AN INSIDER GUIDE TO PRESS TRIPS FOR BLOGGERS AND INFLUENCERS
For traditional travel writers, press trips are as old as the beginning of time. Press trips for bloggers and influencers on the other hand, are relatively new. So for those of you reading this who aren’t familiar with the team at Sidewalker Daily, we work with tourism boards, hotels and travel brands on all things influencer marketing.
When it comes to press trips, we do this for a living. From organizing a trip, pitching influencers, hosting trips, providing client recaps – we know the ins and outs of how press trips work. If you’re just starting out in the travel blogging/influencer world, you may be wondering what they’re all about so we’re here to give you the inside scoop.
What is a press trip?
In the travel influencer world, a press trip is not a vacation – it’s a trip where a hotel or destination invites members of the media to promote their location and/or brand. Since bloggers and influencers are now considered media, they have the opportunity to join these invite-only trips once only available to traditional travel writers.
Press trips can be either in a group setting with a host or can be solo (also sometimes referred to as media visits). They are often organized by the public relations team working with the client (hotel, tourism board, destination), unless the client has an in-house person/team responsible for coordinating these types of PR and marketing efforts.
So what’s in it for them?
Travel bloggers or influencers will be expected to sign a letter of agreement and produce a certain number of deliverables (such as social posts, videos, blog articles etc.) in exchange for going on the trip. In the traditional travel world, journalists also sign letters of agreements that ensure they will produce an article or are actually on an assignment from their editor (not just looking for a free trip).
It is important to not confuse “press trips” with “blogger retreats.” Blogger retreats are becoming more and more popular at the moment, where bloggers pay money to travel with a group of other bloggers. To clear things up, here are some major differences between the two types of trips:
- Mostly open to anyone
- Blogger has to pay for all expenses to be a part of the retreat
- More focused on learning and education for blogger
- Not required to post on social or blog in order to participate
- Invite only (very exclusive group)
- All expenses are usually covered (flights, accommodations, meals, etc.)
- Influencer/blogger will have a set of deliverables they need to produce while on the trip
Please keep in mind that the trips available through Sidewalker Daily’s Press Trip Program are press trips and NOT blogger retreats so if you are interested in being a part of our Press Trip Program, we encourage you to apply.
Just FYI: Our Press Trip Program is a database that allows the Sidewalker Daily team to reach out to our community first when an opportunity comes our way. How it works is a travel brand or destination presents us with an opportunity and an overview of their goals of the trip or partnership. We then go through our database and present them with a list of influencers that match the criteria they have set for the opportunity. So basically, we play matchmaker.
How to Get Invited On a Press Trip.
Press trips are an amazing way for travel creatives to get their foot in the door. We highly recommend them as a way to not only create fresh content, but to build relationships on both the brand side and with other creatives in the industry (more on the benefits of group trips below). You may be asking yourself, “how do travel bloggers get on press trips?” The way we see it is it can go two ways:
- Pitch yourself directly to the brands/destinations.
When it comes to pitching to brands, remember it’s not about what you want, but what they want. It’s important to discover what the country, hotel or destination’s key messages are so you can craft your pitch email and media kit around these points.
As we mentioned before, PR agencies mostly handle all press trips for their clients. A great idea is to email a few agencies that represent the brands you want to work with and ask them what press trips they have coming up. Lots of times press trip schedules are built out well in advance and PR reps are constantly looking to fill their trips. If you reach out early enough, you can position yourself to be the “first in line.”
Also, if you are a blogger/writer contributing to multiple outlets (not just your own), it is super helpful to let the PR agencies and brands know when pitching. The more places your content is published on, the more exposure and visibility the destination will receive so you can up your chances of getting invited on the trip!
2. Receive an invitation
If you receive an invitation to go on a press trip, make sure that the trip aligns with your readership, brand and identity. It can be tempting to say yes, but there are times that it’s important to say no to a brand partnership. If it does, then pack your bags baby and enjoy the ride!
Press Trip 101: A Guide to Press Trips For Travel Bloggers.
So you’ve accepted an upcoming press trip and it’s your first one – now what? We all remember our first press trip – that “aha!” moment when you feel like you’ve really made it and the universe is aligning to give you everything you deserve.
Press Trips for bloggers: What to expect?
Press trips usually last 3-5 nights, but their length and itinerary is always case by case depending on the client. Before you leave for your trip, you will most likely receive an itinerary that outlines the details of the trip and what to expect.
Definitely plan on anything that is mentioned on the itinerary to be covered by the company, hotel or destination hosting you. Anything that is not on the itinerary will most likely be an out of pocket expense. An example of some out of pocket expenses can include personal gifts, laundry, transport to the departure airport, baggage fees and tips. Make sure to bring enough money to cover these expenses and some extra cash just in case of emergencies!
If you’re on a group trip, you can expect to meet similar people in your industry and it’s an amazing way to network with both your peers and those on the brand side.
As for deliverables, you can expect to be asked to publish stories live while you are on property so you can share your experience with your followers. Don’t forget to print screen them (unless you have a business account) to capture all of the analytics per post since you will need to report all of your promotional efforts to the client.
If you agreed to publish posts on Instagram, make sure all posts are up no later than one month from visiting. If you agreed to do a blog post or produce a video, you usually have more leeway but we would recommend publishing all content within 3 months of visiting.
If you’re on a trip, who takes all the photos of you?
