How To Work With Your Local Tourism Board

Working with your local Tourism Board
30 September 2013 Post Author:
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Some travel writers make the mistake of thinking they need to travel to far-flung destinations many time zones away….

… when, in actuality, there are interesting travel-related stories waiting to be written about their own backyards.

In fact, one of the best ways to build a travel writing portfolio is to write about the destination about which you are most familiar—your hometown.

Even if you feel well-versed in what your city has to offer, it’s a good idea to build a working relationship with your local convention and visitors’ bureau (CVB) or tourism board.

Your CVB offers a wealth of knowledge about all things related to your city

Working with your local CVB or tourism board representatives isn’t a one-way street, however.

In order to be a successful travel writer with expertise in your local area, it’s important to treat this business relationship with respect and care.

~ Introduce yourself. When you’re just starting out, get in touch with the CVB and introduce yourself. Explain what publications you write for and what topics particularly interest you (dining, adventure activities, etc.). Ask to be added to any relevant media lists coordinated through the CVB. Though this introduction can be done through email, it’s not a bad idea to take your contact out to coffee or lunch to help establish face-to-face rapport.

~ Stay in touch. I like to touch base with my contact in person every six months or so just to get the scoop on anything new coming down the pipeline and to update her on what’s new with my work. When a story is published on which your contact assisted, send a copy and say thank you. Acknowledge her help. If you’re invited to an event held by the CVB, consider going. You may meet other people with whom you should be connected and it shows interest in what your tourism board is doing.

~ Ask for appropriate contacts. The people working at the CVB offer a wealth of knowledge about all things related to your city, and if they aren’t able to help you with something, chances are their extensive web of contacts includes someone who can. Try to scout out answers if you’re able to on your own—your contact isn’t your personal research assistant—but if you can’t track something or someone down, don’t be afraid to ask for help. The tourism board wants your city to be portrayed accurately and your contact will be happy to provide clarification where needed. Also, many CVBs keep a list of hospitality-related contacts throughout the city. This awesome resource allows you to take responsibility for making relationships that don’t have to go through the tourism board, but if your list is more than a few months out of date, make sure you get your hands on the latest copy.

~ Be well read. Some cities are saturated in stories, and you shouldn’t rely on your contact to provide you with scoops on everything. Keep your ear tuned to the news, social media and other people working closely with the area. Your CVB contact can help fill in any holes you might encounter (and sometimes you’ll be the one to break the news to your contact!), but don’t expect her to write your story for you.

~ Work ahead of deadline. Don’t expect everyone at the tourism board to drop everything to help you. If you’ve been assigned a piece with which you’ll need assistance, reach out with plenty of time to spare. It helps if you let you contact know when your deadline is so that she can prioritize your needs with all the writers she is assisting and projects she is juggling.

As a person writing consistently about my place of residence, I have found my local visitors’ authority to be invaluable. My primary contact has, on many occasions, provided the untold back story, shared important networking contacts and helped round out many stories that otherwise would have been incomplete had I not take the time to foster this relationship.

~ JoAnna

Do you work with your local tourism board? Share your advice!

9 Responses to “How To Work With Your Local Tourism Board”

  1. Vincent says:

    Hi,
    I think one should be very well aware about the local stories about the historical places as well one should discover newness in those places to deliver something new to the travelers.

  2. Excellent advice, JoAnna! I know of very few other writers who know their own city as well as you do…..and like you I believe a key component is having a solid working relationship with the people who promote tourism in your local area – it’s such a no-brainer, yet I’m constantly surprised when I talk to bloggers who don’t take time to develop this valuable network. Hopefully some of them will be inspired by this. Thanks for sharing it! :-)

  3. Cheryl Probst
    Twitter:
    says:

    Not all tourism bureaus are that cooperative with local writers. I’ve gone into our local bureau several times, asking for information or help with a travel writing project, and have been told, sorry, we only work with out-of-area writers who have major media assignments. Unbelievable, I know, but nonetheless true.

    I have also found other tourism bureaus who don’t even bother to respond to emails.

    On the other hand, the tourism information manager with the West Yellowstone Chamber of Commerce went out of her way to help me when we visited the park. I wish everyone were like her!

    • Hey Cheryl – thanks for stopping by! And wow – that person at your local CVB who turned you away should be fired, or at least reprimanded…..I would be tempted to go over his/her head to discuss how ludicrous that stance is. >:-(

  4. Lina
    Twitter:
    says:

    This is a really nice post. since we started blogging we have reached out to our local tourism boards and started doing articles on our home town. Seems silly not to! Thanks for the good advice.

  5. Lisa says:

    I had some success offering a guest post to a local tourist board’s website. When I first asked they totally didn’t get why I was offering though! They also didn’t really promote it, which I thought was quite rude since it was good content.

    • Hi Lisa – thanks for sharing your experience. I’m a little surprised that they “didn’t get” the concept of external content sources, but some Tourism Boards/CVBs are still a bit behind when it comes to both social media and alternate traffic channels.

      That said, keep in mind that all TBs/CVBs are in the business of promoting their destination to visitors, which means pairing up with travel bloggers, specifically those who focus on blogging about their destination, and those who have a very large social reach and use it to spread positive buzz about their destination. Their goal is to reach out to, and influence, travelers.

      Your blog – as very interesting as well-done as it is (I looked at a few of your posts) – is not about travel at all, nor the area where you live…..so I can totally understand why they would not make much effort to promote your content, which would simply send traffic to a site that is *not* about their destination……as rude as it may seem, they are basically in travel PR and need to stay focused on ROI.

      Given your focus on holistic health, I would suggest that TBs and CVBs are probably not your best partner……instead approach several local natural foods stores, naturopaths, and others in your genre for reciprocal guest posting opportunities, they would be much more likely to send you targeted traffic that would increase your audience in a way that would benefit you more.

  6. Great article JoAnna.
    I’ve been meaning to get more proactive with our local tourist board and you’ve outlined some excellent tips to move forward with.
    Much appreciated.

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