Thanks to Bob Ecker for this excellent overview of press trip etiquette:

Most Travel Writers have experienced various forms of Press Trips throughout the years, but for new writers, or for those who haven’t joined on these trips recently, here are a few basic tips that can make Press Trip experience rewarding for both guests, and hosts.

Pre Trip:

* Reply, or RSVP to trip hosts on time. If the host asks for responses by the 15th, don’t reply back on the 17th and expect to be included. Trip hosts have many items to juggle, and the least writers can do is respond promptly with all information requested.

* Ask your trip host all kinds of questions about the trip that may coincide with your interests and/or outlets. Hosts are usually welcoming and value your ideas which may in turn lead to published copy. They can often arrange individual interviews, site inspections, tastings, out of the ordinary activities and more for writers, if given proper advance notice.

* If you have special needs of any kind, alert your hosts far in advance.

On the Trip:

* Don’t be late and potentially miss your flight, bus or train. I don’t know how many times I’ve seen fellow travel writers dawdling, or showing up fifteen, twenty minutes late for a departing bus, or event. This tardiness inconveniences all other travelers, and can cause havoc to often tight schedules.

* Be courteous at all times. If something displeases or isn’t up to your standards, deal with it privately. Do not grumble and moan about small problems in public to other members, or hosts. If there is a major problem, of course, immediately alert the proper people, but please, try to stay cheerful.

* Dress properly, and wear appropriate attire. What you wear affects the respect given to you by strangers. We are travel writers, not lawyers, so suits aren’t needed, but smart, clean “business casual” attire is the proper way to go for most situations.

* Ask questions, listen to answers, take notes and shoot photos. Focus on the place, experience, event or information provided. This is the point of the trip, after all. You can be certain that your attention or inattention is noticed.

* Never bring a guest, spouse or friend to any hosted event without expressed consent from the trip hosts or organizers. Doing this without permission is awkward for all concerned. When in doubt, don’t do it!

* Be open and honest at all times. Never misstate your publication credits, or outlets, or intentions. Yet do allow yourself to be open to new content ideas. You never know when a story idea can develop and lead to an entirely unlooked-for story.

* Leave tips. Restaurants and other service oriented businesses involved with trips may be providing hosted meals (for instance), but their wait staffs (and others) still rely on tips from diners. Please don’t forget to tip the staff as you would in a normal, non-hosted situation. Do not assume that every single item is paid for by others. Asking your hosts will provide the right answer in these situations. They will know, and appreciate your generosity.

* Be adult. If another writer “gets” something and you don’t, do not sulk, whine or demand something for yourself. All envy and jealousy should be left at home.

* Try to relax and enjoy the Press Trip experience. Your enthusiasm will be reflected in your work. Try new things. See, eat, drink, walk, get out of the hotel room and try to understand the locale. Don’t be lazy. Have fun, and don’t forget to sniff around for potential stories.

Post Trip:

* Personal thank you notes and/or thank you emails to hosts, organizers and others involved are always appreciated, and a good courteous idea in general.

* Copy your trip notes and subsequent ideas into a computer file, and look through your photos as soon as possible after the trip. This will jog your memory and possibly develop new story ideas.

* Contact editors after returning with any new thoughts or ideas. Even though an editor may have rejected your idea in the past, these new post-trip ideas combined with unique personal tidbits may become assignments.

* Long after the trip has concluded, be sure to send your various hosts clips from any and all of your published articles that may concern them. Send the short pieces as well as the features. This is an important step. PR agencies and travel/hospitality industry professionals need to see the results of their efforts, to justify their investment – in us.

– – –

C. Bob Ecker 2007

Bob Ecker is a photographer and wine and travel writer living in Napa. His articles have appeared in the International Herald Tribune, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Boston Globe, and Luxury Living Magazine. Bob is a past president and current board member of Bay Area Travel Writers.


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