Even though our website is about traveling, we have people asking us constantly more about how travel blogging works and how we get to work with tourism boards around the country and world. What is why we decided to do a small section where we share our insight into travel blogging and address some of these popular questions.
We have worked with over 30 tourism boards around the world and many travel related including hotels, tours operators, and brands. This has giving us a better understanding on how to approach a brand and what we can ask in return. Each tourism board we have worked is completely different with a range of interests, budgets and expectations.
When am I big enough to pitch to a tourism board?
When approving a tourism board, the first question that comes to your mind is how big do I need to be? Well, it depends on what tourism board you are approaching and what you are asking in exchange for your work.
If you have a small but you have a loyal readership that aligns directly with the destination’s target audience that is key. While that is not always the case, you can approach the tourism board with a different angle by offering your services as content producer. Tell them when you will be in the area and that you will like to work with them producing content for their usage on a website, social media or whatever is needed. At the same time, mention you will also produce content for your site, as long as you are there why not getting more content for your site right?
If you are trying to get paid, ask for reasonable amount of money as we have realized that the tourism board only pay big bucks when they are working in a set promotion period, as any other companies they have a budget set sometimes even before the year starts, so only have so much wiggle room.
If you are looking for sponsored hotels or tours give them a minimum of 3-6 weeks to plan accordingly. It is best if you contact hotels and tours operators directly, so you can actually get paid by the tourism board. Sometimes they can help you with food, accommodations, tours but they wont have a budget to pay for more. Remember, the tourism board might be covering these expenses out of pocket and are investing hundreds of dollars in you already.
In the end there is no right size to start contacting tourism boards. It is important to have a well engaged audience regardless of the size and a professional work ethic. Laying out clear goals and expectations for both sides means a happy tourism board and a glowing recommendation.
The next question is then how do I grow an engaged audience? It is easier than you think, provide GOOD content, that adds value to your readers and that make it personal. People like to read your experiences and why you recommend something.
Got it! Now, how do I pitch myself to a tourism board?
Great, now you understand that the size of your audience is not king but it is more about pitching to the right places in the right way. With this next section we will share some pointers that will help you get a better response from brands and tourism boards.
1. Know what you can offer and focus on their needs.
When you approach a tourism board remember to highlight how working with you will benefit them and how your services can be of great value. Of course describe who you are and why you are an excellent option to work with but focus on filling their needs.
In the original pitch do not focus on what you want in return from the tourism board. Highlight why you are a good fit for their brand or destination. Make sure to also include what type of coverage are you offering and how will this coverage will be delivered or presented.
2. Be sure of what you want and be clear about it
Once, you know what you can offer them and how valuable your services are for a tourism board you can put a price tag on it. The price can be in form of complementary stays, tours, food or an actual currency payment. I always remind bloggers that tourism boards normally do pay for these kind of things out of pocket, so you should always have that in mind when you are asking for more payment.
In no way am I saying to work for free but keep in mind that things cost money and if you are getting something for “free” it is costing someone else. So, maybe you can find the hotels and tours yourself and ask a tourism board for food and paid content production. It is ultimately up to what you want to get from them.
3. Have set dates and keep away from the busy season
This happens to us a lot, as we do not work from a conventional office, we simply do not keep track of holidays. That is why it is extremely important to research the dates you want to visit a destination and find out if it is during their peak season, holidays or even if it is the particular season you want to visit. Most tourism boards will not be able or willing to accommodate you during the peak season. Keep in mind that some tourism boards require at least 3 to 6 weeks advance notice to make arrangements, so do not wait to the last minute.
4. Create a Media Kit
A media kit is the perfect way to showcase your work, your case study and give a brief overview of what your travel blog is about. Your media kit needs to be well designed (easy to read and catchy) and well written. It should include a description of your blog (who you are), a breakdown of your target audience demographics (age, location, sex, etc), your stats (unique visitors, social media stats, email subscribers, etc) and of course at least one case study from previous work showing your results.
5. Create a ‘Work with me’ Page
It is not only important to reach out to tourism boards via email but it is also good to have a “work with me” page on your site to look more profesional and also to give them a source to see who you have worked with previously, what you have done, have your clients’ testimonials and the services you are offering.
Not only you are showcasing your work and naming some of your clients it is also a way tourism boards can approach you.
How do I know who to pitch?
You will know after you do some research! if you are trying to pitch a destination find out if they provide help to bloggers and what type of help they provide, so you can have a better pitch. Many tourism boards have a form to fill in on their website with all the required information for a press trip.
Regarding hotels, look online all the hotels in the area where you would stay even if you have to pay full price for it and start contacting those. Even if they all reply then you get to choose where to stay and might even be able to extend your trip! That why you can be covered in case the one that you wanted most does not get back to you.
We always say before contacting a tourism board or travel company ask yourself two easy questions:
- Would I stay there even if I have to pay the full price?
- Does it fits with my brand and my audience?
If the answer is yes to both of these questions then send along the pitch and good luck on your next sponsored trip!
How do I reach tourism boards?
The first thing you need to know before reaching to tourism boards is where to contact them. So, let’s find the relevant email address of the person responsible for handling PR or looking after media queries.
In some places it is easier to find this information than in others. The most popular places like many cities in Europe or the US have their own website with either their contact information or a fill out form, while other places like South America and Asia is a little bit harder to find. To be honest, I have not have much luck with tourism boards in South America. I recommend reaching out to the gubernamental office of tourism and inquire there how you can work with them.
Another way to reach tourism boards is by sending them a direct message on their social media channels or commenting on their stories or photos. Ask other bloggers, create your network.
Some of the bigger tourism boards work with PR companies so make sure to Google if a particular destination you want to visit works with one and reach out to them.
Go to conferences where Tourism Boards will be
The best relations I have had with some of my previous partners have been when I met a tourism board rep at a conference. I have gone to Travel Massive events, TravMedia, New York Travel show and Wits (Women in Travel Summit).
Contact tourism boards and share your content
If you have published content from a specific destination make sure to reach out to them and send them the links to your work. Ask for them to share it on their social media channels and if they like your work to please include you on the press trip list.
No matter what you do always make sure to keep on contact with previous partners and be always professional.