The beautiful south Florida city of Fort Lauderdale hosted the 2015 North American TBEX travel bloggers conference that attracted writers from around the world. Europe and Asia hold TBEX conferences as well. This was my first time attending a convention of this magnitude. Since it was so close to my home, Vero Beach that I couldn’t miss it. During the two-day event, more than 700 travel writers came together to network and learn new blogging skills. Dozens of tourism boards and attractions met with us to share their destinations and services. So what did we do there?
Exploring Hollywood, Florida’s Offerings
TBEX hosted pre-conference activities, in which I took part in. My FAM (familiarization trip) was exploring Hollywood, Florida. I had been to Hollywood previously and absolutely loved it. Of course when you are staying at the Diplomat Hotel, what’s not to love?
Our tour consisted of a visit to the Anne Kolb Nature Center, Broadwalk (where we rode surrey bikes along the ocean), a luncheon at Ocean Alley Restaurant and Beach Bar, an in-depth look at the local street art, and a stop by the Art and Culture Center of Hollywood. It was both fun and educational.
Hollywood has done a great job of distinguishing themselves apart from the Greater Fort Lauderdale area and coming into their own. I loved the changes to the city since my last visit and was impressed with its art and cultural offerings. Hollywood has really developed into a thriving community that does not have as much traffic congestion as its neighbors.
Discovering New Restaurants
After our Hollywood tour, I met up with some bloggers at Chimney House Grill & Cafe, a restaurant that I had been dying to try. Chimney House is a quaint little cafe with a cozy ambiance and killer Latin American menu. We ordered a pitcher of smooth & tasty red sangria and for dinner, I opted for Mahi-Mahi en Salsa de Coco. The fish was perfectly tender and light with a flavorful, tropical sauce. Rice and tostones were the side items. I loved everything about it!
Attending The Fort Lauderdale Travel Conference
The two-day TBEX event featured classes all day long held at the Fort Lauderdale Convention Center. Parking at the Convention Center was $10 cheaper per day than the hotel’s rate. The Hilton Marina Hotel, the host hotel for TBEX15, was only a 5-minute walk from the conference, but identification was necessary upon entering each time as this is a major cruise port and checkpoint area. While an inconvenience, I appreciated the efforts to keep everyone safe.
The first day of the conference kicked off with keynote speaker Carol Cain of Gone Girl Travel. Carol kept us in stitches with her unique and witty storytelling that brought us from laughing hysterically to wiping the tears from our eyes. Blogging classes that day reiterated basic blogging techniques and I didn’t learn much, but repetition is never a bad thing. It was enjoyable networking with fellow bloggers that I had talked to online but had not yet met. Throughout the conference, we were offered plenty of snacks and drinks. A catered lunch buffet at the Convention Center proved better than average.
Day two of TBEX offered a wider range of classes and seminars to choose from. Bloggers split into the classes of our choice for topics such as branding, pitching, managing social media, and productivity tools to get our jobs done more efficiently. The day concluded with a speed networking event, the same concept as speed dating only between bloggers and brands/companies. It was very fun!
Our Digs for the Conference
The Hilton Fort Lauderdale Marina was a nice choice for our stay as it is the closest hotel to the convention center. Its lobby offered a coffee and snack bar plus there were on-site restaurants to choose from. The outdoor pool was gorgeous, but we did not have time to try it out. I loved our hotel room, which featured a lovely view of the marina and all the glamorous boats.
Cheap Caribbean sponsored a margarita happy hour, then shuttled us to the Diplomat Hotel for TBEX Welcome Party. It had been a long day and was pouring the rain, so my roommate and I opted to cab it to Boatyard Restaurant for gourmet eats. For dinner, I had a succulent Crab Cake and bowl of creamy Corn Chowder. Deciding to splurge, I finished off my awesome visit with Peanut Butter Mousse and Jelly Dessert that was out-of-this-world! Boatyard was the perfect choice as we were both perfectly pleased with our decadent meals. The quiet time after a full day of networking was much needed.
The Florida Museum of Discovery and Science hosted our Opening Night Party with fabulous hors-d’oeuvres and plenty of entertainment. Their staff members allowed us hands-on time with baby gators, enormous snakes, horseshoe crabs, and other Florida native creatures. I was actually brave enough to touch all the of above, a first for me!
A Successful Conference For the Books
Fort Lauderdale was a nice getaway and I enjoyed spending time with so many like-minded people. I came away a lot of blogging knowledge and formed some invaluable friendships. TBEX did a great job of keeping us in delicious eats and activities. Congrats on a job well done. I am already looking forward to the next TBEX event.
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Fort Lauderdale TBEX Photo Gallery: