September 23

TBEX Cancun: A Newbie’s Perspective

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          These are travel bloggers?

TBEX is the world’s largest gathering of travel bloggers, and this year my husband Jason and I were among them.

My first TBEX encounter was the pre-conference tour, a Mayan experience and visit to the ruins of Coba through Alltournative Tours. Jason and I were told be at the pickup point by 630am, but this is Mexico and of course our ride was late. I met my first travel blogger waiting here: Indi of Indiana June, an adventurer from New Zealand who was trying out the travel planning service of her own company, Out Trippin first hand.

Our van finally pulled up about a quarter after 7 with six people already inside. Indi fit in the front but Jason and I had to squeeze all the way in the back and listened with dismay to the profanity-filled conversation. Room service breakfast, how many cigars they smoked yesterday, the pool bar, the massages, the bar, the endless buffet of food and booze. Obviously these people were staying at a resort, and they were the stereo type of the obnoxious all-inclusive party traveler that the Hotel Zone of Cancun caters to. They were terrified by the driving and amazed that there was a Sam’s Club here in “a 3rd world country.” Were these travel bloggers? Was this what they were like in person?

I was greatly relieved to find that they were honeymooners from the U.S. and knew nothing about TBEX. When they finally took an interest in us and realized we were bloggers they slowed the redneck commentary on Mexico for a moment and said, “Uh-oh, are you guys gonna write about us?” How could I resist?

We picked up two more bloggers, Jo and Des of World Wide Adventurers, who had recently been in Guatemala and would continue on to Cuba in a few weeks. Oddly enough they were also from New Zealand, so we had the only three from that country attending TBEX in our van on the first day. They would become an inseparable three-some until we all went our separate ways: the 3 Kiwis.

Woohoo! On our way to TBEX we first got to do this awesome tour!
Woohoo! On our way to TBEX we first got to do this awesome tour!

The pre-TBEX tour was an amazing introduction not only to new friends but also a close-up of the kind of American tourist I am most embarrassed to encounter, although they had a good time too. We don’t stay at resorts, partly because of the expense and partly because we feel they are, well, fake. I think we were all hoping maybe we could enlighten the honeymooners a little, coax them out of their controlled environment, but the closest we got was a comparison of travel costs over lunch. One of the girls raved about the bargain of the resort, saying everything was included (except the tour they were on-and the spa visits, the cigars, the souvenirs they dropped wads of U.S. dollars to buy, and who knows what else.) For 6 days on the resort she said they paid about $3000. Her jaw dropped when Jo said casually “That’s about a month for us.”

The Alltournative tour deserves a post all its own, it was so much more than I expected. We were given photos and information afterward, a perk of being a blogger that I’m still getting used to, and a reminder that we are expected to pass on our impressions so we need to be paying attention. That first day showed me that travel bloggers really are different from other travelers: we’re not on vacation, this is business (even when it’s fun) and we are always aware of the cost and what it might earn us. We’re also always watching, so you never know when you’ll wind up featured in a post.

          Team sport or best-man-wins competition?

The next day it stormed, rain blowing in our windows and dampening our plans to visit the ocean. Jason and I took the day off and lounged in our downtown apartment until it was time to meet the shuttle for the TBEX opening night show at Xcaret. Not staying on the expensive Moon Palace resort where the conference was being held meant that we had to find our own way to shuttle pick up sites, but the long ride meant we met up with other bloggers who made similar travel choices. Waiting for our bus I was pleased to see my New Zealand friends from the tour, and another familiar face, archeologist and writer Nicolas Andriani. I had interacted with him online, we often liked each other’s posts, but meeting someone you’ve only known virtually face to face there is an instant connection, a feeling of “I know you!” that made me feel like we were already friends. As introductions went on I quickly lost track and began to look forward to getting name tags for all the new faces, but there was a feeling of bonding, of being part of something.

The Xcaret stage and dinner show.
The Xcaret stage and dinner show.

