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Thursday, March 27, 2014

Matta Academy host Shane Dallas @ The Travel Camel, renowned Travel Blogger in sharing know how with Malaysian Travel Agents

I was invited by Mr.Uzaidi Udanis, the Vice President of Education and Training, MATTA ACADEMY to attend a talk by Mr.Shane Dallas, a world renowned Travel Blogger.

Shane Dallas is known as The Travel Camel amongst the world's travel bloggers. This Australian single man has been to 70 over countries and is quite a prolific blogger himself.

I was among the earliest to arrive. Met Shane Dallas and for a minute there thought of the movie character Indiana Jones! :P

Shane Dallas was quite a character and was easy to strike up a conversation with. Introduced myself as a blogger and he was happy to know that I was a photographer too.

Soon, the participants consisting of travel agents and tourism related industry players started to fill up the hall. Uzaidi Udanis sure knows how to organize a training session.

The event started with Uzaidi Udanis welcoming all participants to the talk and asked us to join him in observing a 2 minutes silence in remembrance of the missing MAS flight # MH370.

He then introduced Mr. Shane Dallas as a travel blogger who had graciously accepted Uzaidi's invitation to share with us his experiences as a successful world renowned Travel Blogger. 

Shane Dallas started his talk by sharing with us about his background. He had been traveling for about 30 years. Public speaking for 20 years and has been a travel blogger for the last 10 years. Having been to over 70 countries and still counting, this young single Australian traveller has been to places which most people shy away from.

Places such as Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Iraq, North Korea, Somaliland, Tajikistan and Yemen has been amongst his favorite stopovers. 

According to Shane, he found the Afghanistanis to be amongst the friendliest people that he has met. 

Shane Dallas then shared with us about the importance of travel blogging and how it can be utilized to boost the tourism industry.

According to Shane, there are several social media platforms that can be best utilized to boost travel and tourism. He uses The Travel Blog as his blog platform.

Industry players have a choice as to which form of Social Media they wish to use? 

There are Travel Blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and You Tube that can showcase a country's special attractions and draw attention to off the travel maps exclusive locales and unique cultures and traditions not found elsewhere.

He also shared with us tips that can be used by those who choose to be Travel Bloggers.

Shane emphasized that for Travel Bloggers to be successful, they need to know what kind of content they enter into their blogs?

Shane posing for his silhouette shot
He shared with the audience that 'Content is King!'

To be a good travel blogger, one has to make sure that one's blog has :

  • Content
  • Conversation
  • Compatibility
  • Coverage

Content is very important in getting viewers to share emotion by the usage of good photography!

The right kind of information presented correctly will evoke the appropriate emotions of the travel blog readers.

Effective blogs evoke emotions! That's what he said.

Mr.Uzaidi introducing Shane Dallas, The Travel Camel Blogger
Shane also reminded us to be aware of spam. Those of us who blog have to make sure that our blogs are free from spam. 

Mr.Uzaidi sharing his views about the event
He also shared with us that he doesn't have ads in his own travel blog for that might lead to distractions from what we want to share or highlight in our articles.

I agree with him. That's the reason why in my blog here, I choose as to which type of adverts appear in my sidebar.

I used to have ads by Google but then when I found that by having ads from Google, sometimes the type of products or issues that Google advertises runs contrary to what I have as my principles and as such, I chose to remove such links. 

I don't mind losing potential revenue from such ads but I'd rather keep my blog free from unsavory content especially from uncontrollable ads.

One way that we can draw attention to our blogs is by engaging in communication with our blog readers. 

By responding to queries about what we have shared like places that we have traveled to or certain restaurants, places where special or unique foods are served or sold, chances are that we will stir the interest of people out there to come check out what we have highlighted in our blogs!

According to Shane, he has had many instances where his blog readers have emailed him asking about the content in his travel articles? In a way that increases the chances of people travelling to visit those places where he himself has visited and they want to come see those places and experience it for themselves.

Photo courtesy of The Travel Camel
Travel bloggers can draw attention to either their own countries or other places by highlighting for example the top 10 places to visit in a certain area or if they were more keen about food, to share info about where to go for the best nasi lemak in Kuala Lumpur or whatever?

An easy example would be if you were writing about Penang, then you can share with your readers as to where to go for the best Nasi Kandar or Char Koay Teow?
Nasi Kandar

Char Koay Teow
If one wants to add visuals to one's travel articles, nothing is as eye catching as a good, well captured photograph to compliment one's writings. 

An excellent photograph related to what we are blogging about will help draw the attention of the reader to share in the experience that the travel blogger went through!

A well composed photograph evokes emotion! Control of light is also important. It creates a mood. A well captured photograph helps convey what we wish to share with our viewers.

It might just trigger the person to travel to the place to see with their own eyes what they saw through your photograph. Thus a travel blogger ought to be well equipped with the right kind of cameras and know how to capture interesting sights to be used as interesting content in your travel articles.

In order to succeed in taking good portraits, a photographer must first make connection with his or her subject or subjects. By establishing a connection with the subjects, the photographer would be able to get the subject or subjects to pose willingly and the end results would be just marvelous!

The travel blogger needs to have basic photography skills such as knowing how to shoot photos that have a good composition.

As a photographer myself, I have purchased a Nikon DSLR camera. A zoom lens is very important to be able to capture sights and scenes that wouldn't be easy to shoot using just a phone camera. The depth and clarity wouldn't be the same. It pays to invest in a good DSLR camera. The results are simply much more better than ordinary cameras.

If you are serious about wanting to be a good travel blogger then you must get yourself a reliable DSLR camera plus the necessary zoom or macro lenses in order to be able to photograph those special places that you are traveling to or to posterize the interesting people you come across.

Shane Dallas has been successful in his vocation as a travel blogger due to his love for travel and wanting to learn more about different people, different cultures and countries of this world.

His being single adds to his freedom to roam the world and experience various lifestyles of the humankind.

Not everyone can afford to travel as he does but where there's a will ; there'll surely be a way.

It's all up to us.

After the talk, there was a Q & A session where the travel agents present wanted to know whether there's money to be made through travel blogging?

Shane answered that as far as he is concerned, no. It is a passion that he takes to heart and travels to lands and places that many do not tread to fulfill his own wanderlust!

One travel agent wanted to know whether there's a way to be amongst the top 10 travel bloggers in an express manner to which Shane replied in the negative.

Any travel blogger's fame or fortune is decided by what he shares and how he shares it?

It takes time and perseverance to build up one's niche in the blogosphere. One's integrity and trustworthiness decides one's place online.

After the Q&A session, we all exchanged business cards and then posed for photographs.

To summarize the event, I'd say that it was a mutually satisfying experience for all of us who attended this event hosted by The Matta Academy.

I am looking forward to join Uzaidi Udanis and THE MATTA ACADEMY in their future programs. 

May MATTA ACADEMY help Malaysia's Tourism and Travel Industry by producing quality travel agents and tourism industry operators for the benefit of our beloved nation.

Insya Allah.

L to R : Uzaidi Udanis, Mahaguru58, Shane Dallas, Zamiel Zukie.
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