This week I spent a couple of days in London, attending the World Travel Market for the first time and spending a very enjoyable evening at the Travel Blog Camp, organised by Darren from Travel Rants.
It was a get together at a London pub of around 80 travel bloggers, folk from the online travel industry and people with a PR interest in what’s going on in the blogging world. I was excited to meet some of the faces behind the blogs I regularly follow, as there seem to so few of us in the UK, compared with so many in the US and around the world. I linked up with Karen from Europe a la Carte, where I’ve recently joined the blogging team, posting every Thursday. I spotted Guido from the Happy Hotelier who was taking enough photos to start a Blogger’s society page. I also chatted to Caitlin from Roaming Tales who has also written a nice summary of the evening on her blog.
Other than a great networking opportunity, there were speakers who talked about the issues they faced on their blogs and where they saw blogging going in the future. Alex Bainbridge from Musings on travel ecommerce likes to host discussion on his blog about news from the online travel sector and is not adverse to being controvertial to provoke a response. He admitted to indulging in Extreme Blogging to see how far he can push his commentary without getting sued, then watches the traffic coming in from the companies he has taken apart, not to mention their legal representatives. In his view blogging is nothing if it does not add some personal perspective to what’s happening in the travel industry.
Karen Bryan from Europe a la Carte felt that some types of bloggers may fare better than others in the future. Those writing primarily for family and friends will continue regardless of the business landscape; Smaller independents who are running a commercial magazine style site may find it difficult to make money from blogging unless they club together to create a more comprehensive offering for the reader; The mainstream travel industry who see a blog as a marketing tool are likely to be a big growth area as more marketing and advertising moves away from print and into the online media.
Molly Flatt from STA travelbuzz talked about the site they run to aggregate all comments and chat about this student travel provider and provide a forum for their customers. STA have also started sponsoring Explorers to blog about their travels while out on the road. The STA approach is to stand back and let the chat happen without adding their comments, even where the discussion is negative. Many of the audience were amazed at this approach, feeling that it it was lacking in customer service. However, I could see Molly’s point that for the student target audience, it would be a big turn-off to feel that the Big Brother organisation was looking over their shoulder and vetting what they had to say.
Finally Kevin May from Travolution, facilitated a discussion over some of the issues around blogging and ‘outed’ those in the audience were not themselves bloggers but were PR or Travel representatives wanting to find out more. This was also something that struck me forcefully about the evening, that the bloggers were far outnumbered by those from pretty major companies who wanted to dip their toe into the blogging phenomenon. I was amazed to find representatives from big hitters like Lonely Planet, Thomson holidays, Last Minute.com and Holiday Autos in the audience, all trying to decide how they could participate and get something out of blogging and social media.
It was a great opportunity to network informally and I wished I’d had time to talk to more of the people there. I wouldn’t be suprised if Darren is innundated with requests for people to come next year. Well done Darren for organising it and thanks to his sponsor ASAP Ventures, owners of Fly.co.uk and Carrentals.co.uk for supporting the first Blogger’s Boot Camp. See you all there next year!
Read what other bloggers had to say about the Travel Blog Camp
Darren from Travel Rants
Caitlin from Roaming Tales
Guido from Happy Hotelier
Alex from Musings on travel ecommerce
Anthony from Mr and Mrs Smith
Ben from The Trailbeater
Karen from Europe a la Carte
Guillaume from Hotel Blogs
Kelly from Sandwagon
Molly from STA travelbuzz
Kevin from Travolution
Matt from Journeys through Travel
Juliette at Midi sur l’Asie
Photos of the blog camp from Happy Hotelier