Travel Bloggers and Writers, in a large room, alone, with no coffee.....Saga 3 of 5
26.06.2010 - 26.06.2010 50 °C
Bloggers Disclaimer of Truth - Day Three has really everything to do with the actual conference
Ah, New York. Once again in the wholesome embrace of the City That Never Schmoozes....er, um, Sleeps. We awoke to the somnambulant din of the window a/c at the reasonably early hour of 7am. No coffee. Or cooked meat products. Just the stale bottle of water from the night before. This would not do. A quick cleansing of the mouth and snappy dressing/hair brushing and we were off to the hotel restaurant. Mmmmmm, coffee, and cooked meat products. A couple of nice over-easy eggs and toast, and we ready to face the conference. Stepping outside, we were accosted by the heat and humidity of yet another New York summer day. Good thing we had coffee and meat products under our belts. A quick jaunt past Washington Square Park, just up a block and around the corner, lay our destination: The Cantor Center, home of TBEX '10. What? What was this? A line? There were to be other attendees? No one told us of this horde of people, this mass of semi-humanity, this bunch of just plain old folks. Go figure. We had been ignorant, lame, out-of-touch with the modern world of tweets and twarks (whatever). We felt like semi-human dinosaurs, as we were quite possibly the only two people in line who had not received their daily marching orders from an ever-omnipresent mobile smart phone. Had we the good sense to have purchased a 25 year contract with free roaming minutes and tweet capability, we would have known, as surely as the rest of this mass of humanity, that there were to be upwards of 300 attendees at this conference/soiree. Dinosaurs....they "extinctified" without ever knowing what it was to tweet, unless one would count us in that select group of larger-than-life reptiles. Then we reptiles were "in like Flint". OK, we're used to standing in line. We can do it with the best of them. Disney has nothing on our ability to stand in line. At least there wasn't one of those little rope thingies to keep everyone marching to and fro.
The conference was scheduled to begin at 9am. Ha. Well, expecting finely honed organizational skills from a flock of madly tweeting bloggers (think geese on migration - but geese know where they're going) was a bit much to ask. They're very nice people, but timeliness is not high on the list of attributes. I'm not that anal about time.....hey, this was New York, nothing runs on time. But I am also the President of District Milwaukee of the Master Brewers Association of the Americas, and I know what it takes to put on a timely affair - not that I'm that good at it, I just know what it takes. Events need organization and a reasonably strict adherence to the clock in order to get things rolling. So began the conference. Oh, and on the organization aspect, we were supposed to pick up our swag bags at the door. Had we not been dinosaurs, we would have found out while waiting in line (twarking again) that the bags were to be made available at the luncheon. Not a problem, but still an organizational thing.
The Cantor Center auditorium was very nice - a good venue. Not unlike a classroom, which honestly is what it was. They had all the bells and whistles - multi-media, a screen, computer hook-ups. Nice. Techno-what-it-should-be. No Wi-Fi, or at least not a functional Wi-Fi. The din of twanks came down as Kim Mance welcomed everybody to the big show. Kim spoke vigorously about how wonderful it was to see so many people from so few walks of life sitting together in one place to share their knowledge and learn from each other about the joys of travel blogging. The first presentation was from Jim Benning regarding "Passion and Wanderlust". And he did speak of passion, the passion of traveling and writing (or blogging about such). Jim did mention that writing and blogging weren't necessarily the same dinosaur, but they shared many of the same attributes. The second session dealt with a panel of experts that expounded on "Upping Your Game", or how to really write a good story. A good story is what make a good story. No, wait, that's rather superfluous. A good story makes your travel experiences accessible to others, interesting to an audience. OK, that made sense. And it could potentially make your writing worth a bit of cash to those that have not experienced the joy that is traveling, and well, writing about it. The final session prior to lunch concerned Travel Video for the Web. This did not go over well, not because the subject wasn't interesting, but because our tech-savvy hosts were not familiar with the finer points of the offerings of the Cantor Center. The video uploads were not accessible, for whatever reason. Nonetheless, the panel gave it their all, regaling us with the details of what it takes to make a good video blog, complete with editing tips and tricks.
