Hi! I'm Elena! Welcome to my travel blog Creativelena.com.
For me, it is all about “life-seeing instead of sightseeing”: Join me as I create, eat & live my way around the world. Curious?
*Check out my book, “The Creative Traveler’s Handbook”, for learning more about what we mean by creative travel. Travelling means the world to me, makes me fit for everday life and sometimes, I trust, also calmer on the inside. Read this blog with a smile, share what you love and remember to check back regularly: After all, when was the last time you did something for the first time?
The TBEX Travel Bloggers Exchange Conference, easily the largest gathering of professionally minded travel bloggers & the tourism industry worldwide, is the third conference I am attending in April 2015 alone. Such has been the experience at the previously held “World Food Tourism Summit” in Lisbon as well as the “Social Travel Summit” in Hamburg that I could not simply give Barcelona, nor Lloret de Mar, the actual #TBEX conference location in Costa Brava about an hour north of the Catalan capital city, a miss. I simply find gatherings like these tremendously inspiring, hugely worthwhile – and just so good for connecting with like-minded individuals on a personal, heart-to-heart as well as business-to-business level. Which is close enough for us professional travel bloggers anyway.
Silence fills the room, as several hundred tourism industry professionals & travel bloggers let the impact of Jaume’s words sink in. Then murmur fills the room, eventually a clapping of hands as well as cheering support. “The difference you are able to make with your blog, your business, to someone else’s opinion (about a destination, about a country, about a place), is what really and ultimately matters to us. Be professional! Hard works always pays off. Make the most out of it! Some of the best tourism boards are here in this room: Emilia Romagna. Visit Britain. Visit Ireland. Visit Sweden. Go talk to them. Enjoy #TBEX Europe 2015 #InCostaBrava!”
The first panel session at this year’s #TBEX Europe in Lloret de Mar kicks off with an inspiring food tourism keynote provided by José Borralho, President of the Portuguese Gastronomy Association “APTECE”, a private entity of chefs, producers, restaurants & “food lovers” launched in 2012, as well as Nelson Carvalheiro, award-winning travel blogger & Portuguese food tourism brand ambassador. Having met both of them at the previously held World Food Tourism Summit in Portugal, it was an honour, and indeed a delight, to be taken once more to my beloved Portugal: “Our goal with APTECE is to promote culinary tourism in Portugal & assist with the local development beyond the well-known regions of Lisbon or the Algarve, focusing on the authenticity of the ‘real people’.” Nelson adds: “Culinary tourism really takes you out of your comfort zone of typical food tours in a capital city: It is all about telling engaging travel stories of restaurant owners representing their country and history, and about finding those ‘little guys’ who are practicing the same recipes over and over again, for centuries, because it is their family tradition. This, I believe, is so much more engaging.”
Food travel … is all about stories. “It is not about amazing food, it is about unique food! If you hear from this lady for instance, that it took her two years to learn how to make that very fine pastry, you are just so much more careful about what you are eating, hence more mindful about the entire experience.” Nelson has this to add in terms of food travel & blogging advice:
Besides, he adds his own story of having launched “The Portuguese Travel Cook Book“, a selection of hand-picked food travel stories about “the little guys and us travelling around Portugal with a photographer to meet the fishermen, the farmers, the little restaurant owners, asking ourselves – and them: What is your identity? How does your food transmit Portugal?” To this end, José Borralho supports the message by saying that this project is born out of a cooperation with APTECE, the European Union funds, local area networks, hotels & regional tourism boards in Portugal: “The goal is and has been to involve everybody: People need to cooperate!” Good ideas paired with local support end up showing real results, he argues: “When you have the right story, the media will give you attention. Keep a global view. Know what you want to do. Strike your key, put yourself out there, have the courage – and be an opinion-maker. Sometimes, you just have to do it – like we did it with the first ever European Street Food Festival in Cascais near Lisbon, totalling more than 80.000 visitors in 10 days. Now, more than 20% of Portuguese communities are asking me, ‘How can we change legislation to have a similar event in our own community?'”.
That’s José Borralho speaking, who clearly prefers action to talking. 🙂
For a start, I’d like to briefly sum up some of the key messages Gary Bembridge (“Tips For Travellers”, @GaryBembridge) as well as Heather Cowper (“Heather On Her Travels”, @HeatherCowper) have reiterated in their #TBEX conference session. Being spoilt among several panels to choose from, this is only a brief glimpse into the entire wealth of what #TBEX #InCostaBrava has been able to offer to us, following my first ever experience of this conference in Dublin back in October 2013.
