This weekend St Albans will play host to five of Europe’s prominent travel bloggers. I’m very much looking forward to welcoming four old friends and one that I’ve yet to meet in real life to my home city.
I’ve had a lot of fun organising this event and I’ve stressed to those attending that this is not going to be like a ‘proper’ blog trip. There is no PR or tourism body involvement and we are doing the type of stuff I would normally choose to do on a weekend, and eating in the places where I would typically eat. So definitely no Michelin stars, macro-biotic diets or helicopter rides on this trip!
Just before the event kicks off I thought I’d share some of the story of how the idea came about and introduce some of the characters involved.
How did the idea come about?
After spending time with a bunch of great folks on my first blog trip in Valencia earlier in the year I gathered that many of them would like to attend World Travel Market, but the cost of staying in London for the duration was prohibitive.
It briefly crossed my mind to offer a couple of folks a couch to sleep on and then I figured there might be a bigger opportunity here. Why not invite some of the local business in St Albans to offer their services in welcoming a group of bloggers to the city? They would gain from extensive exposure on the various blogs and social media channels, and they also pick up links in return for their support (in posts such as this one).
I was keen to work with local suppliers who would most likely have been overlooked by a ‘properly organised’ press trip. So I approached a few of these companies myself and have been genuinely surprised by the willingness that local people have shown to be part of this weekend.
I have had a rental car provided for the weekend by St Albans Car and Van Rental; lunch on arrival is being hosted by The Waffle House – a local favourite spot (and a world away in every sense from the American chain of the same name).
We have an exciting day out planned on Sunday, being organised by Anna and Ben from Tourdust. It involves a traditional Sunday pub lunch at the Rose and Crown in Ivinghoe and a walk – beyond that, watch this space!
Last but certainly not least, accommodation is being provided at the Black Lion Inn where the owner Gail is not only welcoming the group into her hotel but has also played a valuable role in promoting the whole project to the wider local tourism community. On top of that she is hosting what promises to be a very lively social evening on Sunday.
In the end I could easily have attracted double the number of bloggers to visit, but logistics meant that I had to limit the number to five. Now of course World Travel Market is the big draw here, but I’m hoping that the five who will be staying in St Albans will leave the UK next week with good memories and impressions of a part of the country that they wouldn’t otherwise have known. The five bloggers who will be experiencing a weekend in St Albans before making their way into London for WTM are:
Keith Jenkins (@velvetescape) – www.velvetescape.com
Simon Falvo (@1step2theleft) – http://www.wild-about-travel.com
Melvin Boucher (@traveldudes) – http://www.traveldudes.org
Isabelle Kenis (@isabellestravel) – http://www.isabellestravelguide.com
Abigail King (@insidetravellab) – http://www.insidethetravellab.com
I’m looking forward to seeing what these folks make of St Albans, my adopted home for the last four years. More on the itinerary as the weekend develops… and it will be more interesting to hear what these guys make of the planned events! You can follow the weekend’s activity on Twitter via #blogstalbans.