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All-inclusive press trips. The ultimate dream for the travel writer.

When I launched my travel writing career in the fall of 2014, landing a few bylines was not my only objective. I love to travel and was anxious to break into the world of press trips.

At the time, however, it wasn’t easy. More experienced travel writers weren’t willing to share insider information. It was almost as if they belonged to a secret club with exclusive membership. But I was undeterred, and I began to diligently decipher and figure out the system.

I danced with joy the day I was invited on my very first group press trip. Everything was included except transportation. I paid for my own flight, but my stay at a stunning oceanfront resort along with meals and activities were all complimentary. That invitation opened the door to the world of press trips.

Though I’d been setting up my own personal trips and receiving other group press trip invitations, I still hadn’t cracked the code on the highly sought-after all-inclusive. But in the spring of 2017, I managed to land not one, but two of these trips in the same week.

How did this happen? Not by accident. With trial and error and mutually shared information with other colleagues and destination reps, I finally achieved success with these previously elusive, highly coveted trips.

Just this past year, I landed all-inclusive press trips to the Riviera Maya, Dominican Republic, Turks and Caicos Islands, and several other stunning destinations. Though these trips are highly competitive, there are definite ways to set yourself apart from the crowd, and increase your chances of an invitation

1. Write for a Top Publication/Multiple Publications

When destinations shell out thousands of dollars to host a writer in exchange for an article, they do so with the intent that the story will be seen by a large number of readers. A publication with 4.5 million readers will almost always win out on one with 15,000.

Landing a writing gig for a major publication is of course quite hard. However, writing for a number of publications covering multiple genres will likely increase your chances of selection.

2. Join a Professional Writers Organization

Professional writer’s organizations often work with destinations that host press trips. Becoming a member provides access to these trips, and many are all-inclusive. Additionally, shared information between members opens doors to other opportunities. This past year, I landed press trips to California’s Tri-Valley, Palm Springs and Taos, New Mexico. (Check out GEP’s own travel writers association here.)

3. Sign up for TravMedia

TravMedia is the travel industry’s global media network. Travel writers with several bylines or a website with substantial following can apply for membership. Travel journalists upload their profile of published stories, photos, and travel plans. There is a significant amount of interaction with other writers, editors, and destination reps. I’ve had numerous individual and group press trip offers as a result of tourism boards reaching out to me.

TravMedia also sponsors the yearly International Media Marketplace in New York City and six international destinations. These link travel journalists and tourism brands in a single-day unrivaled networking event that provides invites to numerous press trips.

4. Attend Travel and Adventure Shows

Travel and adventure shows are held at a number of national and international destinations. While targeted at the traveler, these shows are a gold mine for travel writers. Journalists can meet face-to-face with destination reps, make personal contacts and sign up for future press trips.

Though I was still working full-time when I became a travel writer, attending my first local show in San Diego provided the opportunity for several local and regional trips.

5. Establish a Stellar Reputation

Regardless of the type of press trip, there are definite protocols to follow.

The professional writer arrives on time to events, is friendly, flexible and easy to get along with. They follow through on promised articles after the press trip. In addition, a few little extras go a long way. Send a thank-you note to your destination rep after a trip, letting them know how the trip went and that it was a pleasure working with them. Believe it or not, this small gesture of kindness pays big dividends.

Relationships matter. On my recent trip to the Turks and Caicos, the rep who invited me is one I’d worked with previously. When I accepted, her response was, “Great. You are so awesome to work with.” Words every travel writer wants to hear. Why?

Because establishing a stellar reputation will move you to the top of a rep’s invitation list. As an added bonus, they’ll gladly share your information and refer you other destinations as well. And that definitely means more press trips!