Finally – I booked to go to this travel blogging conference in the UK… this weekend!
Very last minute, but as I live in London and it’s in Brighton… I can definitely squeeze it in 🙂
Would have loved to have stayed for the full three days, but I am off to Athens for a work trip on Sunday. At least the main conference day (Saturday) I will be able to attend.
Traverse 2013 bills itself as being:
‘a brand new conference designed for travel bloggers who lead busy lifestyles and want to gain real hands on knowledge that they can apply to their own work. The conference aims to bring together travel bloggers, PR’s, tourist boards and travel companies to experience an alternative conference’.
There will be excellent speakers giving sound advice and great tips on how to really improve your blog and promote yourself. Speakers include professional bloggers, photographers, marketing and social media whizzes, freelance journalists and travel editors for major publications!
Of course, majority of the other attendees will be fellow bloggers of all ages and at all stages with their blogs. The purpose is to learn, network and hopefully exchange lots of info and support each other in our similar quests. I have met a few bloggers at other major travel conferences before. This time is different though, as I am not there to represent the OTA I work for, but for myself! Ryan Bennett of RyansAirAdventures!See the world for less.
Hopefully it will be easy enough to book some 1:1 time with the professionals (Pro Bars) who are holding personal chats with us bloggers. There are even competitions to win while at this event. The first includes a seven day ship cruise around Italy, Spain & France courtesy of MSC Cruises (a sponsor). The second is courtesy of Visit Denmark and includes a few weekend packages to Copenhagen for multiple winners – with the aim for one of the bloggers to win the title of “Visit Denmark’s Blogger of the Year”.
The following people will be on panels or invited as guest speakers:
Huge news coming out from Berlin the last few months was regarding the plans for the destruction of the remainder of the ‘East Side Gallery‘ section of the Berlin wall. Can you believe it?! When i heard i was shocked, but not surprised…
I was recently in Berlin for ITB again… the last two years I have happily stayed wt PLUS Berlin, which is just a few minutes walk away from the East Side Gallery. Great location, right near Kruezberg and hot clubs like Chalet and Berghain/Panorama.
While I was there, my good friend living in Berlin was telling me how these German property developers wanted to build river side apartments, right where the wall is. So, that was that – the wall was meant to be coming down, much to the disgust of many locals. An uproar was of course brewing back then (a month ago), so no surprise when at 5am this morning, when two hundred police turned up to ‘protect’ the developers (builders doing their dirty work) and protesters – it quickly filtered through to news around the world. Especially when a chunk of the wall was removed!
I don’t personally know all the details…but I can’t help think – wtf?! What are these guys thinking of starting the process of demolishing a unique part of Berlin’s history. Something that has become a major tourist attraction.. something that has brought art to the community and city… colour to grey… life to oppression. Is it simply better to erase and forget the dirty history for some, rather than having to be reminded of it daily? I think for the majority – NO!
Leave the damn wall alone. It was already iconic when it stood, a legend when it fell…. and now the remainder is an institution. Why plan to put it in a museum somewhere, or in a ‘retirement’ art park elsewhere in the city? Why not let it live where it has stood, live where it belongs… where visitors from Berlin, from Germany, who are connected in some way to its history – can come and visit and reflect. Where tourists and history buffs can wander freely, can touch the wall of former division, take photos of the iconic images in natural settings. Why make way for ‘gentrification’ and erase an important part of WORLD history. An important freestanding tourist attraction and multiple human interest story.
I will be watching the news keenly for how this story unfolds… and my friends and clients in Berlin will be keeping me up to date of course. I can’t image visiting Berlin and not driving or walking past a hugely relevant piece of its history.
Hostel chains expanding in 2013: News keeps on breaking of big, well-known, award-winning chains expanding to all parts of the globe. This is especially true in Europe – where student, family and budget travel for business and independent travellers shows no signs of slowing down. A demand for trusted and cool budget accommodation is literally hitting new highs!
