Presentation at Travel Bloggers Unite Manchester 2011

2011 April 21

100 people. A cosy venue. Experts who shared their expertise. And FREE wi-fi that worked!

The Travel Bloggers Unite conference March 2011 in Manchester brought together travel bloggers from around the world as well as representatives from PR agencies, tourism boards and online marketing companies. The result was a weekend of serious networking, new insights, lots of fun and many new friends.

The conference

TBU11 kicked off with a networking event at Manchester’s People’s History Museum. It was a terrific event where the wine and beer flowed and canapés were served under a canopy of bras (yes, you read it right… bras!). It was fascinating to observe these travel bloggers flitting across the hall, business card in hand, introducing themselves to other bloggers, PR people and reps from various tourism boards. It was evident that travel blogging has evolved into a serious business, and travel bloggers, once travel writers or hobby bloggers, have become entrepreneurs.

It was only fitting then that my keynote speech the next day was titled: “The Business of Travel Blogging“. I spoke about the origins of the Velvet Escape blog, as well as identifying and developing revenue streams and creating a strong personal brand. The video below (courtesy of Quno Spotter) is the first of a five-part recording of my presentation.

To watch the other four parts and the Q&A, please click here.

Blog trip to Tuscany: 5 bloggers, tonnes of buzz

2011 March 24
by velvet

Cheers to a successful blog trip!

I was in Tuscany last week for a blog trip organised by Avventurosa (a social media specialist based in Milan) and Casa Gentili (a B&B located in Avane, outside Pisa). The theme of the trip was “Like a Local Between Pisa & Lucca” and it lasted four days. There were visits to gelaterias, museums, monasteries, agriturismos, historic villas, and restaurants as well as tours of the countryside, Lucca and a cooking course.

Promoting local businesses in real-time

Five bloggers were invited for the trip: Me, Abigail King, Nellie Huang, Isabelle Kenis and Simon Falvo. This trip is a prime example of how a small group of travel bloggers effectively utilise various social media platforms to promote a destination and many local businesses… in real-time! During the course of the trip, we kept our Twitter and facebook followers up-to-date with short messages, videos and many photos. We used the hashtag #TuscanyTrip for all our tweets.

Shoot & tweet at the cooking course

The resulting buzz that was generated by this trip was simply incredible. People from all over the world followed us as we biked through the Tuscan countryside, gaped at the splendour of historic monuments and indulged ourselves with the fruits of the land. During the cooking course, in which we prepared a variety of pasta dishes, thousands of people followed us via tweets and photos as we made fresh tagliatelle. As we kneaded and stirred, our followers (from Colombia to the US and UK to South Korea) responded to our tweets with questions and comments. The name “Tuscany” became a top travel trending topic on Twitter (according to Wanderlisting) on two of the four days we were there!

Interest from local authorities

The buzz generated from this trip soon reached the offices of various tourism boards and the local press. An official from the province of Pisa visited us to learn more about this innovative approach to marketing the region. We talked about the value that social media and blogging can offer and showed him how we worked. A day later, we were featured in the local La Nazione newspaper and another local paper, La Voce del Serchio. Along the way, we added many local individuals as well as businesses to our Twitter and facebook networks.

Travel bloggers grace the pages of La Nazione newspaper

The buzz continues – part II

We started blogging about our experiences as soon as we returned home. The buzz continued, this time via our blog posts. I decided to run a check of the reach of the hashtag #TuscanyTrip, four days after the end of the trip. The stunning results can be seen below:


Five bloggers generated 260,517 impressions on Twitter and reached 213,078 people with their content!

The benefits of this blog trip will continue as we publish more posts about our experiences in the weeks or months to come. This blog trip successfully grabbed the attention of local and regional tourism boards and travel companies/organisations and I’m sure we’ll be hearing more from them. We’ve also agreed with Marco (from Casa Gentili) to supply him with links to our blog posts which he will then forward to guests who book at his B&B, thereby introducing our blogs to a wider audience. A win-win for all!

