Traverse is a major travel conference which is attended by digital influencers from all around the world. This year’s conference marked the fifth time that Traverse has been run and my first visit to the event.
This year’s event was held at the Ravensbourne building, right next to the O2 in London, and 200 digital influencers attended.
With over 30 main sessions to choose from, as well as brand presentations and one-to-one sessions available, there’s a lot to take in at Traverse. I came back from the conference with a book full of notes and an action list as long as my arm.
But if you didn’t manage to get a ticket for this year’s conference, here are some of the top tips that I picked up while I was there.
Getting the Most out of World Travel Market – Paul Nelson, World Travel Market
- World Travel Market is one of the travel industry’s main B2B shows, held in London each November. It’s a great place to meet up with brands and set up future collaborations.
- If you are planning to attend, make sure you register for a press pass rather than just the regular visitor pass. With a media pass, you can access the press centre (which has better wifi than in the main halls), attend press conferences, and receive research and reports.
- You can also register for the Digital Influencer Speed networking session. There are 100 places available for Digital Influencers, where you will be able to talk directly to brands who want to work with bloggers. There is a £48 fully-refunded registration cost for the Speed Networking session.
- Registration opens mid-June for press passes, and early September for the Speed Networking.
- Look at the list of exhibitors and set up meetings in advance of WTM. Do your research before you go so that you can demonstrate your value. What can you do for the brand that mainstream media can’t?
Monetise Your Instagram
Nicola Easterby @polkadotpassport
Nicola started by reinforcing some of the basic principles of growing your Instagram account. Staying authentic to your brand, only posting good quality photographs, engaging (genuinely) with the community. I also picked up these useful tips:
- Find the relevant hashtag for the tourism board for destination, and also find hashtag for regram accounts. Put hashtags in the second comment to keep things looking neater.
- Make sure that your captions tell a story, ask a question, or share something. Break up your caption with spaces to make it easier to read.
- Find a unique perspective for your photos. If you are taking a photo of a famous landmark like the Eiffel Tower, try to find a way to make your photo stand out from all the other images.
- Consider the foreground and background of your image, and put a subject in your photo. It doesn’t have to be you, but Nicola found that her photos became more popular when she started appearing in them.
- Vary your content but keep consistency. Don’t post a rushed photo that spoils the flow of your feed.
- Develop your own unique visual style, using tools such as VSCO, Afterlight, Lightroom.
- Analyse what works and stick to it. If you haven’t already switched to a Business account, it’s worth doing so for the analytics function.
- If you want to monetise your Instagram, make sure you remain authentic. Be genuine with what you promote or your followers will be able to tell.
- Reach out to brands, send a DM to the brand or PR agency. Send a comprehensive pitch and let them know what value you can bring. Photos? Takeover? A blog post?
Money Making Game Changers
Monica Stott, The Travel Hack
This was another full session! Monica had a lot of useful information to pass on in her session, here are some of the main points.
- Charge for everything, or for nothing. If you do some work for free, PRs may expect you to work for free again. If you do a particular job for free because you absolutely love the brand, make sure you make it very clear that it’s a favour.
- Keep charges consistent – PRs do talk to each other, and it will look odd if you are charging different rates.
- Set up content packages that you can email out to brands. eg: Blog post, Blog post + Social Media, Blog post + Social Media + Video.
- Prove that you are an influencer – set up a report template and send feedback to the brand or PR after the campaign.
- Be THE expert – the person that people turn to for information on a particular topic. But be a person, not a copywriter, make sure that your personality comes across in your writing
- Raise your reach, engagement and views. Write a series of blog posts after each trip, link all of them to one main post and promote the heck out of that one. For example, your itinerary, hotel review, packing list, restaurant review, flight review.
- If you are using affiliate links, write blog posts aimed directly at people who already want to buy something. That makes it more likely that they will click through. For example: review of a specific travel bag, best shoes to pack for Spain etc.
- If the brand really doesn’t have budget but you want to do a particular press trip, try to find other ways of financing it. Email other brands who have had budget for sponsored posts in the past and see if they’re interested in sponsoring one of the posts. Email as many as possible for the best result, and also consider affiliate links.
Talking Traverse and Blogging with Three
At the end of Saturday’s sessions, I headed off to a local bar to have a chat with Jodie and Kellee from Three. I was one of five Ambassadors being sponsored by Three to attend Traverse, including Mellissa from Diary of a Jewellery Lover, Rachel from Rachel Nicole, Elizabeth from Rosalilium and Emily from Emily Luxton.
As well as talking over the day’s events, and chatting about blogging in general, we had a really useful chat about Three’s Feel at Home.
Feel at Home is really useful for bloggers travelling abroad, as it lets you use your phone abroad for no extra cost. So there’s no need to buy expensive data packages or pay any extra phone charges when you are on holiday or on a press trip. You can use Feel at Home in 49 countries at the moment, and the number is increasing. And although my mobile isn’t currently on Three, I’m certainly thinking about switching when my contract runs out.
How to Work with Brands and Negotiate
Kylie Bawden, Daisy Chain Communications
I was looking forward to this session, and came away with some really useful tips which are great if you’re just starting to negotiate with brands. Some of Kylie’s top tips were:
- Always have a contract in place for each job, and read any T&Cs thoroughly.
- For big projects do a separate contract for each part of the project. That way you can invoice as you go along.
- Quote a price for a content package rather than a day rate – day rates can make you seem very expensive
- If a brand has no budget for a press trip, suggest that you could provide other forms of content which may be financed from different budget. For example, can you provide images, take over their Instagram, provide a blog post for use on their blog.
- If a brand can pay, but the quoted rate isn’t high enough, consider asking for other non-financial payment. For example, ask for upgrades, extra nights, if you can take along your partner. Or ask about restaurant meals to review and tour packages.
- Always provide a report after the campaign. Include stats, social media, blog comments etc.
Pitching to Airlines
Kerwin McKenzie, KerwinMcZenzie.com
Kerwin has masses of experience in this field, having both worked in the airline industry for year, and also as a travel blogger. His main top tips were:
- Find out what the airline is keen to promote: new planes, new routes, anniversaries. Adjust your pitch to take this into account.
- In-air magazines are a good source of information about big stories. You can usually find copies on the airline website.
- Meet representatives of airlines at WTM, ITB Berlin, New York Times and LA Times travel shows to discuss possible collaborations. Going along to press conferences is a good way to ensure you’re talking to the right people.
- Payment in cash is unlikely, you’re more likely to receive miles or free flights. Consider asking for an upgrade, airport lounge access or goodies from airline partners.
- Use affiliate links to monetise posts to increase the financial benefit of collaboration.