The Hat

Before I came to Toronto for the TBEX conference, I wrote on my social media platforms that everyone should look for me with my hat, my white beard and my Hawaiian shirts. I figured that there would not be too many old geezers that had this “look”. Little did I know that my Panama hat would become an institution in my life. This was my first experience mingling with the elite of the Travel Blogger world and I wanted to try and meet as many of my new “online friends” as possible. I encouraged all to introduce themselves, as I wanted photo ops and truly like meeting new people face to face.


Nomadic Texan & Miret Padovani ( from Zurich. A Lady Blogger with Fabulous Talents

Nomadic Texan & Miret Padovani ( from Zurich. A Lady Blogger with Fabulous Talents



I really had no idea what to expect at TBEX or what the experience would teach me. I did know that I wanted to gain as much knowledge about traffic, SEO and building my brand as possible. Looking through the options on the first day I selected all the business topics from the various categories (HHMM maybe my background had something to do with this-Ha!). Of course I waited too long to get to the opening session and was frantically trying to locate the room, when I discovered and icon in the business, Johnny Jet was also a little lost. We teamed our brilliant minds together and eventually found our destination (after I mislead him–not a good start to my first meet up with Mr. Jet)!


Trey Ratcliff Was Phenomenal

Trey Ratcliff Was Phenomenal


The opening keynote by Trey Ratcliff blew me away. This young man of StuckInCustoms is a phenomenal photographer and has vision issues in one eye. When you look at his photography you will be amazed. He was wearing his new Google glasses and told us all the finer qualities and attribute of the glasses. I was in awe! As I was  leaving the opening session a young man approached me and said “Hi Mike”. I was a little lost, thinking about my first breakout and did not recognize him at first. Turned out to be Will Castillo a friend and blogger I am trying to help out. You can follow him at IWillTravel and he is a very interesting young man, who loves South America almost as much as I do! Between the opening session and my first breakout no less than five bloggers came up and said hello. One even had me wait to meet her Mother! All because they saw “The Hat” from across the room.


A Slide from Ted Murphy's Presentation

A Slide Stating the Blogger’s Value to Direct Marketing Organizations


I headed out of the session to my first breakout “Brands, Blogger & Dollars” given by Ted Murphy. I wrote two pages of notes (I am still trying to decipher a few words–my writing is atrocious) and discovered I should have brought a tablet or I-Phone and recorded the breakouts. I couldn’t write as fast as they talked! In essence Ted’s most important factors in dealing with brands or sponsors are the following; 1) Quality of Content, 2) Relevance to Industry, 3) Personality, 4) Engagement and 5) Traffic. Ted also focused extremely deeply on the FTC guidelines and what is acceptable and what isn’t. He stated we all need to read the guidelines for sponsorship. Who knew? I was extremely excited at the information learned and stepped out to head toward my second breakout. This time it was six or seven bloggers that came up and introduced themselves and I got a few photo ops. They saw “The Hat” from across the room again. See the pattern starting to develop?


William Bakker from Think! Social Media-Brilliant Man

William Bakker from Think! Social Media-Brilliant Man


My second breakout was with William Bakker of “Think! Social Media” and his topic was Lesson Learned: “Working with Bloggers & Destinations”. This young man energized everyone in the room, even though his dutch accent was pervasive, we could interpret his talk. He gave a myriad of facts and again I couldn’t keep up and write fast enough. Did you know the #1 social media platform for determining travel is Facebook. People trust their friends feedback more than any other source.


William Tells Us What They Look For in Blogger Trips

DMO Take-Aways For Blogger Trips


William stated that bloggers are “Content Creators” or Story Tellers and we must be authentic, and honest, if we desire credibility in the profession. He gave us Think’s blogger requirements on their selection process for press trips: 1) The blogger has to value the destination of Think’s trip, 2) What is your reach-Size of Audience, 3) What are your audience demographics, 4) What is your influence in a niche (Twitter & Facebook Activity), 5) Do you have a connection to other Influencers 6) What is your Quality & Style, 7) What is your speed of communication, 8) What is your level of technology & tools use, 9) Do you have a Personality.  I could have listened to him all day, but had to grab a bite to eat.


Will Castillo of IWill_Travel (Your Eyes are Supposed to be Open Will)!

Will Castillo, of “I Will Travel” (Your Eyes are Supposed to be Open Will)!


