The New Era of the Press Trip

In the past, traditional media and travel writers would be invited on familiarisation tours or press junkets to tour a destination, resort, or travel area. The expenses would be paid for by the host, or sometime the publication would pay the writer’s expenses.

These are not free trips, by any means, but a chance to get a feel for a hotel and see a destination first-hand. I mean, how can someone recommend a particular lodging if they’ve never actually seen the place in real life? It makes no sense.

These press trip would usually be planned out with an extensive itinerary that includes touring up to six or seven different businesses in one day, with long meals and speeches by local tourism representatives. These are not leisure trips, but an actual job assignment that may not even include stops for a restroom break. This would also be a trip where you would travel alone to your destination and travel for around four days with total strangers.

Those days are slowly coming to an end as more and more hospitality companies see the value in new and social media. They understand that consumers spend time online researching their travel plans, reading actual experiences of the writers and other travelers.

My own inclusion in press junkets has changed, as many travel industry companies are no longer seeking out the travel writers or even travel bloggers to write articles and stories about their businesses. Companies are now passing over popular travel writers to bring a new perspective and are reaching out to other niche outlets.

This entire online world has been turned upside down, which has its pros and cons. I’ve touched on this subject in the past, but as days pass, so does the world continue to evolve and change. Some of my personal changes in the press junket include some of the following:

A Travel Writer Among Foodies – The Cherry Marketing Institute brought in a group of food bloggers to experience the area of Traverse City, Michigan and witness the farm to table experience of the cherry industry. It was quite refreshing for me to be the newbie among an elite group of food writers and bloggers. The cherry experience was amazing and I appreciate being included in a new industry.

Cherry Orchard in Michigan (c) Shannon Hurst Lane

A Consumer Perspective of CES – Nokia approached me about a project where four bloggers from different genres would be armed with Nokia N8 phones and sent to the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas to give their own perspective of this tech show. I was invited, along with an auto writer, eco writer, and a photographer. Again, I truly enjoyed the experience. There were no parameters except to use the N8 as the main source of mobile technology for content development and online social interaction. You can listen to the four of us at Nokia Conversations.

CES Perspective Nokia Team (c) Anna Martin | Nokia

New Media Artist in Residence Program - I commend the Lanai Visitors Bureau for thinking out the box and offering an experiential program instead of a set group tour for bloggers. The visit is more of what actual travelers would experience while visiting the island of Lanai, including the option of traveling with a companion and planning the visit according to individual schedules.

As you can see by these examples, the new era of press trips includes bringing in writers from other genres and changing the way the itinerary is planned and what is expected while onsite. I’ll admit, I much prefer the new way, versus the old, as each of us have our own travel personalities and explore destinations in our own way.

Have you noticed any changes in press junkets or the way business is now conducted in your industry?

Comments

  1. As a travel writer for newspapers, as well as an online travel editor for a regional magazine, I work both sides of the media fence.

    Like you, I have noticed quite a few changes in press trips and the way business is conducted in the travel industry:

    *Old school journalists are frustrated with print outlets drying up and do not necessarily embrace online media.

    *Public Relations pros are having a difficult time vetting “new media” travel bloggers.

    *Press trips are not always designed with new media in mind. Bloggers need access to internet to Tweet, Facebook, upload posts and YouTube video.

    *Some media outlets are turning to user-generated-content (UGC) and bloggers willing to write for free. The days of editorial fact checking appear to be numbered.

    *sponsored content is a growing trend

    *Including Twitter hash tags and @Nancydbrown in e-mail correspondence

  2. I love how this media is changing. People are taking the new media writers and content creators more seriously than ever. I think we’ll see this change even more over the next few months. But it’s not just a hobby… It’s real work… and most people don’t get that. They think it’s a camera phone and 20 minutes to make it all happen for a food blog.

    Love your work Shannon. Can’t wait to see you soon!

    AC

  3. Right on target, Shannon, with useful observations from Nancy and AC.

    I especially appreciate PR agencies and tour hosts who acknowledge the work necessary to create effective social media messages. It’s equally frustrating to be singled out among a group of primarily print journalists with, “What are you *doing* with that phone?? Are you, like, *married* to that thing?!” Um, yes. You could call it that.

    Keep waving the SoMe flag. I’m marching in your band.

  4. Great article, Shannon. And interesting points, Nancy. Travel writing is an area that intrigues me and I appreciate reading your perspectives on it.

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