Bloggers’ Take on TBEX Toronto

 In Alex in Wanderland, Uncategorized

Blogger Spotlight Series Toronto Skyline

Published on June 4th, 2013 | by Charu Suri

7 Bloggers’ Take on TBEX Toronto

The Travel Bloggers’ Exchange hosted its first 2013 conference in Toronto, Canada this past weekend, with several keynote speakers and sessions devoted to the art of earning a living through digital storytelling. Between the many parties and the cups of coffee, gorgeous Toronto skyline and the popular Speed Dating appointments with various destination representatives, bloggers managed to learn and make new friends, and get reunited with old ones.

Several sessions devoted to photography, video storytelling and social media made the conference comprehensive and exciting. It was terrific to see a session on how luxury brands are looking at blogs to see the click through rates in bookings. Katja Presnal from Skimbaco Lifestyle spoke about the power of building a community through Instagram, and the power of leaving comments, building a “voice” through photos and the importance of using very specific hashtags (rather than generic ones like #instagood and #photooftheday) so that photos are searchable when people are looking for something unique.

Speakers Gary Arndt of Everything Everywhere and podcast specialists Jen Leo, Chris Christensen of The Amateur Traveler and Spud Hilton of the San Francisco Chronicle addressed ethics and the need for better quality travel writing in the closing session. Dave and Deb from The Planet D spoke about travel trends and were excited about new potential new travel developments from blogger-designed suites to the importance of owning a niche.

CN Tower in Toronto

The CN Tower was yards away from the Metro Convention Center

Steam Whistle Beer at Opening Night Session at TBEX Toronto

Steam Whistle Beer at the opening reception

Wines at the Opening Night Reception at TBEX Toronto

Social Media (Instagram) featured on some Niagara wine bottles at the opening party

Maple Cheese at the Opening Night Reception at TBEX Toronto

The highlight of the dessert selection seemed to be the cheeses wrapped in maple syrup hardened over a bed of snow

Trey Ratcliffe from Stuck in Customs reminded us on the importance of integrity, and not doing anything for your sites just because it’s the fashionable thing to do.

While the structured networking was left to the speed dating session (each speaker received eight minutes), most of the networking was done at parties where there was more than a glass of beer or Ontario wine (or two).

Curious about the reception of TBEX 2013, I interviewed a few bloggers on the very last day to get their thoughts about the conference:

Matt Stabile from The Expeditioner


Matt Stabile from The Expeditioner says he comes each year to TBEX because of the opportunity to interact with people. “I’m based in New York, so it’s a great reunion of all the writers based there.”

What he enjoyed the most? The interaction between people who attend.

Did you learn anything? Yes, I get inspired when I come to TBEX. When you’re at home you live in somewhat of a bubble. All the presentations generate ideas for you.

What did you love most about Toronto? Can I skip that question?

Alex in Wanderland in TBEX Toronto


Alex from Alex in Wanderland says it’s her second time, so she liked catching up with old friends.

What did you learn? I come away with pages with notes on what I want to work on and be inspired.

Would you come again? If it’s in a place that’s feasible for me, then yes.

What did you love most about Toronto? I really loved the view last night from the Expedia party (from Center Island).

Heather Greenwood Davis

Heather Greenwood Davis from Globetrotting Mama is from Toronto: “having TBEX here made it all the more enticing for me to come,” she says.

What did you learn from TBEX? So many little tips, like Lola (Akinmade’s) great chat on photography, and this morning, the video blogging session with Kelley Ferro. You get to see people whom you’ve chatted with online and build those relationships.

What do you love as a local most about Toronto: No one feels uncomfortable or insecure; I just love the diversity of the city.

Monica Suma

Monica Suma from says she loved TBEX.

What did you learn? The main takeaway I got from all the panels is it’s not so much about how big your audience is anymore, it’s about how engaged it is. It’s about being the right person for the right project so that’s what I learned most this year.

What did you love most about Toronto? I didn’t get to see a whole lot, but I like it that it’s less people and it’s nice to take it in without being rushed by everyone. It’s got a good vibe.

Mike Sowden at TBEX

Technically not a blogger attendee, Mike Sowden from Fevered Mutterings said he came to TBEX because he was asked. “They said, would you like to speak? I said, ‘yeah!’” “This is an opportunity to meet people whom I have been talking with for years, and it’s always interesting to see if people sound like their blogs, and I have actually met people who do.”

Have you learned something from TBEX? Prepare your talk well in advance. Hopefully I’ll be a bit more organized the next time!

What do you love about Toronto? When I first arrived in Toronto, I was staying in an AirBNB apartment that was uptown, and I thought the city was Uptown and Downtown: that was Toronto. And the other day I went to the 28th floor of a hotel and found that Toronto goes in every direction and it’s just amazing. I thought I got a handle on what Toronto was and I’ve barely scratched the surface.

The next TBEX is in Dublin, and if you’ve not had enough revelry and keynotes, you can get your European fix by registering here.

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