I wasn’t sure about Xcaret or the show; there was some suspicion that it would be cheesy or over the top extravagant. We rode an hour south on a comfy bus and were herded inside where we quickly mixed with a crowd of other visitors. I was a little worried that we would get lost, Xcaret is a huge place, but there were periodic staff yelling “TBEX! TBEX!” and waving their arms. I began to see solemn actors in elaborate Mayan costumes in the jungle, posing by fountains and in stone passages above the path. To my horror tourists were stepping up next to them and taking selfies. When we reached the theater I had to stop and admire it, an amphitheater for hundreds of people around a huge central stage. There were stone seats with cushions and long tables where we would eat a gourmet meal while the history of Mexico unfolded in front of us.

Waiting for the show to start someone realized there was wifi and word spread like wildfire through the bloggers. For the first time I felt the pressure of competing with all these people, all of us taking pictures and posting information, tweeting, trying to make an impression. I was very aware of the need to not only enjoy the show but to document, to take mental notes, because I knew hundreds of other bloggers were doing the same all around me. It was a little intimidating.

The show was amazing! Over 300 super talented dancers and singers, and tremendous athleticism. For the first time I was able to watch the legendary Mayan ball game being played with two full teams. Games gave way to history, through the arrival of the Spanish and song and dance showing the individual identities of different areas of Mexico. I felt rude eating but the food was just as impressive and I wasn’t going to let them take my plate until I had eaten every bite. I was sitting next to Mariel of Mariel de Viaje, a Spanish language blogger from Mexico City and I could see she was having the same struggle.

Bloggers getting registered at the Xcaret margarita reception. Are you in this picture?
Bloggers getting registered at the Xcaret margarita reception. Are you in this picture?

Afterward there was a margarita reception just for TBEXers, an excuse to poke around the place a little more and chat with other bloggers. Over drinks I met Jeta of Global Lipstick and realized I already followed one of her traveling sisters on twitter (there are three!) got to know Laura of Gringation Cancun who will be a “neighbor” next year when we move to Mexico, showed Roger of Cooperatize how to get the spicy salt on the margaritas out of the way with a slice of lime, then when the heat was too much we shared space in front of the fan with fellow family travel blogger Paige of All Over The Map.

On the bus ride back I got struck up a conversation with the one blogger it turned out Jason didn’t like at all, Edward of Practical Nomad and they got in a bit of an argument over bicyclists on the roads. I spent the rest of the hour long ride concentrating on the business of making a good impression (and keeping them separated) and Edward did have a lot of interesting things to say, even if we didn’t always agree. It was just a personality clash but that’s not a luxury you have here. Even in Cancun coming to TBEX is a business trip, not a vacation. Jason and I were both representing The Everyday Journey and I knew everything we did would make an impression. When we got off the bus I was rewarded by a request for one of my business cards by Cate of The Life Nomadic, who had overheard my conversation and taken an interest in our story. It made the tricky verbal wrangling with the other blogger worth it.

          Day 1: Pick your session wisely

The opening keynote promised to be interesting. It had originated out of a controversy involving dolphin tours that were offered prior to TBEX, then cancelled after protests and threats to boycott. I usually look at these things as a matter of if I don’t like it I’m not going to do it; to each their own.

The speakers were Dr. Martha Love of The Center for Responsible Travel (CREST) and Bret Love of Green Global Travel, and I appreciated that Bret freely admitted to swimming with dolphins himself in the past “because I didn’t know any better.” There was a lot of talk about environmentally responsible travel, but not a lot of realistic solutions offered in my opinion. Air travel is a huge contributor to pollution, but almost all of us had flown to get there. Plastic water bottles create waste but what else was there to drink from in a place where the tap water was not safe? Talking about ways to reduce our carbon footprint while sitting in a giant playground carved out of the jungle seemed more than a little ironic, but I suppose it’s a start for those who didn’t know anything about responsible travel habits before.

I have since read a post by Jeremy of Living the Dream detailing his investigation of the captive dolphins right there on the Moon Palace grounds. He makes some excellent points about journalists (which bloggers are) having a responsibility to personally look into the truth of these things, not blindly boycott them. How did I miss this guy at TBEX?

