggers Unite). This was my first conference about travel blogging and it was all about inspiration, learning and networking, just what all conferences are supposed to be, right?! (Disclaimer: I was kindly invited to attend by Visit Nantes and Atout France, but all opinions are my own). Before the conference, I didn’t know a “travel blogging industry” actually existed. But this turned out to be a really stimulating experience. I believe we should all attend, from time to time, conferences from outside our expertise!
Anyhow, I learned that there are a few conferences for bloggers, but apparently this is one of the best for gaining inspiration and learning. I found the opening session especially interesting: it was a session by Tina Thygesen, co-founder of a travel app called Everplaces. She explained in detail how she started her company and all the many steps and research she undertook to make sure it was an idea with business potential. And sure enough, now the app is growing a lot and making a healthy profit.
The rest of the sessions were a combination of debates about the future of the industry and educational presentations and workshops to pick up new skills, like SEO or Social Media. I found particularly interesting the way they closed the conference: the MC invited a few delegates to the stage and asked them to share their takeaways and conclusions. A great opportunity to reflect together about all the content shared and think about how to apply the new information when back to the office. There were also some news announced: the 4th edition of this conference was also the last one, because next year it will be a much bigger conference that will include other bloggers from the world of food or fashion.
As for the social programme, I really enjoyed the programme that Visit Nantes put together for us! During the first evening there was a cocktail reception held at the tallest building of the city, right in the centre. At the top there is this amazing bar called Le Nid, which features 360º panoramic views of Nantes and funky furniture from a local artist. I had seen pictures of this place a few years ago, so I was really excited to be able to see it in person!
On the second night, we went to a reception held at the magnificent 800 year-old Chateux des ducs de Bretagne. Live music and stalls with traditional food from the region made for a fantastic evening. I tried oysters for the first time in my life (and I liked them!), delicious cheese and wine, galettes and cookies that came out of a bike with a built-in oven. How clever!
After this, some of us went to the botanical garden, where a few times a year they open it at night and do a show of music and lights – and it was stunning! Soon I began to understand why Nantes is famous for its cultural attractions and its vibrant, arty scene. But that was not all. The day after we were treated to a jazz festival called Rendez-vous de l’Erdre. It’s a festival that takes place every year, there are around 8 stages with live music, along a beautiful river, and dozens of delicious local food market stalls. The organizers had arranged for us to be in the VIP area with food, plenty of wine and the musicians. Can’t really ask for more! Finally, on the last night we had dinner at a famous local eaterie, La Cantine du Voyage, in the Ile de Nantes. There I had the chance to experience one of the most intriguing tourist attractions, Les Machines de l’Ile. I found the elephant mind-blowing, as well as the carroussels.
After the conference there were different trips planned to explore the region, but unfortunately I had to give it a miss. Overall it was a wonderful experience to attend such a well-rounded conference: the educational programme was top quality and the social programme offered many opportunities for networking and exploring the city. Definitely recommended!
Finally, as an event planner, I found this conference was effective in terms of learning and networking. Almost everyone met each other because it was a rather small group (around 100 people) and there were plenty of social activities and networking time. The people I spoke to also told me how inspired they’d left and how useful the new knowledge would be to improve their blog, which is what all the conference was about.
Have you been to other conferences about travel blogging? In your opinion, which one is the best?