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Traverse17 round up – still the best travel blogging conference on the planet!

 

This building is one of my favourites in the whole of #London 🇬🇧 #TheO2 #VisitLondon #Traverse17

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Hi everyone,

So if you follow me on Instagram you’ll know that I spent the whole of the May bank holiday weekend down in London for Traverse 17, the second conference I’ve been to which has been held by the fantastic Traverse Events. I went to my first one in Cardiff last year and had an incredible day, but this year it was bigger and better than ever before and was held in London for the first time. With two days of conferences instead of one, and more parties, workshops and social events to attend I had the most amazing weekend meeting new blogging friends, catching up with old ones and networking my bum off! If you’re yet to attend Traverse, here’s why I think you really should, and why I think it’s the best travel blogging conference on the planet…

You’ll meet so many like minded people

 

 

One of my favourite things about Traverse is that you get to catch up with so many blogger friends and get chatting to so many new ones too. Everyone’s in the same boat, we’re all there to mingle, and make contacts with new brands, as well as reconnect with fellow bloggers and old friends too. Here’s me with some of my faves, Lucy, Rach and Matt! Miss you guys! X

 

You’ll get opportunities you won’t find anywhere else

 

 

Where else can you take part in a competition with Topdeck Travel, play a crystal maze style game with Affilinet and come home with a cuddly toy from Cathay Pacific? Only at Traverse, that’s where! The brands and sponsors at the event are all there to speak to bloggers, work with influencers, and run fantastic giveaways and competitions, and the more you network, the more you’ll be remembered by the brands and the more chance you have of working on new projects with your new contacts. I’d highly recommend speaking to every single one of the brands just to say hi and to introduce yourself; hand out those business cards, give a friendly smile and show genuine interest, even if you’re not sure if the brand is a right fit for your blog. Make sure you send a follow up email to say hello and to thank people for their time if you’ve engaged in meaningful conversation too – I love staying in touch with new contacts as it really helps to forge longer lasting, working relationships.

 

You’ll learn so much from the workshops and talks

 

 

With two full days of workshops and lectures to attend at this years conference, I went into full ‘back to school’ mode and had my pen and paper to hand ready to take copious notes at every opportunity. I really love learning and try to improve my knowledge and my blogging skills as much as I can so I am a huge fan of the workshops and try to get to almost all of them! During my time at Traverse this year I attended lectures given by fellow bloggers, PR companies and SEO experts and I learnt so frikkin much! Each and every one of them were insightful, informative and super interesting so I can’t wait to put my new found skills into practice and grow my little blog even more!

 

You’ll get tonnes of freebies

 

 

This is definitely one of the perks of Traverse, and the goodies seem to get better and better after each event! Last year I came away with a beach towel, beach ball, sturdy bag and much more, but this year I was given a selfie stick (yay), baseball hat, phone charger, piggy bank, pens, keyrings and notepads too. A big thanks to all the sponsors for being so generous with their fantastic freebies this year!

 

You’ll grow in confidence

 

 

This is probably the single biggest reason you should go to Traverse. I can’t tell you how much my confidence has sky rocketed since attending my first couple of conferences this past year. I’ve always been bubbly and outgoing, but in the past found it difficult to approach people I didn’t know for fear of not making a good first impression, or of not sounding intelligent enough! Now though, after two conferences and countless events, I can happily walk into a room full of strangers and introduce myself to all the people and brands there without feeling nervous one bit. My confidence is at an all time high and that’s 100% down to the experiences I’ve had with Traverse over the past year!

 

You’ll attend some epic parties

 

 

Like this one – the opening night at Altitude London hosted by Jet2 – we had canapés, champagne and incredible 360 degree views over London… what’s not to love?!

 

 

… and this one! The closing party was hosted by Visit Spain and was held at the stunning Iberica Restaurant in Canary Wharf. The tapas was delicious, the cava was flowing and everyone was having a fiesta and celebrating the end of a fantastic weekend.

 

 

.. but the highlight was this one – a boat party on the Thames hosted by Cheapflights and CityCruises. Watching the sunset over The O2 and then seeing Tower Bridge lit up after dark was truly special and something I will remember forever!