I frequently volunteer when I travel, trying to give something back to the community that is hosting me, so I tend to look at how travel affects communities and people. During the keynote there was some talk of not allowing the sheets to be changed or fresh towels to be brought, but I wondered how that would affect the jobs of the people who do these things. Bret pointed out that resort staff is paid very low wages and often not tipped because guests aren’t paying for their meals or drinks-too bad most of us weren’t staying there. I wondered more than once why TBEX was on an isolated resort instead of in the Cancun Convention Center, a place that would have been easier to reach from anywhere we chose to stay, allowing us to take part in the local community more and not have to shuttle back and forth on huge buses.

For the speaker sessions Jason and I were taking a divide and conquer approach so we could soak up as much information as possible. I had studied the schedule carefully and chosen presentations for each of us, but found mine a little disappointing. I picked topics that I already knew something about, thinking I would expand on my knowledge but instead I felt that I was listening to a lot of information that I already knew. Jason was new to all of this and was excited about his sessions every time we met up. I admit I was a little miffed that he was enjoying it so much while I was a little disappointed, but I realized it wasn’t because of what was being offered it was what I had chosen. My advice: choose something you know nothing about and learn that rather than sit in on something you’re already familiar with. On the up side, Jason was realizing how much work a blog really is, that I’m not just cruising facebook and chatting people up online; he began to see it for the business it is.

I was surprised at the reaction I got when telling people what my blog is about: our plan to move to Mexico with our kids, to document how we get there and what it’s like, and our lives while we do it. People were really interested, and not in the way people are at home who think we’re a little crazy. Everyone at TBEX is a traveler, but most of them were younger than we are, and few of them seem to have children at home, much less travel with children. We were moving our family to another country and people seemed to be impressed. I started to realize that we were different, that we stood out, and that’s a good thing for a business.

At lunch we sat with Alison, the representative for New Brunswick, Canada, and by the end of the meal I was seriously considering a visit even though I hate the cold. We met Wander from Best Day travel booking and transportation, and he and I talked a little about his home in Brazil since I was there last year, as well as how I might work with Best Day here in Mexico. We were soon joined by several of the TBEX staff, including co-founder Rick Calvert, who chimed in on our plan to move to Mexico by recommending some helpful language resources that we could try to speed up our Spanish skills.

I was a little surprised that there was alcohol being served so early in the day, but what the heck. I was more surprised when they kept appearing in front of Jason without any request for a refill. We drew the line at two Jack and Cokes at 2pm and had to walk away from the third one! Welcome to the resort! Yikes!

Jason was really impressed with Dave and Deb of The Planet D, and I learned about Pinterest but felt that taking on another social media outlet might be too much for me right now. I do, however, have a teenager daughter that might soon become an intern for me, and she loves this stuff. You have to use whatever resources you have.

After the final session we were ready for a break. I didn’t plan to do much with the speed networking so we met up with my friend Tim Andersen from Marginal Boundaries and headed over to the lobby bar. I had spent the week with Tim at his Travel Blog Boot Camp in Palenque a few weeks before learning what I needed to do to take my blog to the next level (very worth it btw and he’s setting up another one soon.) I was pleased to meet Tim’s friend Beatriz on our way out; she’s an ecologist and graphic designer at Arboris Graphics in Playa del Carmen; another soon-to-be-neighbor. I knew Tim and Jason would hit it off, and soon we were laughing and comparing embarrassing stories like old friends.

After Tim left for a meeting I felt like we should go do something productive, so we started back but ran into Indi and a New York based blogger, Brittany of Gypsy Jaunt, who were headed into the bar. Turn around? Mmmmm, okay! They wanted to sit by the ocean, so we kept going until we found Barracuda’s beachside restaurant. The waiters loved helping Brittany practice her Spanish, a reminder that I should be doing the same. Our table filled with margaritas, Jo and Des soon found us, bringing along Australians Dave and Carmen of Double-Barrelled Travel, and U.S. to Mexico expat author Tim Leffel. We quickly split into a boy table and a girl table and proceeded to enjoy ourselves, (another form of social networking.)

