Years ago there were two magic words that ensured even journalists who otherwise never answered calls from communications agencies would pick up the telephone: Press Trip. Travel journalists received multiple offers, and with a relatively attractive destination and a few suitable dates, organising a trip wasn’t very complicated.
In recent years, however, travel journalism – and journalism in general – has not been going through the best of times. Editors and journalists are fewer in numbers and freelancers are selling fewer reports. Under these circumstances, how can we continue to obtain good results from tourism communications? There are three fundamental keys: segmentation according to specific needs; flexibility with dates and activities; and concessions that were not given in the past.
The limited availability of journalists and the sheer number of destinations competing for their time bring a challenge. For our destination to be one of the few that journalists will visit, we must adapt to their specific needs and offer exclusive activities. If doing individual trips is a possibility, organising the programme with the journalist is the best option. This way we will receive better coverage and develop a solid relationship with the journalist which can be of utmost importance in the future. As for group trips, the most essential condition is to make a personalised agenda with exclusive activities from our destination, while having the flexibility to change the agenda according to the preferences of the media. Trips where a dozen journalists are overwhelmed by multiple themed activities are a thing of the past. Today, personalisation is the key.
As far as the calendar goes, there are various aspects that we must take into account. The first is to try to do short trips. A journalist can no longer be absent from the newsroom for five days, unless the trip includes crossing the ocean or is very justified. We should also try to make the trips fall on weekends, allowing the journalists to excuse themselves from the newsroom for less time. While weekends are desired, we must try to avoid dates in which many destinations are offering press trips, as well as popular vacation dates or long weekends. The expected time to call in advance has increased; now we must begin offering the trips at least a month and a half ahead of time.
We must be more open to the special needs of the journalists. Many destinations did not accept fashion shoots in the past. However, some destinations’ potential for amazing photo shoots can often lead to published reports about the destination. Trips with a family member or significant other were not allowed either. As many journalists have few opportunities to take time off, we should not take away these options as long as they offer guaranteed publication.
We must work with the freelancers. They are the ones who have the most time to dedicate to traveling, as well as promoting the trip to various media. It is important that it be published in at least one media, as nowadays freelancers have a harder time selling their reports to multiple media.
Press trips continue to be a fundamental tool for tourism communications. However, we must make an interesting offer and adapt to the availability and the special needs of the journalists. By organising exclusive and flexible trips, our destination will continue to receive the visual media coverage that we need.