TBEX Europe, one of three worldwide conferences hosted by TBEX each year, is Europe’s largest gathering of travel bloggers, writers, new media content creators, and social media – savvy travel industry professionals.
Due to the success of TBEX Europe 2013, which was hosted in Dublin, Fáilte Ireland in conjunction with Kerry Convention Bureau pitched to secure TBEX once again with the aim to deliver an outstanding and unique event experience for all TBEX delegates.
The main conference took place from the 3rd to 5th October, extending a warm welcome to 550 travel writers, bloggers and content creators and 100 industry professionals from all around the globe to the idyllic region of Kerry in the South West of Ireland. With a combined reach of 380 million travel fans, the delegates got to experience an amazing 3-days of educational content in a world-class conference facility with great food and warm Irish hospitality from attentive and friendly staff.
Outside of the main conference the delegates could also take full advantage of the rich itinerary over 10-days which showcased the breath-taking natural beauty, rich heritage and cool culture of Ireland through a series of pre- and post-TBEX tours and day-experiences around Killarney and Kerry, post-conference fam trips across the whole of Ireland and evening entertainment events which saw the delegates network and socialise with friends and colleagues during the conference and immerse themselves in the true Irish experience.
Ahead of TBEX Europe, Fáilte Ireland also organised and hosted the TBEX Fáilte Ireland Travel Influencer Summit in Kilkea Castle, Co Kildare, which brought together 18 of the world’s top travel social influencers (with a combined reach of 21 million) with some of Ireland’s most influential travel and tech brands to discuss the role of social media influencers in building compelling destination brands and explore best practices in influencer marketing, online content creation, and the future of travel media.
Reason for Selecting Destination/Venue
Given the sheer scale and logistical complexity of TBEX, there are very few venues in Ireland that could successfully host such an event. As we had already hosted TBEX in Dublin back in 2013 we wanted to showcase a unique location outside of the capital where the delegates could experience a different aspect to Ireland.
We loved having TBEX at the Killarney Convention Centre! The space is warm, unique and very flexible and the staff were professional and easy to work with. We especially loved how close the convention centre was to both the Gleneagle and Brehon hotels. But more than anything, the town and people of Killarney are very special and made all our attendees feel welcome, just like family. We would love to bring our event back to Kerry and the Killarney Convention Centre in the future. – Rick Calvert, CEO TBEX
Killarney and the INEC were chosen because of how they marry professionalism, cutting-edge technology and a world-class conference venue with such rich cultural history, spectacular natural scenery and some of the top-rated 4* and 5* hotels in the country.
The INEC and the Killarney Convention Centre (KCC) complex provided top-class facilities, such as 488 guest bedrooms on site, the 3000 square metre multi-purpose event centre for the main opening and closing keynotes as well as comfortably facilitating up to 16 breakout sessions, a sponsors and networking area, and lunch/coffee breaks each day, all of which took place in other rooms and areas throughout the complex.
Ireland is like a fairytale! #TBEXIreland #Ireland
Travel bloggers/content creators live and breathe through their social feeds, making strong reliable internet access a necessity. KCC’s world-class IT infrastructure provided a seamless Wi-Fi experience for all the delegates across all areas of the complex.
Nestled in the heart of Kerry, Killarney offered unrivalled facilities, top-class hotels, unique transportation options and unusual venues in idyllic locations, which provided the organisers with the WOW factor for all aspects of the event.
Issues, Challenges and Triumphs
TBEX is a unique event in that it is not just a straightforward conference in a single venue, which in itself is challenging, but it was a packed 10-day itinerary across multiple locations. This involved the coordination of not only the conference itself but also a series of post-Fam trips for up to 90 bloggers, a collection of 18 pre- and post-TBEX day experiences in multiple locations around Ireland, 4 evening social events, and a pre-TBEX summit for 18 of the top travel influencers in the industry and 10 brands, as well as the flights, transport and accommodation for many of the VIP delegates.
Organising an event of this scale with so many logistical considerations and moving parts was by far the biggest challenge, so from the outset Fáilte Ireland and KCB worked closely with a destination management company (DMC) to project manage and deliver key aspects of the programme such as the conference itself, post-fam trips, transport and accommodation.
The massive success that was TBEX Europe 2017 was largely thanks to the 100% support from the people of the Kingdom. Local tourism and non-tourism businesses welcomed and awed over 650 of the world’s social travel influencers with opened arms to Kerry. The local steering committee included representatives of the Irish Hotels Federation, Kerry Convention Bureau, Kerry County Council, Advantage ICO group, The Gleneagles Group and Fáilte Ireland their dedication, commitment and professionalism meant that no ask was too big – not only that but they were a delight to work with ! A HUGE thank you to everyone for helping to create the 5 billion twitter impressions and 300 content articles! – Ciara Sugrue, Head of International Publicity – Fáilte Ireland
They also formed strong, collaborative relationships and partnerships with state/government agencies and local businesses/agencies for the delivery of some of the evening entertainment, the Killarney day experiences and various aspects of the Fam trips. This worked extremely well and resulted in very successful events and trips, which in turn generated considerable exposure and content for the destination but also for the businesses that were involved.
