01 March 2007

PRs should consider long term benefits of fam trips

I've just been editing a podcast interview with a tour operator who is also a scuba dive instructor. We were talking about the joys of Ambergis Cay in Belize, which include a barrier reef that's easily in the same league as Australia's and a formation called the 'Blue Hole', which is a bit of a dive icon.

I didn't know I was going to be talking to her about Ambergis Cay, but by good fortune - because its not well-known to British travellers - I have actually been there and dived there, albeit quite a few years ago.

Not only did this mean we could both talk about it with enthusiasm, each feeding off the other, but also I was able to feed her questions about things that she had forgotten to mention.

It's not the first time. A few weeks ago I was recording another podcast interview with an AITO Specialist Agent, Polly Davies, (you can listen to it on TTGLive) when she talked about matching customers' interests to holidays and used the example of a woman passionate about botany who she sent to a place in central Belize. I recognised it immediately and suddenly we were enthusing about this little resort inn called Chaa Creek.

But that's not the first time. In the 12 years since I spent a week travelling around Belize on a fam trip, I must have referred to it in copy, dozens of times, and in conversations with fellow travel journalists and travel professionals, hundreds of times.

Chaa Creek itself got at least the monetary value of my visit back when, a few years ago, the head of communications for a national tourist office in London went there for her honeymoon purely on my personal recommendation.

Oh, and look here we are talking about it again, with an online link and a tag!

These are just the spin-off results of one fam trip - I must have done dozens & dozens over the years.

When PR companies, Tourism Organisations and/or Operators put together press trips they are inevitably and quite rightly thinking about what immediate press coverage they will get.

But if they are hesitant about the benefits of taking any particular journalist or whether to increase the overall size of the group, they should definitely consider it positively. The cost/return balance swings firmly in favour of fam trips when you consider the long-term coverage you can win.








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