 

And you’ll network every second of the day!

 

 

This word used to scare me shitless. The thought of ‘networking’ or making small talk with complete strangers used to really make me feel nervous. I didn’t want to put myself out there for fear of looking like an idiot, or for sounding stupid, but I’ve found my networking mojo over the past year and, for me, that’s something that is a great achievement. Being pushed out of my comfort zone has been so rewarding, so I now absolutely LOVE networking. I just try to be myself, be engaging, bubbly and friendly, and people seem to remember me so I must be doing something right!

 

These are just some of the many reasons to attend the wonderful Traverse conference, which will be held outside of the UK for the first time next year in the Dutch city of Rotterdam! Whether you’re a total newbie or you’re a blogging pro, every attendee comes together and is made to feel completely equal, which is why Traverse is so fantastic. No matter how small or large your blog is, you’re all treated the exact same and the parties are so good for mingling with new people you would never have met otherwise!

Michael, Paul and the whole of the Traverse team go above and beyond to make sure every single attendee gets the most out of the conference, and it wouldn’t be what it is today without them! Thanks for another amazing weekend guys – see you in Rotterdam for #Traverse18! Have I sold it to you yet, and are you thinking of attending the conference next year? Register your interest for tickets and hopefully I’ll see you there! 😀

Love Jess x

 

That sky tho 😍 #VisitLondon #London #Traverse17 @citycruises

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Surviving your first time at WTM London

 

Had so much fun @wtmlondon earlier on this week! Blog post coming soon! #WTMLDN #london #LDN #ExCel

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Hi everyone,

So last week I attended WTM London for the first time EVER and I had the most amazing time! For those of you who don’t know, WTM is the biggest travel trade show in the world and is held in London every November for three days, at the ExCel Centre. Anyone and everyone from the travel world is present at WTM, from tour operators and tourism boards to hotels, airlines and resort representatives. I consider myself to be a little blogger in a big, big travel pond, so I was understandably nervous/excited about the prospect of attending WTM for the first time! Here’s my guide to surviving your first time at this fantastic exhibition…

Fail to prepare, prepare to fail!

 

 

I can’t stress how important this is when attending WTM for the first time! I feel as if I prepared as much as I possibly could by navigating the website, booking meetings, looking up lectures and planning my journey in advance before the big day arrived. I made sure I planned my tube route (although this changed due to station closures on the day!), I made sure I knew where my meetings were and what stands I wanted to visit, and I made sure I knew which lectures I wanted to attend. Planning in advance really helped me to calm my nerves and take everything in my stride when I eventually arrived on the day. I also reached out to other bloggers who had attended before, Eileen from Crooked Flight held a fantastic webinar which was super helpful and I was SO glad I watched it before I attended!

 

Just one of the fab exhibitors @wtmlondon this year! #WTMLDN #mexico #tourism #TravelTuesday

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Don’t get me wrong, I  was totally overwhelmed by WTM; the ExCel was absolutely enormous and I felt so out of my depth! I had lost my voice and had a terrible cough that day, so I think that just affected my confidence at first, but once I’d had a few meetings and started speaking to more people I felt much more comfortable and began to enjoy myself a bit more! Make sure you research the companies you have meetings with, know the name of the person you’re going to be speaking to, and make sure you know what it is you want from WTM. I wanted to meet with tourist boards and enquire about potential press trips, as that’s the direction I want my blog to take, but others may want to become a travel trade consultant or progress their careers in the industry, so talking to specific brands about what you want to achieve is key to success at WTM.

 

Make sure you look the part

 

 

Treat WTM as you would treat a professional meeting, or a job interview. I wore a skirt and top to look smart, and I took a blazer too but wore flats as I knew I would be doing a lot of walking! I feel I looked professional but not too over the top, and hopefully I went for style as well as comfort! Jeans and a t-shirt is a definite no-no; most of the guys were in suits or a shirt and trousers, whilst most of the girls were in dresses, smart tops and trousers or skirts and tops like myself.

