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For the first time, I’ll be attending the travel conference known as TBEX. TBEX is the largest gathering of travel bloggers, online travel journalists, new media content creators, travel brands, and industry professionals. I’m looking forward to making some great connections that I can share with you!
What is TBEX?
TBEX is a 3-day travel conference and networking event designed to bring content creators (aka bloggers and journalists) together with travel companies, hotels, airlines, and everything else travel-related.
These events are held all over the world. I’m attending the conference in Minneapolis, at the Mall of America and Radisson Blu, this Memorial Day Weekend. Other events coming up this year are in Stockholm, Sweden in July 2016 and Manilla, Philipines in October 2016. Next year’s North American event will be held in early May 2017.
“FAM” trips before & after TBEX
As part of the conference, there are sponsored trips offered by local travel boards and businesses. These events are held in the days before and after the conference so bloggers and journalists can explore the local attractions and cities, then share those experiences with their readers.
Some examples of the “pre-BEX” tours are:
- The Crayola Experience
- Mall of America security and history tour
- Horse racing at Canterbury Park
- Exploring the city of Stillwater
- Mayo Clinic & WeBikeRochester tours
The tour that I selected was the Wabasha Street Caves & Gangster Tour. Some of my favorite movies are gangster movies, so I’m really looking forward to this tour! Apparently, the caves were a former speakeasy and gangster hideout.
The tour is two hours long and is guided by performers dressed in period attire that will show us some of the most famous gangster areas in St Paul, Minnesota. I like that the tour will be limited to only 15 people, so that will give us a great opportunity to interact more with the performers and receive personal attention.
If you’d like to sign up for this tour, please visit the Wabasha Street Caves & Gangster Tour site or call them at (651) 292-1220.
Opening Night Party at Nickelodeon Universe
On Sunday night, TBEX will be taking over the Nickelodeon Universe theme park inside the Mall of America. Nickelodeon Universe is the largest indoor theme park in the world! How cool is that?
Roller coasters are so much fun, and it will be an even better experience knowing that my good friend JohnTheWanderer will be there. We’ll be making so many new friendships… all while screaming like teenagers as we ride all the awesome rides!
Roller coasters are so much fun, and it will be an even better experience knowing that my good friend JohnTheWanderer will be there. We’ll be making so many new friendships… all while screaming like teenagers as we ride all the awesome rides! Two of the rides that I’m looking forward to going on are the:
- SpongeBob SquarePants Rock Bottom Plunge roller coaster – a 90 degree climb and a 97 degree drop that sends riders rocketing into a loop and a corkscrew one right after the other.
- Avatar Airbender – a giant, 70-foot-tall half-pipe, skateboard-roller coaster hybrid where each rider spins independently as it races up and down the half-pipe.
The park is pretty large at 7 acres with 27 rides and attractions. And we get the ENTIRE PARK TO OURSELVES for 2 1/2 hours!!! This eliminates the part all of us hate about going to amusement parks… waiting in line! To get your tickets for Nickelodeon Universe, go to their ticket info page or check out the latest special offers.
A Taste of Local Flavors at First Avenue
On Monday night, after the conference sessions and “speed date” networking sessions have finished, we’re invited to a fun evening at First Avenue and 7th Street Entry in Minneapolis. First Avenue is one of the longest running, independently owned and operated clubs in the US. It has been rocking and partying for the past 46 years… and counting!
7th Street Entry opens at 7pm, with live performances by Ness Nite, Lydia Liza, and Joey Michael to entertain us until we head over to First Avenue at 9pm. The TBEX party at First Avenue officially ends at 11pm, but the venue is open until 1am. Hopefully, I’ll keep my sanity about me and will end the evening’s festivities at 11pm so I can be fresh for Tuesday’s conference sessions.
Closing Party at Harriet Island Regional Park
To conclude an epic 3 days in Minneapolis, TBEX is hosting a party on the banks of the Mississippi River at Harriet Island Regional Park. We’ll be in the shadows of the St Paul skyline and will be sampling the food of Twin City’s food truck scene and drinks of the growing local microbrew community. Mmmm, beer.
I’m looking forward to making connections with people I hadn’t had a chance to meet… or saying one final goodbye to all of the friends I made over the past few days. Who knows, I may even be able to convince a few of them to go on the Padelford River Boat tours with me?
Where I’m staying for TBEX – Radisson Blu Mall of America
Although I’m not too impressed with the normal Radisson properties, the Radisson Blu hotels are amazing! When traveling internationally, we’ve had the pleasure of staying at Radisson Blu locations in Sydney, Paris, Amsterdam, Dublin, and London. Those properties were all top-notch!
In recent years, Radisson Blu properties have started popping up in the United States. I believe the first location was in Chicago and then two locations in Minneapolis (Mall of America and Downtown). There used to be a location in Philadelphia (The Warwick), but it left the Radisson Blu brand in April 2016.
If you want to stay at a Radisson Blu property, I suggest using the US Bank Club Carlson credit card for short stays or the Citi Prestige for stays of 4 days or longer. For longer stays, the Prestige card provides a 4th night free, so that benefit is very valuable. I can’t link directly to either of these cards, but if you use my affiliate link below, you can apply for the card of your choice.
Which “speed dates” did I sign up for?
I sent out requests for all 40+ vendors that signed up for speed dates. So far, I’ve received a few responses, but hope to receive even more before I arrive in Minneapolis tomorrow night.
Here are a few of the responses I’ve received:
- Meet Minneapolis
- Running Aces Casino & Racetrack
- Roseville Visitors Association
- Visit Mankato
- Huntsville & Madison County Convention & Visitors Bureau
- Visit Winona
- Original Resorts
I’ll be sure to share my experiences with these good people and maybe there will be a trip in the near future so you can see what these locations have to offer before you book your own vacation with them!
Memorial Day Wishes
I hope that you have a great Memorial Day Weekend. Please be sure to keep our active and military veterans in your thoughts and prayers… not just this weekend, but all year round. Many of my family and friends have put their lives in danger and sacrificed of themselves for the greater good of our country and society.
I am going to enjoy myself while learning and networking at TBEX. I hope that you and your families are able to spend time together and enjoy the unofficial start of summer. I’m thankful for the opportunity to attend TBEX, and I’m grateful that my wife and family support me in building the BaldThoughts brand. None of this would be possible without our veterans and the sacrifices that they, and their families, have made for us.