When I was a newbie travel writer, I relied heavily on the tips I got through my membership with the ITWPA.
A few years ago, there was a 3-part series touting the benefits of using quotes in travel articles.
“Well-chosen and properly used quotes are one of the fastest and easiest ways to add credibility and authority to your work,” said the author of the series, Kyle Wagner, former travel editor of The Denver Post.
“Quotes also give color or offer opinion that you as a writer or reporter can’t do. Sometimes you can’t just say something is fact, because you’re not the expert, and it’s finding someone who can give your story that credibility and a legitimacy that makes it invaluable.” says Jennifer Stevens, Executive Editor for International Living.
The series gave me important and time-saving tips like how to start, conduct, and end the interview, recording the interview, note-taking techniques, how to quote experts, locals, and other tourists, what to do if your subject wants to go “off the record,” and how to choose the best quotes and weave your them into the story.
Preparing questions ahead of time is a must, but a good interviewer will listen carefully to the answers and then use those answers to ask the next questions, on the fly.
One technique that I’ve found invaluable is to make a list of my “must use” quotes and use those to generate a rough outline for my story.
Starting with an interesting or funny quote is also a great beginning for a story.
Here’s the other benefit that I found early on from my ITWPA membership: the badge. I wear my badge everywhere. It’s opened a lot of doors and gotten me into tours, hotel upgrades, free meals and beer and wine tastings, entrance to fairs and festivals, skip to the front of the line, private tours not open to the public, spa treatments, and more.
But nothing has been more important than giving me instant credibility with both locals and tourists that I’ve encountered during my trips. Once they see my badge, striking up a casual conversation and asking questions is much easier because I’m viewed as a professional. They are much more likely to tell me about their experiences, and quite frequently allow me to photograph them – even their children.
My ITWPA membership has served me two-fold with interviews and quotes.
- The information I received in the newsletter helps me prepare what to ask and how to process the quotes.
- The badge gives me instant credibility not just for the scheduled interviews, but also to approach people for a sort of man-on-the-street impromptu interview. My badge has been all over the world – so many countries and islands that I’ve lost count.