Bloggers after hours: Gypsy Jaunt, me and Indiana June.
Bloggers after hours: Gypsy Jaunt, me and Indiana June.

The Expedia sponsored More Selfies in More Places party started just down the beach, the lights and music clearly marking where to go. We drank and danced and took selfies that appeared on big screens for all to see. I think having so many bloggers might have strained the wifi on the resort as it got really slow and I sent out a mental apology to the regular guests. I met a photographer, Natasha, and she was learning quite a bit from TBEX despite not being a blogger. Jason hung out with Tim again and met Dave of The GypsyNester, whose wife Veronica I had talked with earlier in the day. I wondered how you choose music for people from around the world, and of course “I Like Big Butts” came on. I couldn’t help but notice there were no American men on the dance floor (sigh) but I found myself persuaded to dance for the first time in years, and it was fun.

Too soon it was time for the last bus back to downtown Cancun, and feeling like Cinderella about to turn into a pumpkin those of us staying off the resort had to run away. We hadn’t wanted to leave with the party still going full force, but conversation was lively with our new friends as we rode the length of the hotel zone. Including the taxi back to our apartment our commute was more than an hour, and by the time Jason and I got home all I could do was fall into bed, exhausted.

This is just the dessert table-imagine what else we ate at the Expedia party!
This is just the dessert table-imagine what else we ate at the Expedia party!
 
          Day 2: People who get it

It was another early day and our last complicated journey out to the isolated Moon Palace. From our apartment we walked a few blocks before catching a taxi to the Ibis hotel where a shuttle bus picked up all the bloggers from downtown. Our taxi was 30 pesos, and I always tipped 10 extra, so about $3 USD. Many were staying in hostels, some walking to the shuttle stop, and I felt a little indulgent that we were taking taxis and living in an apartment, but communal living and bunk beds seemed silly with my husband there. I had done my time in hostels earlier, having been in Mexico for almost 3 weeks. A little comfort was a nice way to finish the trip.

All the faces were starting to look familiar, and I started making sure I had cards to go with my conversations, like Maggie from Mags on the Move who I hope to see again when we’re in Orlando next spring. Morning sessions with Disney expert podcaster Lou Mongello on making the most of offline interaction and travel writing guru Don George on creating quality content were more interesting to me, and Jason continued to enjoy learning about the business of blogging. I met a few more people in between, including Mackenzie of A Wandering Scribbler and blogger/consultant Angie of Angie Away. Juan told me about his Tulum hotel, Azulik, and it sounded very romantic but honestly the clothing optional part might be a bit much for us!

I had meant to make the most of the resort and get a quick swim in over lunch, but I couldn’t tear myself away from the conversation. (I found out later that some of the bloggers ate lunch poolside-why didn’t I think of that?)

One final session on blogging in Latin America introduced me to what my future as a writer here might include, the good and the bad. Half of the speakers were from Belize, which I found interesting because they speak English there and I had assumed it would focus on Spanish markets. Most of the audience seemed to be Latino. I finally got to meet the infamous Cancun-based Kelly of A Canuck in Mexico and her adorable son, who I hope to introduce my girls to when we are next in town.

We stopped in at the speed networking, even though my smart phone refused to allow me to sign up for anything. I looked for empty tables and worked my way in wherever there was an opening, chatting with other bloggers while I waited. Becky of The Girl and Globe set an impressive example, meeting with everyone even if she doubted she would work with them; “It’s good practice for me.” I sat down with Erika from Travel Massive and considered the possibility of starting a chapter in Cozumel after we move-there are a lot of travelers there. We were called over to meet Scott and hear about his company Unikgo, a tourism company that focuses on authentic and unique experiences, right up my alley.

