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Befriending foreign-based travel writers

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Befriending foreign-based travel writers

Earlier this year, I couldn’t get flight support for a double-page luxury spread in The Times. I won’t name the airline or destination, but suffice to say it was a surprise. Even more of a surprise was the discount they offered in lieu of complimentary tickets: precisely zero per cent. 

Getting flight support has been getting harder for years, not least with airlines stipulating in-copy mentions — understandable from their point of view, but unrealistic when one actually thinks about it — as their coffers empty. Covid-19 must have made an even bigger dent in said piggy banks, resulting in still more of a challenge.

As such — and also factoring in concerns about eco-footprints — I predict we’ll see more of the correspondent-style model wherein local writers cover travel stories – so a South African journalist reviewing a new South African hotel, or a Kiwi writer getting the commission for a fresh walking trail on North Island. The Telegraph already does this occasionally, while the Guardian loves to use local writers (or even local non-writers) to guarantee expertise.

This same correspondent-style model of travel writing should also see British writers covering British or European-based stuff for English-language magazines, websites or newspapers in South Africa, New Zealand and other relevant overseas lands. 

The trick for you and me, then, is to have or to make high-quality contacts in those foreign places, ready for this eventuality. You can also potentially matchmake — something I also discussed in my recent Mutual back-scratching column— by connecting a local (or reasonably local) journalist with a commissioning UK editor to whom they could pitch. Or vice versa if it’s UK or European stuff that you’re promoting. It certainly seems worth trying to foster these contacts, as it may just make the difference between getting a piece or not.


What Richard thinks…

“This is exactly how a rules-change update should be: just the facts, and no needless flab. Well done TravelMedia.”

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