I bought a ticket on a whim, a thought that I might be near the Philippines come October. I managed to make the funds last bouncing around Southeast Asia and touched down in Manila October 13th. One day prior with no idea what to expect from this event. Checking back into Pink Manila Hostel for a sense of familiarity from previous stays, it was half full of other bloggers. This was both great for meeting, but also a bit intimidating at first as I was new to this until I realized everyone was to some degree. A community of like-minded people gathered together to meet and learn from one another.
October 14th – It was an early start and a good start with my long awaited Chinatown Food Tour with Old Manila Walks. With unsuccessful attempts to take this tour on my previous Manila visit earlier in the year, I was grateful it was offered as one of the many different Pre-BEX Tours catering to different niches. Proceeding to the Binondo district of Manila we then indulged in a meal consisting of multiple dishes in 5 different establishments. With a full stomach a nap was needed before the opening night party.
Shuttle buses to the swank Blue Leaf at the City of Dreams in Manila, the Philippines Tourism Board held no expense in the hospitality we were shown. A kind of meet and greet for the newbies and a reunion for some, it was an introduction for all to TBEX Asia – Philippines 2016. Consisting of a lavish buffet of Filipino dishes, an open bar (be careful, these can get dangerous) and a series of performances In particular an extravagant display of the multiple festivals celebrated across the Philippines.
Oct 15th/16th – These days consisted of the conference itself beginning with an opening keynote, several speakers throughout the days and of course a closing keynote speaker. Each one with their own interesting topic of discussion and valuable information from productivity tips, bettering your Facebook presence, Google+ and Snapchat. This was one of my favorite reasons for attending a conference such as this in the first place. To meet dozens or hundreds of like-minded people gathered together to network, share ideas, stories, mutual advice and a general love of travel hopefully leaving with some lasting friendships. Each day was also finished by speed networking with companies in the industry that work with bloggers and provide potential working relationships in the future.
A small party was held by Travel Massive at the Raffles Makati on the evening of the 15th keeping everyone connected and social. The closing night party and end of it all for me took place at the Chaos Nightclub. Oktoberfest themed and yet again there was no holding back on the hospitality shown to us. A German themed buffet that I think would have made Germany proud. Platters of cured meats, breads/pretzels, pickles and more. Bain maries of a multitude of sausages, braised cabbage, spaetzli and most importantly free flowing kegs of beer.
Being the newbie that I was I had no idea about FAM Trips and what it all entitled. I quickly found out that this is something that doesn’t want to be missed. Registering ahead of time, a chance to participate on one of the many organized tours is granted. These not only provide the chance to explore an undiscovered section of the country, but further promotes the countries tourism. I missed out this time, but this first conference was a learning experience.
Overall was TBEX worth it? I most definitely think so. For the inexpensive price of a ticket, just having the opportunity to connect with so many fellow bloggers from around the world speaks for itself. I initially had a flight after the Saturday sessions and ended up buying a new one for this reason alone. This along with the speaker sessions, there is a vast bank of knowledge to be collected here. During the length of the conference your personal food/drink cost is minimal as food is provided during the days and at the parties. Registering yourself for either Pre-BEX tours, FAM trips or both just blows the value:cost ratio of this conference out of the water. Simply put, attend a TBEX event.
I wish I had the chance to attend TBEX International – Jerusalem 2017, but instead I’ll see you in Ireland in October.
Tips: Make business cards
Try your hand at speed networking
Plan to stay the whole weekend
Make sure to join a Pre-BEX and FAM Trip
Join TBEX Facebook groups
Be active – talk to speakers and other bloggers
Take full advantage – so much on offer for everyone to make use of
For more on TBEX… click here.