It may be that I’m hypercritical, but I don’t think so.
After the umpteenth Travel Media/Press lunch, I declined the last few simply because they promised to be photostatic copies of most every other press lunch held.
In spite of some web sites that offer advice most PR-driven media lunches still mirror those held for travel content providers for years.
PR and Marketing firms who are members of SATW (Society American Travel Writers), arguably the most important (or self-important) association of professional travel writers, should be getting advice from the organization on how to manage this important tool in today’s content world.
Besides, they should change their name from “Travel Writers” to “Travel Content Providers.”
Typically Press/Media luncheons are held in a classy hotel.
The lunch is served on the kind of long table that makes real cross-conversation impossible.
The hosts from the presenting countries are always up front, at the head of the table, with the predictable power point presentation, or some other variation on the “show and tell” approach.
We listen to enthusiastic presentation about new hotels, attractions, museums.
We look at expensively prepared slides of people having fun; sleek new buildings or charming old streets with look-alike cafes or museums.
We’re treated to a fine meal, then more presentations from various partners like a hotel chain.
Worse, we’re given take-away bags jammed with obscenely expensive, glossy brochures and booklets highlighting every aspect of the destination’s attractions and appeal.
Sadly, if the presenters followed the media guests out, or to their homes, they’d find the bags and the costly brochures in the trash bins.
And no one’s the wiser.
May I suggest:
* Invite the travel media to sit at conversations areas where they can catch up with each other and compare notes, literally and figuratively.
* Skip the power point or slide show presentation! Instead ask the group what new travel trends they’re following.
Ask what’s new in the niches they cover.
Ask what new thoughts they have about the destination being presented.
In other words, engage the content people.
Find out what’s of interest, to them. What matters, to them; what’s on their minds relative to the industry they cover?
Also forget the show and tell.
Use the event to gain information and insight, not present it.
Have a dialogue, not speeches or slides.
Skip the big lunch served by waitstaff. Sandwiches and fruit will do nicely.
Please ditch the expensive bags and brochures. Save the money and the trees.
Send information that the journalist or blogger is specifically interested in, or curious about. Target it.
The media lunch will be cheaper and more eco-friendly. The event will produce ideas and partnerships, conversation and dialogue, that will more directly help the destination and media.
Off and online journalists are seeking a richer give and take, hoping to break barriers, looking to inject life into an increasingly static travel event that should be bristling with new ideas.