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How to get your holiday business in the media - An insider's guide

This is a guest post by entrepreneur, Carolyn Frank, former co-owner of The Moors Inn, North Yorkshire, explaining the benefits of hosting a press trip to publicise your hospitality business.

Do you ever wonder how some properties seem to be mentioned in the media more often than others, and get their reviews online or in print more than yours? Most of the time this is because they have arranged for journalists to stay, make sure they have a great time, and want to go away and write a glowing review: you may have heard of this referred to as a ‘press trip’.

A press trip includes free or discounted accommodation and/or experiences for journalists. This is a cost effective way to market your property as you are providing services at cost, but the journalist gets the equivalent of what your customers' experiences.

Press trips of this kind are a great way for accommodation owners or PR companies to gain wide-reaching exposure, without resorting to expensive advertising. Reviews are focused and can be used to target specific customer groups (dog-friendly, couples, luxury breaks, activity seekers, spa, scuba, etc.), and in today's market, as customers rely increasingly on recommendations and reviews to choose where to stay, by offering free or discounted stays or experiences in exchange for a review, your 'offer' can be spelt out in a way which is relevant to today's tourism market.

Hosting a press trip is not the same as paying for a good review: journalists do their own research and will present an honest review of your accommodation. Professional reviews should back up what you and your customers are already saying - but they gain more exposure and are more valuable.

It's worth bearing in mind that the majority of travel review websites do not pay journalists for their articles so the trip is the only payment they may receive. (They will also be expected to cover their own travel and subsistence expenses so a ‘free trip’ can end up costing a couple of hundred pounds.)

The more experiences a host can provide, the more there is for the journalist to write about and the photographer to capture. The longer the stay, the more they can do so there will be more to write about and you will be more likely to get a longer feature in return.

Experiences to offer to journalists:

  • Dining options (Full board, half board, all inclusive or if self- catering accommodation - a welcome pack)

  • Activities: cookery classes, falconry, fishing, horse-riding, etc.

  • Excursions/guided tours

  • Spa treatments

  • Wildlife encounters

  • Local festivals

Aspinall Ink carries out thorough research before agreeing to carry out reviews and I know from speaking with them that if they wouldn't consider staying somewhere for their own holiday, then they won't agree to a visit.

As freelancers, the length of the trip can be a determining factor in Aspinall Ink being able to accept a trip. Two or three nights in Yorkshire or the Lake District may be a reasonable exchange for a single review (as they can travel there relatively easily from West Yorkshire and know the areas well so can utilise their existing knowledge when writing the review) - but two or three nights further away may not justify the travelling time - and they would have to weigh up the attractiveness of the offer with the amount of travelling – and research - involved. (Remember – they both have to take unpaid leave to do these trips.)

Many travel writers request press trips for themselves plus their partner and sometimes also their children; with Aspinall Ink, when you offer a press trip, you get two professional writers and photographers; each with their own media contacts.

With Aspinall Ink, you benefit from:

  • Their experience and expertise as travel writers

  • High quality, unique professional photographs

  • Guaranteed published articles (and guidance as to the sites/magazines most suitable for your accommodation/dest