Obviously, travel writers love to travel. Otherwise why would we be in this business? So when those FAM trip (or press trip) invitations arrive in our inboxes, we pay attention. But accepting every FAM trip invitation that comes your way isn’t always a great idea. For instance, if you focus solely on luxury travel and you receive an invitation for a backpacking press trip – it might not work for you.
Over the last several years as my travel-writing career has picked up speed, I’ve garnered some tips from destination marketing representatives on what is expected from writers who accept or request press trips. I’ve also learned what questions to ask to make sure the trip works for me. Here are my top four tips:
1. Communication is key. When a press trip invitation arrives, I always confirm what exactly is expected of me. Is there a required timeframe for publishing the article after the trip? What will the itinerary include, and will there be options for specific sights that work for my outlets? If the trip is not a good fit, I don’t accept the invitation.
2. Share any concerns about the destination and itinerary activities upfront to be sure you’re seeing the whole picture. For instance, if you’re unable to hike or walk for hours, you probably shouldn’t accept a trip that includes hiking the national parks or three-hour walking tours. This is especially important for group trips – you don’t want to be THAT writer that’s slowing everyone else down.
3. Always communicate with your host before and after the trip. I always appreciate when a destination marketing representative is responsive to my e-mails – they feel the same way about writers. We’re all busy, but if someone is planning to host you at their destination and pick up the tab, you really need to be responsive to any e-mails or requests for information they send out to you. Also, sometimes an article’s publication date might be longer than you expected. It happens: editors sometimes have to delay publication. Be sure to keep your contact informed, and always be honest.
4. Do a little pre-trip research on the places and activities noted in the proposed itinerary. If you have a little background on a resort, a museum, exhibit, restaurant, etc. before arriving, you’ll be able to consider what story angles you want to use for your pitches and articles.
Choose wisely, be informed, be honest, meet the expectations set out for you, and write a well-researched article after the trip. You’ll get more out of your trip, and you’ll continue to get invitations. Happy trails!
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