One of the TBEX staff remembered us from lunch the day before and had mentioned us to Andrea, a tourism representative for the state of Quintana Roo-turns out she lives in Cozumel! My numbers aren’t high enough for her to be able to work with me yet, but it gives me a goal to work toward and a foot in the door when I get there, so I was happy. I also really appreciated the assist from the TBEX staff. A few more quick stops at tables we realized we’ll have to work in some time on the mainland when we come to Cozumel in February so we can follow up on connections we made with Rio Secreto, Xcaret, Joanna at Royal Resorts and Cristina at Cancun tourism. Stephanie of San Ignacio in Belize was another interesting contact that might take us a little further out in the future.

This is what you have to look forward to right after TBEX-make those connections!
This is what you have to look forward to right after TBEX-make those connections!

TBEX is a business conference, and businesses come looking to hire. As a blogger this is a golden opportunity-you don’t have to explain why bloggers matter or what social media campaigns can do for them, they get it, that’s why they’re at TBEX. You don’t have to make the hard sell, you just have to show up, be professional and represent. TBEX is the place to make easy business connections that can last for months or even years, and if you’re not making any you need to look at a career change. As a newbie I wasn’t sure how the game was played yet and I still walked away with a handful of cards that make my head spin I’m so excited to work with these people.

The final keynote was on professionalism, and I admit that I only halfway listened (very unprofessional of me, I know.) We had been told that all of the sessions were going to be available online so that’s one I’ll have to go back and look at later. My brain was full and I was ready to be done for the day at that point. One final group selfie of everyone who stuck it out until the end and TBEX was officially over.

The last shuttle was scheduled to leave right after the keynote, meaning an abrupt end that no one looked forward to. Word quickly spread that several of us intended to stay, swim , eat and drink thanks to the resort day passes included with the conference, and split the cost for transportation back into town. We went back to the Barracuda and realized that we could eat whatever we wanted; our day pass threw the budget travelers’ worries out the window and cost was not a factor. I think we all had steak or something similarly extravagant and the drinks were always full, a great way to celebrate our last night that I admit made me re-think my no resorts approach a little.

It became very clear to me both at TBEX and on my earlier travels through Mexico that my poor Spanish skills are not going to cut it anymore. I can’t work with local marketers if I can’t communicate with them, so this is going to be a high priority as we prepare for our move to Mexico next year. I made some Spanish language blogger connections like Julio of El Souvenir and Alicia of Boy de Viaje out of Mexico City that I can learn from just by watching what they’re doing, and hopefully I can work with them when I get my language skills up to speed.

Carmen of Double-Barrelled Travel summed it up best: “It’s so great to be with people who get it!” She and Dave had been traveling for a year and a half and were constantly asked “When are you going to settle down?” “When are you coming home?” Jason and I are selling everything to move to Mexico, and one of the aunts had asked us “Why would you sell your house just to move there for a year?” Jason had responded “Because we’re not coming back.” People at TBEX not only “get” the travel bug, they’re all infected too.

I had been afraid that TBEX would be awkward, that I would feel stiff and have a hard time talking to all these strangers, but they weren’t strangers. They were my tribe, my fellow travelers, kindred spirits and fast friends. I spent my time beforehand preparing for sessions, researching speakers, but in the end the most valuable people to me were the other bloggers there that showed me that what we are doing is not only possible but reasonable. That not everyone is shocked by leaving home and roaming the world, and taking your family along doesn’t make you crazy it just makes for that much more of an adventure. I learned a lot about business, and I learned a lot about travel, but I also learned that there are a whole bunch of other people out there just like us. To all my new friends, thank you.

As we dashed for our overpriced taxi off the resort we were still meeting people in the lobby; Sarah of A Week at the Beach, Deb of Traveling Well for Less and Kathy of Will Run for Miles. Even at the airport in Atlanta, Kim and Kyle of Byte-Size Travel Kyle were our layover buddies. TBEX reaches further than I ever imagined, and if you follow up and use those connections once you get home it just keeps going…for a traveler the possibility of infinite journeys is one I can’t pass up.

