The answer lies in a simple truth. Ask yourself: Are you more likely to visit a destination because of an ad you see in a magazine? Or because of an article you read when you researched a destination online? Especially an article that brings the place to life.
For most people, the answer is an article. I know I’d much rather hear about a place from a real person than a copywriting ad exec.
Over the years, here are the big three reasons why people have rolled out the red carpet for me and treated me to free trips…
1. They want me to change the public perception of a place
McAllen, Texas was previously known as a seasonal destination for birdwatchers hoping to get a look at some of the rare birds that stop there en route to South America.
But McAllen wanted to be known for more: its culinary scene, its cultural offerings, and its history. The press trips I took there showcased all of these things and that’s what I wrote about. They treated me to amazing food, and I even got to try my hand at making some!
2. They want me to tell everyone they’re there
Latvia is a good example of a destination seeking to separate its present-day image from its turbulent past.
From wild shorelines, dense forests, and deep blue lakes to cities rich in history, architecture, and culture, Latvia is a jewel at the center of the Baltics. It’s a place of discovery where the past and present intersect.
For more than 700 years, Latvia’s coveted location on the Baltic Sea made it a target for neighboring super powers. But, despite unwanted rulers and numerous wars, Latvia’s held on to its cultural roots—and it’s working to get the word out about its charms.
By bringing a group of travel writers to this little gem, the destination marketing team for Latvia received publicity touting all the incredible discoveries it offers from history to food to archery…
3. They want me to help them rebuild
When a destination suffers a natural disaster, it is often devastating to tourism. As the country rebuilds, the destination marketing team will need help to get the world out that it’s safe to visit.
One such destination is Nepal, which you may remember suffered a devastating earthquake in 2015. I recently attended a tourism information event hosted by destination representatives from Nepal—including the Minister of Tourism. The focus of the meeting was to showcase the country’s natural beauty, wealth of cultural options, and adventures suitable for all types of travelers including families.
The message was clear: Nepal has recovered and rebuilt and is open for business. You can bet it moved to the top of my travel plans for next year, so obviously, this genius marketing plan of introducing travel writers to a destination is working!
Whatever the case, as a travel writer, it means you get to experience some incredible places, often all-expenses paid.