Behind The Scenes of Travel Blogging at TBEX


Ever wonder what it takes to be a travel blogger? Now’s your chance to find out. We were invited to speak at the TBEX North America in Fort Lauderdale.  TBEX stands for travel bloggers exchange. We’ll take you behind the scenes of travel blogging at TBEX. It is billed as the world’s  largest gathering of travel bloggers, writers, new media content creators and social media savvy travel industry professionals.  We’ve attended previous TBEX conferences in Toronto, Dublin, and Diana spoke in Cancun specifically about food travel. We always come away having caught up with old friends, making new friends and being filled with inspiration & new ideas for Food Travelist. TBEX in Fort Lauderdale was no exception!

Hello Sunny TBEX

As food travel bloggers we typically travel to destinations via a media or press trip. Our accommodations, food and activities are usually provided by a destination marketing organization (DMO) or by the business or product sponsoring our trip. TBEX is a bit different because it is a trade conference for travel bloggers. Speakers may have their basic costs covered but attendees make their own travel arrangements. However, TBEX does a terrific job of attracting sponsors who offer organize parties, tours, special events and access to unique experiences available to all the bloggers before, during and after the 2-day conference. This conference was sponsored by the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau. They did a wonderful job highlighting all the reasons travel bloggers should tell their readers about Fort Lauderdale.

Behind the scenes of travel blogging at TBEX North America

Carol Cain Empowering the audience at TBEX
Carol Cain Empowering the audience at TBEX

TBEX kicked off with keynote speaker, Carol Cain of Girl Gone Travel. Carol is well-known as an outspoken travel blogger who always speaks in her own unique and humorous voice. Her talk was inspirational and forced many of us to re-think how we present ourselves to our audiences.


The conference contains several tracks of breakout sessions in areas such as content, commerce, community, and business that focus on exploring ways to improve your blogging and your website. There are also speed networking meetings with potential sponsors, partners and allies. You have the opportunity to set up 10 minute meetings in advance for the 2-hour sessions both days.  These meetings are valuable opportunities for everyone to learn about others, discover common interests and explore ways they might work together.

One of the most important and rewarding aspects of TBEX is the chance to meet other travel bloggers. Many of us know one another only from communicating online. Being able to meet meet face-to-face is memorable, invaluable and fun.  Meeting new people and hearing their stories of how they got started and what they’re doing is also a highlight, and is helpful and interesting as you exchange ideas and information.

Lee Blackwoow of Eat Travel Cook at TBEX
We met Lee Blackwood of Eat Travel Cook at TBEX

We got to finally meet Charles McCool and his wife Julie of McCool Travel and Lee Blackwood of Eat Travel Cook. Industry authority Johnny Jet and his wife Natalie were sweet and very approachable.

The FoodTravelists Presenting At TBEX

We also had the chance to meet lots of bloggers who came to listen to our  Top Ten Ways to Accelerate Community Growth presentation. We did our best to engage and entertain the large audience, and loved hearing questions from the crowd. We really look forward to keeping in touch with the new people we met there and hearing about how they grow their communities.

BrewBrew Bus Tour at TBEX in Fort Lauderdale
Brew Bus Tour at TBEX in Fort Lauderdale

During TBEX we had the chance to take advantage of many of the TBEX activities. Before the conference, there are several “PreTBEX” tours that highlight activities of interest to travel bloggers in the host destination.We went on the Brew Bus tour of Fort Lauderdale with a dozen or so fellow travel bloggers and loved it. The plentiful samples of locally made beer was surprising and terrific! We can’t wait to write about our experience (so look to see us post about it soon).

Margaritaville Hollywood Hotel
Margaritaville Hollywood Hotel

We also experienced the recently opened and beautiful Margaritaville Hotel in Hollywood,  just a short drive from Fort Lauderdale. It was delightfully attractive and their beach and pool areas are stunning.

TBEX Party at MODS. We love animals!
TBEX Party at MODS. We love animals!

The big TBEX opening-night party was held at MODS, the Museum of Discovery & Science in Fort Lauderdale. We were treated to bites of tasty “Floribbean” cuisine and free run in this hands-on museum. We took a crazy, bumpy journey on the Zombie 7D Ride. We explored the intriguing geography of the red planet in the Mars Rover simulator. And we whizzed through the everglades on a simulated airboat, alligators watching from the waters and all.

The 7D Zombie Ride was really bumpy!
The 7D Zombie Ride was really bumpy!




