Travel Blog Exchange (TBEX) is the largest conference and networking event for travel bloggers, journalists, media content creators, travel brands and industry professionals.
Each year, TBEX partners with fantastic host destinations in North America, Europe, and Asia Pacific to bring the travel industry’s most creative minds together to learn and network.
How did TBEX 2017 go?
This year the conference was held in Huntsville, Al. This was my second year attending and it was an Amazing Conference! Boy, I learned so much and my head is still swirling trying to wrap my mind around all of the content.
There was an amazing amount of knowledge that I gathered in Huntsville this past weekend from the breakout sessions to the wonderful relationships that I cultivated over the course of four days. There is the potential to gain so much knowledge, make industry connections, and to actually meet people who you have connected with via Facebook travel groups and online. I even had the opportunity to meet Samantha Brown! She is a pioneer for women in the travel writing world.
TBEX Speed Dating
One of the best things about TBEX was the Speed Dating sessions.
These sessions are set up in 15-minute increments for you to pitch your brand to Convention Visitor Bureau’s (CVB’s), attractions from different cities throughout the country, Public Relation firms, and industry professionals from around the world over.
I have attended TBEX twice and the speed dating is by far my favorite part of the conference. These sessions allow both newbies and veteran bloggers the ability to get in front of industry professionals they might not otherwise have the opportunity to meet. Along with practice pitching, some might even leave with a contract before the conference is over as I did with Asheville, NC CVB.
There is always excitement around where TBEX will be held the following year and Saturday after the closing remarks it was announced that TBEX will be in held in Africa July 2018. It will take place in Harare, Zimbabwe which has been on my bucket list for quite some time. So to say I am super excited for TBEX Zimbabwe is an understatement.
Pretty awesome, right?
Well not according to Adventurous Kate and what seems like a lot of the white travel writers out there.
Immediately after TBEX announced that Zimbabwe would host the conference in 2018 all holy hell broke lose. And I do mean all holy hell. Kate wrote a scathing article on TBEX’s decision to have the conference in Zimbabwe and the insults began flying which were childish and uncalled for at this point. Whatever happened to if you don’t like something keep scrolling or keep it yourself?
If you are a travel writer you know Kate hates TBEX and wouldn’t attend if it was held at her local church. Kate clearly has a grudge against TBEX and I am not sure why nor do I care because the reasons she provided are silly and immature. Kate is not the only travel writer with their panties in a bunch over TBEX Zimbabwe because of Robert Mugabe’s regime. You don’t even want me to get started, cause I don’t think I heard any of these bloggers stand up for the black men and women who have been killed like wild game on a safari right here in the good ole United States of America?!
Where was this uproar when the following people were killed at the hands of our government?
Here’s A Timeline of Few Unarmed Black People Killed By Police:
April 30, 2014: Dontre Hamilton (Milwaukee)
July 17, 2014: Eric Garner (New York)
Aug. 5, 2014: John Crawford III (Dayton, Ohio)
Aug. 9, 2014: Michael Brown Jr. (Ferguson, Missouri)
Aug. 11, 2014: Ezell Ford (Florence, California)
Aug. 12, 2014: Dante Parker (Victorville, California)
Nov. 13, 2014: Tanisha Anderson (Cleveland)
Nov. 20, 2014: Akai Gurley (Brooklyn, New York)
Nov. 22, 2014: Tamir Rice (Cleveland)
Dec. 2, 2014: Rumain Brisbon (Phoenix)
Dec. 30, 2014: Jerame Reid (Bridgeton, New Jersey)
March 6, 2015: Tony Robinson (Madison, Wisconsin)
March 31, 2015: Phillip White (Vineland, New Jersey)
April 2, 2015: Eric Harris (Tulsa, Oklahoma)
April 4, 2015: Walter Scott (North Charleston, South Carolina)
April 19, 2015: Freddie Gray (Baltimore)
I’m sure Kate and her gang of travel writers were more outraged over the death of the gorilla at the Cincinnati Zoo than they were over the killing of unarmed black men. This faux “I’m a human rights activist” is bullshit because I have followed Kate and she has never once addressed the issue of violence within the police system right here in America.
I am in a ton of travel related Facebook groups and the groups were the majority are black travel bloggers there is nothing but excitement about the conference being held in Zimbabwe but the groups where the majority are white people there is nothing but negativity and disbelief. Why the disconnect between white and black travel writers?
In these so-called “White Travel Groups” I heard things like
“TBEX is directly legitimatizing, helping, or giving money to a horrendous dictatorship. It is beyond appalling.”
“Zimbabwe is a beautiful country with wonderful people but we shouldn’t lend approval to the regime itself.”
“I bet TBEX is being held there because Zimbabwe was the only place that would give TBEX money (or in this case, blood money).”
“What little respect I had left for the organization is gone.”
If you are not boycotting what is going on right here on your own soil how dare you to pass judgment on another country!
I am not denying that the country’s political and economic woes do not exist but what I am saying is are these travel writers working on a solution or spewing more hate? Zimbabwe has so much to offer and is absolutely stunning and it should be on your bucket list. Zimbabwe is the premier safari destination and tourism magnet for adventurers worldwide. Here are my top reasons to visit Zimbabwe:
Here are my top reasons to attend TBEX Zimbabwe:
- The past few years travelers have returned to the country and begin to experience its wonder for the first time.
- Zimbabwe is a peaceful place to safari unlike some of the surrounding countries. There will never be an excessive amount of people or vehicles hovering around wildlife or heritage sites. Zimbabwe is considered an exclusive place to travel and I am all about exclusive!
- Zimbabwe is known for their stunning national parks – from Hwange National Park to Victoria Falls National Park. You will see ‘the Big Five’ (lion, elephant, buffalo, rhinoceros, and leopard), but the Big Five is just the beginning. The country is also known for its birdlife, with more than 600 species recorded countrywide.
Value of the Dollar
- A safari won’t cause you to file bankruptcy when you return to the states. Zimbabwe comes out on top compared to prices in other countries. The majority of safari camps provide all-inclusive food and drink and this does include alcohol! Yall know I’m sold cause I need those free dranks!
- There really is something for everyone – from quaint B&Bs to exceptional luxury hotels overlooking the Falls. The standards are exceptionally high and if you are like me and looking for that once in a lifetime experience you will find exactly what you are looking for in Zimbabwe.
The Victoria Falls
- How could I discuss the amazing reasons to explore Zimbabwe and not mention the glorious Victoria Falls. One of the largest waterfalls in the world, the magnificent body of water cascading over the Batoka Gorge is simply breathtaking. I’m sure the pictures don’t do it justice.
I strongly urge my fellow writers and bloggers to attend this conference and go with an open mind and receive all that TBEX and Zimbabwe have to offer.
I have gained so much knowledge from attending TBEX. I will say this conference is currently one of the best resources you can find. It is worth attending because the amount of insight you gain is invaluable as a travel blogger.
Zimbabwe is safe and beautiful so why not attend TBEX and kill two birds with one stone! Learn from some of the travel industries top leaders and explore a stunning country. TBEX is about bringing people together. It is about sharing ideas to help new and veteran bloggers take their businesses to the next level. We as travel writers have a responsibility to dispel preconceived notions and myths about a continent that is so much more than one person.
It’s a win-win!
What are your thoughts on TBEX Zimbabwe?