24 little hours.
Or in my case, 17 little hours.
What I’ve experienced in the last week can only be described as a whirlwind. I began working full time for Galavanting Productions on June 15th and every day since then has been total, beautiful chaos. Let me explain.
Courtney McGann, the communcations coordinator for Galavanting and my beautiful sister, began arranging all the last minute details for TBEX ’10 in New York City, printing name badges, tickets, arranging parties, talking with sponsors and generally tying up loose ends for a conference that was sold out at 300+ and had 200+ on the waitlist (if you didn’t make it in to the conference, please know it was only because the FIRE MARSHALL absolutely said no).
On Wednesday, I flew to NYC. Perhaps plodded would be a better word. My journey started with a three hour delay in my own city (Omaha), which caused me to miss my connection in Chicago, and so I was rebooked on a 7pm flight. 7pm, coincidentally was right about the time a tornado threatened the very aptly name “Windy City” and thus my 5 hour layover in CHI became a 10 hour layover. Finally, tired, hungry and a little tipsy from the pity drink I bought myself, I arrived in NYC at midnight, 17 hours after I left my house.
Not to be deterred, I collapsed at the home of my caretaking daddy, Rick Knight, who fed me and drove me into the city, where I armed myself with new energy, met up with Kim and Courtney and again, was ready to take the city by storm. After thoroughly trashing the EuroCheapo offices with swag bags, a killer team of swag bag fillers and more than one bottle of wine, we headed off to the NYC Tourism party for NYCgo at a swanky rooftop bar atop the Gaansevoort Hotel. We met up with Nomadic Matt, Jen Miner, the NYC Tourism people (good people those), and our fearless leader Kim Mance.
Together we traversed over to a very hip bar, whose name escapes me to meet up with the crew. So… keep in mind these aren’t the PRE parties, these are the PRE- PRE parties, as this is Thursday night. The after party went to a great Irish pub called O’ Reilly’s where I proceeded to eat, drink, and get food poisoning.
Fast forward to Friday at 4pm, when I finally emerged from bed, 6 pounds lighter and grateful for my LIFE and vowing never to eat unmanned chicken wings again (in hindsight, probably something I should have committed to before my 30th birthday but I digress).
STILL NOT DETERRED.
I loaded up the swag bags, again with the help (actually they did most of the work) of Shanna Quinn, Courtney McGann, Rick Knight and the EuroCheapo gang. We loaded up the vans and when we’d transported about half, I took my leave to head over to the Vail Resorts sponsored speaker’s dinner. While the piles of spicy meat and free alcohol were certainly tempting, I filled my very empty belly with cheese grits, mashed potatoes, rice pilaf and a HUGE chocolate milkshake (this is the marenated version of the BRAT diet, because the BRAT diet tastes gross), as well as copious amounts of iced tea (for hydration OBVS). Thus armed, we headed over to the Omni and Weber and Shandwick Speakeasy party. Where I not only viewed the gorgeous new rooms Omni renovated, but I partook in a stomach settling gingerale, which was only slightly spiked (what? I got food poisoning, I’m not DEAD). Oh and I managed to climb on the back of Homeaway’s Truckster in 3 inch heels and NOT fall off.
Of course, where did we all head after hours? You guessed it. Another “you-can’t-swing-a-dead-cat-without-hitting-an-Irish-pub-in New-York-City” Irish pub. It was fun, but packed and we spilled out into the street. Kim and I took our leave at the extremely reasonable hour of midnight, as we had a very important conference starting the very next morning.
Enter TBEX or Travel Blog Exchange 2010, the conference that for one shining moment was trending on NYC Twitter, that spawned tens of blog posts, brought hundreds of bloggers together and stopped (pedestrian) traffic with a taco truck.
Things I learned from TBEX:
1) Travel bloggers are a notoriously friendly and helpful bunch.
2) Don’t become a travel blogger to get free stuff. This makes you a tool.
3) Story telling is good. Truth telling is better.
4) Porn is now an acceptable word to use at a professional conference.
5) People like winning free trips.
6) You can turn two luggage tags into a beer cozy.
7) If you are a blogger and not disclosing a biz relationship or endorsement, the FTC may not come after you but TBEX-ers will.
8) Do NOT wear flip flops in New York.
9) Nametags can be turned into a drinking game
10) Both video and podcasting take special skills but not out of reach.
11) In a successful PR/Blogger relationship, both sides take accountability and understand it is a business arrangement. It’s based on trust and common sense.
12) You can never have too many parties.
Speaking of parties, Saturday night had a lot of them, starting with a TripAdvisor happy hour that was marred only by USA’s loss in the World Cup. Vuvuzuelas were put to good use as TripAdvisor announced their two iPad winners (lucky people they were). I ate much bruschetta and had several “Marenators” (for the uninitiated, this is vodka, with club soda and three limes) before trotting off to a cute place called Chat n Chew to have meatloaf, mashed potatoes and the best sauteed broccoli OF my life.
Post meatloaf, I headed over (rather quickly, because rain and curly headed girls DON’T mix) to the after party, sponsored by BootsNAll and EuroCheapo. And what a party it was! Held at Professor Thom’s, there was a plethora of drink tickets, loads of comfy couches, pretty servicable tunes and barely enough room to walk. An outfit change and some gold eyeshadow in the bathroom, I was ready to take on the final party of the conference. I will say there was talk of a mechanical bull but I dutifully trekked home on the subway with Courtney to um….SLEEP.
Day 2? We did away with the registration (perhaps gave up is a more accurate term) and handed out swag bags like there was no tomorrow. The gentle rythmic reading by Pam Mandel and Mike Barish during the Community Keynote was something I felt privileged to sit in on. Beautiful stories all of them, save the Nebraska comments :)
Then it was time! We announced TBEX ’11 and gave everyone the location which a few people (you know who you are) attempted to weasel out of me ahead of time. It didn’t work. MOSTLY, I am a bastion of silence, as you can tell from this nearly 1200 word essay (so far). Vancouver! A big thanks to lovely ladies up north who represented Tourism BC, Vancouver and Canada.
After that, of course, the taco truck, courtesy of Diamond PR. And a HUGE amount of clean-up, hauling and packing up.
From there it was all breathless wardrobe changes and subway trains to meet up with Spud Hilton and Don George at a lovely little Japanese restaurant in the Meatpacking district. We reviewed the (ahem) pictures from the night before (and deleted a few) over sparkling sake and wasabi dumplings. Newbie traveler and Galavanting Gal Courtney shared her first night in Chicago stories while Spud Hilton regaled us with tales of a 22-day cruise. Four hours later and a great deal calmer, we said our goodbyes to TBEX ’10 and New York City.
Roundup of TBEX ’10 Posts.