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5 things you should know before going on a press trip to avoid disappointment

posted by Liza 4th June 2017 13 Comments
5 things you should know before going on a press trip to avoid disappointment
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Going on your first press trip? You must be excited, right? So was I a couple of months ago when I was invited to a massive travel event taking place in an emerging Eastern European country. Now, however, when the trip is over, I realised how many mistakes I could have avoided if I knew these 5 things I described in this post.

Please note, that in this post I’m talking about big blogger events, where more than 10 bloggers are invited. In case you’re going on a press trip alone or with one other person, most probably, probably only the points 1 and 3 will be relevant to you.

If you’re interested, in the end of the post, I’m featuring my personal story of #myfirstroadtripgonebad, so you know what has actually happened to me.

But let’s start with the 5 things you should know before going on a press trip:

1. Negotiate all terms with the organisers before your arrival

This is without hesitation the most important point out of the whole list. You need to know for sure what will you get and what is expected from you. You should discuss all the accommodation, flight and transport details in advance and have all the things set before boarding a plane. In case you’re not happy with the hotel – tell that and the more insistent you are (especially if you have solid reasons for the hotel change), the more probable it is, that you’ll get your hotel changed.

Most of the tourism boards and sponsors don’t place bloggers and journalists to really bad locations and hotels, but there are exceptions. My personal story at the end of this post involves a really bad hotel, where I was placed by the organisers and the consequences I suffered after being in it.

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2. Research, who is coming in advance

In case if there is a private Facebook group or a chat for this event, don’t hesitate and look through it thoroughly in advance. Try to remember the names of your future trip companions and check their blogs and Social Media. This way, it will be easier for you to understand, who are you talking to and even ask for an advice, if you really like this person’s work. There will be no better chance to exchange tips and ideas with your fellow travel bloggers other than in a small press trip.

3. Bring more business cards

If it’s a big event and some sponsors are expected, don’t forget to bring your business cards. If it’s a smallish event, you will still probably meet with the local tourism board or some businesses, where you can network a bit and exchange some business cards for your future trips.

4. Network as much as you can

I only realised it some weeks ago, but networking is really a key to blogging success, especially in travel blogging. Try to talk to as many people as possible, and try to leave a good impression on your fellow travel blogging colleagues (arriving hangover or getting wasted won’t leave the best impression on the others, doesn’t matter how fun person you are). However, what really matters is the genuine connections. If you genuinely make friends with some people in the travel blogging world, it will be so much easier for you all to succeed. There will be press trips, where you will be referred by other travel blogging friends or even brand partnerships. So communication is the key!

5. Try to stand out, so people remember you

This mostly apples to some bigger events, where maybe 20-100 people are invited, so you don’t have a chance to have a couple of one-to-one conversations with every single participant. In case you want to be remembered (in a good way, of course! Nobody wants to be famous as a person who “got sick on a bus” or “was drinking too much and annoying everybody” or somebody, who complained all the time. How can you stand out in a good way? Well, you’ve got to be a king/queen of networking and be extremely friendly with everyone, remember all the names/blog names/pet names/children names of the bloggers or you can stand out wearing some colourful & original clothes. If you wear a unique bag & colourful skirt or some really outstanding dress or a blouse, people will eventually remember you.

Travel blogging resources - start your own travel blogDo you have any other tips to add to this list? Drop me an email or reply to the comment, please!

Now it’s time to share my personal #presstripgonebad story.

My personal story of what has really happened during #ExperienceBucharest press trip:

It was my first trip ever and I was very excited, to be honest. This trip was really important for my “career” in travel blogging, when I got my invitation, I felt like all the work I’ve done over the last 15 months paid off and somebody actually appreciated what I’m doing. I was invited as an Instagrammer and was patiently waiting for my hotel details, expecting to be in a nice-looking hotel where I could do my best and create some nice shots. Just 2 days before my flight to Romania, I got my hotel details, and it was an extremely old and budget hotel located on the outskirts of the city. When I checked the Facebook group of the press trip, I realised that 95% of the people actually are going to live in the city centre and around maybe 80% would live at least in a good 4* hotel. Being one of the 5% made me very frustrated, so when I arrived in Bucharest and shared a transfer with girls, who were staying in way better hotels and when got delivered to the hotel, I immediately contacted the organisers, asking if there is anything else available.

Upon my arrival, I noticed a terrible smell in the room, that was all covered by carpets. However, I didn’t pay much attention, thinking that if I open a window, the smell would be gone. Anyway, I was here to enjoy my press trip! I was waiting for a reply to my message but got no response. In the meantime, I discovered from the locals that this area near the train station is not nice. Also, I was told that a girl should walk there alone at night. All the events in the schedule for our 5-day event were finishing around 1-3 am every night. And that meant that I had to take a taxi every single time I decided to come to any of the Experience Bucharest events.

7 Reasons to visit Bucharest, the capital of Romania right now - Abandoned Buildings Bucharest

Panorama of Bucharest

I got a reply from the organisers late at night. The reply, however, was disappointing for me, as they said that everything in the city centre is busy.  According to them, my hotel Ibis Gara de Nord was located in a great location, just 3km away from all the events and that there was even a trolleybus going to the city centre. The didn’t mention that the public transport would be PACKED during the rush hour (when all the events on Friday started), but I discovered that myself later. They also said that Bucharest is one of the safest cities in the world (which is not true, of course, confirmed by 30+ locals) and I can use some taxi promo codes they will send me (which didn’t work either).

