“Attached, please find the itinerary for your upcoming six-day visit to Cornwall.”

My heart skipped a beat, maybe two. I had been successful in securing a six-day, 100% comped tour of Cornwall, England.

While in England, I went gliding, canoeing, cycling, rode a steam train, visited museums, castles, breweries, and wineries. I took an all-day guided tour in a luxury van, cruised the river on a punt in Canterbury and Bath. I devoured London on a walking food tour of the West End. All at no cost to me.

How did I land such an amazing trip, all expenses paid? I believe it came from showing my interest in the destination.

Here’s How I Did That Before My Trip:

  • Introduced myself and asked to be added to Convention and Visitor Bureau (CVB) mailing lists; via email for most, but in person in my home region.
  • Used TravMedia to locate PR members representing England. I clicked their “Follow” button and sent a short note with the dates of my travel.
  • Followed the CVBs on Facebook and Instagram before making my first direct contact.
  • Followed destinations, hotels, and restaurants featured on the CVB web pages.
  • Queried publishers for assignments related to my liking, following, and researching.
  • Queried CVBs and destinations for press trips.
  • Once I was given an itinerary, I featured my hosts on Facebook, Instagram, and my website. I shared the links with all the relevant parties.

During My Trip:

  • I featured my hosts on Facebook, Instagram, and my website.
  • I sent nightly updates to CVBs.
  • I sent nightly thank you notes to my host.

After My Trip:

  • I featured my hosts on Facebook, Instagram, and my website.
  • I sent links for published stories to CVBs and hosts.

So, What Did All This Extra Following, Liking, and Research Accomplish?

  • I showed CVBs my interest in the destination and attractions.
  • The research helped develop strong story ideas.
  • I built relationships before I asked for anything.
  • Once my host saw their pre-publicity, my itineraries were often added to or upgraded.
  • I got to know my host before I arrived. That gave them confidence in me and often gave me more access once I reached my hosted site.
  • My social media followers increased, and my posts were shared more often.
  • I’m invited back to enjoy other marvelous experiences.

Make the most of your contacts with CVBs, hotels, tour companies, restaurants, and all the potential and actual hosts for your planned trip. It pays off with richer itineraries, more material for stories, invitations to return, and lasting relationships both professional and personal.

[Editor’s Note: Learn more about how you can fund your travels and make an extra income with photography, travel writing, blogging, and more in our free online newsletter The Right Way to Travel. Sign up here today and we’ll send you a new report, Four Fun Ways To Get Paid To Travel: A Quick-Start Guide, completely FREE.]

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