A month from today hundreds of travel blogger will descend on the Mexican resort city of Cancun for the annual TBEX North America conference. The yearly event brings together the largest gathering of travel bloggers, writers, content creators, and tourism industry professionals. This year the conference heads south to Mexico’s Moon Palace Golf & Spa Resort for 3+ days of networking, workshops, panels, and more. The conference runs September 11-14 and tickets can be found on the TBEX website.
But wait… What is TBEX?
TBEX, which stands for Travel Blog Exchange, is a conference aimed at connecting travel bloggers, travel writers, and tourism industry professionals. While travel blogs and freelance travel writers have begun to gain credibility and respect in the travel industry, most of the industry’s marketing budget is still being spent on traditional media outlets. TBEX uses their conference to both teach travel bloggers how to work with the travel industry and also to show travel brands how independent travel blogs and writers can benefit their business.
Conferences are held each year in a different travel hotspot, one in North America and one in Europe. Travel writers and bloggers are invited to experience the best of the host city’s region and also to connect with local and international tourism businesses. Conference panels and workshops range from speed networking events to expert panels on the legal issues of running an online travel blog.
Heading to Cancun
This year TBEX organizers have chosen Cancun as the host city of the North American conference. While the main conference will be held in the Moon Palace Resort, conference events, activities, and networking opportunities will take place throughout the city.
The announcement of Cancun as the TBEX 2014 host city actually happened while I was in Cancun on a press trip. It was my first visit to the city and if you had asked me before I went if Cancun was a good choice, I would have hesitated. After visiting though, I can see the appeal and understand why TBEX might have chosen this popular tourist destination for the 2014 conference.
First, Cancun has a bit of everything. Travel bloggers are often seen by the travel industry as just budget backpackers. While this is largely true, there are niche travel blogs across the board. From travel bloggers who focus on family travel to luxury travel blogs, in Cancun they will all be able to find their niche story. Cancun is a place that fits honeymooners, family travelers, luxury vacationers, and even budget backpackers.
Second, despite my own personal first impressions, Cancun is not just a spring break party destination either. TBEX attendees will get to see a vast array of Mexico’s highlights, from the delicious cuisine to ancient Mayan temples to gorgeous underwater wildlife. Many people visiting the city never leave the beaches but Cancun is actually an incredible jumping off point for exploring the larger Yucatán Peninsula. Travel writers visiting the conference will have the honor and privilege of showing their international audience a more complete, honest view of a city and country that is often painted in only the most broad (usually negative) strokes.
Personally I will be missing TBEX this year due to other travel plans but if you are a travel blogger, writer, or just hoping to get an insiders look into the industry, definitely look into the conference. Perhaps I’ll see you in 2015.