For travel writers, getting invited on a press trip is like making it to the Super Bowl. It’s the culmination of strategy, tactics, and hard work.
If you’re a beginner, it might seem like an impossible goal, but it’s not rocket science. If you follow the game plan below and stay in the zone, you’ll score a press trip.
Quarterback. That’s you. You need to decide you’re going to do this. Woody Allen said 80% of wining is just showing up.
Kickoff. The first thing to do is to gain some instant credibility by joining a reputable membership organization like the ITWPA. I’ve used my membership and its ID badge to score meals, complimentary tickets to tours, passes to cultural events, and more.
Running the ball. Arguably, the most important thing you can do to help get accepted on press trips is to accumulate by-lines. It may seem daunting, but it has a rushing effect…if you start small, you’ll begin to see more and more of your stories published. For example, there are many travel blogs that are always looking for good content. Most of the time they don’t pay, but don’t worry about that when you’re starting out. The main thing is to get some links that you can send with your press trip application or query.
Call the play. This is your query letter. A well-crafted query letter can open the field for you. Highlight the reasons why you’ll give them the best return on investment if they choose you for this press trip. In addition to sending links to your articles, make sure you thoroughly research the destination and include pertinent information in your letter.
Don’t fumble. Remember, the tourism board will be hearing from a lot of travel writers, so keep the ball in play by offering them one or two unique story ideas about their destination that have not already been published.
Tackle. Squash the competition by attaching your media kit or a link to your writer’s website or travel blog.
Touchdown! You got the press trip! Now enjoy yourself, but be the ultimate professional – be a team player, be on time, be personable, take notes, and be thankful.
The extra point. Over-deliver whenever possible. Instead of publishing one story about the press trip, write several and place them with different publications. For example, after one of my first press trips to Rosarito, Mexico, I published six stories including a round-up, an adventure piece, a resort review, etc. The tourism rep was delighted and has invited me back several times.
Good luck! See you in the press room!