The Buzz continues – part III  (update July 2011)

Several months down the road, the fruits of the blog trip are evident. A great variety of posts have been published and an excellent case study of the Tuscany blog trip was made with contributions from the five bloggers. Here are some of my favourites:

Many of these posts have been syndicated to Lonely Planet. In addition, some of these posts were featured by the likes of National Geographic Intelligent Traveler and EasyJet.

Travel Bloggers Unite 2011 conference

2011 February 18
by velvet

I’m thrilled to announce that I’ve been invited to conduct a presentation on travel blogging at the Travel Bloggers Unite 2011 conference in Manchester, England on 26-27th March. It will be my second ‘gig’ this year, after my presentation on social media at the British Guild of Registered Tour Guides in London earlier this month.

‘The Business of Travel Blogging’

Whereas my presentation to the tour guides focused on utilising social media such as blogs, facebook and twitter to build a personal brand and gain exposure, my presentation in Manchester will focus on my experiences as a travel blogger. Points that I will include in my ‘The Business of Travel Blogging’ presentation are:

  • Your blog: a hobby or a business?
  • The importance of networking
  • Developing a personal brand
  • Growing your blog
  • Challenges and the gratification of travel blogging
  • Blogging and travelling

I’m really looking forward to it and I hope to see you at TBU11!

More information on TBU11

We’ll be bringing you 2 full days of networking and advice from top industry experts at the Travel Bloggers Unite annual conference, taking place in Manchester, England on the 26th and 27th of March 2011.

Once a hotbed for the industrial revolution, Manchester is now at the forefront of the rapidly growing Social Media & Travel Revolution.

You can expect:

  • Travel bloggers, PR and social media experts in attendance
  • Inspirational keynote speakers
  • Thought provoking panel discussions
  • A series of informative and fun “How To” sessions from top industry experts, covering a variety of topics
  • All in a fantastic venue in Manchester

Facebook vs Twitter – fascinating insights

2011 February 15
by velvet

This infographic shows a breakdown of the social demographics of Twitter vs. Facebook users in 2010. Fascinating!

Source: Digital Surgeons

Blog trips: how to make them a success for all

2011 February 1
by velvet

F1 Blog Trip Valencia 2010

With the explosion of social media and the growing influence of bloggers in the travel sphere, many tourism boards and travel companies are starting to turn their attention to organising blog trips as a means to connect with travel bloggers and raise the online exposure of their products. For travel bloggers, it’s a great way to gain new content and network with the organisers and fellow bloggers. From my experience with blog trips, I’ve learned that there are certain expectations and responsibilities that need to be addressed by both parties in order for the trip to succeed. Here are some tips which I’ve picked up along the way:

Tips for blog trip organisers

  • Choose bloggers with varying areas of expertise – this ensures different perspectives of the same subject matter. Ask the travel blogger community for blogger recommendations. In addition, check their level of online influence as travel bloggers often wield a high level of influence within their online networks
  • Full or partial compensation for transport costs (flight/train tickets) to the destination should be offered
  • Don’t over-plan. Provide the bloggers sufficient time to explore on their own
  • Ensure that an internet connection is never far away – travel bloggers are able to provide real-time exposure of the trip via their online networks
  • The itinerary will form the basis of the type of content that can be expected. Refrain from exerting further influence
  • The bloggers should not be expected to publish all the content generated from the trip within a short space of time (e.g. a month). A gradual roll-out of the content (over a period of several months) will ensure greater exposure of your product(s).

Travel blogger responsibilities

  • Give your hosts an idea of the story angles you’re considering
  • Depending on the availability of an internet connection, post photos/videos on your blog/facebook and/or Twitter page during the trip. On twitter, use a hashtag
  • State clearly in your posts that it was a sponsored trip
  • Alert your host to your published content
  • Create a trip report for your host (several months after the trip) detailing the published content and traffic stats of each post.

Most importantly, enjoy the trip!

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