ITB 2024 Special Reporting
An Excellent Author has Written his Story Before the Press Trip.
By Roland Wildberg ~ Exclusive from ITB 2014
Thursday, 13th March 2014
Prominent travel writer Percy von Lipsky explained how to organise a successful media fam trip -

How to spread the news about your new hotel, destination or tourist attraction most rapidly and efficiently? Well, simply organise a press fam trip.

But this is easier said than done – particularly if you link a concrete target with the invitation. Publicity does not come by itself unless you charge it before the journalist is your guest – according to prominent U.S. travel writer Percy von Lipsky.

The expert has conducted more than 200 press fam trips and experienced much more as an invited travel writer. At ITB 2014 he performed a keynot speech about „good, bad and very funny" press fam trips giving the audience an understanding of how to prepare successful press trips.

Lipsky started with some funny examples: „I remember a trip when a British journalist peevishly pointed out she was not amused that this island on which we stayed was surrounded completely by water – imagine, she was British!" He remembere another situation in Brisbane/Australia, when the group walked out of their hotel and a Texan writer did ask Lipsky: „Will we see cangaroos out here?"

Lipsky answered him quickly: „Depends on how much you have drunken before!" The American expert showed these examples to illustrate his first thesis: Not everybody who calls himself a journalist can be invited to a press trip.

Lipsky: „What kind of errors can you make? I tell you: Many – there is urgend need to do better press fam trips!" During 30 years of press trip history Lipsky does represent personally many things changed – particularly by the internet: „Every country nowadays has equal chances and possibilities to represent itself through the web." The consequence for a press trip background: Usually journalists do not need a press trip to do basic research. „A person who asks how's the name of the destination's capital is definetely not the right one to travel with you."

When Lipsky started 30 years ago, information was not easily accessible like today, so press trips had a totally different meaning than today: „Imagine: A excellent author will have written about three quarters of his story before the trip." These guys are to be found for invitations. Not necessarily from prominent media, but ideally with perfect social media interconnection and preferably videographers.

„Of course we all dream about featuring the frontpage of the N.Y.Times, but after a few weeks noone will remember that we were there – I like youtube because videos remain their practically forever, and ten years after publication still do generate traffic", Lipsky explained his recommendation.

Whereas finding the right people is tricky, the evaluation of a press trip executed is as easy as before: „If there are no articles, it was a bad fam trip." But the organiser can reduce the risk before starting the trip: „Contract the writers what they are going to write and where they publish – you may argue on should not restrict journalists, okay, but if the guys are professional that is not a problem. Besides, as I mentioned already, they almast have their story produced completely, and if not you must not invite them." One should do this before the trip; if the author is already on the way it is no more possible to take control over the content he is going to produce.

According to Lipsky, today it is not sufficient to be a print or online or video journalist, you need to have a good social media embedding. „Those old farts who pretend they do not need to have a Facebook or Twitter account may do so; but you will not have them on your press trip!" To find out how promising a travel writer is, Lipsky recommends pr representatives to use the online tool Klout for an evaluation of the social media publicity potential somebody has. „And all pr should be fixed to social media." Even during a press trip: For commitment and – besides – team spirit among the journalist group on should start even a Facebook group before the trip.

„If you invite videographers, keep in mind the trip must take place during best season – I once tried to conduct a video during monsoon at a muddy beach, but we had to cede due to the bad weather." Another valuable advice is to separate writers from videographers, because according to Lipsky's experience they disturb each other while working. Speaking of work, after three days of research Lipsky recommends to add a fourth day just for writing. „Allow your fellow travellers time to work, that's what authors deserve." And add music to the scenery: „You can hire a popular street band or somebody else, but put some acustic atmosphere to the trip."

This is strictly an exclusive feature, reprints of this article in any shape or form without prior written approval from 4Hoteliers.com is not permitted.

Roland Wildberg is Travel Writer and Correspondent based in Berlin, Germany. He started as an Editor for the National daily 'Die Welt' (tourism section), later on switched to a freelanced career and nowadays mainly publishes on the Web. Observing the hospitality industry has always fascinated him as it looks like the perfect combination of sleeping and writing – work-live-balance at its best.
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