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Preparation for my first TBEX conference in Athens

I’ve registered for my first TBEX (Travel Bloggers Exchange) conference which will be held in Athens from 23 – 25 October. I’m always looking for ways to take my blog to the next level and hope to achieve quite a lot at this event. Blogging is serious business and requires lots of hard work and dedication. Just as I worked hard for my first WTM Africa in Cape Town this year (see: My preparation for WTM Africa as a blogger) I am also preparing very hard for TBEX Athens.

I’ve read the learning’s of other bloggers who attended previous TBEX conferences and adopted much of their advice, such as:

1. Having professional high quality business cards designed and printed

2. Having a number of shirts printed with my blog logo and other useful information

3. Preparing a Media Kit (see Work with Me). I will carry a few laminated prints to the conference.

4. Having a look at the companies that are available for Speed Networking sessions and requesting a meeting with those that I believe I can have a mutually beneficial relationship with.

5. Getting my electronic gear (camera, laptop, portable power charger / juice pack and phone) ready. I also hope to purchase a sim card when I land in Greece so that I can engage on social media easily.

6. Prepare a list of bloggers that I’d like to meet and start reaching out to them. I’ve already started looking at the TBEX Athens Attendees twitter list and viewed some of the bloggers (with their stats) on the TBEX Blogger Bridge site.

7. Reviewing the schedule, choosing which sessions I’d like to sit in and what I hope to achieve (see tables below).

8. Come up with a list of what I can offer and what I hope to achieve in general.

What can I offer brands?

While I generally write about backpacking and adventure travel (which is what I can afford on long trips) my niche is the US 140 billion dollar Halal / Muslim travel market which is growing at very fast pace (Read more: here). There are millions of people looking for destinations where they can be assured of access to prayer facilities, halal, vegetarian or seafood that has not been contaminated with alcohol or non halal substances, appropriate ablution facilities and segregated recreational facilities.

I can:

advise brands about how they can provide these facilities,

prepare content highlighting their Muslim-friendly facilities,

– and help get this content out to the halal conscious Muslim traveler.

With a professional Enterprise IT Solution Architect background you are assured that I will provide large-scale, well thought out solutions.

What do I hope to achieve?

  1. Learn about how I can improve the reach of my blog,
  2. Learn about new destinations and adventure offerings (for myself, and to get new content for my blog),
  3. Meet and network with bloggers and media professional (purpose is to collaborate and identify opportunities to work together),
  4. Meet with brands / industry representatives, tourism associations and Destination Marketing Organizations (to learn about press trips and ways I can work with them). Speed Networking is one great opportunity that I don’t want to miss out on,
  5. Learn about the latest trends in the industry.
  6. Establish contacts for other entrepreneurial ventures that I would like to embark on (e.g. by meeting with TripIt, Expedia, Wayn)
  7. Share my knowledge of South Africa and other destinations with others
  8. Have fun at an event that focuses on a field that I am really passionate about.

My planned schedule: 

I land in Athens at 4:30 pm. I should have sufficient time to get to my accommodation, leave my baggage and head off to the opening party by 7:30 pm.

Sessions highlighted in bold olive color are those that I plan to attend. Below it I have written what I plan to do / achieve.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

7:30pm Opening Night Party
Head to Technopolis for the Opening party at Athens Gaz Museum.
Hoping to meet up with some bloggers that I follow, network and make more contacts. I’ll have to take the train to Keramelkos.
Looking forward to eating some Greek Mediterranean cuisine


