Friday, 26 December 2008

#66 – The alternative to group press trips

Or going solo with tourist board support.

Unsatisfactory compromise
As I have said previously, I don’t tend to go on many group press trips. I find that these trips try too hard to keep everyone happy, and thus end up with a compromise that satisfies nobody. My preference is to go for individual trips, supported by the tourist board or hotel.

Not advertised
So what do I mean by this? Well, these trips are not ones that you’ll see advertised on bulletin boards or travel writer forums. Essentially, they are a case of deciding where you want to go, teeing up a commission or two and then contacting the tourist board.

Contact the tourist board first
Or, if you know the destination would ordinarily be out of your price range, contacting the tourist board first to see if they would be amenable to hosting you while there. If the tourist board indicates that they would be happy to assist with accommodation, guided tours etc, then you can start pitching potential ideas to editors.

Support and commissions
It’s rare that a tourist board will spend money hosting a journalist without a commission, but most will be prepared to offer support to a journalist that will definitely be getting an article about the destination published.

Personalised itineraries
The advantage of doing it this way is that the itineraries will usually be drawn up with only you in mind. They will not be catering to the needs of six other writers and every signed-up member of the local tourism body. You want to research glass-blowing and the micro-brewing scene? Then your trip will be tailored around these aspects, rather than having them inadequately shoe-horned in for a flying visit.

Level of support
The level of support will differ from destination to destination. Some tourist boards will put you up in lavish accommodation, give you public transport cards, a guide, a driver and free entry to anywhere you care to visit. Others will be a lot more stingy. It’s very rare that they will cover flights, however – bear this in mind.

Organisation and pro-activity
This method does take a bit more organisation and pro-activity on the writer’s part, but the pay-off is worth it. There are fewer of the inconveniences and problems associated with group press trips, and the individual experience usually makes for a more genuine article. There’s very little authenticity about being herded round in a bus with a group of other travel writers, after all.

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