Posted by Nancy D. Brown

Chicago photo by Nancy D. BrownI'm back from Chicago, Illinois after speaking about travel writing at BlogHer and attending the Travel Blog Exchange conference. TBEX '09 was organized by Debbie Dubrow, Kim Mance, Maren Hogan and a slew of behind the scenes volunteers and sponsors.

Jessie Voights at Wandering Educators put together this comprehensive recap.

The program kicked off with speed dating, followed with four informative and educational panels.

Creating a Lively and Successful Travel Blog
Sean Keener – BootsnAll Travel Network
Heather Poole – Gadling
Matt Kepnes – Nomadic Matt
Michael Yessis – WorldHum

This panel provided a behind-the-scenes look at some of the top travel sites and the motivation behind their travel blog. Tips for content were offered, as well as touching on what keeps them bloggging and how to work with blogger burnout.


Jamie Pearson and Pam MandelWorking with Public Relations
Leanne Jakubowski – Social Media Director, Walt Disney World Resort
Kristin Unger – Chicago Tourism Office
Angela Berardino – Turner PR
Pam Mandel – Nerd's Eye View
Jamie Pearson – Travel Savvy Mom

As an accredited PR professional myself, this panel held great interest to me. As a travel writer, I look to social media savvy PR pros for trip planning and press trips. This was a well balanced session including PR folks and travel bloggers who work with PR agencies. The PR people are looking for well connected travel writers. Surprisingly, it wasn't about site traffic, as much as it was about quality content in a niche market.  

On the flip side, the travel writers on the panel talked about the ethics of accepting travel products for review and press trips. They talked about etiquette for engaging PR offices, what PR agencies can and can't do for travel writers, and the importance of both an accurate summary of your site visitors and social media for determining your influence in the market.

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Christopher Elliott and Wendy Perrin at TBEX ChicagoTravel Journalism vs. Blogging – is it all just writing?
Wendy Perrin – Conde Nast Traveler Magazine
Jen Leo – LA Times Daily Deal Blog
Chris Elliott – Nat'l Geographic Traveler's ombudsman and columnist for
Rosalind Cummings-Yeates – Far-Sighted Fly Girl

As a print journalist and travel blogger, I'm often asked how the two writing techniques differ. While it is true that blogging has become more recognized as a legitimate journalistic outlet, it is not the same as having a Journalism degree. Wendy Perrin noted that her CN Traveler column had a three month lead time, while her Perrin Post blog is timely and up to the minute with deals, news, and tips. All of the panelists agreed that blogging is the new frontier in the travel industry and that we are learning as we go.

Podcasting and Video
Chris Christensen – Amateur Traveler
Mark Peacock – Travel
Chris Elliott –
(moderated by Kim Mance of

The web is maturing and multimedia is becoming a significant part of how people use the internet. We learned that 30-second to 1-minute videos are optimal. The different types of equipment used for podcasting were touched on, as well as syndicating your podcasts. Finally, we discussed quality video vs. quick video. Here's my YouTube video on Lost Luggage Tips from this Chicago trip.

TBEX 2010
Understandably, the organizers were happiliy exhausted with the results of the conference. When I asked for next years dates, I was told that BlogHer's dates were August 5-7, 2010 and their conference would be taking place in New York. Perhaps TBEX will again follow behind BlogHer? Check back for more details.

In speaking with fellow travel writers and bloggers, a session on traffic and monetization would prove popular. It was wonderful meeting so many fellow travel writers and bloggers in real life.