How Not To Run A Travel Media Lunch



How Not To Run A Travel Media Lunch

It may be that I’m hypercritical, but I don’t think so.

After the umpteenth Travel Media/Press lunch,  I declined the last few simply because  they promised to be  photostatic copies of most every other press lunch held.

In spite of some web sites that offer advice most PR-driven media lunches still  mirror those held for travel content providers for years.

PR and Marketing firms who are members of  SATW, arguably the most important (or self-important)  association of professional travel writers, should be getting   advice from the organization on how to manage this important tool in today's content world.

Besides, they should  change their name from “Travel Writers” to “Travel Content Providers.”

Typically Press/Media luncheons  are held in a classy hotel.

The lunch is served on the kind of long table that makes real cross-conversation impossible.

The hosts from the presenting countries are always up front, at the head of the table, with the predictable power point presentation, or some other variation on the "show and tell" approach.

We listen to enthusiastic presentation about new hotels, attractions, museums.

We look at expensively prepared slides of people having fun; sleek new buildings or charming old streets with look-alike cafes or museums.

We're treated to a fine meal, then more presentations from various partners like a hotel chain.

Worse, we’re given take-away bags jammed with obscenely expensive, glossy brochures and booklets highlighting every aspect of the destination's attractions and appeal.

Sadly, if the presenters followed the media guests out, or to their homes, they'd find the bags and the costly brochures in the trash bins.

And no one’s the wiser.

May I suggest:

* Invite the travel media to sit at conversations areas where they can catch up with each other and compare notes, literally and figuratively.

* Skip the power point or slide show presentation! Instead ask the group what new travel trends they're following.
Ask what's new in the niches they cover.
Ask what new thoughts they have about the destination being presented.

In other words, engage the content people.

 Find out what's of interest, to them.  What matters, to them; what's on their minds relative to the industry they cover?

Also forget the show and tell.

Use the event to gain information and insight.

Have a dialogue, not speeches or slides.

Skip the big lunch served by waitstaff. Sandwiches and fruit will do nicely.

Please ditch the expensive bags and brochures. Save the money and the trees.

Send information that the journalist or blogger is specifically interested in, or curious about. Target it.

The media lunch will be cheaper and more eco-friendly. The event will produce ideas and partnerships, conversation and dialogue, that will more directly help the destination and media.

Off and online journalists are seeking a richer give and take, hoping to break barriers, looking to inject life into an increasingly static travel event that should be bristling with new ideas.

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  • good stuff and I'll read your post on public relations must change!

  • So, Mary, let's talk about this. You say, "The Flasher..very strategic discounts to fill up rooms."

    Explain please (not really of course, we are in 'make believe") what The Flasher is?

    I have an idea though that may help with occupancy rates. I'm just now reporting on LivingSocial's recent inclusion of hotel rooms as part of their location based discount service. I think you should contact them about your properties (still in "make believe) and I think it will...

    Maybe I can include your arrangement in the article. What do you think?

    Btw, have you seen my thoughts on why public relations must change?

    Now about Sandestin, have you considered....

    end "make believe"

    And thanks!! :)

    Travel Public Relations Must Change
    In his very successful book, The New Rules of Marketing and PR, social media guru David Meerman Scott sounds the death knell for public relations as…
  • Mark, thanks. Much appreciated!
  • Perfect examples of conversations, Kaleel.

    So I'll pitch in with some trends. Pineapple Public Relations just returned from the Southeast Tourism Society’s spring convention; here is intel:

    ·         Travel is finally on the upswing, although rates are not going up sharply to match demand.

    ·         Our clients and others at the STS convention are seeing a pickup in March bookings, even in off-the-beaten-path areas like Charlotte Harbor & the Gulf Islands (Punta Gorda, Englewood Beach FL, whose high season is Jan-June) and at Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort, FL (whose high season is April - August)

    ·         Oil spill anniversary recovery stories – lots of PR people representing Gulf Coast properties/destinations are pitching this angle

    ·         The Flasher” – Very strategic discounts to fill not all rooms but to help increase occupancy rates. Strategic flash sales and hot rates for last-minute travel (and travelers have become VERY comfortable about being last-minute travelers).  Flash sale ads on Facebook, via Groupon and other social discount sites

     Here’s to the upswing in consumer travel!
  • Great thoughts, Kaleel.
  • Yes, Mary. Thanks.

    Let's have a conversation about what's going on with us and you.

    What trends are you noticing?

    What have been your top concerns and issues as a travel professional?

    Here's what we're doing to market this destination, what do you think? Any ideas?

    Let's talk about doing this or that media  project together. How can we best partner?

    Oh, btw great wine. Love the cheese too, and you know, that video on.....


  • David Appell, this PR folk is reading, and forwarding... and forwarding, the link to other PR folk.

    Thanks, Tripatini, for making a comment that came to my inbox so I'd see this.

    And thanks to the Tripatini team for fixing your e-mail alerts so that they include the gist of the post - very helpful.

    I get 160 emails a day, nowhere near as many as major media outlets - but I still can't open them all unless I know what they're about. To all you journalists, bloggers and writers: "may the news and deadline gods be always with you..." - Mary Huff

  • Thanks, Kaleel!  In other words, talk to travel writers the way we would if we were able to get them on the phone - "what are you working on, what are you planning for the future," and "here's how we may fit in."  Not to simplify it.
  • I think it's equally up to the writer to present their current editorial profile and needs and take the initiative on a one-on-one basis.  Recently I attended a lunch where media arrived ahead of the sit-down and presentation, and all the exhibitors had their tables lined around the walls in a huge dining area in the middle.  That gave anyone plenty of opportunity to head straight to whatever exhibitor or tourism board or company was of interest and initiate a conversation.  You have to know how to work a room, and you have to know what you want going in.  You might discover more opportunities once you start talking, but it's really up to you, the writer, to establish contact.  Yes, I love the flash drives - especially since I have to move house finally this spring.   As to the dining layout, I think it's so hit-and-miss how that works out - on the one hand, it would be nice if the industry people and PR would sit more with the journalists than just clustering at the top tables, on the other hand, those round tables where you sit down randomly where you want with anyone can be a disaster.  Then again, if you've already circulated before sitting down and accomplished the bulk of your interraction in a targeted way, then the rest is less stressful. 

    Elliot Gillies was one of the very first travel PR people I ever dealt with back in the late 90s, and he was just wonderful.  And I'm sure, still is.

  • Keep in mind writers, that these meetings are a two-way street.  It also gives the client an opportunity to meet you as well and get to know what you prefer and develop the, hopefully, productive relationship.  Just dropping your name is not going to open doors these days - and these meetings are meant to convey information both ways.  So that when we do come a calling with a pitch, it is pertinent and you are more likely to listen.  Putting a face to a name (pitch) usually results in a more positive response - at least that is what we find on the dark side (PR).  

    With the market demanding multiple outlets from nearly every writer, it is often hard to keep up with all of them - especially as new ones come on all the time and few freelancers keep their data updated so Cision or Vocus (or any of them) can keep us informed.  So these meetings absolutely need to be productive for you; but please do not take offense when we ask what your current outlets are?  We know what you write about but not always who you write for.

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