Bookmarked by blogger trips around the city, the event, for which TNT Multimedia was a media partner, was hailed a huge success, packed with expert speakers, top writers and digital specialists.
TBU Rotterdam officially kicked off on Thursday night with networking drinks at the Maritime Museum and a colourful samba dancing and live music display (scroll down for video).
The following morning, delegates, including 151 travel bloggers, crowded into the newly opened Mainport Hotel for TBU Rotterdam: Inspire, where Best Dad I Can Be blogger and funnyman Mark Richards delivered a first-class keynote speech.
“Thanks for inviting me to the sunkissed beaches of Rotterdam,” he smiled, as the rain hit the windows of the hotel.
In a joke-packed 30 minutes, Richards explained how he fell into writing, and imparted nuggets of wisdom about his success, ending with: “Don’t get up and wait for inspiration, get up and go to work.”
Gary Bembridge, travel and marketing blogger, revealed the results of a survey, questioning travellers on how they research and book trips online in his Creating Content For Travellers talk.
The findings highlighted that just 40 per cent of travellers had ever read a travel blog; 10 per cent of travellers have used a blog in the past year to plan their travels; and how valuable general destination advice (tips, how to save money or get the best deal, accommodation reviews, recommendations) is.
We’re here in Rotterdam for the Travel Bloggers Unite conference! It’s raining, but we’re smiling! Follow along at #tburtm
— G Adventures (@gAdventures) May 16, 2013
— Michael (@artofbackpackin) May 18, 2013
“We as travel bloggers, love blogs. But let’s think about it from a traveller’s perspective,” he said. “There’s a disconnect between what you want and what your audience really wants. Think about what your reader really wants.”
The morning session was rounded-up with a panel comprising Bembridge, TNT’s Carol Driver, Amy Skelding of Brighter PR, vintage writer Gemma Seager (retrochick.co.uk) and fashion blogger Laurina Kennedy (oneyearoffashionfasting.blogspot.com).
Afternoon workshops included a panel discussion about budget travel with professional blogger Kash Bhattacharya and TNT’s Carol Driver as well as native language blogging with Angie Schwaff, and luxury travel with Keith Jenkins of Velvet Escape, followed by networking drinks in the evening.
Saturday’s conference, themed ‘learn’ was a series of ‘how to’ talks, including: Think Beyond Your Blog with Brooke Schoenman; How To Work With Travel PR with Brighter PR; and Managing Social Media in 15 Minutes A Day with Laurel Robbins; Making Your Blog Get Work For You with Frankie Thompson; SEO Super Powers with Caliber; and Become A Resident Blogger with Jane Meighan.
TNT caught the Think Beyond The Blog Trip session with Ruth Haffenden of FourBGB, which included the various ways travel bloggers can earn money from their site.
“Stop thinking in terms of coverage and start thinking about content creation – your strengths and what you can offer,” Ruth said, including examples of photos, videos, running social media channels and supplying content for destinations.
Kate McCulley, aka professional blogger Adventurous Kate, then gave an empowered speech about how bloggers could work effectively with PRs and companies to secure trips to review.
Giving effective examples of how writers should pitch companies – and how they shouldn’t – Kate said: “Do not get in the mindset that they are doing them a favour; you are doing them a favour. You’re giving them something extremely valuable.”
With a few sore heads thanks to the final networking conference event on Saturday night at rooftop bar Engels in Rotterdam, the last day of the conference kicked off with a three-hour, one-on-one speed networking event, where bloggers could spend five minutes talking with industry professionals.
Speaking about the fifth TBU conference, TBU founder Oliver Gradwell said: “TBU Rotterdam was the world’s longest and our largest ever travel blogger conference.
“It established our reputation of choosing high quality speakers to deliver insightful and informative content to our delegates.”
Discussing the media partnership with TNT Multimedia, he added: “We are delighted that TNT were able to be a part of our conference, allowing delegates to learn from their experience and expertise.”
Carol Driver, group editor at TNT, said: “It was a fantastic conference, filled with vital advice for travel bloggers at every level. The calibre of industry experts attending, and the number of delegates, proved TBU is a must-do event for both companies and writers on a digital platform.
“TNT was proud to work with TNT and looks forward to announcing more partnerships in the future.”
For more information about TBU events, see tbueurope.com
Photos: Cacciottolo of Someone Once Told Me