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Handing Out My Thoughts on the 2023 World Tea Expo (for Free): "The Expo Doesn't Want You"

Hello hello!


This past March, I was invited to be one of the keynote speakers for World Tea Expo 2023! After returning for a second year in a row, I have finally collected my thoughts and decided to go over how this year’s World Tea Expo went.


How did it go? What about the clickbait title I gave this review?

Let’s dive in and find out!


Me during my incubator lecture, photo credit to the talented photographers at World Tea Expo


This year, I attended World Tea Expo as one of their Business-Incubator speakers on the first day of the expo. For the expo, I spoke about small banking within the world of tea. The incubator was full in attendance and had various speakers from different walks of the world of tea. I even won several social-media polls for World Tea Expo as the most anticipated speaker for the expo. After being in the industry for close to a decade, and writing about the industry as an educator and influencer for over seven years, felt like a major victory for my journey in tea.


Days two and three are when the expo floor opened. World Tea Expo, which was run in contingency with the Bar & Restaurant Expo, expanded and covered more floor space on the expo floor than it did the previous year. To add, World Tea Expo’s floor plan was slightly more segregated from Bar & Restaurant — which was a major upgrade. Unlike last year when World Tea Expo bled into the Bar & Restaurant Expo, this year, the tea side of the expo was more isolated. Once you reached the tea section of the expo, it was so much easier to stay within the tea side of the expo.

Compared to last year, this was one of my favorite upgrades from last year.


One of my other favorite aspects of World Tea Expo this year was getting to meet so many people from all over the world of tea that I have known for the entirety of my career, and meeting them in person for the very first time.


It was utterly surreal.


Group-photo with various vendors and tea bloggers, writers, and educators.


However, this wasn’t enough to save my experience with the 2023 World Tea Expo. One of the first jarring things about the convention was that the health department was going around the expo — fining booths for not having a permit to give samples and shutting down said booths from continuing to give samples because they didn’t buy the ‘correct package through World Tea Expo’ to allow them to serve samples under a permit….

(Neldon of Tea With Neldon currently talked about this issue further here)


Another thing that I found incredibly jarring, is that one of the other (anonymous) speakers for the expo, was consulting several people about using social media like “a game”. She told these individuals that marketing on social media is random and they should hope to hit it big by going viral… She also stated over a half-dozen times that she was handed her position in the family business and initially didn’t know anything about marketing...


Despite that, the most damning aspect surrounding World Tea Expo this year was one massive element that the people running the expo missed big time: They don't want the world of bloggers, freelance writers, and educators. The expo believes the writers, bloggers, and educators, only appear to the expo to, in quote, “Take free stuff.”


Yes.


This revelation began with this year’s exclusion of Blogger’s Round Table — one of the first World Tea Expos in the history of the show to not include bloggers officially (or unofficially). With this, I went to one of the expo organizers and requested that the bloggers, freelance writers, and educators be granted a meet-and-greet so they can get the chance to meet other professionals in the industry. After coming up with a game plan, I received a phone call two weeks later from World Tea Expo.


One of the representatives for World Tea Expo and Questex (the parent company who owns World Tea Expo), told me verbatim that, “World Tea Expo doesn’t want bloggers attending the expo this year. The expo doesn't want you. Last year, vendors complained that too many bloggers asked for too much free stuff, and if bloggers and freelance writers want to be involved with the Expo, then they need to pay their way and promote the expo if the expo wants to take them seriously.”

This representative then told me that it was out of my place to suggest a meet-and-greet for the expo, and it would not happen.


After having this disturbing phone call with this representative, she then claimed that if any bloggers wanted to work with the expo, they’d have to go through her — despite that she was not going to be attending the expo herself.

After this phone call, I verified the validity of this representative by reaching out to one of the expo organizers — who confirmed the validity of this said-representatives.

To add, all but one of all of the various bloggers and freelance writers who applied for a press pass got approved. Half a dozen bloggers and writers that I personally know got rejected for a press pass; which only backs up the claim that the expo doesn't want us there.


Let’s put this in perspective. World Tea Expo wants bloggers to personally pay travel expenses to pay for entry to an event, and wants to require them to promote the expo for free…


Me during my incubator lecture, photo credit to the talent photographers atWorld Tea Expo



One of the bloggers who attended World Tea Expo, who will stay anonymous for this article, got denied a press pass and spent a minimum of $1,300 to attend this year’s expo. This person in particular works in the world of tea and worked 60-80 hours a week for several months at above-minimum wage— just to be able to attend this year’s expo…


According to the expo's representative, the expo’s view on this person is that this person only showed up for ‘the free stuff’.


As far as bloggers who didn’t apply for a press pass, one anonymous blogger reported to me that they spent $2,500 out of pocket to travel and attend World Tea Expo. They said that they saved for the majority of 2022 after seeing my personal Instagram posts, just to be able to attend the expo.

According to the expo's representative, the expo’s view on this person is that this person only showed up for ‘the free stuff’.


