Congrats, you’ve put together a full itinerary visiting a number of fabulous hotels.
So now it’s time to get to work, reporting on these hotels and experiences through your unique lens in a way that will add value for your readers.
As a professional travel blogger, perhaps the most important element of a successful press trip is showing courtesy and respect to your hosts. Before I became a travel blogger, I was a hotel publicist for over a decade.
I’ve learned a lot over the years, spending time on both sides. And let me tell you, as a travel writer the last thing you want to do is earn yourself a spot on The Black List.
Here are five ways to not only show courtesy and respect to your hosts, but ensure you get invited back again.
- Take lots of photos first. Most hotels take great pride in the fanfare of the arrival. Take photos of your greeting at the hotel and be sure to photograph your room immediately upon arrival, before you mess it up. That first impression is important, so be sure to document it properly.
- Schedule a full tour with the PR person — in the morning. Once you’ve arrived, taken your first photographs, now it’s time to settle in and enjoy yourself. Schedule a tour with the manager or Public Relations representative for the next morning. This was you’ve had time to experience and explore the property, and jot down any questions that come up.
- Take notes. Whether using old-fashioned pen and paper or an iPhone, be sure to take plenty of notes. Think of what questions your readers would have, and ask away. The more questions the better, as it gives the hotel an opportunity to share all the unique things that makes their hotel amazing and shows them you are engaged and professional as a writer.
- Keep in touch. Always get the contact info from the hotel representative who gives the tour so you can follow up with questions and show them the article once it’s live. This is important to maintaining a good relationship. You may need to use them as a referral to land a future project. Also, these PR people tend to move around a lot, the travel industry is a small world, so best not to burn any bridges.
- Handle negativity professionally. If something goes wrong or if you had a really awful experience, give the hotel representative or PR contact a head’s up before writing about it. Give them a chance to make it right. Again, you don’t want to burn bridges in this industry. Of course it’s important to report things accurately, but maintaining professionalism and tact is also very important.
As you’re inspecting hotels, yes, the tours will get long. Yes, you’ll want to hurry up so you can get on with your day and onto the next activity. It’s important to remain patient and professional.
Who knows, as you go through tours and meetings you may be struck with inspiration for another story or angle you’d not previously thought of, and come away with more stories than you originally anticipated!
What else have you learned when doing hotel inspections?
Excellent advice Sarah! Another important point is to try to come up with questions that aren’t already covered in detail on the hotel/resort’s website or brochures, such as which rooms/areas may be undergoing scheduled renovations, future plans for expansion or new product offerings or service additions – sometimes a reviewer can get a ‘scoop’ if you can develop a good relationship with the PR person.
And I agree about handling negatives professionally….it’s also important to keep in mind what is truly a negative, and what might just be a different perspective. I clearly recall one resort that featured both indoor and outdoor showers (quite romantic), yet one female guest actually complained about a (tiny) lizard in her outdoor shower….I found that type of fauna to be charming, yet it had her ready to move to another resort.
I totally agree! Any time you can come up with a unique angle, ask the hotel about that and present that to your readers just makes you a better writer and your content more original. That’s why it’s important to spend a little bit of time at the property, or so research ahead of time, so you’re prepared with some good, unique questions.