Did you go to TBEX? Have you been before? What did you think? If I missed connecting with you please drop me a line!

 


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Posted September 23, 2014 by amelia @ theeverydayjourney.com in category "Mexico", "Travel

30 COMMENTS :

  1. By thebritishberliner on

    I know it’s a little late in the day but your write-up was brilliant Amelia! I’ll be going to TBEX in Catalunya (Spain) for the first time, so it’s rather nice to read something from a newbie’s perspective. Well done. :)

    Reply
    1. By amelia @ theeverydayjourney.com (Post author) on

      Thanks, but juggling that bike controversy was not fun, be glad you missed it! There were so many people, I’m glad every time someone like you that I didn’t connect with in person reaches out and says hello. Maybe our paths will cross somewhere else, or if not there’s always next year.

      Reply
  2. By mags on

    Great synopsis of the newbie Tbex experience (and thanks for the shoutout!) I too was a bit annoyed with the downtown commute. I would have saved a lot of time and money if it were at the convention center, of course we would have missed out on the last night of free food and drinks so I guess it’s a fair trade off. Can’t wait to see you in the Spring when you visit Orlando!

    Reply
    1. By amelia @ theeverydayjourney.com (Post author) on

      Thanks! I’m already starting to plan out our time in Florida, at least going to spend time in Orlando and Tampa. I’m deciding what we need to see and making sure we visit people we know there. Always open to suggestions!

      Reply
  3. By Louie Frias on

    Ah…very well-written and what great observations you make and share. Being a travel blogger to me means seeing things just a little differently than an ordinary traveler…and you’ve learned that. Congratulations!

    Reply
  4. By Gaurav Bhan Bhatnagar on

    Hello. Thank you for the post on which I came through TBEX facebook shoutout. I loved it. I am going in TBEX Athens and very excited about it. It is my first and now I know few things on what to expect. All the best for your blogging journey and hope to see you in some conference or a journey. :)

    Reply
    1. By amelia @ theeverydayjourney.com (Post author) on

      I can’t wait to hear about TBEX Athens, and who knows, maybe I’ll be able to go to TBEX in Europe next year. I’ll be sure to watch your progress, I hope you write about your own impressions for those of us who can’t be there. Have a great time in Athens!

      Reply
  5. By tripswithtykes on

    Thanks for a great write up. I wanted TBEX Cancun to be my first TBEX too, but will have to wait until next year – wasn’t able to make this one. But this provides some great perspective for newbies navigating it all.

    Reply
    1. By amelia @ theeverydayjourney.com (Post author) on

      We learned a lot, not only about blogging but about how to get the most out of the conference (stay late, arrive early, talk to everyone!) Wherever TBEX happens next year I’ll be sure to look for you.

      Reply
  6. By Alison Aiton on

    Great meeting you and Jason at TBEX – glad you found it so useful! And, just for the record, New Brunswick can be delightfully warm in the summer. You just have to come visit at the right time! :) Good luck with your big move, and I hope we run into each other at another TBEX!

    Reply
    1. By amelia @ theeverydayjourney.com (Post author) on

      That two nations tour you talked about was what really tempted me, I will definitely be keeping that in the must-do file for our future travel plans. You are a great representative for New Brunswick, tell them I said you need a raise!

      Reply
  7. By Jeremy on

    Amazing write-up about TBEX. I’m always shocked by the number of people that attend these conferences and the fact that I still manage to miss lots of people while there! I think by the time the nightly parties started I was walking around in a bit of a daze just because of the amount of networking and talking I had done earlier in the day.

    We’ll meet at next year’s TBEX, yes?

    Side note – thanks for the shout out about my dolphin piece! I also loved your point about air travel being a huge contributor to the pollution in the environment. My background before travel writing was as an environmentally focused engineer (I did water treatment, but took several courses in green engineering too), and it makes me laugh a bit that the blow-up was on swimming with captive dolphins but there was no mention about the acidification of oceans, which will kill pretty much everything.

    Hope you enjoy Mexico!

