We cannot say enough about how awesome the Travel Blog Exchange (TBEX) 12 was in Colorado this past weekend. The Travel Blog world is growing up baby!

We arrived in Denver on Thursday to take part in an early party for TBEX speakers. Starting off at our incredible downtown diggs, Hotel Teatro we had a quick nap before heading off to our first cocktail party at The Brown Palace where we enjoyed martinis, shrimp and finger foods before hopping into a pedicab to convoy to our next destination, the Kitchen where oysters were served along side fresh summer cocktails such as an icy cold cucumber infused vodka. It was then on to the Wynkoop Brewing Company for more beer and mingling.

pedicabs in Denver Colorado

Fun in the Pedicab

The night ended early as most people were taking part in a road rally to Keystone the following morning and we were grateful for the most comfortable sleep we’ve had in years on the Teatro’s comfy bed in our decadent corner suite room. Their pillows were the softest most glorious pillows we’ve ever laid our heads!

teatro hotel, denver colorado

Travel Blog Conference

We opted out of the rally to make sure we were completely refreshed for our session on Saturday morning and instead spent the afternoon relaxing and catching up with old friends before the big welcome party put on by Vail Resorts. It was so great to see Beth of Vacation Gals and her peppy mom Rita!

Vail Pulled out all the Stops.

The opening night party took us to the top of the world! Well, okay not that high, but it was a long journey up the mountain. TBEXers caught a ride to the top of the Gondola to enjoy dinner and drinks at 11,444 Feet (nearly 4,000 metres). Sipping champaign and munching on chocolate chip cookies during the 20 minute ride to the top of the mountain, we bonded with Jaume and Gemma of Costa Brava Tourism who will be hosting TBEX 12 this coming September.

costa brava tourism board

Deb, Jaume and Gemma of Costa Brava on the Gondola

We may have been feeling the altitude, but our dizzy heads were soothed by a collection of the most spectacular desserts we’ve ever seen. As we stepped off the gondola, we were treated to a display of delectable sweets arranged in artistic perfection.

chocolate spoons at travel blog conference

cupcake hamburgers travel blog exchange 2012From chocolate fountains to sweet burgers and chocolate dessert spoons it was a sensation for the taste buds.

chocolate fondu

chocolate desserts at TBEX coloradoI was already full before we even stepped foot into the main dining area but we still managed to eat some more as trays of food were passed around and station upon station of tantalizing treats awaited our arrival. We met so many of our favourite travel bloggers and had a blast sitting on the patio sharing stories and laughing a lot.

Good Friends - Kirsten Alana, Alicia Taggio

Travel Blog Exchange ’12 Kicks Off

It was another early night though, because the show was about to begin first thing in the morning with an inspiring speech by CC Chapman. He gave exactly what a person looks for in a Key Note Speech. He was engaging, funny, inspiring and informative. We enjoyed every minute of it and were pumped for the next two days ahead.

Travel Blog Exchange Opening Key Note

It was then off to our session with Gary Arndt where we talked about Working with Brands. It was a packed house and it seemed to go over very well. People enjoyed the banter back and forth as we both have very different business models yet we both get the results we are looking for and we all had a great time on stage together.

adventure couple dave and deb with Gary Arndt

Passion

The theme of the day for us was Passion. Everyone was inspired and excited about the business and the corner it has turned. Companies are taking notice of Travel Bloggers and Travel Bloggers are taking themselves seriously. People were talking about pursuing their dreams and finding their passion and it was exciting for us to listen to the projects that our fellow bloggers have coming up!

The afternoon consisted of a networking session where we had the chance to chat with brands and pr companies while sipping wine and eating more delicious treats as well as more catching up with our favourite friends.

Parties

The biggest excitement for us came that night during the Expedia Summer Shindig at the stables. They pulled out all the stops with a mechanical bull, calf roping, line dancing, a country and western band and cowboy hats for everyone.

adventurer Dave Bouskill on a Mechanical Bull

Dave takes his turn at Bull Riding

It was here that they announced their new Find Yours Campaign and our video was featured along side Trip Styler and Passports with Purpose. We Found our Harmony in Thailand and our Bliss in India.

Friends from Budget Travel Sac, Traveling Philosopher, Julia Dimon, Captain and Clark were also featured in the campaign as well. It was so exciting. Expedia is leading the way when it comes to working with travel bloggers in innovative ways and we are so proud to be a part of the team. We’ll be heading out on our first trip with Expedia next month when we Run With the Bulls in Spain! 

