Trasera Sofa

Lloret de Mar

So after a great few days in Valencia, it was back on the road. Next stop? Lloret de Mar an hour north of Barcelona. It’s many moons since I had been to the seaside town and so I was excited to see the changes. The reason that I chose just this date for this piece of Catalonia was because the annual TBEX.com was being held in town. This is a conference for travel writers and bloggers and was held at the prestigious Evenia Olympic Resort near the town centre. It bills itself as “the world’s largest gathering of travel bloggers, writers, new media content creators, and social media savvy travel industry professionals.” BIG words and as I arrived I wondered whether they could deliver.

The first bit of good news was the attitude of the charming lady at the Tourist Information Booth at the bus station. She rang three or four hotels near the centre before she found a room at the H.Mari near the Lloret de Mar Post Office. It’s really just some fully refurbished bedrooms above a bar/restaurant but quite adequate for the few hours I was there. Spotlessly clean and with great wifi. #sorted

So, cases dropped, showered and changed and off I toddled to the welcome party. Everything was smooth, I pressed the flesh with a mass of people from, literally, all over the world – Seattle and Auckland bloggers talking about SEO and American post grads on their “European Tour” confusing Rome and Romney. It was clear that there was an excellent line-up of speakers and the 700+ guests were warned that they were going to be two very intense days of information and inspiration.

The two days were indeed filled with information and inspiration and it was clear that all the speakers really knew their specialist subjects. The opening address was one of the highlights and it really set the tone for the conference. Sometimes we forget the sheer scale of the internet and the power of Social Media. It was also sobering to think for somebody of my age that most of the audience did not know any life without a keyboard (probably wireless), Google, Trip Advisor, Yahoo and, of course, Facebook.

One of the highlights for me was to meet many of the sponsors and speakers 1-2-1. Booking.com, Turkish Airlines, ThisIsAthens (nothing to do with me sadly!) and many more all gave me time and to have breakfast with the director of tourism for Catalunya was something I was not expecting. Quite fascinating. Over the three days I think I caught up with most everybody I was looking to meet so, from that point of view too, it was a successful event. It is always invidious to name names but I was bowled over by the size of Flipkey and my love for rail travel was whetted again by Interrail who have some amazing offers for 5/10/15/22 and 30 day travel throughout Europe as well as one country passes for many individual European countries.

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It was also a pleasure to meet e-friends and I had long chats with Stine from www.spain-holiday.com and Maria Hart, all the way from Canada. Obviously, there is a BIG shout out for www.blogsrelease.com who are the chosen platform for seemingly all the serious bloggers at TBEX. If you blog, I suggest you check them out today.

As for the town, it did not seem to have changed much from what I remembered. The centre was crammed with stag and hen parties enjoying themselves and the casino was full of those who did not want to dress up as a penguin or don only a Trafford Borough Council traffic cone. A good time was had by all.

The event is annual in Europe but it does have sister events in Bangkok and Fort Lauderdale this year. I have to say that I am was very impressed with every aspect of TBEX Spain and I am tempted to go to Bangkok. It is a long time since I have been to the Oriental City and I would be pleased to see more of the “Country of Smiles”. Let’s see but before then there is Barcelona with Jennifer Riggins.

Part of the This Is Spain Network. Operated by Costa Insider SL.