Tactics for promoting tour operators
It’s easy to get coverage for a private-tour operator: all you have to do is, er, shell out about £3,000 for a journalist and their entire family’s flights to Martinique/Mauritius/Koh Samui, then look forward to a cursory factbox mention following a measly 500-word feature mostly about the hotel — one which many readers are more likely to book directly. Sorted.
Yeah, not so tempting, is it? There may, of course, come further rewards down the line: round-up mentions, say. Even so, I totally see why, from the operator’s perspective, this seems like a bum deal. Simply put, the feature mentions none of the operator’s probable strengths: carefully-planned and paced itineraries, donkey-work completion, destination expertise, local connections, support in case of an emergency and financial protection.
The trick, I think, is to only support press trips (individual or not) which do allow for the legitimate promotion of those things — most feasibly, of the carefully-planned and paced itineraries, destination expertise and local connections — inside a subsequent article. So not just single-hotel Maldivian trips, however much your client yearns to be in House & Garden or Tatler; but rather perhaps a multi-stay visit to the likes of India, Argentina or Namibia, places around which it would be daunting for the inexpert reader to organise travel.
Even better if the operator can introduce a special-access visit or VIP meeting which just wouldn’t be available to Joe Bloggs. Then you’ve got a solid chance of your client being named in the body of the piece itself.
Editors, you see, are loathe for pieces to read like advertorials, and eternally on the look-out for ways to free up space. The naming of tour operators inside copy is likely to be removed for either reason; but if it’s justified or essential for a writer to name-check the company in order to explain an experience or encounter, then I’d expect that mention to remain.
Failing that, try in advance to explain to your designated writer just how beneficial it would be for the operator to be named in the copy — specifying how much difference it might make vs. just a factbox — and then cross your fingers. Pressuring us writers won’t work, but a from-the-heart, unassertive plea could reap rewards.
What Richard thinks…
“From Florence Derrick: inspiring news of tour operator Untamed Borders hosting a virtual tour of Afghanistan’s third-largest city, Herat, led by the country’s first and only female tour guide, Fatima Haidari. Profits will be split between Fatima and an underground organisation educating Afghani girls in a secret location hidden from the Taliban. It takes place tomorrow evening at 7pm.”