So, you see your peers traveling to amazing places and using hashtags like #hosted or #sponsored on their social posts and want to know, “how can I get invited on a trip like that?” Looks glamorous, doesn’t it? Jet-setting around the world and posting pictures of all your delicious adventures?
What you’re likely seeing is a group of media, bloggers, or influencers on a press trip.
I remember my first experience with one. I was actually an intern at a tourism board (waaaaaay before I started blogging), and we hosted a group of international media for a week showing them the best of our city. It seemed like a paid vacation and I thought, “that has got to be the best job in the world!” Fast forward a decade or two, and I’ve now been blogging for over 10 years and have traveled on over 60 press trips and paid campaigns.
So, you want the inside scoop? I have some tips for you below as well as a behind-the-scenes peek into press trips, what can be expected during such a trip, and how to get invited on one.
What Is A Press Trip?
First, what exactly is a press trip? A press trip is when a group of traditional media, bloggers, or influencers are invited by a tourism board or travel brand to go on a trip for media coverage. Sometimes, a press trip is also called a FAM trip (short for familiarization) since you’re getting “familiar” with the product or destination. And every now and then you might even find travel agents invited on a trip too, as they are getting familiar with a product they’re going to sell.
Yes, press trips are a lot of fun, and it certainly beats working in an office any day! But despite my original impression back when I was an intern, it’s not exactly a free vacation. There’s a lot of work involved in creating content. And press trip itineraries are typically fast-paced and jam-packed full of activities from morning until night, so it’s not as relaxing as a vacation should be. In fact, whenever I get home from a press trip I feel like I need to take a vacation!
I often tell people it’s my job to make a trip look fun and exciting. But, behind the scenes, it can be pretty exhausting and sometimes stressful too. While press trips can be a lot of work, being a content creator is also a wonderful career that can give you the opportunity to see the world. So if you’re interested, keep reading!
Are Press Trips Paid?
Hate to burst your bubble, but press trips are not typically paid. If you hear that an influencer or blogger is getting paid on a press trip, they’re likely working on a campaign to specifically create content for a brand or destination.
How is that different than a press trip? With a press trip, media (meaning bloggers, influencers, writers, etc.) have full control over what they write and when they write it — and even if they write about it at all. For a press trip, you are being invited to become familiar with a travel product or destination and to gather content to share with your readers. However, what you share, and even how much you share, should be left entirely up to you. You should have complete editorial control.
And I have to say, getting content from a press trip is a lot like trying to drink water from a fire hydrant. One trip can leave you with TONS of material, story ideas and photos to share for years to come. But only you can personally gauge how much you want to share based on the time commitment involved and the information you’ve gathered.
If you’re experiencing things your followers and readers are interested in, obviously you’ll want to post about it on social media. It’s also professional to follow up after a press trip with links to social media shared, blog posts, and any insight into stats you can provide. But once there are deadlines attached to these requests, and specific requirements for the amount of shares, or even a request for a certain amount of photo deliverables or video, those are all clear indicators that you should be compensated for your time.
What are deliverables? Deliverables are content that’s required to be “delivered” during and/or after a trip and can include anything from required daily posting on social media, blog posts with deadlines, and media content (such as photography) for the destination or brand’s personal use after the campaign.
Now, when it comes to paid campaigns, the itineraries, expenses, and organization are very similar to press trips. But the way paid campaigns differ from press trips is that there are usually specific deliverables that are outlined with deadlines and there’s a contract for compensation and content usage.
How Do I Get Invited On A Press Trip?
Now, how to get invited on a press trip! Assuming you have a blog or a following on social media (ideally, you should have both), here are some tips on how to get noticed in the travel industry.
— Think Local
If you’re just starting out in the industry, look to your local city or regional tourism board for press opportunities. Go to their website and look for a press page or form you can fill out to be added to their media list and get invitations to local press events or even create a travel itinerary to write a story about what’s new in the region.
— Work Your Social Media
Of course, social media definitely important. But how do you stand out in such an oversaturated crowd? Especially in today’s world where it seems everyone is Insta-famous. Rest assured, you don’t have to have a large Instagram following to get invited on press trips (or even paid campaigns!). But, you do need to show that you’re truly influential, with an audience across multiple platforms.
So first, I’d recommend growing your following on more than one platform. Pick two of your favorite social channels and focus on your growth and engagement. And if you haven’t been on Twitter in awhile, I’d give it a second chance. Twitter Chats are a great way to connect with others in the travel industry and they can be a lot of fun too.
Next, make sure you’re highlighting your niche and how it relates to travel. Even think about how you can go micro-niche to showcase your authority and expertise in a particular subject. For example, maybe it’s traveling for music festivals, a particular style of beer, or to observe a certain species of wildlife.
— Be Professional
This really should go without saying, but if you’re going to pursue press trips, you need to treat your blog and social media channels like a business. If you’re just starting out, blogging might be just your side hustle and not what pays the bills (yet!), and that’s okay, But you need to demonstrate that you’re in this business for the long haul, not just trying out a new hobby. Marketers want to be confident that your content will be around for awhile.
So how do you look professional? Correspond via email, not through DMs on social. Highlight your stats and best work in a media kit. While attending a press event or trip, be polite and courteous, don’t make unrealistic demands, and deliver on any promises you’ve made. If you really want to make a good impression, always underpromise and overdeliver.
— Network In The Travel Industry
Conferences are a great way to connect with travel industry professionals in person. There are tons that specialize in blogging and travel all over the world. A few that I’d recommend checking out are TBEX, Social Travel Summit, and TravCon to name a few. Select one that appeals to you, or is being hosted in a city that you want to visit, and add it to your calendar! And here’s a pro-tip: if you can’t attend these conferences for some reason, just add the dates to your calendar as a reminder and follow along with the hashtag to see what tips attendees are sharing on Twitter!
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