Thursday, 13 November 2008

Travel Blogcamp, London 2008 - pints and pondering

What a perfectly timed event this was, following a heavy day at World Travel Market 2008 that began with endless queues at Canning Town and ended with an annoyingly dead mobile phone. Blogcamp 08, superbly arranged by Darren of Travel Rants fame, was the day's highlight. With views across the Thames from the Blackfriars pub, coupled with chat over a pint and far more fascinating bloggers than I'd expected to find, being a British travel blogger suddenly became very enjoyable.

Who came to play?
Darren of Travel Rants played host and chair
Guest speakers
Alex Bainbridge – Musings on travel ecommerce
Karen Bryan – Europe a la Carte
Molly Flatt – STA Travel Buzz
Kevin May – Travolution

Also, PR and Marketing representatives from the travel industry including; Mr & Mrs Smith, TUI, Holiday Autos and Lonely Planet. Freelance writers and SEO providers including Jeremy Head and Mark Hodson, other bloggers and social networking success stories such as Marco van de Kamp of travelersfortravelers

My take on events

All four speakers gave great overviews of their personal take on blogging and I thank them for that. But because I strongly believe that there are few hard and fast rules to this wonderfully liberating publishing medium, and because bloggers by their nature do not passively consume content, I'd say that the most interesting moments arose as the audience began to engage vocally with the themes being presented to them.

Standout themes
Multiple-authors. Rehashing stories. Where does writing stop, blogging begin, journalism end and PR stick its nose in on the action? Blogging as a marketting tool for travel companies. Aggrigated content.


Maybe the difference between Sandwagon and these speakers is that my blog exists purely for expression's sake and to share my love and expertise of travel, the industry and travel publishing. At the moment, I cherish the editorial freedom that monetising my blog may compromise. Plus I'll never be comfortable using so soulless a term as 'content' to describe what I produce online. I'm a traveller, a collaborative member of a community that shares information and a writer with a professional editorial background; at this point in time, not a blogger looking for pay per click bucks.

Feelings on the train journey home

The blogger v journalist v PR debate depressed me somewhat. Why the need to pigeonhole ourselves and in fight? We are all bloggers first and foremost because of the medium that we use. The shades of differences between all of our blogs are based on our individual experiences, personal and professional. We should respect the qualities, experience and causes that individuls bring to the table.

My one big hope for all those involved in Blogcamp is that we don't allow an elite to be created and that commercially successful blogs are elevated above all of those who just love to write and share about an industry they know and love very well. Because if we do that, we're no better than the newspapers, publishers and industry leaders whose editorial constraints we sought solace from by migrating our musing online.

What's next?

For Blogcamp - because I've always envied the collaborative approach of the web development world; their online conferences, their sharing of new applications and know-how, I really do hope that we can organise Blogcamp 2. Darren, I'm sure that Lonely Planet would be more than happy to sponsor it (!) and that we'd all be happy to regroup again.

For Sandwagon - I'll continue to write about travel from a travel writer and editor's perspective. Coming away from World Responsible Tourism Day, I'm more inclined to use my blog to celebrate those in the industry who are working to protect a world in danger, rather than pushing to make lots of cash. Although, I wouldn't turn down enough to buy another pint of Staropramen.

Read the ongoing buzz about Blogcamp at the following links:

Reflections on travel Blogcamp at

Hoorah for heated debate at STA Travelbuzz

Travel Blog Camp, London at Roaming Tales

Busy week at WTM08 at Travel Musings on ecommence

Travel Blogcamp at Mr & Mrs Smith

At Travel Blogcamp at Heatheronhertravels

Travel Blog Camp at

Travel Blog Camp Write up at Trailbeater
Read more!