It's the middle of the night. I'm sitting at my computer fretting over a couple of things in our business that aren't quite going as planned. Every once in a while, there are pressures and demands and sometimes things don't quite go the way we wanted it. Not the case with Expedia. As I sit frustrated with certain factions of our business, I smile when I think about our long term relationship with Expedia and how proud we are to be a part of the Expedia Viewfinders. The Expedia Viewfinders are a group of a dozen travel bloggers and Expedia team members that represent and write for the Expedia Viewfinder Blog. We were all hand-selected by Sarah Gavin and Spencer Spellman to put a face to the Expedia brand and lend our voice to help make the Expedia travel experience more social. I popped over to the blog tonight to see what was new and low and behold our spotlight interview was up by Hip Travel Mama. Anne Taylor Hartzell wrote a beautiful introduction to our interview. It was so sincere and heartwarming that it brought a tear to my eye. A tear that was much needed in my state of frustration this evening. As I was about to hit publish today, I popped over again and saw that our interview with Trish of TripStyler was published yesterday! Is this perfect timing or what?
ViewFinder Spotlight our interview with TripStyler
Trish Friesen “We first met Trish Friesen (a.k.a., Trip Styler) at a conference in Colorado. Both of our campaigns were being featured at an event, and we instantly bonded. We were all nervous and excited to see our videos for the first time and we stayed close to offer each other support and encouragement. There was no need to be nervous, as Dave and I were blown away by the spot Expedia put together about Trish's trip to Mexico. It was a moving piece that recounted a trip she took to Baja California de Sur at the age of 18 to help build a medical clinic. It changed her life and shaped her future. It was that trip that helped her decide to go to school for international developmen
Viewfinders at TBEX
I was already thinking of writing a post about the Expedia Viewfinder blog this month. I was originally thinking I'd tell you all what it was all about and what we did for them. But after spending time with many of our fellow viewfinders at the TBEX (Travel Bloggers Exchange) Conference in Cancun, I decided to go a little more personal. Dave and I spoke at TBEX this year about the value of building relationships in business. We work with several partners that we have long standing relationships. To us, it is the best way to do business. When you genuinely like someone, it makes the business process work smoothly. As Susan Darch of Travel Alberta said to us at GoMedia this year “I want to work with people I like.” We like working with Travel Alberta and we like working with Expedia.
See more of our business relationships on our sponsors page
We'll be doing a part two in a week or two about our other fellow Viewfinders, but today I thought I'd write a little something about the gang we saw in Mexico. It was a festive time that felt more like a family reunion than a work event!
My first story is about Carol Caine of Girl Gone Travel. Carol joined the Viewfinders this year and during our annual meeting in Seattle, Dave and I didn't get enough time to get to know her. All I knew is that I enjoyed her high energy and spirit. Well, in Cancun, we had three days together swimming with whale sharks, ziplining through cenotes and enjoying dinner and drinks in Playa del Carmen. She even woke up early for sunrise to take some photos of us on the beach! Little did we know she was crafting a sneaky and heartwarming piece about Dave and I.
Yet another article that brought a tear to my eye by a fellow Viewfinder. We felt like two peas in a pod. I loved her straight to the point honesty, but with a soft delivery. She has a subtle quality that makes people listen yet a dynamic personality that makes everyone want to be her friend! She stole the show at our HouseTrip PreBex trip and everyone instantly fell in love with her. She reminded me of Dave, and I think that's why we got along so well.
Anne Taylor Hartzell
As you'll read in Anne's profile of us on Expedia Viewfinder, you'll see that Anne and I have always tried to connect, but we never get the chance to talk! I think we are both always pulled in opposite directions at events and not wanting to ignore other people, we end up missing out on actual conversations with friends and colleagues. This time around at TBEX Cancun, we actually had a good sit down conversation on lobby bar couch. While we had fun chatting about life, it was our husbands who really hit it off. Dave and Troy were engrossed in conversation and seemed like they had been pals for years! Anne spoke at this TBEX about PR and marketing. A natural speaker she has appeared on countless TV and radio shows and I had the pleasure to sit on a panel with her last year at TBEX Toronto. Her poise and confidence blew me away and I said to myself “when I grow up, I want to be just like Anne.” Check out all of Anne's appearances on TV
Matt has taken our writing to another level. Coming from a blogging background, my journalistic training consists of an evening community college course and some online writing workshops. Having Matt join Spencer Spellman as editor of the Viewfinders has really upped all our games. Dave and I are actually thinking long and hard about structure and grammar before hitting “publish” on our posts. He's a stickler for punctuation and we wouldn't have it any other way. (ask me on the 5th of each month though when my posts are due, and I may have a different answer!) We sat in on Matt's packed session at TBEX and loved every minute of it. Not only was it filled with information and tips, it was entertaining and energetic. He wore a sombrero people! Plus, we talked barefoot ala Steve Jobs, made emu sounds whenever he saw someone yawn or stop paying attention and he showed us his foray into movie stardom when he appeared in an infomercial for the Abtronic. (I know I got that name wrong). Working with Matt is fun, but he always makes sure we do our jobs well too.
Spencer is the guy that brought us all together. It was way back before the Viewfinder blog started that Spencer approached Expedia to talk about their social media strategy. They liked what they heard, because they hired him to help bring Expedia to the forefront of social media and he and the rest of the team have done just that! Every Wednesday at 1:30 pm EST #ExpediaChat takes place on Twitter.The crowds go wild answering questions about travel and sharing their own experiences and expertise. Spencer leads the talk and keeps the conversation going. ExpediaChat inspires people to get out there and travel!
Spencer came to Cancun with Expedia as a platinum sponsor. Each year Expedia hosts an epic party on the second night of TBEX and Spencer was there to represent. This party was exactly what we all needed. A night on the resort with no long drives to far away places. And it was exactly what Dave and I needed, a chance to catch up with old friends and make some new ones too! Dave and Spencer had time to connect and I will sadly have to wait for the next gathering as I had very little “Spence time” in Mexico. That's what happens when you are in demand, he had so many people wanting to catch his ear, it was difficult to fit us all in. It has been a pleasure for us having Spencer's support. When he emails something positive back about our pitches or our articles, it makes our day! He's a great leader and friend and we love reading his open and personal stories on his travel blog, The Traveling Philosopher.
It is because of these relationships that the Expedia Viewfinder blog is such a success. When you have inspiring people working by your side, it makes your work better. We enjoy working with our fellow Viewfinders. We enjoy discussing ideas, engaging online and supporting our success together. You can't do anything alone. It's important to surround yourself with like minded people that you admire. We were talking with someone at TBEX about how, “Many people complain that it is who you know that paves the road to success. Well we say, if you don't know them, get to know who you need to know. You can make anything happen.”
These are only five of the 12 Expedia Viewfinder Travel Bloggers spotlighted here today. Everyone is so busy traveling the world, that not all of us could make it to Cancun 2014. Beth Whitman of Wanderlust and Lipstick is busy trekking in the Himalayas and Kara Williams of Vacation Gals is busy on a semester at sea with her family. Captain and Clark were celebrating their first year wedding anniversary during TBEX, Rick and Sandy are taking a Midlife Road Trip in the States, the NVR Guys are sampling fine food and wine in the South and Kate of Travel with Kate is creating amazing videos around the world! We'll be spotlighting them in the coming weeks, but in the meantime check out the Viewfinder Blog for more profiles of your favourite travel bloggers. There are a lot of spotlights up there already!