To add, another anonymous blogger shared with me that they spent $904.00 alone on just World Tea Expo itself — not including travel or hotel.

Since this person is a blogger and influencer, according to the expo, this person gave them $904.00 just on the expo to view them as someone who just showed up for ‘the free stuff.

Lastly, another anonymous blogger also reported she spent $879 in total with the expo alone, and over $800.00 in travel expenses. At the time of this post, this particular blogger has shared 21 individual posts on social media with a following of around 1,300 people. If you take the $879 they spent as a blogger to the expo, and divide that by the current posts they’ve made promoting the expo, World Tea Expo has currently made $41.86 per social-media post this blogger has made in free marketing for the expo.

They did it for the expo, for free.


This person marketed the expo over 21 times for free. According to the expo's representative, the viewpoint that World Tea Expo has of this person, is that this individual is only there for ‘the free stuff’.


Let the absurdity of that sink in.


As for myself, after the expo compensated me for speaking, I spent over $600 out of pocket on travel. As a keynote speaker of the expo, when I asked an expo organizer if I could bring a family member with me to the expo as my plus-1 and bring them with me to the expo hall, below this paragraph is a screen-grab of their response…

To add, keep in mind that I also connected a vendor with the expo, and the vendor bought booth space with the expo.

Yes, after helping the expo gain a sale, they replied with the email response below in regards to bringing a family member to the expo hall with me…




(Note how the email said, "no more free anything, sorry"... I had not been given anything for free prior to this.)


And yet, somehow, they view me as someone who only showed up for ‘the free stuff’.


In response to World Tea Expo, my family member did not go to the expo with me.


And yet, this continues to get worse.


To make the absurdity even worse, I ran into one of the Board of Directors of the expo while on the strip. I voiced all of my concerns and recalled the conversation I had with the expo-representative about the viewpoint the expo has on bloggers, writers, and educators.

Their response was, "I see the initial point they were making, but they just worded it wrong."

They then told me to email them complaint, and they'd forward it to the said-parties responsible...


I felt both defeated and devastated.


(This said-Board Member also made a point to avoid me through out the remainder of the expo. Twice, when walking in my direction, he quickly turned a corner once seeing me and hurried in a different direction....)


Bloggers, educators, and free-lance writers for the world of tea make up a massive population of the world of tea, and after how much money tea bloggers spent out of pocket to support World Tea Expo, the least the expo could do is show compassion and humility for the people who helped bring success to it. After all, according to Zappa, Questex made $35.9 million USD in revenue in 2022. With how much money the expo is making, and how much bloggers, educators, and freelance writers are spending out of pocket to support the expo, the very least the expo can do is acknowledge the very existence of the people who helped get them there — much less offer a press-pass for bloggers who are giving them free marketing. Instead, they spit in their faces.


World Tea Expo also needs to stop gate-keeping the tea experience by outsourcing their relationships with their bloggers, writers, and educators by filtering them through outside organizations. World Tea Expo is very keen on only working with bloggers through a single organization, when that said-organization hasn't been involved with the blogging world of tea in over 7+ years. Many bloggers, writers, and educators exist outside of the parameter of a single organization, and succeed in other various avenues.


World Tea News sources their blogger relations with someone who has not updated their tea content since before 2014. To add, World Tea Expo also needs to vet their incubator speakers a lot better. I found it incredibly insulting that a professional publicly bragged about their nepotism in the industry, and reduce the highly-educated skill of marketing to ‘hoping to hit it viral’.


If you work for World Tea Expo or Questex, I need you to read the following very carefully, and carefully pay attention to what I’m about to say: World Tea Expo needs to realize that bloggers, writers, and educators launch their careers in this industry despite that they do not personally profit from it. Bloggers, writers, and educators go into this industry in debt to the industry. They do not take from it but rather, give back to it without question. Bloggers, writers, and educators do not make money from the passionate work they do, but rather, they are in the hole with it. Despite that this passion is paid-for out of pocket, they still do it out of the sheer love and passion for the industry.

As a passionate blogger and supporter of the World of Tea, and as someone who has poured their entire creative heart and soul into this industry, being able to speak at World Tea Expo should have been a special moment for me….

Instead, I feel insulted that I gave money, time, and attention to an organization that does not value me, my career, or my background. I also feel remorse that I have influenced people to attend this expo on my behalf, as they spent money on this organization to just be insulted and degraded in return.


As for World Tea Expo, I am calling on World Tea Expo to apologize to the world of tea bloggers, tea writers, and tea educators for this massive blunder, and call on World Tea Expo to promise to work harder to do better for one of the largest and most passionate demographics that the world of tea has to offer….



2 Comments


technikflaira
Feb 14

Thank you for this detailed insight.

Sad to hear the the WorldTeaExpo does not share the same passion for tea and the community.


Doesn’t make me excited to attend..

Sad.

Like

Cynthia Boucher
Cynthia Boucher
May 12, 2023

Any thoughts of attending have now vanished.

Like
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