Are you a tourism marketer trying to get bloggers to write about your destination? If you are now struggling to get bloggers and social media influencers to write about your destination, you've probably figured out that It's a lot more complicated than you might have originally thought. Gone are the days when you could treat bloggers as amateur writers simply looking for "free vacations". The reality today is that it is harder than ever to get folks to write about you and that's even more true if you fall outside of the 1% of destinations like Hawaii, Chicago, New Orleans, or even Detroit that people already want to tell people about.
That doesn't mean that things are hopeless if you represent a smaller destination though. In fact, in my more than 20 years of experience as a travel writer through places like ManTripping.com and CruiseWestCoast.com, it's the people I've met and experiences that I've had in smaller destinations that are by far the most memorable.
- Relationships Are Everything!
- Easy To Access High-Resolution Media Gallery
- Send Us Ready To Edit Articles That We Can Customize
- Online Chat With Destination Experts For Quick Questions
- Provide A List Of People That Can Be Contacted As Topical Experts
- If You Agree To Do An Email Interview Or Provide Help - Don't Ignore The Request
- Look For Ways To Add Value - Links, Shares, Sponsored Content
- Destination PR And Travel Marketing Depend On Travel Blogger Partnerships
Relationships Are Everything!
I can't tell you the number of destinations that I've worked with over the years where I might not have spent as much energy promoting them without having a personal relationship. Humans like to identify with other humans and that's hard to understand for most PR agencies who prefer to sit behind the computer screen sending out press releases rather than getting to know us better as individuals.
Without a doubt, things are challenging today and everyone is overworked. However, on a daily basis I get dozens of pitches and most I don't even click on. Those posts that come in from someone that I either met at a conference, did a virtual tour with, or engaged with my content .. well ... I'm MUCH more likely to write about them and their destination!
With that being said, there are some other things that are equally important when it comes to making it easier to cover destinations. Let's take a look!
Easy To Access High-Resolution Media Gallery
It's no secret that travel bloggers rely heavily on photos and visuals to tell the story of their travels. High-resolution media galleries are often integral in helping them capture the unique atmosphere of a place, yet many destinations make it difficult for them to access high-quality images , fact sheets and b-roll video.
While some destinations do an excellent job with providing easy access to their Digital Asset Manager (DAM) or even providing a link to simple Google Drive or DropBox folder - others require you to tell them what images you want and they will select what to send you. This adds extra layers of complexity and more importantly, TIME to coordinate.
For myself, when I'm writing blog posts about a destination, I might need that photo IMMEDIATELY - I'm working on a post late at night and I'd rather use a less engaging photo that I can get from a Stock Photo site that is "Good Enough" than to wait till the next day (much less the following week!) for access to a media gallery.
The reality is that I need to publish the article and move on to the next thing. When that happens, the destination loses out, and that's unfortunate.
Send Us Ready To Edit Articles That We Can Customize
Travel bloggers look forward to the opportunity to write about interesting destinations, but before they can do that it takes a lot of planning and research. One thing that could make writing easier is if destinations provided ready-to-edit articles that travel bloggers could customize:
- Girls Weekend / Guys Getaway / Family Travel Round-Ups
- Historical Stories About An Attraction
- Local Cuisine Trends
- Recipes For Local Specialities
- Seasonal Travel Stories That Feature Your Destination
While original content is absolutely essential to getting search traffic, that isn't always the only objective when we publish something. Sometimes just simply having engaging "filler content" that we can tweak to match our style and share out on Pinterest or Facebook is a great thing too.
By providing these prewritten articles, travel bloggers will have more time to focus on other aspects of their blog posts, such as creating engaging visuals, or promoting the content so it reaches a larger audience. Plus, the ability to customize an article with personal experiences and opinions will give travel blogs a unique angle from others covering the same destination, so this isn't just a matter of having a bunch of the same content floating around on the internet.
Online Chat With Destination Experts For Quick Questions
Travel bloggers would love to have an online chat ability with your destination experts for quick questions. This could be in the form of a message box on your website or even just the understanding that you will have a knowledgeable expert manning the Facebook and Instagram chat who is able to respond quickly when questions come in.
Many destinations do this very well already but it can be a big confusing since we don't know who is on the other line. For instance - if I message your client on Instagram, I don't know if that is You, Your internal Marketing Person, a PR Agency, an Intern, or someone at a Social Media Agency who has never actually even visited the destination.
Investing in this type of online support system makes life easier for travel bloggers and helps promote destinations more effectively by giving them direct access to potential visitors who may wish to learn more about visiting the area before making any decisions.
Provide A List Of People That Can Be Contacted As Topical Experts
The vastness of the world can be overwhelming, especially for travel bloggers. Any destination they visit could contain infinite knowledge and experiences, but it's nearly impossible to uncover them all. To help make writing about a place easier, destinations should provide a list of businesses that travel bloggers can contact as topical experts.
Such contacts would give writers access to valuable information like local specialties or events that may not have been widely advertised. They also allow visitors to gain insight into how locals live and hidden gems that might fall outside of things that would appear on brochures and website directories - these are things that makes any story richer and more engaging. Businesses included in this list should be willing to share their expertise without expecting anything in return, such as links back to their website or payment. Those benefits will come organically if they are earned.