This is possibly fueled by the global financial crisis that we still find ourselves in…. ironically, somewhat complimenting our budget accommodation industry who are left asking ‘What GFC?!’ People still travel and it seems that what was not an option for some previously, now is… the rise of the hostel, or the concept of what a hostel should be and offer, keeps on adapting in these hard times and is reaping the benefits. People from hotel backgrounds are cashing in on the hostel product, bringing their expertise to the market.
For most the prominent chains, bookings and revenue are strong – making new openings possible. However, the news of the chains or ‘big boys’ coming to town has left a lot of smaller, independent properties quaking while they wait to see just what kind of impact the introduction of extra beds from brand expansions will have on their business. A great example is Barcelona, who this year alone are set to be inundated with a few thousand extra dorm beds.
As Product Manager at HostelBookers, if I look at the three brands that have recently won the ‘Best Chain’ category for our Awards for Excellence, I can see that 2013 is going to be a big year for expansion for them in particular. Recently while in Berlin for ITB, I managed to catch up with some of these brands…. and more.
So – the first three from our recent Awards:
GENERATOR – Berlin & Barcelona.
I went to a cool party they put on the night before ITB started. They billed the party as ‘ for one night only, rising from the foundations’ of the new property about to open in Berlin Mitte… and what a property it is set to be! It’s on the same strip as Meininger and well placed in a backpackers hub of town. However, this is just one city set to benefit from a Generator opening….. Barcelona will have two, a hostel and a hotel (same building, two entrances and receptions)…and other cities with strong, rumored interest include Rome, Milan and Amsterdam… no sign of slowing! Their new logo and re-branding is epic….. forget what you once knew…. Generator has jumped a few levels!
They have secured a prime location and building and renovation work and just about finished, with their newest property set to open just after Easter. A great location, just over Charles Bridge in the Mala Strana district….. an area screaming out for a classy hostel and boost of youth to its historic area under Prague Castle.
Currently riding high off the huge success of what is PLUS Berlin, which really upped the ante of their overall product and brand offering two years ago….. the PLUS crew are scouting for new locations and are set to make announcements soon…. speaking to some of the managers, it is clear that they are after steady growth, with the plan to open up a new property every few years… so I guess that time has come! Keep an eye on their website for their latest, exciting news http://www.plushostels.com
Now, other big brands about to expand that you probably know of if you travel / work in the industry:
ST CHRISTOPHER’S – Paris.
A second hostel for them in this beautiful city set to open soon, around the corner from Gare du Nord station….. how central can you get?! The recent opening of their Barcelona property has seen them rise to the top of Barcelona bookings and ratings quickly. They even won ‘Best Newcomer’ for the Barcelona property in HostelBookers Awards for Excellence… as well as ‘Most Popular’ for the Prague Mosaic House – so expectations ride high for what they can achieve in 2013…. expect more openings other than the immediate Paris open this Spring! http://www.st-christophers.co.uk/paris-hostels/gare-du-nord
MEININGER– Brussels & Barcelona.
They won ‘Best Value Hotel’ in HostelBookers recent ‘Awards for Excellence’. Interestingly, there has been a very recent shift in the ownership and management of this company – with Eric Van Dijk (previously overseeing the Generator expansion) being hired as part of the new Meininger line up. Meeting with a rep recently at ITB, I can confirm that there is strong focus on acquiring openings in London (more) and Amsterdam (new). Their Brussels property was the latest to open… an excellent budget choice hotel / hostel for the numerous business travellers the city attracts.
WOMBATS – Milan…. This is most likely set to open early in 2014…. as stated on the bottom of their email signatures. Their newer Budapest property has been a big success…..also picking up an Award for Excellence for Cleanliness. But don’t expect them to stop at Milan in 2013/14 either… great properties, giving travellers exactly what they want! http://www.wombats-hostels.com/about-us/investor-relations/
A&O Hostels – Vienna & Graz. By far the biggest ‘hostel’ chain…. Vienna opens this month and is massive at almost one thousand beds! Just look at their run sheet of locations they are scouting….if you were ever thinking of getting into the business, now is the best time