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.
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.
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?