Over the weekend I attended the Travel Bloggers Unite (TBU) conference in Rotterdam for talks, debates, workshops and networking (Find a traveller’s guide to Rotterdam here).
For the travel industry, travel bloggers form an essential part of a campaign. With their creativity and influence a PR idea can quickly become a reality in a way that traditional print journalists cannot contend with. On a traditional destination visit, an ‘old school’ journo may produce a single piece of coverage but a travel blogger will publish multiple blog posts, tweets, pins, Facebook posts, Instagram posts and videos.
Bloggers are worth a PR’s time.
As part of the conference TBU partnered with Mainport Hotel (@MainportHotel), which had only opened the previous Monday, to offer delegates five star luxury but for a fraction of the cost. Each floor of the hotel featured an Aladdin’s Cave of luxury with my own personal booking being upgraded to the Waterfront Sauna room which offered a stunning view over Rotterdam’s oldest inner harbour, a private Jacuzzi and, you guessed it, a sauna!
Apart from the bubbly massage from the Jacuzzi, the most valuable part of attending the conference was certainly the evening networking events where it was possible to talk to the world’s most influential travel bloggers over the comfort of a few drinks.
Whoever reads this blog with a career in public relations knows that building media lists is probably one of the most boring, repetitive and soulless activities in existence. By attended TBU Rotterdam the agency probably saved itself a week’s worth of media list building. The best way to make contacts is by talking with people, step outside of your comfort zone. A particular highlight of the weekend was having a meal with @runawayjane.
— Michael White (@michaelwhite1) May 18, 2013
Having spent the whole weekend speaking to travel bloggers I couldn’t help but cut an invisible line through the TBU delegates between marketing savvy bloggers with large audiences and smaller bloggers still working hard to raise their numbers. I don’t see audience size as a coincidence; bloggers who offered products and services, in large, have further reach online. As an industry attendee it is easy to get frustrated when coming across a highly creative original blog but then realising that sheer audience size isn’t enough to impress a travel client. Bloggers need to be marketing aware — brand yourself.
If you’re a travel blogger wanting to work with a PR agency to visit a destination then:
- Produce a media kit showing your blog’s latest stats and any previous case studies.
- Know your audience and the content they love to read.
- Get in touch with me.
TBU Rotterdam has been incredible and worth working for across the weekend. Amongst the 14 hours of talks and 13 hours of networking I’ve met bloggers who I hope will be great contacts but also enthusiastic digital friends.
Now that I’m back in the UK it’s time for a strong bout of sleep.