When an editor first asked me if I’d like to go on a press trip, I was excited immediately.
Of course I would! The thought of an all-expenses-paid trip to sunny Florida meant that I could officially say I was a travel writer. But then she told me it was to a Club Med property. Did those even exist anymore? Thoughts of cheesy décor, buffet-style cuisine, and bad theater came to mind. But who was I to turn down a free trip, right?
So off I went on my very first travel assignment.
As someone who considers herself pretty low-maintenance, I was pleasantly surprised at the level of special treatment I received upon arrival. VIP status? Luxury accommodations? Endless meals and activities? Now that’s something I could get used to.
A generous welcome basket was waiting for me in my room, and waterfront views greeted me as I threw open the draperies on the oversized window. I wondered, is this how all press trips are? And even though Club Med was never on my list of must-visit places, boy, did that trip help to change my mind.
As the itinerary progressed and our tightly-knit group of journalists grew even closer, every minute was planned out, and we raced from one amazing activity to the next. With each group meal and late-night party, I quickly learned that press trips are undoubtedly the only type of “work trip” that affords complete strangers the opportunity to befriend one another for life, toss inhibitions aside, and make lasting memories — all of which you’re lucky enough to document and share with a wider audience.
Here’s the funny thing that I’ve come to learn about press or FAM (familiarization) trips: You’re experiencing everything on an elevated level.
As I spent four days really getting to know everything the resort had to offer – from golf lessons with a pro instructor to pampering at the spa to experiencing a flying trapeze – I realized that travel writing was for me. The opportunity to do things I wouldn’t otherwise do was an undeniable pull, and I wasn’t going to give up on that, no matter how hard I’d have to work.
But a press trip never feels like work!
One of the absolute best, and most important, elements of a press trip is networking. As a writer, it’s essential that you make it your mission to set yourself up for success. Perhaps my willingness to be a team player when others were less than enthused played a role in my being invited on three subsequent press trips within the next three months with that same public relations company.
The point is, whatever tales you’re left with, be sure you’ve done your best to take advantage of every single thing the experience has to offer, and find a way to make something happen that will spark a story people want to read.