Friday, October 24, 2014

9:15am – 10:30am Welcome & Opening Keynote      
10:45am – 11:45am Breakouts
Content Commerce Community TBEX Business TBEX Business
Search Engine Optimization for Bloggers (I) Turning a Passion Into a Business: How to Monetize Your Photography (I) TBA How to Weather a Crisis on Social Media (A) TBA
Mitch Canter Laurence Norah Casey Mead
Daniel Nahabedian
I’ve had a look at Mitch Canter’s NashVegas website and Facebook profile. Mitch definitely seems to be a WordPress guru who understands web development. We bloggers all want to draw more search traffic to our sites so I look forwatd to learning some new seo tips during this session.
12:00pm – 1:00pm Breakouts
Content Commerce Community TBEX Business TBEX Business
Video Build a Better Blogging Brand: How a unique identity is key to blogging success (A) How To Network Without Becoming Annoying (B) TBA #Winning with 140 Characters: Learn How to Utilize Twitter to Drive Demand For Your Business (A)
Peter Parkorr Bret Love Kerwin McKenzie Mat Rider
Bret has been pretty successful in the eco-tourism / conservation / green travel niche. I am trying to build myself as a budget / adventure travel focused Muslim traveller who seeks and provides information on halal food and prayer facility availability. I’d love to get further insight from Bret. Is budget the right focus or should I focus more on luxury?
1:00 – 2:30 Lunch
I’ll be heading for Friday prayers to Tzistarakis Mosque which is 10 minutes away on Monastiraki Square. I plan to use the M3 rail to get there. Prayers should start after 13:30. Looking forward to seeing this Ottoman mosque built in 1759. More details http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tzistarakis_Mosque
2:30 – 3:30 Breakouts
Content Commerce Community TBEX Business TBEX Business
So Much Content, So Little Time: Productvity Tips for Bloggers (I) TBA Community Managing: Balancing a Company Brand with your Personal Brand (A) Tools for Planning Blogger Trips (I) How To Implement a Social Media Marketing Plan with Limited Resources (I)
Tim Leffel Jessica Spiegel Amy Jackson Jennifer Dombrowski
Angie Orth
This is a problem I’ve been facing. I can produce plenty of content during a trip but just as you’d advise a photographer to look up every now and then, I also don’t want my writing to distract me from participating in some activity while I am travelling.
Also, I spend way too much time editing, uploading and inserting photos into my posts. What tips do people have on getting photos into WordPress? Also, how can I more efficiently publish DSLR photos onto Instagram (I currently resize them on my PC, email it to myself, save to phone from email then upload it). I’m looking for tips to manage working with photos!
3:45 – 5:45 Speed Networking
I’ve been preparing for this session for over a month. Shirts printed with my site logo, new business cards, a media pack to share with industry / marketer / tourism companies. I’ve also been working on a pitch on exactly where I can help: reaching out into the $140bn halal travel market which is growing.
Meetings have been requested with 5 companies: – Concur/TripIt
 – Four bgb / Four Communications (Travel PR and marketing specialist)
 – G Adventures
 – Lake Geneva Region Tourist Office
 – Visit BritainSarah (http://aweekatthebeach.com/2014/09/13/tbex/) has given good advice on what I need to be able to say in the Speed Networking session with 20 seconds. I have to state: Who I am, what my audience is, why do they care what I have to say and what is my credibility and past success?
8:00 Evening Event
Networking, networking, networking!


Saturday, October 25, 2014

9:15 – 10:30 Keynote
10:45 – 11:45 Breakouts
Content Commerce Community TBEX Business TBEX Business
How to Do More with iPhone Photography (I) TBA Twitter Beyond the Basics: Tips for Advanced Users (A) Future Trends for Brand-Blogger Collaborations (A) TBA
Sarabeth Jones Laurel Robbins Zaid Al-Qassab
Understanding trends help prepare you to be ahead of the curve and prepare a plan to develop yourself for future opportunities.I’m looking forward to Zaid Al-Qassab’s session on what brands are looking for when working with bloggers – like me. What do they consider a beneficial relationship to be? How do they measure success?
12:00 – 1:00 Breakouts
Content Commerce Community TBEX Business TBEX Business
TBA Brand Partnerships: Before You Think Big, Think Medium (I) Harnessing Hashtags for Bloggers and Content Providers (I) Building Effective Blogger Relationships: A 12 Month Plan (A) Your Community Speaks: You’d Better be Listening (I)
Katie Hammel Colm Hanratty Chris Gray Faust
Sarah Robles
Following on from a similar discussion in the previous session I’d like to know which brands I need to reach out to, obtain advice on how to position myself, etc.
1:00 – 2:15 Lunch
Network, hummus and dolmades (I love Greek cuisine) and socialise! I’ll probably need to recharge my electronics after an intense (but useful) morning.
2:15 – 3:00 Breakouts
Content Commerce Community TBEX Business TBEX Business
Tips for Freelancers (I) How to Monetize Your Culinary Content (A) TBA TBA TBA
David Farley Andrew Dobson
Freelancing – that’s what I am doing. I contract to a corporate for most of the year while working on my blog and other initiatives in parallel. David’s been very successful writing for NY Times, LA Times, National Geographic and many more publications. I’ll take any advice that he provides.
3:15 – 5:15 Speed Networking
I’ll continue meeting with brands, tourism industry professionals etc. No doubt leveraging from my learnings of participating in my experience the previous day
5:30 – 6:30 Keynote & Closing Session
Will probably be live tweeting the highlights
8:00 Closing Evening Event  
Network, network, network!


