Ever wondered how travel bloggers get so many amazing trips away? While I can’t speak for every other travel blogger out there, I can tell you some of my trips are self-funded, some are media trips and others are paid projects. A media trip can also be referred to as a press trip or famil (familiarisation). Before I started blogging full-time and things took off for me, I had no idea what a famil was and had to, rather embarrassingly, ask the lovely media person organising it.
Today I wanted to take you inside my blogging world and share with you what these trips are, how they come about and what happens with them. If you’re a devoted LGB reader, you’ll have some insider knowledge about what I’m up to when you see me on my next press trip. If you’re a budding travel blogger, you’ll have all the knowledge you need to be confident and well-prepared when your first press trip comes up!
As always, I love sharing insight into my world with you guys. So, if you have any questions you want me to answer, just ask! I’ll do my best to take them and turn them into blog posts for you.
How do you get invited on a media trip?
This is really the million dollar question, isn’t it! I guess the best way to describe it is that it’s like being invited to a party. The person organising it has to want you there. The best way to score yourself an invite is to have something valuable you can bring to the party and this time, chips and dip ain’t gonna cut it.
In my experience, an invite for a media trip will come with the growth of your blog. The brand or PR agency organising the trip will have a very clear idea of their target market and will look for bloggers or other media (newspapers, magazines etc) who can help them reach their intended audience. For example, if there was a tour group who organised tours for senior citizens, they wouldn’t ask me to come on the famil.
The best way to get yourself an invite for a media trip is to find your niche and own it. Develop a strong, recognisable brand and grow your audience, so other brands and PR agencies get a clear idea of what you’re all about and know, immediately, which of their upcoming media trips you would be a good fit for. Having an audience or following is also a big focus for you as these are seen as valuable by the brand. They have something they want people to know about and you have people who want to know things. Win!
What happens on a media trip?
It varies from trip to trip. Sometimes you’ll find yourself with a small group of other bloggers and journalists, guided by a PR person or someone from the local tourism board, for example. Other times you’re given a detailed itinerary and left to your own devices.
The guided group trips are really fun because you get to meet other people in the industry. I’ve made a lot of great friends this way and met people I never would have otherwise. It’s also really good to spend time with people who work in your industry, you get to bond, learn and share. I have learned SO much on group media trips, it’s not even funny. One of the things I love most about these is talking to the PR people and picking their brains about what they look for in bloggers etc. I’m a real snoop.
The solo trips are also great! You have a bit more freedom with these and can spend more or less time at each activity, depending on how you feel. If I’m invited on a solo trip I usually ask if I can bring someone with me, otherwise it’s a bit boring. Most times the organiser understands and I’m able to bring Matt or a girlfriend with me.
So, it’s like a holiday and you just kick your feet up and chill out?
Ahhhh, no. Out of everything I do, media trips are where I have to work the hardest. They are not even remotely, sort-of, kinda like a holiday. If you have the idea in your mind that they’re a vacay and you’ll just get to chill out by the pool the whole time, you’re wrong and you’re in for a rude shock.
You’re on the trip to work and, usually, the trip is only a few days. That means the brand needs you to do and see a lot of things while they have you there, so you can experience as much as possible. This usually means a very tight itinerary.
It’s not uncommon to work all day, and I do mean all day. The reality is, I often do 17 hour days on a media trip. This is because you have to up early to travel to the destination, then you meet all the people, then you spend the whole day sightseeing, being whisked around to meet vendors, partake in activities, meet restaurant owners, hear about the produce, learn about the businesses, meet the people behind them etc. While you’re doing this, you’re working. So, you’re filming, photographing, taking notes and trying to experience it all while still enjoying it so you can write about it.
While that’s happening, your life and your business don’t stop. So you’ve got to stay on top of your regular work load, keep your blog up-to-date, post on your social media accounts, reply to emails, edit photographs etc. You usually have commitments you have to fulfil too, like posting a certain amount of social media updates each day and tagging them appropriately.
It’s a LOT of work, but I’m a bit of sicko and love the challenge of it. I like how it pushes you to your outer limits, because you learn just how much you’re capable of doing. Media trips are not for anyone with a poor work ethic, trust me. I usually get home exhausted from them and need a few days to decompress and recharge. Like I always say to you guys, I love my job and my advice for anyone wanting to do what I do is that you have to totally, completely love it or you’ll burn out.
Why are media trips are ‘thing’?
In my experience, these trips are about highlighting a great event or place and promoting it to visitors. For example, I was invited on an amazing media trip up to Bundaberg last year (one of my favourite famils ever). Seriously, it was AWESOME. The focus of the trip was about turtle season, where each year the turtles visit Mon Repos to lay their eggs, followed by the hatching of the eggs a few months later. You can read about it here.
The guys at Tourism Events Queensland wanted other Aussies to know about this amazing experience. To help people find out about it, they invited a bunch of media, journalists and Totally Wild (the TV show with Ranger Stacey) to come on the trip. We experienced the region, visited Mon Repos and got a good feel for what it would be like to take the trip. Then, we went our seperate ways and shared it through our channels.
Simply put, these trips are about allowing the media to experience something first-hand so they can share it, honestly, through their channels.
Are you told what to say?
No way! There’s never a point where someone from the brand or PR agency says, ‘You have to say that you had a great time and you have to say this, this and this.’ My experience has always been that you share your view on the trip openly and honestly.
There’s usually a focus of the trip, for example with the Bundaberg one it was about the magical little turtles at Mon Repos. So they make sure to craft the trip around that focus. You go into the trip knowing that’s what it’s all about, so you take note of how you feel about it, what it’s like, if it was easy, enjoyable and if you’d recommend it to others etc.
Do you get paid for a media trip?
Not in my experience, so far. But that could be because I don’t have enough leverage to demand some fat stacks. Media trips are usually extremely generous, though. Usually what happens is your transport, accomodation, activities and most meals are organised for you.
If you were a journalist, you’d probably be getting paid to go on the trip because your employer pays your wages. If you’re a blogger, it’s a bit different. So you really have to weigh things up before you just say yes to going, because you need to make sure you’re getting a good deal here.
In exchange for you attending the trip, there will be work you’ll do for the organiser. For example, you might write a blog post about the trip, share images on social media and/or make a video for YouTube. So when you’re invited on the trip it’s important those things are equal, or close to it. You need to feel like you’re getting a lot out of the trip and they’re getting great work out of you too.
Why is it worthwhile doing a media trip?
There are a few very good reason they’re worthwhile. You get content for your channels and, as we all know, content is the key to growth. It’s also an excellent chance to travel and experience something you may not have otherwise. I usually find media trips take me somewhere that I would never have gone if I were travelling on my own dime. They’re also an amazing way to meet people. I’ve made so many great friends through these trips and learned a heck of a lot about the travel industry! They’re an invaluable resource and, honestly, the things I’ve learned and people I’ve met have been the most important things I’ve gotten out of them.
Watch: our ’48 Hours in Bundaberg’ video
Phoebe Lee is a travel writer and award-winning blogger with a love for storytelling. Phoebe creates practical, fun and engaging written content designed to inspire and energise travel-lovers and dreamers. Follow her and Matt’s adventures at home and around the world, right here on Little Grey Box and through Instagram, Facebook and YouTube.