Will had offered to buy my lunch and I am not one to turn food down! I told him at lunch that he needed to find an item like “The Hat” and establish his brand. We talked about various travel topics and it was time to get back.  After lunch I had pre-selected my friend Stephen Oddo of Walks of Italy breakout and thought I would give him a hard time. His title was “Where’s my ROI? Campaign & Strategies in Digital Marketing”. Stephen stated “Marketing is the practice of creating a name, symbol or design that identifies and differentiates a product from another product”. Prior to the start of the third breakout, one of my closet online friends Jill of Road Warrior, came running up to where I sat and gave me a hug. She saw “The Hat” from the back of the room. So my design or symbol became “The Hat” without any conscience effort on my part. It just transpired!


Stephen Oddo from Walks of Italy

Stephen Oddo from Walks of Italy



Stephen stated you do this with 1) Personality, 2) Set standards and follow them, 3) Be Consistent, 4) Develop a Positive Reputation. He also said that blogs are the third most influential digital resource for purchasing travel. He stated 50% of travelers changed their minds based on what they read on trusted blogs. Wow! Had no idea “The Hat” had this much responsibility!


Janice Waugh, publisher of Solo Traveler (, the blog for those who travel alone and author of The Solo Traveler's Handbook ( navigating Speed Dating

Janice Waugh, publisher of Solo Traveler (, the blog for those who travel alone and author of The Solo Traveler’s Handbook (, navigating Speed Dating


Time was flying by and my first experience in Speed Dating was staring me in the face. Was I ready. Had I gathered the correct statistics. How hard could it really be? I soon discovered. We had 10 minutes for each date and it became a whirlwind of activity and discussion and just as you got to know the vendor it was time to change and move on. This was one of the two hardest hours I have ever worked in my life. Not physically, but trying to give my presentation and communicate my niche and brand was extremely difficult in under 10 minutes. I was worn out and the night hadn’t even begun, for “The Hat”!







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Hotels and Resorts

18 responses to “The Hat”

  1. Noel says:

    So my question is, did you wear the hat on those speed dates? Funny if I went to tbex, I probably would have been wearing a hat also. Great information and summaries, thanks for putting that all together into a nice tight post, enjoyed reading it.

    • NOMADICTEXAN says:

      Yes I wore the hat at all times, especially after I started realizing it was a “brand”. I had no idea when I went, that my hat was such a draw. Hope I never lose it! (Almost did in front of Blue Jay stadium as the wind blew it off my head and it rolled about a half block-scared me to death). Safe Travels mi amigo!

  2. I just HAT (sorry, couldn’t resist:p) to read this article!
    Love the hat, Mike.
    I’m thinking about something signature-y for myself…
    To be continued:-)

    • NOMADICTEXAN says:

      I had this conversation with many bloggers at TBEX after I learned about my hat! Do you know Charu of Butyerfly Diaries? I told her to get a fresh cut bright flower and out it behind her ear for profile photo and then wear one to TBEX and other events. She liked that idea. We will see if she does it! I was looking at images for Belgium and all they have is the flag, buildings and waffles! Ha! You need to think about what you like or what you want to represent with your blog and ideas will come for your brand! Ha! Have a good one and thank you kindly for stopping by miy blog!

      • I was more thinking along the line og a signature dance move to do in every place I visit:)

        • NOMADICTEXAN says:

          Wow! Now that would be awesome and really, really “brand” you! (Just my 2 cents!) Ha! Great thinking young lady! I like your creative ability! Its awesome! You have to come to Texas and learn the Two Step! Ha! Regards,

  3. Jill from Road Warrior LOVES the HAT!!! I don’t think anyone can come close to having such a wonderful signature!

  4. Will says:

    Great post Mike! About my eyes, I know! This has never happened to me (well it has but very few times). And yeah, I’m thinking of something people will recognize me by. One of the MANY things I’m working on right now. Thanks for the tip though. TBEX was great but it was mainly because of all the great people that I met such as yourself.

    • NOMADICTEXAN says:

      Thank you kindly young man! Our Latin America project is starting to gain momentum I think! Gracias senor!

  5. I think it’s an excellent brand statement! I’ve been blogging a while but only in the last year turnd serious” as they say and I know so much more now that I kind of think I wold change if I did it again…I need a brand as simple and awesome as yours!

  6. bethany says:

    Looks like you had a great time there! Really wish we could’ve made it and met up with you and the hat! 🙂

    • NOMADICTEXAN says:

      I would have loved to meet y’all. I love following your blog, facebook post, etc! Keep up the great work and I am sure we will meet up down the road! Thanks for stopping by the blog!

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Amateur Traveler Episode 471 - Travel to Austin, Texas