Getting invited on a press trip is one of the most exciting parts of being a travel writer. Once you’re a seasoned veteran, attending them becomes second nature. But whether it’s your first trip or 100th, there are certain expectations for behavior as a participant. If you have any sort of self-awareness or professional etiquette these may seem like rookie mistakes (and I wish they were) but I’ve seen plenty of professional journalists do these things, too. Here’s how to ensure you’re making the best impression you can to the PR and brand people to continually get invited back.
1. Don’t talk about other destinations while you’re on a trip or compare the current destination to x, y, z place. We all travel a lot, but the client wants to feel special and like they have your undivided attention, not like this activity is something you’ve done or seen 1000x before.
2. Being on time means showing up 15 minutes early to every activity unless you have a prearranged reason not to. Itineraries are jam-packed and not everything may be up your alley or a fit for your audience but you still have to go to everything even if you’re not looking forward to everything on the schedule. A lot of time and effort went into planning that itinerary and the client obviously wants you to do or see x, y, z attraction for a reason so be respectful.
3. Don’t cancel on a trip last minute unless it’s an absolute emergency (which generally means medical or death). I get it, things happen, but a lot of money and prep went into getting you there and while they likely have some type of travel insurance for these instances, don’t be surprised if you’re asked to pay some amount to cover the lost cost.
4. Don’t go overboard. With free food and alcohol at your disposal, it’s easy to get gluttonous. But it’s wasteful and looks tacky especially if you get shitfaced and sloppy.
5. Know there are a lot of personalities on group press trips. You don’t have to like everyone, but be respectful, stay in your lane, and keep your opinions to yourself.
6. Always be gracious. Say please and thank you. Bring cash and plan to tip the staff, it creates goodwill and goes a long way.
7. Be open-minded and respectful of other cultures. Not everything may be your cup of tea but try to embrace and try every experience. If you have food allergies or concerns about an activity or meal let your host know well ahead of time instead of surprising them and making them scramble to accommodate you.
8. Be accountable and understand the expectations. You have an unspoken (or spoken if there is a contract) obligation to authentically promote the region or property who invited you. Under promise and over-deliver in a timely manner.
9. Always remember you’re traveling to a job, not being given a free vacation. Realize your behavior doesn’t just reflect poorly on you, but on the PR person who invited you. It’s a small industry and people talk; it would behoove you to stay on everyone’s good side as there is an unspoken blacklist.