Part 5 - How to Work with Travel Companies & Tourism Boards

How to Work with Travel Companies & Tourism Boards is the fifth segment in our How to Build a Successful Travel Blog workshop. Take a look at the previous segments first:

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How to Work with Travel Companies & Tourism Boards

This section on how to work with travel companies and tourism boards within the industry coincides with the next section – How to Make Money from Your Travel Blog. This section discusses how to be strategic in connecting with businesses, request collaborations, and get paid for producing content.

‘Work with Me’ Page

You may not think you need a ‘work with me’ page on your travel blog if you’re just starting out. I wouldn’t delay it for too long, even if it’s still a bit premature. It’s helpful in thinking through how you want to work with travel companies from the get go, whether that be advertising, sponsored posts, and social media marketing to name a few (all of these are discussed in greater detail in the next segment: Making Money from your Travel Blog). Make your Work with Me page compelling – you want to hook your potential client as much as your readers. If you can add case studies and testimonials – great! If not, add these in due time.

Though I don’t subscribe to the manifest destiny theory, by putting your aspirations to work with travel companies in writing, it can help channel your energy into looking for opportunities. And if any influential person happens to visit your site, it can only be positive if you have a work with me page, whereas not having one will likely yield diddly squat.

Create a Media Kit

If you’ve been running a travel blog for long enough to have good data, you’re ready to create media kit. A media kit is a brief document that gives companies and advertisers a quick overview of your travel blog. It should be well designed and well written, and include the following information:

  • Description of your blog – perhaps touching on your business models and milestones
  • Breakdown of your target audience demographics (age, location, sex, etc)
  • Performance stats including unique visitors, page views, average time/session, social media followers, email subscribers
  • Case studies from working with brands and companies in the past (if available)

Here’s a handy resource from Melyssa Griffen (which includes a free media kit template).

Connect with Companies

Networking online or IRL is invaluable if you’re looking to make your travel blog a viable business. Most of our work within the industry has come from relationships formed ahead of time. Travel Massive and travel conventions are great for getting face time with potential clients. If you’ve published a lot of content on a specific topic or destination, send an introductory email to the tourism board or relevant companies and ask to be added to their mailing list to stay on top of news and events in your area.

Even if you’re hustling to make connections, sometimes you just have to do the dreaded cold call (or is it cold email now?). Do a Google search for contact information (looking for media representatives), though if you come up empty, try reaching out over social media and requesting their media contact. That’s a strategy that has worked well for us in the past and assures that your email gets lost in the shadows of the internet.

Apply for FAM Trips

For many new travel bloggers, partaking in a FAM (familiarization) trip is a dream come true. And while they’re amazing opportunities to network with other content producers, showcase your skills, and work directly with big travel brands, they’re not all fun and games. The itineraries are often jam-packed as you experience everything your host wants you to, which is insanely cool but extremely tiring at the same time. The expectations of you, whether implied or explicit, can be significant. It’s not unusual for us to spend the day doing the coolest stuff ever and the night working from our hotel room to put out real-time social content and prep time-sensitive posts for our sites.

Don’t Underestimate Your Value

It’s great that you’re keen to work with travel companies and tourism boards – but a caveat. The travel blogging industry has become significantly more professionalized in the last several years, and asking for free one-offs or producing content pro bono takes away from this progress.

Even if you’re brand new, understand that you have value. If you want to be a professional travel blogger, then you need to treat this as a business. I understand that it’s easier said than done (especially for those just starting out and looking for a win) but that’s my feeling on it. I just think you’re worth being compensated if you’re creating great content.

Pitch Travel Companies & Tourism Boards

First, set out your goals and what you’re hoping to accomplish. What are you asking for? Our outreach at Departful is typically to tourism boards or large brands. We don’t often request free hotel nights or day tours, as alluded to above. When reaching out to brands or tourism boards, there are a few things that you want to include:

  • Who you are and why you’re reaching out
  • When you met them or how you got their contact (if applicable)
  • Clear description of what you want from them (many travel bloggers are too ambiguous about this, and you have a much better chance of getting what you want if you actually ask). Don’t beat around the bush – be straight-forward.
  • Types of content that you could create if you work together
  • Examples of content that you’ve written. Best to include various types of articles to showcase your range and ones that have done well (high traffic and/or high social count)
  • Attach a recent version of your media kit
  • Be sincere – they likely receive dozens of pitches a day so make yours personable and unique.

More Tips for Working with Travel Companies:

Be a great publishing partner

Overdeliver, be easy to work with, and make your contact look good to their boss. Essentially, make it a no-brainer to work with you and you’ll be top of mind for opportunities down the road.

Keep the relationship going

So you’ve fulfilled your duties and now you’re moving on. Not so fast. Make sure you’re following the brand and your contact on social media, supporting them by sharing posts you find interesting. Ask to be included on their media mailing list to receive press releases so you can keep up with their progress and tap into their marketing campaigns.

Stay in touch with your contacts

We often produce bonus content (above and beyond what was contracted) and publish it six months or a year after our work with a brand. We’ll reach out to our contact to let them know and ask if there are any specific media campaigns they’re working on that we can help promote. This demonstrates that you’re interested helping them to achieve their own goals, which can pay off down the line when they’re looking for a travel publisher to work with.

How to Work with Travel Companies & Tourism Boards photo courtesy of Unsplash