Both Gary & Heather have the following interesting tips & advice to share with us:
Next, Lanora Mueller (@WritingTravel), Agata (@NullNFull) as well as Pola (@JettingAround) talk to us about building communities in a multilingual environment. Having a bilingual travel blog myself in both German & English and being fluent in five languages altogether, this session seems to be right up my alley! Or did you know that “English speakers make up the largest community of users online, followed by Chinese, Spanish, Arabic, and Portuguese”? All of them speakers argue that English, however, is “steadily dropping in prevalence, as it currently amounts to only about a quarter of the total content out there.” Five issues are to be considered:
Last but not least, Jennifer Dombrowski (“Luxe Adenvture Traveler”, @jdomb) as well as Katie Hammel, (“Viator”, @KatieHammel) wrap us up in an interesting storytelling session focusing on “social media campaigns vs blog trips“. Travellers, they argue, rely on (social) videos, photos, blog posts etc. for inspiration on where to travel, with keywords such as adventure, remote or experiences top of the lists. Presenting the example of Lipton and Starbucks in the United States, they explain about their strategy of hiring a variety of bloggers from different fields (fashion, photography, travel) in order to take over their Social Media channels, thereby adding fresh content for an existing audience. On choosing “the right” people to work with, the following issues are to be considered:
Matt Ridings, who calls himself the @TechGuerilla (!) on Twitter, talks in a fast-paced and engaging way about what he calls: “Think You Know Your Audience? Think Again!”. He argues that the so-called generation of “millenials” value “causes, but not organisations: Whether it is money, time or networks we donate for instance to help out after the devastating earthquake in Nepal – all of it has value, be it $ 1.000, two hours of your time, or sending out a Tweet through your networks. It very much is, a value-based generation we are dealing with.”
And this, he argues more of his interesting market research on the value-based system of the so-called “millenials”, also results in them currently being the biggest group looking for extended, meaningful experiences around the world. “One of the results of our study in the United States was the surprising fact that this target group tells us that ‘they would continue travelling despite economic uncertainties.’ So how do we resonate with these people? Are we able, through algorithms and studies of their content, to achieve a certain ‘content fingerprinting’, a ‘consistency of message’ in coming from these audiences?”
The following are his most useful pieces of advice for us professional travel bloggers:
Thank you so much, dear Matt Ridings, for such an entertaining and insightful speech here at #TBEX Europe #InCostaBrava!
Talking to us about The Future is Michael Collins (@TBEXEvents @TravelMedie_ie), who argues much like in our previous session about building multilingual communities that “the use of English is sliding, as virtually ‘everybody’ is coming online. As bloggers, think about it in the following way: So long as most of your potential audience does not speak your language, it makes sense to write in a second language. But once your compatriots have joined, the equation shifts: Blogging is a huge business these days! While it still means that basically any (amateur) can publish, blogs have completely flipped over the news business in a matter of less than 15 years.”
Offering further food for thought, he goes on raise the issue as to why Europe continues to be the most popular travel destination in the world? One answer might lie in its diversity, another one in its (relative) stability. But also, it is this: “As middle classes are created around the world, they all end up wanting to go to Europe. So think about it: Where is your demand? And how do you communicate to those audiences in the appropriate language? Are you aware of the right platforms? And which tools to use?” Interesting. Muffled words of support run through the audience, as Michael delivers quote after quote in his captivating keynote speech.
Content, he argues, is becoming more age-relevant, more generational, more active than passive: “Everyone is reachable. Everyone is a potential audience. To predict the future, I recommend you to spend time just thinking about it.”
Thank you for this interesting closing keynote, dear Michael! The following is a Slideshare Presentation of Michael’s talk during the #TBEX Europe 2015 conference #InCostaBrava:
Great summary of this year’s TBEX Europe, Elena! It was lovely to see you again, and to share our mutual love of Portugal alongside the Catalonia events. Hope to meet up again soon.
Lovely recap, great seeing you again!
Nice recap of a great conference, Elena! Thanks for attending our session of multilingual blogging and including it in here. Here’s to lots of fun blogging and more meetings like this in the future! 🙂
Thank you for a very generous and probably the most complete TBEXS wrap up post I have ever seen Elena.
We hope to see you at the next TBEX.