Sunday, October 26, 2014

Post TBEX Activities
I haven’t booked any activity yet. I’d loved to have gone on the Saronic sea sailing & culinary tour but it’s booked out and there is no waiting list. My other option was to go to the outlet shopping malls 30 minutes away in Sparta, at McArthur Glens Athens (see http://www.mcarthurglen.com/gr/mcarthurglen-athens/en/ ). However they’re closed on Sundays. They’re open till 9pm on weekdays and 8pm on Saturday so perhaps I can squeeze in a trip if I’m not too busy the previous days.
I’ll keep looking at the list of post-tbex events (on https://www.eventbrite.com/e/tbex-2014-athens-pre-bex-tours-tickets-12195369679 ) and probably attend Athens Designer Week (I’ve never been to a live European fashion show).If there is any opportunity to network and further my brand I’ll prioritise that.

I leave South Africa on 4 October for a 4 week trip to Europe. Hence the reason I am making as much preparations for the conference before I depart.

To other Bloggers and Brands  / Industry Professionals who would like to meetup with me at TBEX Athens please give me a shout. It will be a pleasure.

About Zaid

Zaid is an intrepid traveler from South Africa that has traveled to all 7 continents. He loves to explore new destinations, experience new activities and go off the beaten path.
Read All Posts By Zaid

9 thoughts on “Preparation for my first TBEX conference in Athens

  1. Wow, you really have done a lot of preparation and thought out your game plan for TBEX and given me some useful things to think about too. I hope it goes really well for you – I think it will if your preparations anything to go by! Hope you get to enjoy your time in Athens.

    1. Thanks Anna. I know how the time can pass by so quickly during the 3 days. Helps to go in with a plan – particularly if you’re paying quite a lot to fly into another country just for a conference

  2. Great post! I’m going to TBEX too and I’m still figuring out some stuff. I also prepare like crazy 🙂 Hope we can meet! Wish you amazing trip in Europe!

  3. Great post, feel a little bad after reading this but still have time to follow you lead and get a good action plan going before attending tbex. So thanks!

  4. Hi Zaid! This will be my first time at TBEX too! Hope to connect with you there. I did a lot of similar prep with regard to the scheduling like you do. Trying to be as prepared as possible! PS – with regard to getting photos from DSLR onto wordpress, I was having the same issue. If you are an Apple user like me and have an iphone or iPad, I use a USB adapter and connect my DSLR to my device and you can directly upload your photos to your phone/iPad. Hopefully that helps you out. Hope to connect at TBEX!

    1. Hey Krista. Nervous but I’m still a little prepared. Looking forward to meeting you also.
      Not an Apple user – love my Windows devices (but I still struggle with photos).
      Looking forward to tonight’s opening ceremony

    1. Hi Elena. Great meeting you at TBEX, great reviews, thanks for including me on the dinner outing that night, and thanks for linking to me. I’ll link back when I publish my article in a few weeks. There’s so many stories for me to write at the moment.

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