The recipe for press trips, a longtime staple of tourism marketing, has been pretty cookie-cutter over the years. Invite freelance travel writers to visit, herd them into a van and drive them around to attractions from dawn to dust. But as more and more bloggers join the fray, progressive destinations are evolving media familiarization trips to be more interactive -- and generating outstanding results along the way.
Here are three different examples of next-generation travel media relations:
- The Lanai, Hawaii, Visitors Bureau commissioned seven well-known travel bloggers to be New Media Artists in Residence, each bringing an assistant to help develop their stories. Spending a week at the beach, scuba diving, and enjoying a variety of other activities, the travel writers shared their articles on a Posterous blog, generating links that cross-posted to Twitter (#VisitLanai.) Although bloggers were on location in Lanai at different times, they continued to interact with each other through social media over six months, sharing comments and recommendations of where to go and what to do with each other and their followers.
- Travel Oregon invited 25 food writers for a Full On Oregon culinary immersion weekend, taking small groups crabbing at the Oregon Coast, whitewater rafting on the Rogue River, foraging on Mt. Hood and wine tasting in the Willamette Valley. Bloggers went behind the scenes to make and taste chocolate, fruit and vegetable preserves, tea, charcuterie, ice cream and cocktails. Camaraderie developed over meals prepared by some of Portland's top chefs using fresh local ingredients. A strong, supportive (#fullonOR) community resulted after participating in unique, authentic experiences for only 48 hours.
- Spain's Valencia Tourism Region hosted a blog trip (#blogtripF1) for a variety of journalists, travel bloggers, social media pros, Internet technologists and web designers. To kick off the event, each attendee presented a topic related to their expertise in a venue where they could then meet, discuss, debate and collaborate with each other. The four-day Valencia excursion also included a trip to the Formula One Grand Prix of Europe race. Guided tours resulted in blogs about a range of activities, including eating local fare, becoming inspired by modern architecture and experiencing the F1 race.
Although unique in their approaches, each of these examples is based on the same core principles. Follow these guidelines to drive your media relations makeover.
|Interactive Media Trips||Old-school Familiarization Trips|
| Invite writers conversant in social media |
who are likely to get along well
| Select writers based on the media outlet each will be writing for|
| Avoid stating requirements other than |
disclosure of entity sponsoring the trip
| Letter of assignment|
|Share information on who is coming prior to the trip |
and provide links to their blogs, media outlets and
Twitter handles to build momentum for the event
and extend the program's reach to before
and after the event
| Meet upon arrival|
| Online resource page featuring URLs, |
photos and Twitter handles for all involved locations
| Paper press kit|
| Small groups that change for meals and outings|| One group|
| Unique, memorable experiences so each writer |
finds their own angle
| Everyone gets the same story|
| Select attractions visited based on stories about people, |
e.g., second restaurants opened by award-winning
chefs or family-owned businesses
| Visit classic, most popular attractions|
| Interviews with interesting artisans, guides and chefs so writers get fresh, untold stories|| Breakfast with the general manager|
|8:30 a.m. or 9 a.m. departures plus free time for exploring and writing|| Jam-packed schedule starting |
at 8 a.m. or earlier each day
| Twitter hashtag for the trip|| No sense of community|
| Possibility of multiple blog posts|| One story per media outlet|
| Measurement is based on influence and engagement|| Measurement is based on media outlet's circulation|
| Focus on building relationships and networks|| Focus on generating exclusive stories|
Inspired? Infusing these concepts into your PR program will help you turn your next media trip into an engaging, memorable experience.