Book meetings in advance

 

 

Booking meetings ahead of my visit to WTM really helped me to plan my day. It also ensured I could spend a certain amount of time meeting brands and a certain amount of time attending lectures, so I could balance my day correctly. I found the WTM website to be extremely helpful when planning; you can contact brands directly, find out about all the lectures and speakers and even see the full A-Z list of exhibitors who will be present each day. There’s also a WTM app which you can download and use to interact with brands and speakers on the day, making sure you’re super involved throughout the whole process. You can also use Twitter to mention brands and exhibitors in your tweets, showing them that you’re excited about the big event and that you’re planning it before you’ve even arrived… everyone loves a build up!

 

Print your media kit and take plenty of business cards

 

And I was sooo pleased with how my press pack turned out too! Who else took one to @wtmlondon this year? #London #WTMLDN #ExCel

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I have never printed my media kit as I think carrying prints around is very old-fashioned, but I am so glad I took copies to WTM with me! I printed around 20 of them, and had 100 business cards on me which was plenty. I gave all of my media kits out, and around 30-40 business cards too, as not everyone wants to see your media kit. I made sure my media kit was given to people I had meetings with, and people that I approached who I was really keen to work with. The beauty of presenting a media kit is that it gives you something to visually share with the person/company you’re approaching, and I think it makes you stand out over someone who is just there to drop off a business card.

 

Look up the lectures you want to attend

 

This was my holy grail @wtmlondon – wouldn't have survived without it! #London #WTMLDN #ExCel

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I think WTM is all about time planning, especially if (like me) you only have one full day there! To me, the lectures are just as important as meetings with professionals, you can learn a lot from the speakers and the Q&A sessions, so I was keen to catch as many lectures as I could during my day. It helped to look them up in advance so I could ignore any irrelevant ones and focus on the ones I really wanted to attend. The WTM guide that is handed out to you upon arrival is really helpful in terms of planning, but there are giant boards and maps dotted about too so that you can get your bearings and make your way to the lecture halls on time. Be sure to arrive early to make sure you get a seat!

 

Catch up with your fellow blogger friends

 

 

WTM doesn’t have to be totally serious; yes, you’re there to learn and meet professionals from the travel industry, but it’s s really great place to have some fun too. I met up with three of my fellow travel blogger friends whilst I was there- Emma (Paper Planes and Caramel Waffles), Kate (Kate Victoria Photography) and Mel (Footsteps on the Globe) – and we hung out, took photos and attended lectures together. It’s really nice to see a few friendly faces during what can be quite a stressful day, so I really enjoyed spending some time with these girls!

Follow up after the event

 

wtm1

Following up afterwards is just as important as attending the conference on the day! I did my follow ups yesterday, a week after attending, and sent emails to brands I met and had proper meetings with throughout the day. Following up doesn’t have to be in the form of emails though, you could interact with the brands on Twitter, make it fun, make yourself memorable! Keep in contact and you never know where your initial meetings might lead to in the future.

So there we have it, my ultimate guide to surviving your first time at WTM London. Have you been before? Are you wanting to go next year? Sharing is caring, so I’d love to hear any tips you have too!

Love Jess x

 

Where can you visit every country in the world, all under one roof? @wtmlondon of course! #WTMLDN #london #LDN #ExCel

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My first travel conference: Traverse16

 

So I’m just back from my first EVER travel conference, and what a weekend I had! Traverse 16 was held in the lively Welsh capital of Cardiff this year and the city stadium made for a fantastic venue. I was super impressed by Traverse; they were welcoming, friendly and the whole atmosphere was relaxed and informal yet completely informative and helpful – I learnt SO much! Here are my top highlights from a fun filled weekend…

 

I met so many new people & have made some wonderful friends

We've arrived at the #traverse networking party! Hellooo free food and drinks 🎉🎉 @lucyronan

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So I have known the beautiful Lucy Ronan from Faraway Lucy for the past few months now – we are both shortlisted as finalists in the UK Blog Awards – and we decided we would FINALLY meet by attending Traverse together for our first ever networking conference. Naturally we were both a little nervous but it actually really helped that we were together and I think we boosted each others confidence by sharing ideas and discussing everything we had learnt from our differing workshops.

