Reflections of TBEX 2012: Keystone Took My Breath Away

Nadia G of the Bitchin Kitchen and Johnny Jet Chat During TBEX12 in Keystone, Colorado
Nadia G of the Bitchin Kitchen and Johnny Jet Chat During TBEX12 in Keystone, Colorado

I’ve had a few days to reflect on my Travel Blog Exchange 2012 experience in Keystone, Colo. Not only was the professionalism bar raised over last year’s TBEX but so were bars for conference content and functions. Importantly, the conference site location rocked. Almost literally. Sitting at more than 9,000 feet above sea level, we met in the mountains of Keystone Resort which has all the necessary conference amenities.

View from my Lakeside Village Room at Keystone Resort, Colo.
View from my Lakeside Village Room at Keystone Resort, Colo.

It was fabulous waking up to mountain views but I was reminded I live at sea level and my lungs had a little challenge adjusting to the thin mountain air. Having an oxygen bar sponsor during the conference would have been memorable and pretty hip. Remember oxygen bars?

Dang! I Didn't See These Until the Morning I Check Out of Keystone Resort
Dang! I Didn't See These Until the Morning I Check Out of Keystone Resort

Oh well, I digress. Here are some thoughts about TBEX 2012…

TBEX12 - Ross Borden of Matador Network, Presents "From Hobby to Small Business to Funding" in Keystone, Colo.
Ross Borden of Matador Network, Presents "From Hobby to Small Business to Funding" in Keystone, Colo.

Travel Blogging is Serious Business. Seriously.

I’ve been blogging since 2004-ish and I’m constantly learning more about the craft. This year’s TBEX highlighted specific workshop tracks in the arenas of Tourism, Tools of Travel Blogging, Art of Travel Blogging, Business of Travel Blogging, and Beyond the Blog: Business of Travel. Unfortunately, tracks ran concurrently so I had to choose which session to attend and hope I wasn’t missing out too much in the other sessions.

As a result of what I learned, you’ll be seeing minor adjustments to this blog over the next several months. Behind the scenes, I’ll be focusing on working smarter, or as a friend says, “shedding what drains me.”

"Genius" and "Perfect" - Cottonelle's #NameIt Bathroom Sponsorship During TBEX 2012
"Genius" and "Perfect" - Cottonelle's #NameIt Bathroom Sponsorship During TBEX 2012

Who Rocked?

TBEX’s speaker lineup was a who’s who in the blogger community with familiar and fresh faces. The Canadian Tourism Commission hosted breakfast Saturday morning and brought along a special guest, Nadia G. of the Bitchin’ Kitchen (a show on the Cooking Channel). Nadia G. is a rock star in and out of the kitchen and she shared some her secrets of social media success.

Couple of the sessions which really stood out were in the Business of Travel Blogging category. I picked up great legal tips from Matt Stabile (find his presentation on and Ross Borden of the Matador Network gave me a new perspective on this blog’s future during his “From Hobby to Small Business to Funding” presentation.

C.C. Chapman Tweet About Cottonelle's #NameIt #TBEX Contest & Sponsorship
C.C. Chapman Tweet About Cottonelle's #NameIt #TBEX Contest & Sponsorship

Shout Out to Cottonelle!

Most exciting was the opening keynote by C.C. Chapman – a dad, content creator, thought leader and storyteller. He spoke about the importance of creating an emotional response when creating and connecting with your audience and used Cottonelle’s TBEX sponsorship in the bathrooms and the #NameIt contest they were hosting as an example. He referred to it as “genius” and “perfect”.


It was extremely cool hearing this because as you recall, Cottonelle paid for my trip to TBEX. At first, people didn’t understand the connection between plush toilet paper and a travel blogging conference.  But c’mon, think about it. Everyone (well, just about everyone) uses toilet paper, including travelers. Not only did Mr. Chapman mention the sponsorship, he posted a tweet with a photo about it.

