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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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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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Social Media Overhaul: Q1 2016

Hey everyone,

So this overhaul is a little overdue, I was meant to put one together at the end of 2015 but I was rushed off my feet what with it being Christmas etc! Instead I thought I’d kick-start my new year with a fab new round up to see if I was on course for my last targets, set in August, and what I’m likely to achieve for this first quarter of 2016. So without further ado lets get social!

Trip Advisor

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Trip Advisor is a huge part of my following; I have a massive readership, one of the highest in the whole of Oxfordshire, which is increasing day by day. I am passionate about providing genuine, good quality reviews for hotels, restaurants and places of interest that I have visited in the past. I also use Trip Advisor everytime I book a hotel and value the opinions of others hugely. I smashed my last target of 50,000 readers and am looking to reach a massive 60,000 by the time by next quarterly Review is due. Wish me luck!

Twitter

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My Twitter has grown massively in the last six months, and I’m so proud to say that I FINALLY reached the 1000 mark back in November! My followers are increasing hugely every time I log in to my account and I have to say that I’ve noticed a huge difference in the number of interactions now compared to when I was still at the pre-1k mark. I’m certainly not complaining and I credit Twitter as my number 1 go-to social media channel as it’s by far the best for my website referrals and I love joining in on all my weekly Twitter chats! I’m hoping to hit 1500 followers by quarter 2 of 2016.

Facebook

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My Facebook page is becoming a bit of a slow burner for some reason, I find that its taking FOREVER to grow my numbers and I wonder if it’s because each liker on Facebook is actually a genuine PERSON rather than a follower on Twitter being  a company or, dare I say it, a spammer. Most of my friends, family and fellow travel bloggers make up my likes on Facebook and I’m keen to increase my following as much as possible. As I’ve only just scraped the 300 milestone I’m aiming for between 350 and 400 likes as my next target.

Instagram

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I love love love Instagram and it’s my second favourite social media channel, just behind my beloved Twitter! I love the filters and the vibrant images that Insta creates and I’m constantly getting tonnes of likes on each of my posts. I do however find it hard to grow my following – I’ve been stuck on around the 850 mark for WEEKS now and I just don’t know how else I can get past this figure! My likes are high but I don’t think my conversion rate from likes to followers is all that great. Unfortunately I didn’t hit my last goal so this time round I’m aiming for the big 1000 and I’ll need all the help I can get to achieve that… any tips would be a bonus!

LinkedIn

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LinkedIn is a fantastic tool and is the most professional of my social media channels. I’m quite active in promoting my blog and I do get an awful lot of referrals from LinkedIn which is a huge bonus! I probably only post once or twice a week though so it’s much less exciting than my other social outlets. I didn’t quite reach my target of 500 connections before 2016 so I’m still aiming for that before my next review.

WordPress

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WordPress is probably my most successful social channel, and where it all started for me! My daily views are growing hour after hour and my subscribers have seen a massive jump too – thank you, you wonderful people! I smashed my most recent targets by getting to over 8000 hits (target was 7000) and over 1350 subscribers (target was 1100). I’m going to aim for an ENORMOUS 10,000 hits and 1500 subscribers before quarter 2 is here – these are perhaps my most ambitious targets yet!

Google Plus

Googleplus

This platform is totally new to me, I’ve only been using it for the past couple of months and I only update it when I have a new blog post. I seem to be getting large viewing figures but I’ve no idea how to convert those to followers?! Any tips on Google+ would be gratefully received please!

So that completes my social media overhaul for quarter 1 of 2016 – its so interesting for me looking back to see how far I’ve come! *Soppy moment* But in all seriousness I wouldn’t be where I am today without you guys so a big THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart <3 Here’s to the next quarter and to smashing even more targets!

Love Jess x

PS. Don’t forget to keep voting for me in UK Blog Awards 2016 – there’s only a few days to go til voting closes!

UKBA16