Adventure Couple Dave and Deb posing with Expedia photo

Exciting Events at Travel Blog Exchange

Travel Blog Exchange Event

The next day went on with more sessions but we spent our morning in meetings with so many exciting people and businesses. The breakout sessions were a whirlwind and while it was confusing at times with the overwhelming number of tables and people, I think it is a great idea. Dave and I made the mistake of double booking ourselves and making appointments manually while not cross checking our presdo session appointments which made us miss a couple of people that we wanted to meet. I think with all the excitement in the room, we weren’t missed as someone probably plopped down into an empty chair to take our place!

We attended two more sessions in the afternoon. I took notes during the Email Marketing with your Newsletter with Scott Carmichael, Natalie Bahadur and Johnny Jet while Dave attended our favourite travel host and friend Julia Dimon’s session with Monica McCarthy, on How to be a Rock Star Host.

Closing Remarks and Keynote

It was time for TBEX to come to an end with the final Keynote by Christopher Baker who had an impressive resume from three decades of travel. I hope that we find his level of success one day and it is inspiring to see someone who has pursued his passion throughout his life and still enjoys his job each day to the fullest.

Travel Bloggers Exchange 2012 Closing Remarks

Rick, Kim and Jaume on the Stage talking about TBEX Europe

Passing the Torch

But the real emotion came when Kim Mance and Rick Calvert took the stage for closing remarks. It was a “passing of the torch moment,” and I teared up when Kim and Rick both choked up while talking. Keeping things light, Kim remarked “I didn’t even cry when my kids went to kindergarten.” Yes, her baby; TBEX  has grown up and now it is left in the hands of the good people from Blog World. Kim is free to pursue her TV dreams (congratulations on the two upcoming travel shows!) and Rick, Patty, Mary Jo, Dave, Jim, Shane and Chris are ready and able to take the reigns.

TBEX Europe in Girona, Spain promises to be bigger and better and with the TBEX crew joining forces with the Costa Brava powerhouses, I can’t wait to see what they come up with!

Travel Couple Dave and Deb with Spanish Tourism

Dave and Deb with Jaume of Costa Brava

We feel TBEX ’12 was a huge success. This event was filled with positive energy. People were networking and bouncing ideas off one another, information was being shared and it was open court for everyone to join in. There is an energy in the air and we all felt that we had been a part of history in the making. Travel Blogging has reached a new level and we are thrilled to be a part of it.

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51 Comments

  1. lola

    great roundup of TBEX in Keystone, Planet D. it was super to quickly meet you Deb. i look forward to connecting again down the road. perhaps even TBEX in Costa Brava. you two are so approachable and your love for travel & adventure is infectious. i’m a BIG fan! keep leading the way and showing us a good example of how to be great in this business of travel blogging.

    cheers – lola

  2. Britany

    Deb, it was great meeting you briefly on the last day! I, too, got a little choked up when Kim and Rick took the stage, especially when they said that travel bloggers deserve this kind of professional conference. Your blogging career is an inspiration and I hope to someday take my baby blog to this level! thanks to both of you for being an example of what all this hard work can amount to!

  3. Laurence

    Looks like fun! I’m going to have to make the effort to make it to one of these conferences.. if only to actually get to finally meet you guys in person :D

  4. Iain Mallory

    It’s great to hear that TBEX was a success and i am sure that you two and Jaume rocked the conference. Thanks for sharing your experiences there, wish I could have joined you all.

  5. JD Andrews

    Great post guys! It was really a great time and I’m so glad we could catch-up! Can’t wait for Spain!!
    ~jd
    p.s. – your panel photo looks familiar ;)

  6. C.C. Chapman

    Great recap from start to finish and thank you very much for the kind words about my speech. With a new audience like this I wasn’t sure how it was going to go over, but everything I’ve heard has been great which makes my last minute, quick trip fully worth it.

  7. Tim Leffel

    Great meeting you both last weekend. This was indeed a terrific conference. Looking forward to featuring your story on the TravelWriting2.com blog to inspire others.

  8. Jeremy Branham

    Great recap of the weekend. I wish I had been able to stick around on Sunday but I had a great time. I had so much fun meeting both of you as it was one of the highlights of the weekend. Hopefully we will have the chance to see more of each other in the future :)

  9. Rita

    TBEX was a wonderful time and hanging out with the two of you was a blast! Too bad I didn’t know you were hanging out at Hotel Teatro, my son-in-law in the concierge there! Next time you’re in town, give me a heads up! And, thanks for the mention above! :-)

  10. Jerri Stephenson

    Great roundup! It was super exciting to meet you both, although just briefly. I thought the expedia video was fantastic. I teared up a little, too! Hopefully will get to meet you again in the near future!

