Bloggers and cookie-cutter press trips

How to best incorporate bloggers and online publishers into standard press trips/fam tours is an ongoing item of discussion in many tourism circles.

I’m seeing more and more interest by bloggers in constructing individual fams directly with CVBs and DMOs, rather than participating in group tours that don’t represent the sort of travel that they – or their readers – prefer.

Here’s one perspective about press trips from Matt Kepnes (Nomadic Matt) in a travel blogger’s Facebook discussion about press trip pros/cons (quoted with permission:)

“I stopped taking press trips for this reason. I was and still am offered incredible luxury trips but I just can’t take them. It doesn’t mesh with my message. Would I love a luxury trip? Yeah, but I can’t in any good way write about it.

Plus I find press trips to be super-jammed-packed itineraries with little personal time or space to relax or get to know a city. I instead now just work directly with tourism boards to set stuff up. I get to make my own itinerary, stay in hostels, and travel cheap. They don’t care because I am still writing about the destination for them (which is all they care about) and I’m a pretty cheap date…hostels, a train pass, and some city sightseeing cards and I’m good to go. That’s nothing for them.”

Some organizations may see group tours as a more efficient use of resources and time, but this assumes that bloggers need a lot of hand-holding. Many do not; an independent experience makes a lot more sense for them, and will probably result in more compelling and interesting coverage.

Some may say no to your press trip because the timing is off or it’s just a bad fit, but the chances of acceptance and a positive experience are a lot better if the trip matches the person taking it.

Pretty much always true, right?

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14 Responses to Bloggers and cookie-cutter press trips

  1. Andy Hayes says:

    Speaking as one who has been the overworked press tripper as well as having advised on setting up trips, I agree, the individual ones are so much more satisfying for all involved.

    Having said that, the recent group trip I was on to Costs Brava got some very impressive traditional media coverage – including several Spanish national TV mentions, because of the group. This was a result of the organisers busting their chops to make it happen, but not everybody wants to work that hard. You get out what you put in, they say.

  2. I am just heading home from a 5-night visit to Hawaii. It was an individual trip where I had a HUGE say in the itinerary and accommodations. Husband came along, too (we paid for his air). Our getaway ROCKED on so many levels. I am thrilled that I will be the only blogger reporting on our snorkeling, kayaking, sightseeing adventures. Eight bloggers all on same trip reporting on same experiences… Where’s the original content?

    I think individual trips are a win-win for CVB and blogger. On this Hawaii trip there was no “wasted time” on, say, a museum I wasn’t interested in (and wouldn’t cover) that might have occured on a group press trip. Every activity was something I wanted to do – I have at least a half dozen unique post ideas from the trip. At least.

  3. Andy Hayes | Travel Online Partners says:

    Well Sheila, I don’t speak Catalonian, but the general topics seemed to be around:
    – Highlighting what foreigners think of Costa Brava(ian?) culture
    – Featuring lesser-known stops that even locals should be aware of
    – General fuss around the fact that many of the bloggers are influential/well-known
    Andy Hayes | Travel Online Partners´s last [post] ..Why Photos on your Travel Website Can be a Bad Idea

  4. Stephanie says:

    I’ve been blogging for a couple years now, but due to my own travel schedule I haven’t yet had a chance to go on a press trip. I’m looking to change that in the next few months, but I agree with Nomadic Matt that it’s important to be selective about what you take on as a blogger. I love seeing new places, but the most important thing to me is that the trip fits well with the theme of my blog (travel for twenty-somethings) and that I can offer valuable information to my readers.

    I also think that backpacking bloggers like Matt and myself (actually I would say most travel bloggers, or anyone who travels on a regular basis) are used to acting more independently and seeking out our own unique stories. So any press experience that allows people to do that is going to end up with more interesting and varied content and exposure.
    Stephanie´s last [post] ..The Weird and Wacky Xi’an Expo

  5. Lea says:

    I was on the same recent press trip Andy was talking about and although traveling on a bus having everything taken care of by someone else is not the kind of traveling I usually do – it was impressive and we did get to see a lot of what the region has to offer, giving us lots of inputs for articles.

    When it comes to going on a press trip I guess everyone needs to decide for themselves if the trip they go on fits with the product they’re selling. Not sure an adventure-travel blogger writing about a luxury cruise would do anyone any good.

    However, at the recent blog trip it was funny how it was not just us in one way or another promoting the area but also the other way round. Business noticed the hashtag and are now following us, people who watched tv all of the sudden know about travel blogs, they’ve never heard of before. In a way the region was also promoting us, the travel bloggers. I guess that’s a phenomenon that hardly ever happens at traditional press trips turning the “species of travel bloggers” into something more prominent in a way.

  6. Hope says:

    Your title is on point- neatly packaged cookie cutter trips produce…cookie cutter content. But I can also understand how they can open up doors for new stories. The Matador Network is doing some really innovative stuff with press trips. They just launched a partnership with the Belize Tourism Board ( to support a writers-in-residence program. Also, you can go on the luxury press trips that Matt talks about and run with it, using your own voice (

    Andy, your Costa Brava trip sounds well executed. Seems like it makes a difference when PR “gets” digital media, in English and Catalan 😉

  7. Dominique says:

    I’ve yet to go on a full-blown press trip, but I’m getting more chances to work with individual CVBs and other local groups lately. I just returned from a trip to (you guessed it) Ohio. I let my state tourism contact know I was going down to Ohio for a few days, and he hooked me up with a rep from one of the county CVBs near where I was staying.

    I let the CVB contact know which attractions I was interested in seeing, and she put together a list of contacts for me (plus arranged comped press admissions and access to the info we needed at each place). She also suggested a couple of additional stops and suggested a couple of places for local eats-based on what she thought would interest me after reading my blog. She met me at the CVB office for a quick chat before we set off on our own.

    Working with the CVB folks also meant I got a behind-the-scenes glimpse at a couple of places, and it meant I had permission to take photos at one of the places where it normally isn’t allowed. It also got us to go to several places we hadn’t considered going before working with her.

    I came home with a -ton- of info and pictures that I’m sure I can generate into at least a half-dozen stories, or more, over the coming months without much trouble (and I’m not counting the stories I’ll get out of places I visited/things I did in adjoining counties).
    Dominique´s last [post] ..Photo Friday- Annie Oakleys grave site revisited

  8. ** Lea – thanks for the additional insights!

    ** Hope – (sorry for the delay in approving your comment; I’ve been a little buried) Appreciate the info about Belize – sounds similar to a program this spring on Lanai.

    ** Dominique – excellent example of how an individual itinerary can work.

  9. Roger Barker says:

    Hi Sheila (et al),

    As the “state tourism contact” that Dominique references in her comment above, I’m very happy to see that her recent trips to Ohio are being so productive. I always enjoy reading her Midwest Guest blog, but especially when there is an Ohio story included!

    We are always happy to help writers spread the word about all the great things to see and do here in the Buckeye State. Feel free to contact me on Twitter (@DiscoverOhio), track me down on our Facebook page ( or just send me an old fashioned email (

    We also have an award winning Public Relations Office here at the Ohio Tourism Division that does a great job. So somehow, we can help!


  10. Hi Roger – thanks very much for coming by!

  11. Laura says:

    Good advice- Cheers!

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