I was at TBEX in Toronto at the beginning of this month- our annual pilgrimage to the largest travel blogger conference in the world. I don’t have much to say about it other then it didn’t quite measure up to last year’s- either professionally or personally, but I didn’t mind so much. You see, I wasn’t just in Toronto for TBEX. I was really there for my pet project The Navigate Media Blog House.
Remember how I’m supposed to be planning a wedding? Well, that has been slow going, in part because much of this spring I was directing my energies to putting together this Blog House: helping to select applicants, finding a house big enough to sleep 20+ people (no easy feat!) and putting together an itinerary, all in a city I’d never even visited before.
You can read about the Girona Blog House here. The basic premise is that a handful of more experienced travel bloggers (in this case most of the members of Navigate) and a group of promising new bloggers share a house for 3 days of intensive presentations, discussions and learning.
There were a few nights where I lay awake staring at the ceiling, sure that the event would be a total disaster and that it would be all my fault. Somehow though, all the planning paid off and the event you know, worked!
So, if you’ll allow me to boast, here are a handful of reasons why I’m really, really proud of the BlogHouse and why I think it was our best one yet:
There was a Castle
First the superficial. After months of searching and a lot of worrying, we landed in the best possible scenario: Awesome apartment rental company Flipkey gave us the use of the amazing De La Salle Victorian Castle. Yes, that’s right, a legitimate castle in the middle of downtown Toronto. What are the chances?
The place was absolutely gorgeous with 11 bedrooms, tons of awesome meeting spaces and even a giant walk in freezer. I kept getting lost in the place and I didn’t even mind. I think they usually use this space for weddings, but we were able to make full use of the ballroom with it’s huge dining table that magically sat 25 people.
It Was All About Learning
Even though we were living in the lap of luxury the focus of the week was purely on intensive learning.
I don’t know if I can call myself an expert, but together with my co-instructors we have years and years of knowledge on how the industry works, how to build a successful blog and how to not lose your mind in the overwhelming amount of work that comes with starting a business.
We don’t know everything either, so we called in reinforcements. Rob Ross, the SEO expert from Flight Network, Gary Arndt from Everything Everywhere and Jodi from Legal Nomads were kind enough to make appearances, as was one of our already quite successful Girona BlogHouse alums, Liz from Young Adventuress.
I Got a Glimpse of the Future
Best of all, our BlogHouse attendees were all rock stars. We had 30+ applicants and from the long list selected 12 super promising bloggers who were so eager to learn and improve. It made me crazy happy.
My absolute favorite part of doing the Bloghouse, and why I hope we’ll do many more in the future, is the chance to really get to know these newer bloggers and to hopefully have a small hand in shaping the industry that has given me so much. Travel blogging is still in it’s infancy, but knowing that newer bloggers coming into it are not only well prepared and professional, but really awesome people makes me feel great about the future.
Best thing about the BlogHouse for me? That it went off without a hitch and that it’s over! Huge sigh of relief. I guess I should probably get a move on planning that wedding now. Less than three months to go, hopefully it falls together half as well…