The contest encouraged participants to come up with a creative name for the Cottonelle Care Routine – the tag-team freshness of Cottonelle Ultra Comfort Care Toilet Paper with Cottonelle Fresh Care Flushable Wipes and gave away Flushable Wipe samples. Luckily, Cottonelle has a Name Generator to help let the creativity flow in naming that “down south” routine.

Ben Reed of during Expedia Summer Shindig
Ben Reed of during Expedia Summer Shindig

Travel Bloggers Know How to Have Fun

We travel for different reasons but one thing is for sure, travel bloggers like to have fun. In addition to the opening night foodie extravaganza, Saturday night’s Expedia Summer Shindig – How the West Was Fun was a blast! The horse stables set the backdrop with roaming cowboys, cordial horses and a toasty fire pit when the sun went down. Pulled BBQ pork, ribs, corn on the cob and warm apple pie were served up. Thanks to the Colorado Tourism Office, I enjoyed a lovely “summer in a glass” of white, Colorado wine. Colorado beer and spirits were served, too.

Some participants grabbed the bull by the horns that night – at least they tried – by trying their hand at roping a “mechanical” calf. Others tried to outlast the mechanical bull. I would have but January’s appendectomy prevents me from mechanical bull riding for a year, at least that’s what I’ve been told.

Giddy up! Expedia Summer Shindig, Keystone, Colo.
Giddy up! Expedia Summer Shindig, Keystone, Colo.

Attending TBEX was a great opportunity to reconnect with travel blogger friends and meet new ones as well as connect with destination and brand representatives. I’ve brought back new ideas and energy to ramp up my blogging efforts which I’m excited to implement. I also learned about new travel services which I’ll be sharing over the next few weeks.

So yeah, figuratively and literally, this year’s TBEX took my breath away.

Did you attend TBEX? Did you ride the bull?

Disclosure: A sincere thank you to Cottonelle for paying for my trip to TBEX in Keystone, including airfare, transportation, accommodations, meals and registration.



Jennifer A. Huber is an award-winning travel and outdoor blogger and writer in Southwest Florida. Originally from Buffalo, N.Y., a hiking trail led her to a career path in the tourism industry for more than 30 years. She spent a decade with a park management company in Yellowstone, Death Valley, and Everglades National Parks. She founded the travel blog, with the goal of inspiring others to travel alone, not lonely. The unexpected death of her former husband in 2008 reminded her how short life is. His passing was a catalyst for sharing her experiences with the goal of inspiring and empowering others to travel solo. Jennifer holds a Travel Marketing Professional certification from the Southeast Tourism Society, is a certified food judge, member of the NASA Social community, and alum of the FBI Citizens Academy. When not traveling, she is either in the kitchen, practicing her photography skills, or road tripping with her dog, Radcliff.

13 thoughts on “Reflections of TBEX 2012: Keystone Took My Breath Away

  1. That’s the amazing what TBEX doing. Engagement & encouragement is an very important to newbie travel blogger. People can show the from their eyes. Thanks you so much.

  2. I so miss Colorado. Someone really needs to find me a job out there. Even if I had the time and money to make it TBEX this year I would’ve had to skip it…I would’ve rather spent my time at grad school’s summer writing program.

  3. – the cure for Cotton-crotch
    Sunshine on tha Goes
    So you can stay fresh & clean anywhere & anytime …

  4. I only went to the bathroom once the entire time at the conference and didn’t see the Cottonelle stuff. I did hear about it. I admit I went to the bathroom quite frequently actually – more than any time I can remember in recent years (I actually have a pretty good bladder). However, with all the water I was drinking at the parties to combat the altitude I was a wee machine.

    with that said, I enjoyed the conference. I only wish there were more of me there to network and to go to more sessions. Now if someone could provide cloning for the weekend, that would be awesome (and there would be lots of me to tweet about that)!

  5. Wow! You’re like a camel if you only went to the bathroom once :). The altitude played with my body, too. And I agree about cloning, there were many sessions I couldn’t attend but would have like to.

Comments are closed.

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