    Reply
    1. By amelia @ theeverydayjourney.com (Post author) on

      Thanks Jeremy! I’m sure our paths will cross again and we’ll have to sit down together. My husband Jason has a degree in Environmental Science but was unable to keep a job here in Iowa (regulations favor the farmers here not the environment) so he went into IT years ago. He has been considering going back into the environmental field, something we want to explore more when we move to Cozumel next year. Possibly marine science?

      The keynote was a good effort but fell back into a recognizable pattern, no fault of the speakers themselves I think. It always seems like people focus on the same small things so they feel in control and overlook the real elephant in the room. No mention of the coral reefs that have been destroyed around Cancun either. And it seems like there is always more talk than action-I appreciated that you didn’t sit around with a free drink in your hand and talk about the dolphins or what was said in the keynote, you went out and found out for yourself. A true example of professional journalism. Thank you for sharing that with the rest of us, and I’ll try to do more of the same myself.

      Reply
  8. By Erin on

    I’m sorry if you felt disappointed by the fact that our Latin America blogging panel didn’t concentrate enough on “Spanish speaking markets.” Technically, there was only one speaker from Belize — I was merely the moderator. Ironically, Dorian was the only one on our entire panel who is actually from Latin America. The idea of the panel was to focus on expat bloggers moving to Latin America and the benefits of being based here, as well as the pitfalls. Belize being an official English speaking country doesn’t make it any less a part of Latin America and in fact, we have an added problem of such a varied cultural make up here (Maya, Mestizo, Garifuna, Chinese, Lebanese, Creole, Mennonite). It was important to include Belize in this discussion because people want to gravitate here first since it is English-speaking and then they get here and realize it’s not the right LA base for most. (I lived in Taiwan for four years and the Netherlands for over two and this has been the most challenging base by far.)

    You would think with the accessibility of English, we would be further ahead in social media and blogging, but sadly, Belize is representative of trends in much of Central America. Look how different Cancun is with Kelly’s friends and contacts versus us one hour away. I was amazed by the make-up of our audience. Putting that panel together bridged a lot of gaps for TBEX in that our audience was primarily Latino because Kelly was asked to speak, and our presence brought in Stephanie and Trinity from San Ignacio Hotel in Belize. It was awesome to see a group of people attend who might not have ever come to TBEX (Kelly included) and certainly emphasizes the importance of reaching the local communities where TBEX is held.

    This is my 6th TBEX and I found it very different than those in the past. I do hope you will consider continuing to attend, even if they don’t necessarily fit your home base. You met some awesome people and, the one thing I’ve learned is the contacts you make at these conferences will invariably pay off — sometimes years later, but TBEX is definitely worth attending.

    Reply
    1. By amelia @ theeverydayjourney.com (Post author) on

      Erin I wasn’t disappointed at all! I went in with one set of expectations (Latin America=Spanish) and came out with a better understanding of what I would be getting into when we move to Cozumel next year. Belize is often considered an easy choice for expats because English is spoken, but there is a lot of English spoken on Cozumel as well and it is still a very foreign place. I was interested not only in what Kelly had to say but what it’s like in Belize-you’re not that far away either and we plan to visit after the move.

      It was great that TBEX had a focus on blogging in the region that was hosting the conference, promoting it to people around the world and educating us on what kind of market and opportunities there are. A lot of people don’t realize that Latin America is an up and coming market so showing not only outsiders but the local bloggers what it’s like for those working in it helps us to achieve success. Without TBEX I know many of us who are not the all-inclusive type might never have stayed in Cancun but just passed through the airport and on to more “authentic” places, and we would have missed a lot.

      I loved TBEX, loved the people, the connections, the presentations, and exploring the area. I’m sure you’ll see me there again next year, if we don’t meet up before then.

      Reply
  9. By Carmen on

    Really great post Amelia! I was thinking about writing about TBEX but I didn’t know where to begin. You’ve written it beautifully.

    And thank you for the mention. :-) Keep in touch!

    Reply

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