I'm fresh off the plane from an amazing three days in Porto Portugal attending the fourth Travel Bloggers Unite conference.
The venue and support from the Portuguese tourist board was superb - incredible sunset cocktails overlooking the glorious cityscape and wide, fat river for two nights in a row. But what was most exciting was the energy and drive of the group of people who flew in from all over the world. Chris from Destinology summed it all up beautifully at the Destinology Travel Bloggy Awards on Saturday night when he said it had been a privilege to be among so many creative brilliant people for several days. I don’t know what the collective noun for a group of travel bloggers is but inspiration definitely has to be in the mix.
First up, thanks to Deb and Dave of the PlanetD. “Canada’s Adventure Couple” gave a stirring keynote speech to help new and old bloggers consider their value. I particularly liked the quote in their speech from JK Rowling “You might never fail on the scale I did, but some failure in life is inevitable. It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all - in which case, you fail by default.”
I’d also like to give a huge shout out to Janice Waugh from Solo Traveller, Keith Jenkins from Velvet Escape and Melvyn from Travel Dudes for the work they’ve been doing on tackling the hugely thorny problem of how to evaluate travel blogs. We all sat together at TBU Umbria earlier this year and agreed that the biggest obstacle facing travel bloggers and the industry was understanding the return on investment for working together. Today Keith and Melvyn presented us with some embryonic thoughts which I think could transform the way we work together in the future. Industry representatives who were at the conference will be working with them over the next month to develop their ideas, so watch out for more details at World Travel Market (WTM) 2012.
Talking of WTM - I think the growth and value of blogging is at a tipping point. In 2010 we needed to explain to some travel companies what bloggers were. In 2012 WTM ran a series of social events looking at blogging and they were so popular many people couldn’t get into them. This weekend, WTM representatives were at TBU encouraging bloggers to attend and highlighting how they could get involved. Great to see the blogging industry being welcomed and encouraged to attend a travel show.
I’m also looking forward to meeting Uncornered Market again. These bloggers have been on the road for 6 years quietly writing and blogging about things that interest them. A year ago the Global Sustainable Council asked for their help in talking about sustainability. This couple didn’t use ‘green jargon’ but were travelling and asking questions about how people lived and how their experiences could help them.
Hats off also to blogger collaborations. We sat together as a group earlier this year saying bloggers needed to collaborate to give them greater weight. In just a few short months there has been an explosion of blogger collaborations which will help to put blogging even more firmly on the map. Look out for initiatives such as thetravelershandbooks.com– a group of specialist bloggers who are becoming book publishers. Look out for @legalnomads glorious peon to the joys of local fresh food, Janice Waugh’s confidence building guide to solo travel Jeff Jung’s great guide to lifting the veil on taking a career gap year, Sarah and Terry Lee’s insight to luxury escapes and Shannon O’ Donnell’s guide to volunteering
Travel Bloggers Unite has been a really galvanising force for change. It's bringing together established and new bloggers, industry partners and tourist boards to discuss how we can all work and develop together. Thank you for everyone who made this such a great conference. Travel bloggers really do unite.