I just felt that it was really unfair that 3 people (including me) out of 80 or even 100 would stay in such a bad hotel really far away from all the events. There were few people in a Ramada North hotel (but at least it was in a nice location and it was a way nicer hotel than Ibis). The rest would stay in 4* or even 5* hotels in the city centre with few exceptions places in a hostel (which was WAY NICER than Ibis and in the perfect location).

So what was wrong with Ibis Bucharest Gara de Nord?

I could barely sleep during the first night in this hotel and the second night was really bad. On the second day, I started experiencing minor breathing problems and was coughing all the time. Also, my small wound on the lip started getting worse instead of healing.

After the third night in Ibis I woke up all swollen, with sore throat and some terrible allergy and realized that I can’t stay in this hotel anymore. This has never happened to me before, but then again, I never stayed in such an old inrefurbished hotel with carpets all around. This time I both send an email and even talked to organizers in person, but they didn’t pay much attention and told me that everything is busy and I should have told that I want to change the hotel from the very beginning (which I did). Since I couldn’t stay in that hotel anymore due to the worsening health conditions, I had to pay for 2 nights in a new hotel and move out as soon as possible. When I already moved and paid for the new hotel, Liad,  I received an informal Facebook message asking if I want to share a room with some blogger, whose room mate just moved out and that they can even change the bed linen for me.

 

7 Reasons to visit Bucharest, the capital of Romania right now

Village Museum in Bucharest

Since I already paid for the new hotel and had also paid for my flights I didn’t feel like it was a press trip anymore. So I sent an official email saying that all the content I produced will stay, but I won’t create any more content with their branded hashtag. I got a reply in…5 days, when I was back at home, saying that I was the only one who complained and that some of my claims were false.

What did this trip teach me? Well, obviously, the point number one in the list above – complain, insist and ask to change the accommodation BEFORE going on a trip. If I was more insistent 2 days before the trip (when I got my hotel confirmation) and actually asked to move me, my experience in Bucharest would have been entirely different!

But well, I guess I’ll be learning from my mistakes.

 

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13 Comments

Mike - Travel and Destinations 6th June 2017 at 2:30 pm

Sounds like a dreadful trip. I’ve been on a few so far and some have been interesting. I think for me the biggest issue is being too far from everything as I often like to take sunrise shots, or stay out late for night photography.

Reply
Liza 6th June 2017 at 7:28 pm

Thanks for your comment, Mike! I totally agree with you – being far from everything restricts you in many cases!

Reply
Mel Butler 6th June 2017 at 4:18 pm

I have been lucky to go on a lot of press trips and the one thing I definitely do is asking questions and agree on the terms before I leave. It makes everyone’s lives easier if everyone knows where you stand in terms of what is being provided and what you are providing. Sorry to hear about your stay at the Ibis Bucharest Gara de Nord. Just remember the press trips will only get better, I promise 🙂

Reply
Liza 6th June 2017 at 7:29 pm

Thanks for your tips, Mel! I hope they will 🙂

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Arzo Travels 6th June 2017 at 7:06 pm

Oh no I have been on a few so far and had always luck. I am sure your next trip will be much better – now that you now that to pay attention to beforehand. I agree to discuss each single detail beforehand: I also do not do it because I do not wanna sound greedy but we SHOULD do it, so we do not get disappointed. Good luck with your next trip!

Reply
Liza 6th June 2017 at 7:29 pm

Thank you so much, Arzo! That’s great that you discuss everything is advance< I should start doing that too 🙂

Reply
Jurga 7th June 2017 at 10:59 pm

I have to agree with you on the first point for sure – all parties should agree on what they expect from each other, just as well as what they give in return. I think clear and timely communication is key here! After all, you are going to promote a destination, and the best way to get your readers excited about it is by truly loving it yourself. I’m sure it will be better next time, Liza!

Reply
Beth 8th June 2017 at 3:25 am

So sorry you had this terrible experience. I’ve been on many trips and they’ve all been great but this is an important lesson for all of us to pay close attention to the details!

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Joanna 8th June 2017 at 4:14 pm

These are great tips. I had my first press trip a few weeks ago and it was kind of frustrating for me as well. I was requested to go last minute and just jumped in. I was able to get a lot of information from the other bloggers that went.

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Alex 8th June 2017 at 11:23 pm

I’m so sorry you got stuck with this Liza – how sucky. I hope Mel is right and they only get better from here on in.

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Tracy 11th June 2017 at 7:17 pm

Sounds like an unpleasant experience Liza! I will definitely save this on the off chance I get to try one some day. Working full time makes it difficult to even consider being able to do one if I was ever invited!

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Arianne 13th June 2017 at 6:22 pm

This sounds awful! Of course meeting people is great and a press trip is great but a terrible hotel simply ruins the hotel experience! I am not too picky but there has to be a clean place and a safe area, really they seem so unfair! Sorry about it babe and hope the next is much better

Reply
Dee 9th July 2017 at 12:37 am

Sounds like a horrible hotel, but at the end of the day you live you learn, and you get better at it… Great post!

Reply

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