GTP Headlines caught up with the CEO of TBEX, Rick Calvert, during the TBEX Europe 2014 travel blogger conference that took place in Athens on 23-25 October. Mr. Calvert underlined the positive effect the conference will leave on the city in the long run, a city that has much to show its visitors.
“We were very excited about the opportunity to host TBEX here and I think the bloggers were very excited to come to Athens and tell the story of what a wonderful city it is and how great the people, the culture, the history and the food are,” he told GTP.
Greek crisis: Was it an obstacle for Athens to host TBEX?
He commented that due to the crisis and (some) riots and protests in the city center, traditional media sensationalized the issue and totally exacerbated the problem.
“During that time, in the U.S. and Europe, it looked like the whole country was burning… We really saw this as a challenge to show what the writers that come to TBEX can do for a city,” he said.
Athens is diverse: Travel bloggers will let the world know
Considering the fact that travel bloggers specialize in one area of travel, Mr. Calvert informed us that Athens should expect full coverage from the TBEX participants.
“Most of these bloggers specialize in one particular thing. Some focus on history, for others it is the wine, the culture, the art… others focus on the nightlife a city has to offer to its visitors and others on the weather, the seaside and the islands. Also, some do family travel, others promote over 50 travel (senior tourism) and others write about cruises. It is very important for a city to have this in their marketing plan: a diverse offering for people,” he said.
The Acropolis: Beautiful attraction but not the only one in Athens
While the Acropolis is considered Athens’ main attraction, Mr. Calvert agrees on its significance but reiterated that the city’s monument is not what everyone wants to see.
“The Acropolis is beautiful but you can’t expect for everyone to come to Athens just to see it… Some people are just happy to see it from a distance while going to the city’s meat market, seaside or just doing something completely different,” he told GTP.
So does Mr. Calvert believe Athens has what it takes to make it as a city break destination and attract visitors all year round?
“Absolutely! I was stunned when I was first told Athens was a stopover destination for many… There is so much more to do. We were here for five days and only scratched the surface. This city has what it takes to make people come and stay longer. Just imagine that some TBEX attendees arrived in Athens from five days to three weeks prior to the event,” he added.
TBEX participants came from 53 countries, the majority from North America (32 percent), Europe (38 percent) and Asia (11 percent).
Destinations that host TBEX obtain immediate promotion via social media and professional networks (blogs, podcasts, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Flickr, Google+ and others).
For Athens, the buzz on social media began before the event and is still running strong.
According to data released by the Athens Convention and Visitors Bureau (ACVB), messages (tweets) regarding Athens reached more than 11.7 million unique users during 20-27 October and received more than 68,086,915 impressions through 14,500 mentions from over 3,400 different users on Twitter only via the official hashtags #TBEXATHENS and #THISISATHENS.
The Municipality of Athens and ACVB won the right to hold the Travel Blog Exchange European Conference – TBEX Europe 2014 – after submitting a bid. The event was supported by over 65 local organizations and businesses.