If you are on a group press trip you may work with other bloggers to create content or sometimes the press trip host will hire a photographer to help out and even capture behind the scenes moments. Either way, you’ll be expected to sign a photo waiver so the hotel or destination has the rights to use your photos, videos and content.
Just FYI, read the photo waiver thoroughly and understand what you are signing! Some photo waivers only cover social media while others include print advertising as well. If you’re not being paid to go on a trip (which most press trips hosted by a hotel or destination do not offer monetary compensation) then you may not want to align yourself exclusively to the brand.
For those headed on an individual press trip, you may be responsible for taking your own photos or if the destination agrees, allow you to bring a plus one (videographer/photographer) as production.
An Insider Guide to Press Trips Wouldn’t be Complete Without Some Insight Into the Client’s Perspective.
When it comes to press trips, we know most of you want to take advantage of your surroundings and explore the beautiful place you are in but don’t forget who paid to get you there. It’s important that your actions and decisions don’t offend the client because although you have free range to do a lot, you’re technically working. For example, if you’re on a press trip with a hotel and they specifically ask you not to go off property during the trip, then don’t. If it’s important that you do go off property to get certain shots in surrounding locations, then make sure to negotiate that before heading to the destination.
Also, if you do end up going off property, be mindful of where you go to shoot – for example, visiting a competitor hotel or resort could make the client upset…put yourself in their shoes. Remember, this hotel paid to fly you down and is paying for all the costs for you to be there, so if you go off property and post about a competitor, it just leaves a bad taste on the PR side.
Making brand partners happy is pretty simple if you look at it from one of the most basic principles most of us grew up with- treat people like you’d want to be treated. No one likes to be taken advantage of so it’s important to be mindful of the client.
On another note, if you’re visiting a destination on behalf of a country’s tourism board, be mindful of your actions and try not to do anything that appears “unsafe” as it reflects directly on your host. Since most tourism boards are government agencies, you can get certain tour operators in trouble if you act out of line.
Under any circumstances – do not get drunk, use profanity or appear vulgar. This is a big one for us. You are there to work, and while group press trips are a lot of fun, you don’t want the team to view your stories and feel embarrassed that you are their guest.
Don’t get us wrong, it’s all about having a good time- but in moderation. While you’re on a press trip all of your actions, the things you post about and say on video reflect directly on your host so remember that you’re not only representing yourself in that situation but a brand as well.
What’s expected of you?
While you’re on the press trip your goal is to get enough content to be able to produce the deliverables you agreed to create for the client. Here at Sidewalker Daily, we live by the rules of always being able to over deliver because it not only makes the client extra happy with the partnership, but also makes you memorable. In general, people like to work with others who go above and beyond for them because it makes them feel like got their money’s worth…and then some. And we all know how much everyone loves free stuff!
When it’s time to publish your content, whether it’s an Instagram post, Instagram story or blog post, make sure you’re disclosing them properly! Definitely have this conversation with the person organizing the trip ahead of time to ensure they know that you will be saying it’s a sponsored trip or #ad.
Believe it or not, influencer marketing is such a new world that many companies still don’t know the proper disclosure requirements required for bloggers and influencers. We’ve heard of situations come up where brand partners want influencers to leave out the legal disclosure altogether and that was a deal breaker for them. Of course it’s a “no no” on your end and you should always comply with the law. That is why it’s super important to be upfront before you go on the trip so you don’t need to have any awkward conversations down the road.
Also, make sure to ask the press trip host which hashtags and tags they would like you to use when posting about their destination since many have campaigns or designated hashtags they are looking to promote.
Are Sponsored Press Trips Worth Your While?
Nine times out of ten, travel bloggers and influencers started their career with press trips. That’s because being a travel blogger is all about traveling as often as possible and press trips are a great way to get your travel expenses covered. Even though it is technically a “free trip,” press trips can cost a host around $3000 and up per person – once you include flights, accommodations, transfers, activities, meals etc. If you’re allowed to bring a +1 (photographer or videographer), then it’s even double the cost for the host. So basically you’re getting compensated for your time in trade, just not cash money.
We get that everyone has expenses to pay so if you need to earn income there are definitely some creative ways to take advantage of traveling on press trips. One way is to get other brands to sponsor certain posts while you are there. This could be a win-win for both you and the brand – you get paid and they get their content shot in an exotic location without having to pay for production fees. For example, if you are doing sponsored posts with a clothing company, you can shoot the looks while on property and then publish them weeks after as to not interfere with your press trip.
Also, don’t forget to tell the person organizing the press trip that you will be shooting for another brand on property before you do so. It’s important to ensure the brands make sense together (and is also just the respectful thing to do). For example, if you’re working with Red Bull but visiting a yoga resort, the resort could be offended since energy drinks don’t align with their brand values.
Press Trip Recap: What’s next?
Once your trip is done, we strongly urge you to send a thank you note (written is best, but email will do) to both your trip host and to the team on site (and if it’s a hotel, to whoever was your contact while staying at the hotel). Thank you notes or even small gifts are the best way to make yourself stand out. It’s these small human touches that get you a good reputation in the industry and also invited on future trips.
Another thing to keep in mind is that all PR teams have to create press trip recaps for the client. This is where they “clip” all your posts, stories, analytics and deliver them to the client to show them the value (or “ROI”) they gained from hosting you on the trip.
So when it’s time to hand in your deliverables and report on the success of your posts, it’s important to have all of the analytics for everything you created and published on behalf of the client. This is so the PR company can add up the engagement across all posts and show the client your total “star power.” If you really want to stand out then send in all of your information in an organized fashio