This is a guest post from Amanda Williams, the creator of Bloggers, Brands, and Tourism Boards: A Guide to Successful Partnerships.
So you’re finally planning that dream trip to Australia. Or going to Italy for the very first time. Or plotting out an epic road trip around the U.S.
And, being the avid travel blog reader that you are, you know that other bloggers have worked with the destinations you’re hoping to visit or the travel companies you think you’d like to use. So the next step is to start contacting fellow travel bloggers to ask them for those coveted travel industry contacts… right?
Well, actually this might be wrong.
Here’s the thing about the travel blogging community: We’re usually a really friendly bunch that’s willing to help each other out. But when it comes to industry contacts, those precious email addresses are something many bloggers keep to themselves.
The reason for this is two-fold: First, certain industry contacts can be tricky to get a hold of and are often cherished once finally acquired. And, secondly, if you’ve worked hard to get a solid contact and then spent a long time building a relationship with a brand, you don’t want to annoy your contact by sending every blogger who asks straight to their inbox.
For example, it once took me three years to get a PR contact for a destination I really wanted to work with. It came down to me going to an in-person travel networking event (that I had to pay to attend) in order to meet him in person. We’ve now worked together multiple times. But, because of how hard I had to work to start building this relationship to begin with, it’s not a contact I’m usually open to sharing.
So if you’ve ever posted in a Facebook group to ask about an industry contact and received crickets, or cold-emailed a blogger you don’t really know to ask for an email address and received no response, don’t worry. It’s not because people don’t like you – it’s just that you need to be willing to put in the extra work for those contacts, too.
Instead of cold emails and vague Facebook posts, here are some other (and much more effective) ways to get those industry contacts you’re looking for:
1. Do your homework online
You can often find the exact contacts you’re looking for online if you’re willing to do a little digging. Many destination and company websites will have a dedicated PR/marketing/press page made just for media queries, complete with direct email addresses. These contacts are often found on pages with titles like Press, Media, or Contact Us.
Sometimes these pages will be available as links directly from the main company/destination site, while other times they may exist as a separate site just for media. But a quick Google search can usually help you find the right page.
Here’s an example. Let’s say that you are planning a trip to New Orleans, and are interested in working with someone there. Since it’s a big city, your best best is to look for their CVB (Convention and Visitors Bureau) website first. When you get to this site, there’s a tab right at the top labeled “Press and Media.” Clicking on this takes you to a page with lots of info about the city, and clicking the “Contact Us” link here takes you to a list of all the CVB employees – complete with email addresses and even phone numbers.
Viola! You’ve got everything you need in about three clicks.
2. Ask for contacts over social media
Not every tourism board and travel company will have such a handy press page, however. Or, they may only have one of those generic “info” email addresses that they direct all inquiries to.
In this case, you may want to try a different tactic. I recommend turning to social media next.
Twitter is usually my first place to turn, simply because it’s so easy to use. You can either send a tweet mentioning the destination/brand, or send a direct message if they allow it.
I’m found that sending a simple tweet or message like this one works about 75% of the time:
I’ve had success reaching out to brands on Facebook recently, too, through the “message” option that is now enabled on most Facebook business pages.
You can check the page’s About section to see how responsive to messages they usually are. If it says they usually respond within a few hours or even a day, then it’s worth reaching out this way, too.
Even if the person managing a brand’s Twitter or Facebook account isn’t the most ideal media contact, they can usually point you in the right direction. (And, if the contact ends up being a generic “info” address anyway, at least now you have a way to follow up with them on any emails you might send.)
3. Respond to press releases
You know all those unsolicited press releases you get in your inbox from PR firms about destinations, hotels, or events?
Most of the time you probably just delete them. But if something comes through from a destination or brand you’d love to work with, take a closer look. The email will often come directly from a PR contact, or will include media contact information at the end of the press release.
Even if the release isn’t exactly what you’re interested in, sending a quick reply to let them know you’re interested in their destination/tour/hotel/event could potentially lead to future contacts and partnerships.
4. Network in-person
If the above ways don’t work, then it might be time to break out the big guns: you may actually have to go meet people in person!
How do you meet people in person as a travel blogger? Go to conferences and networking events!
Swapping business cards and a quick conversation is one of the best ways to make contacts, no matter what industry you’re in.
Join your local Travel Massive group, register for a networking event like VEMEX (Visit Europe Media Exchange), or consider going to one of the many travel-focused conferences that take place every year. Popular ones include TBEX, Traverse, World Travel Market (WTM) and ITB.
You can find a full list of 2017 conferences here.
5. Ask other bloggers
Finally, we come full circle. Asking other bloggers for contacts is always an option, but I would only advise this if you already have a relationship with the blogger you’re reaching out to.
The same goes for posting blindly in every Facebook group you’re a member of. You might be tempted to do this first to save yourself some work, but unless the group exists specifically for the purpose of sharing industry tips/contacts, you may not get many useful responses.
The first four methods for getting contacts listed here will almost always be more successful for you in the long run.
Ready to learn more about working with travel brands and tourism boards as a travel blogger? Bloggers, Brands, and Tourism Boards: A Guide to Successful Partnerships provides the tips and tricks you need to develop valuable relationships in the travel industry.