Regular engagement and communication with the TBEX event organisers through pre-event site visits and fortnightly calls also contributed positively to the successful roll out of the event as they were kept informed of any updates or issues that arose so that they could be addressed promptly.
Given the reach and influence of many of the travel bloggers, writers and content creators that attended TBEX it was crucial that we did whatever we could to provide a seamless smooth experience for all delegates from the moment they touched down in Ireland to the day they left to return home. So welcome desks were arranged at airports to assist with ground arrangements, passes to local attractions, museums, tours and trips were supplied, and maps (marked with key sites and attractions) were provided to all attendees along with local guide books.
This attention to detail by the Kerry Convention Bureau, Fáilte Ireland and all the partners involved with running the event, ensured that the conference ran smoothly from start to finish.
The programme of events for TBEX kicked off with the inaugural Fáilte Ireland TBEX Travel Influencer Summit, held in Kilkea Castle, Co Kildare. This featured a series of moderated discussions, onsite activities and social events for a group of the top travel influencers and brands in the industry over the weekend immediately prior to the conference.
We were absolutely delighted to welcome over 650 TBEX17 delegates to Killarney. The conference provided the opportunity for Killarney Chamber members to collaborate with all our industry partners including Kerry Convention Bureau and Fáilte Ireland to best showcase our amazing destination and to go above and beyond to deliver an extraordinary event which will be talked about for years to come. – Conor Hennigan, Development Manager, Killarney Chamber of Tourism and Commerce
This concluded with an exclusive sneak preview of the newly renovated Adare Manor before transferring the participants to Killarney for the Sponsors/Speakers/VIP party in the stunning Dromquinna Manor on the banks of the Kenmare River, where Guinness flutes & bagpipes welcomed the guests before a sumptuous sit-down dinner.
That same evening, the “Killarney Welcomes TBEX to Town” party saw delegates drop into many of the 35 pubs and 80 restaurants across Killarney where they were met with the friendly charm of the locals, Irish Music and a got a chance to taste some of the local food and brew.
Delegates who arrived early were able to go on one of the 13 pre-TBEX day tours that were spread across all of County Kerry and included everything from a cycling tour through the beautiful glacial valley of the Gap of Dunloe stretching through the MacGuillicuddy Reeks mountain range to the Dingle Dolphin and Distillery tour where you took a boat out around Dingle harbour to visit Dingles most famous resident “Fungi” the dolphin followed by a guided tour of Dingle Distillery to sample their whiskey, gin and vodka.
For those who wanted to stay closer to Killarney, two separate day experiences were on offer where delegates got to immerse themselves in a number of local activities such as a wildlife photography workshop, a guided Instagram tour through Killarney, and Irish dancing lessons ending with the chance to make their own Irish coffee or Irish Martini in one of the local Killarney pubs.
The conference itself was held over 3-days with the opening and closing keynotes on the main stage and breakout sessions/workshops throughout the day across other locations in the complex. During lunch breaks the delegates were treated to beautiful local food with entertainment to keep the energy and excitement up throughout the day.
On each of the evenings there were organised events with a closing night party to finish off the conference. Transport was provided with coaches for distant events and for the events in the town it was just a short stroll for anyone staying local.
The Killarney Convention Centre was an integral part of the planning for all the events during the conference and were always on hand for any issues that occurred. It was a total team effort that made everything run smoothly from start to finish.
Working for Fáilte Ireland on the enormous success that was TBEX Europe 2017 in Killarney last October was a highlight experience. Advantage DMC have lots of experience of working in Kerry on large events such as the Adventure Travel World Summit through to incentive and corporate events for international clients. At those events, Kerry Convention Bureau (KCB) have always been a great resource to us over the years as valued industry partners. Noteworthy was their enthusiastic commitment to TBEX Europe in Killarney in October 2017. From the initial planning meetings through to the delivery of community-based supports and initiatives, I can only describe the support and partnership we enjoyed with Fáilte Ireland and KCB as exceptional. Both on a professional and a personal basis, we enjoyed working with the substantial team of Fáilte Ireland and with KCB and their members. – Ronan Flood, Managing Director, Advantage Group
Following the conference, the delegates could avail of one of the seven post-TBEX day tours across Dublin, Cork and Limerick while 90 of the top bloggers in the world departed Killarney on one of 9 post- fam trips to showcase Ireland’s three regional brands the Wild Atlantic Way, Ireland’s Ancient East and Dublin. These were hosted by Fáilte Ireland from 6th – 10th October.
Special Kerry Touches
The magical kingdom of Kerry and the Kerry people are so unique in this world, where you can experience the wildest and most spectacular scenery in Ireland and everywhere you go a friendly local is always there to welcome you with a smile, ask about your day and offer you some advice. It’s the curious nature of the locals that the visitors loved as it’s easy to strike up a conversation.
While Kerry and Killarney provided many special moments for the 650+ delegates at the conference, ones that stand out in particular include: