I went to Finland recently and had a blast exploring Helsinki and Oulu, but the actual purpose of the trip was to attend MATKA, a travel conference. I learned a lot about how to prepare and what to expect at MATKA Nordic Travel Fair as a travel blogger and am going to share that in this article.
I have personally only attended one other travel conference and that was TBEX in Bangkok which I wasn’t really a fan of. I have also spoken at the Gypsy Travel Fair in Mumbai. I haven’t attended huge travel fairs, like the ones in NYC and London.
What to expect at MATKA Nordic Travel Fair as a Travel Blogger
Chances are if you are attending this conference as an international, non-Nordic blogger, it’s because you are in the Nordic Blogger’s Experience (NBE) along with other selected invitees. This is why I was attending MATKA.
To be honest, I was so excited to go to Finland, I didn’t think enough about the conference and I regret that which is why I want to share my experiences.
If you are in the NBE then there are special days set aside for you before and after MATKA.
Networking Day for NBE
One important day is a speed networking day with select brands at the fair, which included a lot of tourism boards like Mexico Tourism, Czech Tourism, and more. You set these up ahead of time, online, and request 15-minute meetings with them.
DMO Breakfast at NBE
There is also a DMO breakfast which is a chance to speak with even more representatives from other countries. I even spoke with a killer hotel in Alaska that might want to work together.
You have coffee and such and walk to their tables openly to talk with whoever you please.
Exploring the Region with NBE
This includes a pre-tour (pre-MATKA fair) somewhere in the region (not necessarily Finland), a “stopover day” where you explore close to Helsinki”, and a post-tour (post-MATKA fair).
So, you’ll need about 10 days in Finland, but I suggest staying longer after it’s done to relax and explore Helsinki on your own as you don’t get much time to yourself.
Another benefit of being in the NBE are the blogger courses that are offered during the days of the fair and the day before the fair starts. Experienced bloggers and videographers give lessons on what they’ve learned from blogging. There were speakers talking about how to build a niche and more.
Compared to TBEX Bangkok, I found this much better and really enjoyed listening to how they grew their blogs into more than that.
The MATKA Fair & How Accepting Brands Are of Working With Travel Bloggers
Basically, I hadn’t seen a fair like this before and really didn’t know how MASSIVE it would be.
I actually thought that the networking meetings were kind of the end of it all, and that those 50+ tourism boards, tour companies, and hotels were the only ones there. That wasn’t the case at all. In fact, there were hundreds, maybe thousands of tour companies and tourism boards at the MATKA fair.
When I walked into the conference center I thought maybe another event was going on the same day.
It was set up by region, and I started on the International side. So what do you do? You literally walk up to the booths and tell them who you are, and why they might want to work with you/hire you + what you can do for THEM.
The place was packed and the energy was full-on! I was kind of in a daze walking around alone just talking to random companies and seeing what might come out of it.
Overall, people were interested in talking to me (as a travel blogger) but some were a little upfront that they don’t work with bloggers. You just have to ask and not get discouraged if they aren’t interested.
As it’s a Nordic travel fair, you have to understand as an international blogger, not from the Nordics, you might not have as good of luck. Each tourism board represented, send their Nordic representative and they are looking to promote their region to the Nordics, not USA, UK, etc.
I did have some brands ask why the NBE had international bloggers come, which was a little rude. But, overall, most Nordic reps were more than happy to pass my information along to their USA or India colleagues and getting that connection makes such a difference when you send over a pitch.
Also even if your connections from the MATKA fair didn’t work out for you, the pre and post tours with NBE are incredible and the networking is fantastic. You can go just for that.
Tips for how to prepare for MATKA Fair as a travel blogger
- Do it alone. You’re going to make a lot of blogger friends at the conference but when you walk around the fair you don’t want a buddy. You want the 1 on 1 attention with the brand and to seem independent and go at your own pace.
- Bring more business cards than you think you need. Bring 200! I ran out.
- Be sure to introduce who you are, that you are a travel blogger, and your niche. Think about what you’ll say before you walk up to the booth.
- Don’t be afraid to say your numbers if they are something you think would help. I told them a few stats about my blog and my page views monthly.
- Print a few media kits for the meetings that are going REALLY well, but for everyone else show them the media kit on your tablet. This worked out so well and it helps to have something tangible in your hand for them to look at.
- There’s no point in saying right away that you charge for a per diem on trips, etc. They aren’t going to remember and it might seem off-putting at first introduction.
- Carry a little backpack to keep all the pamphlets they give you. It’s pretty rude to not take it when they offer as you are meant to be looking interested in their destination!
- Take a note on every business card you get so you remember what was said. Maybe they wanted to connect you with a colleague or they talked about a specific upcoming FAM with dates. It’s so important that you have a little reminder with a personal note to follow up with them.
- The entire MATKA fair is pointless if you don’t follow up. I ended up with 54 connections that seemed important enough to follow up and see if it could go somewhere. I sent e-mails to them all about 5 days after the fair. It was worth the two days of writing! Send them a copy of your media kit and your normal pitch plus personalized message at the beginning so that they remember you.
- Get there early and scope it all out. You want all the time you have there and you want to know the important brands to talk to. By the late afternoon, people are tired and it gets harder to get people’s attention.
- If you are with NBE you get a coupon to check your coat for free. You also get lunch coupons to eat anywhere in the building. There are restaurants, buffets, and cafes inside the conference center. It’s huge.
- To get to Messukeskus where the MATKA fair takes place in Helsinki, you can take any letter train (A-Z) from the central train station to the stop. It’s easy and they’ll give you detailed directions + a local transportation pass so it’s free of charge.
I hope this gives you an idea of what to expect at the MATKA Nordic travel fair as a travel blogger. It’s a great opportunity for both new and experienced travel bloggers. I DID get some really great contacts here and even have a few trips in the pipeline (fingers crossed).
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