We also had some time to take the fun Water Taxi through parts of the Intracoastal Waterway canals, the signature water passages that give Fort Lauderdale the reputation as Venice of the United States. Seeing multi-million dollar yachts and homes along “Billionaire Row” was like being part of a waterway version of  “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.”

Pan E' Dolci on Los Olas Blvd.
Pan E’ Dolci on Los Olas Blvd.

Of course, no trip for us is complete without taking in the local tastes. We explored the famous Los Olas Boulevard and found a few little gems that we’ll also be writing about very soon, including the ridiculously delicious Pan E’ Dolci with real deal gelato made from the owner’s very own Tuscany recipes. We had to sample some for you, just to be sure it was authentic. And believe us, it was! Stay tuned for more about that soon…

Mahi Mahi Tacos at the Hilton Fort Lauderdale Marina
Mahi Mahi Tacos at the Hilton Fort Lauderdale Marina

While in Fort Lauderdale we stayed at the Hilton Fort Lauderdale Marina. It was a perfect place to stay – right across from the Convention Center where the conference took place. We also had a handy water taxi stop right out in front of the hotel, making it easy to hop on and explore. We had a lovely lunch including a delicious Cuban sandwich with sweet potato fries and super-fresh and tasty Mahi tacos while kicking back at The G, the Hilton’s pool bar & grill cafe on our first day.

Caps Place in hidden gem!
Cap’s Place Island Restaurant – a real hidden gem!

On our last night we decided to venture out with our friends Katie and Margaret from Visit Milwaukee  to check out Cap’s Place. We went directly to the source and asked the folks at Visit Lauderdale where to get terrific fish. They said Cap’s Place Island Restaurant served the freshest in Broward County. Recognized as a National Landmark and Florida’s oldest restaurant, the entire Cap’s experience is extraordinary, starting with the little ferry boat take to get there. Intrigued? Good! This is just an appetizer. Come back and read all about our delicious experience of this one-of-a-kind Florida dining.

Early flights before the sunrise.
Early flights before the sunrise.

All good things must come to an end. The less glamorous part of travel blogging sometimes is the actual travel. We were up at 4am to catch our early morning from Fort Lauderdale to Orlando, where we are attending FoodFightWrite, a food blogging exploration of the exploding world of food sport. More on that in another post too!

Thank you TBEX for another wonderful conference. We loved making new friends and colleagues and catching up with old ones. We were inspired by those we met and picked up some amazing ideas as well. We enjoyed Fort Lauderdale and all its attractions.

Just so you know how popular TBEX has become, there are now TBEX conferences in Europe, Asia and even on a cruise ship At Sea, as well as TBEX North America. We hope we’ll get to see everyone at the 2016 TBEX events in Stockholm and Minneapolis and we hope we’ve given you just a glimpse of some of what happens behind the scenes at the travel blogging industry’s largest conference.

QUICK BITES: Travel bloggers have conferences too! We give you an inside look at TBEX, the world’s largest gathering of travel writers and bloggers.







38 thoughts on “Behind The Scenes of Travel Blogging at TBEX

  1. I’m so glad I came across your post. I’ve heard a lot about TBEX in the last few years, but hearing your first hand experience was extremely insightfully. Thank you for posting your behind the scenes experience and allowing all of us to learn more.
    As a new travel blogger, I’m wondering if you could give me an idea of what has been included in the registration fee of the past conferences you’ve attended? You mentioned a number of activities in your Ft. Lauderdale conference that sounded like they offered a great experience of the area while having the opportunity to attend information sessions. How many of the fun activities (the brew pub, hotel margarita, the water taxi, etc) in your post above required an additional fee? Of course any tips or advice you can offer for those of us who are interested in attending TBEX for the first time would be greatly appreciated!

    1. Hi Janine! Yes TBEX is especially great for newer travel blogger. Check out their website for all the details. The pre and post destination tours are free but you have to sign up and there are limited spaces so the earlier the better to get the good ones! We took advantage of the Brew tour while at the Ft. Lauderdale TBEX. We did our own food tour which is what we typically do when scouting out the best places to discover the local cuisine. My number one tip would be to have business cards and a fact sheet ready about your blog to give to potential partners you will meet. Go to every event (they are free and they typically provide transportation) and meet as many people as you can. Everyone is very friendly and happy to help. You’ll have a great time and it will benefit your blog in the long run. Best of luck!

  2. Thanks so much for sharing the TBEX behind the scenes details. I’ve yet to make a conference but I’m thinking I need to add it to my ever-growing list of things I must do and see as it looks to be a good time.

