Remember the famous line from the movie “Field of Dreams,” “If you build it, he will come”? These were the words Iowa farmer Ray Kinsella (played by Kevin Costner) heard whispered by his estranged father. “If you build it, he will come…” “He” referred to infamous baseball player Shoeless Joe Jackson whom Ray’s father idolized. With his dad’s message eventually etched into his mind, Ray had a vision of a baseball diamond looking out over his cornfield. In time, he builds the baseball field, people come and the story inspires. While this is a fictional tale, let’s take that famous line and hold on to it for a minute.

Anyone in the travel PR space is [hopefully] aware that travel sections are dwindling by the day and dedicated travel writers are becoming harder to find. Why? Many top-tier publications do not accept press trips per policy. What do PR people do? The good ones research, network and identify freelancers who write for coveted trades and consumer magazines. From there, build solid relationships with in-demand writers who are able to serve as a third-party gateway to generating coverage.   

This policy is troublesome if you represent an international destination, island, park or exotic resort. You need to identify new ways to bring the best of your client’s offerings to the media in an eye-catching, creative setting, while still making it easy and inviting for the writer.

Besides select magazine policies, another obstacle can be available budget to fly/host media at your client’s destination. Go back to getting really creative…

Insert­­: Reverse Familiarization (FAM) Tours. It’s exactly what it sounds like. You bring the best of your destination to the media. We like to call it “Taste of X” – with X being our client. This concept can take many forms and ultimately helps you avoid the challenge of

“we can’t travel on your dime” or “we don’t have a big budget.”    

If you’re going to build it so they will come, try these proven tactics:

  • Choose your media market wisely – go where the bulk of travel media live (e.g. NYC); depending on your client/key markets, it could be LA – you get the point

  • Secure a great space – do your due diligence. Check out various hotels, empty spaces, for-rent buildings or intriguing white space – find the venue that will spotlight your client/destination in a highly-distinct fashion

  • Outfit the space. Once you’ve selected your venue, make it look beautiful. Our client Disney Parks has a way of absolutely transforming any space into something magical, making guests forget where they really are. You want to transport them

    • Leverage captivating life-size photos to turn plain walls into vivid landscapes; set-up special lighting, appropriate sounds from the destination

    • Provide an opportunity to see/feel exclusive artifacts or treasures native to your destination; if it’s a distinct smell, bottle it up and bring it with you. Even better: give it to the media

  • Nothing sells a destination better than food and wine. Pack-up a famous chef and sommelier and bring them along. When media walk into a space and all they smell are the savory scents of Spain, half your battle is won

  • Grant exclusivity. Invite your CEO or highest executive to meet with media either one-on-one or in intimate groups – writers love special access

    • Perhaps you represent a professional tour company – bring the itinerary developers; let them tell the story of how they uncover hidden gems and share their secrets

These are just a handful of ideas that work. If you build it using all your creative bones and assets, they will come. 

Lauren-Mackiel_GoryLauren Mackiel Gory is VP of the travel practice at Coyne