Bloggers are taking over the world. Or at least the travel industry.
That’s the impression I got at the 2011 New York Times Travel Show, which took place last weekend in Manhattan’s Javits Center.
While covering the event, I met travel bloggers from around the world– and tourism reps who were eager to work with them. In the conference rooms, industry presenters urged the crowd to embrace Twitter and gave tips on starting a travel blog.
It appears that the New York Times show has entered a new era: The rise of the influential blogger.
On Friday’s “industry” day– open only to the press and travel reps– five full panels were devoted to blogging and social media. In fact, every presentation in the Travel Media room focused on new media.
During the weekend, when seminars were open to the general public, panel topics included Travel Wiser with Bloggers and a Travel Writing 201, whose presenters all had “.com” in their bios.
In contrast, there wasn’t a single seminar focusing on print media or how to break into travel magazines.
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This was my second New York Times Travel Show. Last year I covered the event with the determination of a beat reporter. I stopped by as many booths as humanly possible, grilled the tourism reps and snapped photos of every stuffed moose, costumed Mountie and Carnival dancer in attendance.
This year I took a more laid back approach. I discovered that spending time with other writers was as rewarding as listening to seminars and stuffing tourism brochures into overflowing bags.
I had the chance to meet several well-known bloggers who I’ve been following on Twitter for over a year. As a rule, they were friendly and eager to share their tips and experiences.
I was a bit star struck to meet Gary Arndt, the blogging equivalent of George Clooney. This A-list blogger is a true digital nomad; he’s been traveling non-stop for four years and chronicles his journey on the Everything, Everywhere blog. With over 100,000 Twitter followers, Gary is possibly the most influential travel blogger on Earth.
Gary shared his wisdom with me and Tripfilms.com producer/host Kelley Ferro. Kelley is based in New York and is a regular at TBEX chapter events. Her site recently posted its 10,000th travel video- not too shabby!
I was excited to meet Andi Perullo, the glamorous travel blogger behind My Beautiful Adventures and a practicing Chinese Medicine Doctor. As if that wasn’t exciting enough, she’s engaged to a handsome Argentine and is getting married in Buenos Aires. ¡Que copado!
It was great to finally meet Sarah Wu in person. A graphic designer by trade, Sarah posts her travel adventures on SWGraphic. She was very sweet and I hope to see her again soon.
We were joined by Charu Suri, the travel and beauty blogger who runs Butterfly Diary. Charu looked as fashionable as ever and was planning to attend an Oscars media event on Sunday.
They sipped rum from the Dominican Republic booth without ice or mixers; I consider that extremely adventurous.
Charu discovered more free rum (this time in punch form) in the Caribbean section. It was a great prelude to the official happy hour, which was sponsored by Brazil tourism.
We ran into Nomadic Matt, a well-known blogger who has been backpacking around the world since 2005. His posts on NomadicMatt.com touch on controversial topics and receive 100+ comments each.
During the happy hour, a woman in her golden years struck up a conversation and appeared to be flirting with Matt. He’s clearly a charismatic guy!
We spotted New York City bloggers Teresa Gotay of Art of Backpacking and Aaron of Aaron’s WorldWide Adventures. Teresa is gearing up for an extended trip through Europe, starting in Holland. Yes, I am extremely jealous!
We also met Laura of Travel for Love, a Pittsburgh-based blogger who travels frequently to meet up with her Brazilian fiance. She showed us the cutest video of Bolivian monkeys attacking her man. (Click on her site for details).
The New York Times Travel Show offered plenty of photo ops. Stuffed animals– and people dressed as animals– were just a few of the cultural attractions.
The Mexico booth featured a giant statue of a bride. I’m not sure if this was a piñata or an effigy, but it sure got my attention.
Maria and I posed with reps in traditional Ecuadorian costume on the show floor.
After sipping on caipirinhas, I shot an impromptu travel video with The Expeditioner. I’m hoping to capture a slice of Matt’s impressive YouTube following. He seems to get recognized from his Colombia videos everywhere he goes!