By making connections with these local experts available upfront, travel bloggers won't waste time hunting down contact information at each destination they visit – something which is often necessary if you want accurate details on any particular topic. Instead, the connection has already been established beforehand so all the writer needs to do is reach out and start learning from these local contacts.
If You Agree To Do An Email Interview Or Provide Help - Don't Ignore The Request
When a travel blogger reaches out to you for an email interview or help with coverage, it is important that the request not be ignored. Ignoring requests can lead to frustration and leave bloggers feeling as though they are unimportant. We understand that everyone is stretched for time, so if you can't make it happen or the source you originally presented isn't available ... just let us know. Don't ignore the request because that just sucks. We spent the time to reach out to you, expended creative energy to create unique questions, and probably even explored your website and social media handles, researching interesting things to share with our readers. Now, we're sitting here waiting for something that will probably never come.
Here are three things every destination should do if they agree to an email interview or provide assistance:
1. Respond promptly - By responding quickly, destinations show respect for the time of travel bloggers by acknowledging their request in a timely manner.
2. Follow-up - Even if there isn't an immediate response from the subject, following up after a certain period of time shows that the destination still cares about the request and wants to provide helpful information to the travel writer.
3. Propose an alternative interview subject - If you don't hear back from the original person who agreed to do the interview, reach back out to the blogger and ask if they would mind if someone else on the team answered the questions instead. This is usually completely ok, since the goal is to talk about the destination - not a singular individual. The exception here of course, is that if you have engaged a celebrity spokesperson, but let's face it ... most people really don't care that much about traditional media celebrities as much as older executives in your organization might think!
These simple steps will make it much easier for writers when writing about your destination while also demonstrating respect and appreciation for their interest in learning more about it. Taking these steps will go a long way toward creating positive relationships between destinations and travel bloggers which may ultimately result in higher levels of engagement from both parties.
Look For Ways To Add Value - Links, Shares, Sponsored Content
Travel destinations should look for ways to add value when it comes to travel blogging. This could include providing links and shares of the destination’s content, as well as providing opportunities to do sponsored content. Additionally, one HUGE opportunities that most destination marketers miss is the chance to spend your money boosting content created by travel bloggers.
While we all love a good fam trip, you are looking at hundreds ... maybe even thousands of dollars to bring the writer out. While these "Boots and the Ground" opportunities are essential, throwing $25, $100, even $500 behind a blog post will result in thousands or potentially even millions of impressions ... far greater than most organic content will ever get.
It is understandable that many organizations don't agree with "paying journalists". This isn't the place to debate that but by promoting content created by bloggers, there is a strong incentive for them to cover your destination ... as well as do so in a higher quality manner.
Sponsored content the subject of much consternation. Some folks are adamantly opposed to paying for editorial content while others understand that bloggers need to fund their work somehow and that traditional forms of advertising simply don't deliver anymore. This is true even for newspapers where ad budgets that were solid for decades have all but dissolved into thin air today. Regardless, being able to work with a destination to produce sponsored content is something that most travel bloggers would like to see more of.
For myself, while I don't require sponsorship - it is clearly the difference between me going somewhere myself or sending a writer in my place. I'm simply too busy to travel everywhere that someone invites me to go and when I do I don't have the ability to produce dozens of pieces of content ... even if I wanted to. Additionally, there are times when a brand may not like the tone or storyline that the blogger produces about their destination. By engaging in a sponsored agreement - even a relatively small amount - you have the ability to confirm certain deliverables such as pieces of content, publishing dates, and even draft reviews.
Social Shares, Engagement, And Newsletter Inclusion:
Most destination marketers understand the value of social media shares and newsletter inclusions. These are cheap or free and easy to do but go a LONG way in showing a blogger that their work was appreciated. Simply commenting on a post with something concrete that you liked about their coverage will also help build a relationship that may lead to additional coverage in the future.
Links Help With SEO For Both You And Them:
While more difficult to do in some circumstances, being able to provide links from your website to content produced by travel bloggers is a fantastic way of helping both you and them out. Search Engine Optimization or SEO is a two-way street and while some folks see reciprocal links as negative or having reduced value - I disagree. Even if it isn't as powerful as a link pointing to a blog post that has a link pointing back to yours ... that really isn't the point.
We're trying to create a contextual relationship here and one that will also help with developing an actual relationship between the blogger and the destination.
Destination PR And Travel Marketing Depend On Travel Blogger Partnerships
Travel blogging can be a tricky business. It's hard to get the information you need and create content that stands out from the rest. Likewise, budgets are getting smaller each year and it seems like everyone is a travel blogger these days. However, the fact remains - it is in your best interest to make sure that content being produced about your destination continues to be positive and current.
While there are major differences between larger destinations where content is being produced organicatlly on a regular basis and smaller ones that have to work harder to produce those posts, destination marketers depend on travel bloggers to create content that inspires people to visit.
Luckily, the are some easy things that you can do to help make that easier for everyone!