This was good. We sat through several hours of useful information, and now it was time to forget about all that with a bit of repast. Australia's Outback Northern Territory hosted a lovely meal at a restaurant that was, by all modern accounts, 700 blocks from the Cantor Center. Ha, we were not to be daunted by yet another hike through Greater New York. A short hike....we could do this. In flip-flops no less. We arrived just in time to beat most of the twarking throng and made our way to the sandwich bar. Mmmmm, more meat products. And a Coke. While we were engaged in the ritual "stuffing-of-the-mouth", Mike Barish of Gadling spoke of his adventures Down Under, sponsored by our luncheon host. Mike spoke well, and really made me want to see Oz more than I already did, though he was not especially willing to pop for airfare. I did manage to pick up a snazzy flash drive loaded with AONT's latest PR. This was another good thing....lunch AND a flash drive. Could things get much better?
Fully quenched and sated, we wound our way back for another round of insight and entertainment....and giveaways. Missed out on the actual giveaways, but what the hell.
The afternoon sessions started with a panel discussion about "Working with PR". This, I had to see. No one likes PR, nor the people that are saddled with the thankless task of earning a living trying to convince others that they really need to understand and appreciate the importance of tourism and oatmeal in Lower Beeristan. The panel still did surprise me: they were not the slack-jawed "come here because we're neat-o" sort of group. Much information was gleaned about how to deal with public relations. As the session finished, I had the unnerving itch to fly to Vancouver, or Vail, Colorado. Maybe it was something in the air. Had the a/c been spiked with tourism gas? Perhaps not. The final session of the day began with a description of "finding your niche". Funny, I thought I had a niche already. Had I unknowingly lost my niche? I was puzzled, until the speakers told of a simple truth: write about what you know, your niche. At the same time, try not to make your writing all about you....tell a story, don't make it all "I did this, then I did this, then I ate this. Informative, yet somehow obvious. Tell a story....duh. Still, good tips were to be had, and the panel knew of which they spoke.
The Saturday conference closed with an invitation to the Trip Advisor happy hour hosted at Bar 13, on the roof. Did I mention that it was even hotter today than it was yesterday? Still, drinks on the house - the best kind. And there was yet another give-away: 2 iPads. OK, we were in. Unfortunately, the roof was not quite capable of hosting 300 people, and it was wall-to-wall elbows and cocktails. Oh, and hot. Fortunately, someone at Bar 13 made the commendable decision to open their second floor to free cocktails to alleviate the crush of semi-humanity that was the roof. And the World Cup game between the USA and Ghana was on the telly. Nice. Not so nice, as it turned out, for Team USA, but still. Didn't win an iPad either. I tried tweeting for one, but since I had no smart phone, my efforts fell short. Damn technology.
We left the rooftop jangle and headed back to the hotel for a bit of freshening up. Ah, a quick dip in the sink was to be the order. Fully refreshed, we made preparations for the final event of the evening. This would require a fresh set of undergarments. Besides, it was another 75 block walk. But the event was well worth the effort: the Bootsnall and EuroCheapo Afterparty. This was held at the Professors Loft, a quaint historic building playing host to a techno-funk bar/mingling spot that was certainly not built to withstand the onslaught of several hundred writer/blogger folk. And come we did, ready for more cocktails (free) and social discourse (via twart or actual face-to-face). These folks put on quite the soiree, though the noise level was just a tad higher than having a 747 land on your left foot. At night.
Spryly pacing back to the hotel, it was another day spent reveling in the joy of the City. And we learned something. One should strive to learn something new everyday, even if it's that you don't like techno-funk at 747 decibel levels. We met nice people. Not that I can remember all their names, but still, a good time was had.
Drifting off to sleep, we vowed that one day we would shake off our scale-like reptilian skins, join the modern world, and twank with the best of them. Well, not really, but it sounded good at the time.
And so came to a close Day 3 of the saga.