|Showing the hashtag to be used for every event on the big screen|
The conference formal session lasted just three days, but was bookended with free tours, evening events, cooking classes, food tours and parties arranged by the hosting city. In this case, it was I Travel Jerusalem. You could also apply for longer tours that extended into the region in small groups. If chosen, the expectation is that a blogger would write about the experience and places seen. It's a fair tradeoff for anyone with passion, energy, and the ability to connect with an audience. We received a free transit pass and a mobile phone sim card so we could truly explore and share what we were seeing.
TBEX hosts conferences every year in different geographic regions, so there is an opportunity to see a variety of places, though many of the speakers and sessions will be the same. With multiple tracks, it's impossible to hear every presentation anyway. The other conference locations were in Europe and the USA. Dressed in typical office wear, I showed up for free breakfast and a group session. Then the tracks featuring many well known travel professionals were set up throughout the day featuring topics like monetizing your blog, working with other agencies, podcasting. With short breaks and snacks in between, there was time to ask questions of people I had been following as they traveled the world. There were also tables set up for networking with organizations like hotels or TripAdvisor. I expected I'd be among the older participants, but it turned out that I was in good company. Some were younger. Others were older than myself.
|Just a selfie with my new travel blogging friends|
Doing tours with other adults was a bit of a novelty for me since I normally travel with my family, and being with other travelers was nothing short of amazing. It was easy to make friends, share travel stories, and find a way to connect in future. We exchanged business cards and instagram accounts. I followed many on twitter and Facebook. Nearly every destination I had on my future travel wish list had an expert in the room who could offer tips. It was like being at adult summer camp. Though I was exhausted at the end of the conference, I thoroughly enjoyed it.
|On a tour through Jerusalem, we hear about local social problems|
|Ladies who attended WITS in Milwaukee|