  11. Caz Makepeace

    I hate missing a party! With. a. passion.
    I think we are really going to try to make next years. Shame there is like 10 travel bloggers in Oz or we could bring it down under

  12. Laura

    This was an amazing experience for me as someone who is transitioning from one career to a career in travel. I was also humbled by the spirit of generosity and sharing the experienced and successful bloggers and writers put forth to people like me. Thank you!

    1. Nomadic Translator @latinAbroad

      Wow Laura, loved your comment. I’m also transitioning: From a corporate to a location-independent career. Like you, I was humbled by the generosity and advice given to me by successful bloggers and writers at TBEX.

      Such an inspiring weekend it was!

  13. Turtle

    Sounds like a great event. I can’t wait for Costa Brava – I hope you’re right about it being bigger and better than ever!

  14. Nomadic Translator @latinAbroad

    “Travel Blogging has reached a new level and we are thrilled to be a part of it”

    Well said! It was so good to finally get to meet you and other role models of mine. I’m excited about the future and the new partnerships forged at TBEX 2012.

    I’ve been transformed and further inspired to work even harder toward my dream of becoming a full-time nomadic translator, blogger, and bilingual travel writer. Here’s to the next inspiring conference and/or meet-up!

    Cheers,

    -Maria Alexandra

  15. Juno

    It was great to meet you both at this TBEX finally! :) What a great time. I really had a lot of fun, and learnt a lot. Now it’s time to sit and think, for my next move! Thanks for the great time.

  16. Christy

    It was so good to finally meet you, Deb. I agree with the above comment – You two are so approachable and your energy is contagious. I can see why you are so loved.

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  18. Christina

    That sounds like so much fun! I wish I could have attended, it would have been great to meet everyone and see you guys again. Coming to London again anytime soon? Or TBEX Europe?

  19. JoAnna

    Sounds like I may need to add it back onto my travel agenda. The last couple years have left me feeling sort of ‘meh’ about TBEX, but perhaps it’s time to give it another try.

  20. Jonathan Look, Jr.

    This looks like an amazing good time. Numbers are increasing, money is stating to leak in and offers from sponsors are starting to happen but I still have a lot to learn. Maybe I can give it a try next year. Besides, looks like a fine party!

  21. Kristen

    Amazing! So wish I could have been there. I have huge plans for my blog this year, so I will definitely be seeing you next year! Glad to see you had such a great time.

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  23. Kirsten

    I love that photograph of us!! And it was soo good to see you two again. Plus, TBEX really was a great event this year. I just cannot wait to see what TBEX in Spain is like.

    1. debndave Post author

      Agreed! We didn’t get enough photographs with all the people we love. I’m glad we managed to snap this one with you. We’re always too busy talking and laughing to remember to take photographs at these events. I have to rely on everyone else to get them. Yes, I am so looking forward to Spain. We haven’t been to Costa Brava yet, so it’s going to be a blast!

  24. Annabel Candy, Get In the Hot Spot

    Hi Dave and Deb,

    You can’t beat meeting people in real life and that chocolate fountain looks like it would be worth making the trip for too… even from Australia:)

    I was in your homeland of Canada for the Go Media conference this year which was fabulous but I hope to make it to TBex another time and meet you somewhere along the line too:)

    1. debndave Post author

      Annabel, that’s fantastic and yes, the chocolate fountain was devine. We’ve never made it to Go Media, it’s funny how Canada never thinks of their own bloggers in their back yard, we always have to go outside the country…it’s exactly the way we treat our actors and athletes as well. They don’t get the breaks here in Canada, but once they head to the US or overseas, everybody loves them.
      That’s how we feel about GoMedia, they hardly invite any Canadian Travel Bloggers. Hopefully that will change in the future:) Glad you enjoyed it though1

  25. Hayden

    What a great run-down – I wish I could’ve attended this year but alas, the planets did not align.

    The pics looked fantastic… thanks for sharing.

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  27. Brinda

    It’s great to hear that TBEX was a success and i am sure that you two and Jaume rocked the conference. Thanks for sharing your experiences there, wish I could have joined you all.

  28. Shalu

    Looks like you had a lot of fun at the traveller exchange. May I ask about the photo on the haystack, is it of the Golden Temple in India?

  29. alexander benjamin

    Hey i hope this information would help you

    Networking is an important component of the TBEX convention, with bloggers not only engaging with one another but with public relations reps from destinations eager to host travel writers.
    Those destinations stand to gain the most from TBEX.
    Rick Calvert, the co-founder of BlogWorld who recently acquired TBEX, expects the Keystone rally could stir more than 50 million impressions from readers fielding the bloggers’ TBEX Twitter posts

  30. Becki Orth

    Yay!! TBEX Colorado was so much fun, and Andy and I are getting excited about Toronto and we are kicking off our RTW trip next in Dublin for TBEX! We cannot wait to go and see our blogger friends again!

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