On Saturday April 2nd I, along with bloggers from across the region, were invited to the first ever Zomato Blogger Conference, and also happened to be my first experience of attending a bloggers conference too since I began the journey of Mummy On My Mind! You can imagine my excitement!
The Conference, held in Kempinski Hotel MOE, took place across almost the entire day, beginning with registration at 2 pm and the conference itself beginning at 3 pm, continuing all the way til 8 pm, after which we were able to enjoy a lovely dinner at Olea Restaurant.
After being welcomed by the Zomato Registration team, I was pointed towards a little room decked out with sweets of all kinds, accompanied by many of the bloggers! I quickly spotted a few from the #UAEMomBloggers group and began chatting away, catching up on all things blogging and mummy life!
They were ready for us by about 3:15 pm, and after making a quick call to the dearest about how both my boys were faring (They were still alive, phew!). I was ready for the conference. Myself, Tarana (Sand In My Toes) and Abigail (Cuddles and Crumbs) propped ourselves in the second row…hey, what can I say, we were keen!
Getting my note pad and pen out in this sort of set up really took me back to my uni days. Gosh it had been a while! Anyway, after being welcomed by the Regional Director, Rohin Thampi, it was time for the first Panel.
The panel was moderated by Debbie Rogers– Co-founder & Editor of FoodeMag, and consisted of Viraj Sawant– Country Manager for Zomato UAE, Prasnjeet Roy– CEO of Mazkara, Vera Futorjaski– Co-founder of Vaniday ME and Tamara Clarke– Editor of Global Gazette and professional product reviewer. The panel discussed all things Reviews and was interactive with its audience too. I loved that they took questions through the hashtag #ZomatoCon over on Twitter, and it was not at all considered rude that the majority of us were using our mobile phones whilst the conference was taking place.
There were some great points raised during the panel, and it gave me great happiness to hear that my practice of always disclosing whether I have been sponsored in any way at the end of my posts is encouraged. Transparency with my audience is very important for me, especially if my decisions or words are influencing others in any way. Other points discussed was the importance of being honest to ourselves and adhering to our own personal code of ethics in the world of Blogging.
The panel was followed by a short presentation by Skyler Burt, pictured above, about creating photography. Though he showed a range of very impressive food photography and videos, I would have liked for him to give us a few tips and tricks on how to achieve similar shots.
Before we knew it, it was time for a tea break, along with the exhibition of The Appetising art of Food Photography. The sweets station for us to enjoy was added to with even more sweet stuff such as cakes and cookies. I would have loved a mini sandwich at that point, and I am shocked to admit even a sweet tooth like me had quite enough of the sugar overload! Becoming a mother means that I pack a lot of items in my bag which MAY or MAY NOT come to use at one point, and this time I was proved right because thankfully, I had packed an Oat Bar with me to keep me going, and devoured that within seconds.
Apart from that little hiccup, the #UAEMomBloggers group decided to take this opportunity to snap a group photo, and a few obligatory selfies of course. We really missed all the other UAEMomBloggers who couldn’t be there, but ate plenty of sweets on your behalf!
Once the break was over, it was time for a presentation by the team from Melwater Media Analyst in regards to “Growing your following and measuring its impact.” I did not find it personally useful as I felt it was more about them talking about and selling their brand, which was better suited for major companies and corporations, rather than a newbie blogger.
This was followed by the second panel of the day discussing Blogger and Brand Collaboration, once again hosted by Debbie and the other panelists included Abbas Jaffar Ali– Founder of T Break, Tiffany Barret– Blogger, Shamim Kassibawi– Managing partner at Spread Communications and Ex-blogger and Sheethal Vijaykumar – Musafir.
I found this panel to be very beneficial and interactive, especially since it included real-life experiences expressed by both bloggers as well as those in the PR field. It was good to hear from both sides, since both were just as relevant and important as each other. The key lesson I took away from it was that Content and Engagement is key. Numbers, though useful in their own right, are not a big deal if your audience does not engage with you and is not loyal in returning back to your blog time and time again. And of course none of this is possible without great content.
The last contributor towards the conference was the Key Note speaker, Farida El Agamy, talking to us about how Content is key. I loved her energy and message and though I had to nip out in between (mother duties!), it was definitely one of the main, if not only, highlights of the entire conference.
By the time Zomato’s first Blogger Conference came to an end, I was ravenous. Dinner was provided by Olea, a lovely Lebanese restaurant. Below are a few snap shots from our time at the restaurant. That chocolate fountain and the entire desserts section….It was beyond words. Don’t say I didn’t warn you…
Overall, it was a great event initiated by Zomato. Though there is room for improvement, especially in terms of snacks, it was useful and especially great for networking with other bloggers, which is something we often don’t get a chance to do, especially to meet bloggers that write about different topics ranging from beauty, food and technology!
I very much look forward to the next Zomato Blogger Conference!