I also met the lovely Sabina Trojanova, Emma Hart & Sophie Davis from Girl vs Globe,  Paper Planes and Caramel Waffles and Sophie’s Suitcase respectively – we finally met girls!! – and it was lovely to put faces to names as we have been in touch with each other in the virtual blogosphere for so long.

 

I attended workshops with industry professionals and expert bloggers

So many reasons to visit #cardiff 📷🇬🇧@visitwales @traverseevents #traverse16 #findyourepic

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I took part in three workshops and two one-to-one sessions during my days conference – I had such a jam packed day but I loved every second! I also took the opportunity to speak with the sponsors who were showcasing their brands and I met some really interesting people. My favourite workshop was ‘How to take the Leap into Fulltime Blogging’ with Monica Stott of The Travel Hack– this was incredibly helpful and I was full of admiration for Monica after seeing first hand how she has turned her hobby into a career.

 

I also attended a writing workshop with Abi King of Inside the Travel Lab and a photography workshop with Kim Leuenberger – both talks were fantastic and I came away with so many ideas and so much inspo. Before the day was out I was lucky enough to book two 1-1’s with Skyscanner’s Tika Larasati and Julie Falconer of A Lady in London – thanks for the advice ladies!

I entered some competitions

Because who doesn't love dressing up stupid to try win a free trip ✈👓 oh hey @icelollyholiday @traverseevents #traverse16 #findyourepic

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And here's another one.. This time for @expedia ✈🏊 @traverseevents #traverse16 #findyourepic @visitwales

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Who doesn’t love a good competition, especially when there are travel prizes and free trips up for grabs?! I entered four different competitions during my day at Traverse, two included dressing up silly for Expedia & Icelolly to win free trips/credit towards a bookings (see above – I had so much fun) the other was a treasure hunt with ILOVENYPR searching for US themed clues to win (yep, you guessed it, a trip to NYC) and the last one was a Twitter comp with Surprise Trips – guess the ‘surprise’ European city and win a free trip! I had so much fun entering the competitions and chatting to the lovely sponsors throughout the day and I know so many others did too – unfortunately I wasn’t a winner but it’s the taking part that counts, right?!

I bagged tonnes of cheeky freebies

Oh hey freebies.. who knew I could pick up so much free stuff at a travel conference?! Thanks @traverseevents 🙋👜 #traverse16

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This was a MAJOR highlight for me.. who knew there could be so many freebies up for grabs at one of these events?! As I walked through the door at home my mum was quite literally astonished as to how much I’d brought home – I left the house with one bag and came back with FOUR! Amongst my fabulous freebies was a lovely Expedia towel (and pen and paper clamp), a Traverse business card holder, a Skyscanner hoodie, a cute little monkey from Cathay Pacific and goody bags from Visit Wales and Wye Valley. Thanks folks, love all my new blags!

I networked the hell outta there

https://www.instagram.com/p/BEBJWZwNPuf/?taken-by=jessica16_x

 

 

As this was my first conference, the act of ‘networking’ was something totally new to me but I think I took it in my stride and seemed to do ok! Effectively, networking is just chatting with like minded people and making contacts; I was just happy to get my name out there and meet as many people as possible, plus I love a good chat- who doesn’t?!

I set fire to a table (I’m not even lying)

 

Lol. I know what you’re thinking; who even sets fire to a TABLE?! Well folks, it did happen – and I think Lucy and I wanted the ground to just swallow us up there and then. I have never been SO EMBARRASED and I’ve done a lot of crazy things in my time! I’m sure I don’t need to give you all the explosive deets (see what I did there ;)) but basically there was a waffle in a waffle box (obvs) and a candle and a table..and then there was a flame and a pint of water and Lucy got soaked… you get the gist.. nothing in my life has ever compared to how mortified I was on that Friday night! Talk about making a good first impression… #ooopppsss

So as you can probably tell I had a whale of a time at my first ever travel blogging conference and cannot WAIT until the next one! A big thank you to everyone at Traverse who made my first experience so worthwhile, especially Lucy & Ollie who were both hilarious and soo friendly and welcoming <3

Until next time Traverse!

 

Yesterday's beaut of a venue for @traverseevents… It's a good job I'm a football fan ⚽⚽ #traverse16

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