Interview with Debbie Dubrow: Reflections on TBEX '09

by Dr. Jessie Voigts /
Dr. Jessie Voigts's picture
Aug 05, 2009 / 1 comments

Interview with Debbie Dubrow: Reflections on TBEX '09

Just 10 days ago, we had SUCH a good time at TBEX '09. What is TBEX '09?  TBEX '09 was a one-day conference in Chicago, started by Kim Mance of and Debbie Dubrow of DeliciousBaby, TBEX is a dream community for travel writers - I am constantly making contacts (which turn into friends), getting story ideas, digging and stumbling, being inspired, and generally having fun and learning a lot. TBEX '09 was attended by over 100 travel writers. We wrote about our experiences and ideas in our TBEX '09 Recap.

But I still wanted more - more interaction with the TBEX community (besides all of these great emails and interviews shooting across the world)! I asked one of the founders of TBEX, Debbie Dubrow, if she could share her take on TBEX '09. We talked about sponsorships, goals, expectations, and ideas for next year. Here's what Debbie had to say...



WE: Please tell us about the idea behind TBEX...How did you and Kim decide to found it?

DD: Last year, when I went to the BlogHer conference in San Francisco, I experienced first-hand the tremendous community that the mom-bloggers and food-bloggers had built up.  It was easy to see how their support of one-another made the entire community stronger.  New bloggers could improve their skillset and visibility by interacting with more established bloggers.  Furthermore, by joining together smaller bloggers had a large enough voice that readers, PR pros and marketing all took notice.  Both the emotional and technical support were attractive to me, and as someone who earns an income from their blog, so was the idea of creating a community that would interest marketing and PR.

Then I went to the travel birds-of-a-feather at BlogHer.  It was well attended, and many of the women there were doing really interesting work, but nobody knew eachother.  I thought that was disappointing, and I came home with a resolve to help build a stronger community of travel bloggers.  There were some other steps along the way, starting with publishing a list of the people who attended, starting Photo Friday so that we could become familiar with each other's work, and helping found the Passports With Purpose fundraiser for Heifer International.



WE:  What was the impetus for sponsoring a TBEX conference?

DD: I have gotten so much out of our local meetups in Seattle, that I wanted to extend them further and to have a chance to continue the conversations we have here on a larger scale.

Our original idea was to do something very small, cheap, and grassroots.  We were absolutely blown away by the interest in both Kim's Travel Blog Exchange community and the meetup itself, and pretty quickly realized that we needed to expand things a bit.



WE:  What were the goals of the conference?

DD: We wanted to provide a place where bloggers could meet eachother in person and build relationships that they would draw upon once they returned home.  We've also noticed that the same conversations and questions seem to come up over and over again, and we wanted to provide a forum, and some expert speakers, to talk about those subjects.  Finally, I think that it's time for travel bloggers to show a real presence and position of influence in the industry.  That's been happening in a number of ways this year, and I think the fact that so many travel bloggers were willing to come out to Chicago furthered that goal.



WE: How did your TBEX team line up sponsors?

DD: Maren Hogen did a great job of lining up sponsors.  We also have to thank our great speakers and the early commitment we got from so many travel bloggers to attend the event.  The huge amount of interest in this meetup helped make it attractive to sponsors.



WE:  Can you please share why you held TBEX at/after BlogHer?

DD: I knew that a number of people I wanted to meet would be in town for BlogHer, and the location in Chicago made it easy for others to join in, even if they weren't planning to attend BlogHer.  Plus it gave me an opportunity to work with Kim Mance, whose work I respect.



WE:  Did the conference hold up to your expectations?

DD: It absolutely exceeded my expectations.  I was thrilled to meet so many travel bloggers whose work I love in person, and I was on the edge of my seat during the panels.  Judging from the reactions on Twitter and the recaps on various blogs, I wasn't the only person who thought the speakers were engaging and insightful.  It's been fun in the days following the conference to read people's reactions to the panels, the swag, the sponsors, and everything else.



WE:  What are your plans/goals for future TBEX conferences?

DD: It's a bit too soon to announce anything concrete, so I'll turn that around and ask your readers - what would you like to see at TBEX next year?  Dream big...



WE:  How can TBEX'ers help for next year?

DD: Feel free to share your suggestions for panel topics and other ideas with Kim and I, or to send sponsorship contacts our way.  We'll also need locals to help with local arrangements and setup.

WE: YAY! Thanks so much, Debbie! I can't WAIT until next year. Look for an interview with Pam Mandel of Nerd's Eye View soon - I can't wait to learn the behind the scenes details of travel blogging the TBEX Road Trip!

For more information on TBEX, please see:



SURVEY LIVE: Give your feedback on #TBEX '09 & Vote on TBEX '10 locations/topics here:


Comments (1)

  • Kara Williams

    13 years 7 months ago

    I look forward to learning more about TBEX 2010 -- location, length & panels. I'm voting for Denver (driving distance from me), but would likely make the effort to travel wherever. Was disappointed to miss it this year.

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