Post TBEX Reflections

Girona’s Cathedral in the rain–So many steps, so little time – Chris Ciolli

First of all, it’s only fair to confess that large networking events are so not my thing. I find big group settings where I’m expected to interact with hundreds of people exhausting. I much prefer meeting up with people one-to-one, or in groups of ten or less. That said, I know these types of events are often what connects us with new friends that we can then see on our own terms.

But beyond my own nerves and general discomfort with this type of environment, my feeling about attending the conference over all can only be described as mixed, so I’m going to break it down into the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Let’s start with the good, shall we?

  1. Talks by industry experts and bloggers. I attended the following useful and entertaining presentations with a clear call to action. Title links should go to the downloadable slides at TBEX’s official website we were promised, but I can’t find them, so non-attendees can’t get an overview yet, sorry.  Presenter links go to their main sites. Update: I’ve been told the slides will be up soon, and when they are I will link to them below. 
  2. The food and drink included was high-quality, and copious. While I didn’t attend evening events, I heard great things about them, and at the conference itself, coffee/juice breaks and a multi-course lunch featuring authentic Catalan cuisine were included both days. There was also a handy supply of bottled water on hand at all times. I’m still a little upset my work schedule didn’t permit me to attend the opening night dinner at Castell Sant Gregori. There was a flash mob and food from Celler de Can Roca (rated the number 2 restaurant in the world…)*Sigh*. 
  3. The Girona Conference Center was clean and easy to navigate, the staff were very helpful, restroom facilities were plentiful and the auditoriums had good acoustics. 
  4. The sponsors at the event were friendly and generally happy to connect with bloggers. 
Now for the bad…..
  1. Girona is not particularly well-connected with Barcelona via public transport if you’re commuting back and forth daily (oh, the nightmare trains) and Girona’s Fira is hard to find on foot from the train station.
  2. TBEX was held the same weekend as Barcelona’s main city festival, La Mercé which meant choosing between amazing free music in Barcelona, and the evening events at the conference, and I despise opportunity cost.
  3. Many of the presenters seemed unaware that this was an international conference, and that many attendees were second-language English speakers. It would have been a plus for presenters to make an extra effort to speak slowly and clearly so that all attendees would be able to understand them.
  4. Because the conference was organized into break-out sessions, it was impossible to attend all of the workshops. 
  5. A lot of bloggers were behaving like high-schoolers, swaggering around in small, giggly mobs and turning their noses up at writers or sponsors they saw as “beneath” them. Hilarious, really. 
The truly ugly:
  1. The opening keynote by Peter Shankman was packed with sexist and misogynist jokes, references to American pop culture and of all things, pornography. Not only did he mention the infamous tiara-wearing toddler, Honey Boo Boo to a supposedly international audience, he repeatedly talked about how things in “this country” work, obviously meaning the U.S. and paying no attention to the fact that we were in fact, not in America, but in Girona, Catalonia–a fiercely independent region of Spain. All of this filler disguised as “examples” was made worse by a very elementary main message that came down to three main points which could have easily been explained in about five minutes, one of which was know your audience. Ironic, isn’t it?
Overall, I’d say TBEX was worth my investment (loved the breakout sessions), but then, I didn’t fly all the way to Spain to attend. I’m interested in what attendees who sprung for a transatlantic plane ticket have to say….

Join me at TBEX

Copyright 2010-2012 Chris Ciolli. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce texts or images without written consent. First published in the Tipton Times unless otherwise noted.

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  1. Thanks for coming to my session and let me know if I can be of any assistance in the future. Hope that the good outweighed the bad for you and that you got good usable info to take home with you.

  2. I really enjoyed your TBEX review. I’ve read a few others from travel bloggers and felt as though they sugar-coated the experience. I like how you’ve presented both the positive and negative issues.

  3. Hello Chris Ciolli! Great Article! You visit Philippines too.
    And speaking of Philippines, you try Bohol or Cebu.
    It’s so nice there. If you need help.
    Just check out our website at Thank you!

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