  3. Oh goodness the gelati looked delicious! If you ever make it to Panama get touch with us. We own VIP Panama Tours.

    1. Thanks for stopping by Randy! We’ll definitely be in touch when we get to Panama.

  4. My experience at TBEX Costa Brava, Spain was pretty much like yours. Great times, and so good to meet some of the bloggers in person that you’ve already connected with over the internet.

  5. I was hoping to get there this year but appreciate you taking me virtually! Sounds like it was a great event and I’m definitely going to try for next year.

  6. Thanks for an insightful and helpful look into TBEX. I’ve never been and I was wondering what it was like. Thanks for filling in a lot of the gaps.

  7. This was our first TBEX, and we loved it. My husband and I both attended your session (we split for most of the others), and we both honestly felt yours was the best of the sessions we sat in. Now to start implementing what we learned.

    1. Wow! That’s quite a complement Connie, thank you so much. We’re glad you enjoyed it and learned something. Keep in touch and let us know how you’re building your community. 😀

  8. Sounds like this was a great TBEX! Thanks for the report. I would like to sample that 7-D zombie ride you mentioned! My last TBEX was Dublin. Maybe I’ll make one again next year.

  9. Thanks fir this great recap! I hope to go next year. There is nothing like meeting other bloggers in person!

  10. Great read Sue. I’ve been to two TBEX (Toronto and Costa Brava) and they certainly had an impact. It’s great to meet others in person and get so much information from the panels. I was curious about how the NA version would be, and thanks for the inside look. I can see TBEX will always offer something valuable no matter where they are held. Hope we meet at one in 2016.

    1. Thanks Alison! Hope to meet you at a TBEX in 2016.

  11. It was a great conference! I think you’re the single person I didn’t meet! So many people to get to know!

    1. Sorry we missed each other Susan! Maybe next time 😀

  12. Thanks for this behind-the scene look at TBEX. I’ve not attended a TBEX conference yet, but would like to. Perhaps in 2016.

  13. Based on the two TBEX conferences I’ve attended (Toronto and Lloret del Mar (Costa Brava), I agree with everything you said. It is really nice to finally meet people IRL who I already feel I know from our virtual friendship. Is your talk on line somewhere?

    1. Unfortunately, they didn’t record the presentations. Definitely something to remember next time.

  14. We haven’t been to a Tbex conference as yet and have always wondered what it would be like. We are giving a lot of though to the Philippines conference in 2016. This is good to know what to expect. It would be nice to meet you and many more of our virtual friends.

  15. Great informative post about TBEX NA. I’ve been to 2 TBEX this year and can’t wait to attend the next…..Hope to see your presentation next time!

    1. Thanks Vicki! Hopefully we’ll all be in Stockholm next year 😀

  16. Great recap, Sue! Tom and I have attended three TBEXes in Europe and each one has opened a window on a place new to us and inspired relationships with the host country/region/city. Congratulations on your presentation in Fort Lauderdale! Love seeing foodie travelers on stage 🙂

    1. Thanks Anita! We would agree that the destinations are always a pleasure to experience at TBEX. And the friends we meet new and old are priceless.

  17. Thank you for the shout out and the awesome picture! It was so great meeting you xo

    1. So glad our paths have crossed. Hope to see you again soon. xox

  18. Wow, thank you for including my wife and I in your recap. Meeting the Food Travelist power duo was one of the top items on my mental checklist and I am really, really happy we met in person.

    Happy travels and travel happy!

    1. We’re so happy to have met the McCools too! Hopefully just the first of many my friend 😀

  19. Great summary of the conference. It was an amazing experience and the highlight was meeting other bloggers. I just wish I had met up with you when I was there! Hopefully in Stockholm!

    1. Oh no! Sorry we didn’t meet up at TBEX. Let’s definitely meet in Stockholm 😀

  20. We’ve talked about signing up for a TBEX conference several times and it was interesting to get a behind-the scenes view. What a great way to meet other travel bloggers to exchange ideas as well as learn about how to improve your blog. Maybe next year in Europe …

    1. Hi Anita! It is inspirational to meet other bloggers and hear their stories. It’s also a wonderful place to practice and refine your pitch when meeting with potential clients and sponsors. Hope to see you in Stockholm.

  21. Thank you for the insider’s view! I really want to go next year. I needed to understand more and this post really helped!

    1. Thanks Suzanne! Glad I could provide some useful information for you. Hope to see you at TBEX in 2016.

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