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How to Get Sponsored Trips?
Now here comes the sweet the stuff: actually Getting free, sponsored trips. Yes, Getting with a capital G. The sweet nectar that fills your travel blogging dreams. Some dream of the big bucks that rain from the sky (it is more of a sad trickle I’m afraid), while others dream of being whisked away to exotic destinations on sponsored trips (more of a roller coaster making you want to throw up I’m afraid). Nonetheless, you deserve the truth. The whole truth, and nothing but the truth
as long as it is in my best interest and I can profiteer like the greedy, multinational corporation.
So how do you actually Get sponsored trips? Good question. Well, I have ranted like a spastic child as of late about how much I enjoyed and how much I felt I got out of World Travel Market – while other more naysayers cried of the tediousness of it all (clearly they missed the free food and booze memo), but nevertheless, it is the best starting point. However, before you go there are only really two essentials – and I only talk about essentials because clearly I am not a detail oriented individual and you should get started as soon as possible.
1- Have a blog
2- Come with cool business cards
These are the two essentials and you need them both otherwise you look like a bad school boy whose dog ate his homework. And by having those two, you miraculously are deemed “press”, so you get special access to the “PRESS area” which has crappy wifi that only works in one spot and even crappier coffee which you must pay for (and why would you bother after I told you about the Italian cappuccinos?). It does however put you into a smaller group that has an entirely different purpose for being at an event like this. Companies in general want PR, because advertising can be expensive as hell and getting others to write about you sounds a lot cooler and more naturale to people than blabbing to everyone just how cool you are. That is what Facebook is for.
So once you have these two essential things you are ready to go pimping. Really. Most of everything in life is salesmanship. You can have the sweetest blog in the world, but if you can’t sell yourself, you are as useful as a liberal arts degree. I have seen bloggers who have very little following, and haven’t even been blogging for more than a month who have been able to go on these sponsor trips. So be confident and slut away if that’s your aim. It doesn’t necessarily matter which event as well, it could be a WTM, a TBEX, a small European festival for small children that you were tricked to work at, there is a bevy of events/places that need publicly. But once you have a business card and a blog underway, you at least have a shred of street credibly that you are aren’t some wank who plays After Life all day.
Next you must identify the places you want to go and think long and hard about the target demographics you appeal to. For example, Tahiti, while I am sure is open to having bloggers come and talk about its marvelous wonders, probably isn’t interested in a travel blogger guy such as myself, since my readership is probably not honeymooners looking to buy a $20k vacation – are you? So this brings up an even better point in that before you start a travel blog, if you are doing it with the intent of making a business out of it (or sponsored trips), you should think about what kind of business and what kind of customers you want. If you want to go luxury, for example, then talking about which hostel is the cheapest to stay in doesn’t really make sense does it. These are obvious points and ones I won’t waste too much time on as there are probably zillion other blogs along with their grandma’s blog talking about such topical delights.
Once you are at the event, you should either do planning ahead of time (I don’t, much to my downfall and why I need a special gal pal) and set up meetings, or you can just rock up to a country and ask if they have a Public Relations (PR) person. I can’t stress this obvious point enough. My entire first day was spent dancing around like a monkey in awkward horrid conversations with every single person at a given stand because they weren’t the right person, all because I wasn’t asking the right question: Who is your PR person? Simple**.
Your next move once you are in front of the right person is simply get to the point and see if “they have any interest working with bloggers in the coming year”. I would say this versus “Do you have any sponsored trips coming up” because the latter makes you say like a cheap sod looking for free thrills, and no one likes a fast first date (lie). If they are keen on sending bloggers on sponsored trips exchange details, high-five or hug it out, and grab yourself an adult beverage and/or food at their countries booth for another 15 minutes since “you clearly aren’t some random mooch”.
And one last tip on the free sponsored trips, make sure to write down anything relevant that happened in the conversation on the person’s business card (ie, the country, as many countries are represented by a PR firm, and the card doesn’t say what specific country they represent). Beware, getting free sponsored trips sounds grand, but it does involve many tiresome hours on the road, working like a circus monkey, and being under the thumb of said trip giverer outter. Nothing in life is free, except the ketchup packets at McDonalds (minus in Europe, cheap socialist bastards). So get a grip on free-spree madness and get some real expecatations of what you are really getting and giving (just like any well-balanced relationship, so I have been told).
Oh yeah – and I forgot one minor detail – about having a cool blog with lots of followers so that you actually provide value in exchange for your free, sponsored trip. For that you will have to buy my ebook, “How to be an incredibly successful blogger who lives outside of his parent’s basement” – you fucking advice free loader.
** Note, I find that if you do get into one of these horrid conversations going nowhere and it is a bad fit, better to end it fast like a bad blind date to save you both time by simply cutting the thread quickly with “Hey do you have a card or anymore information…(maybe insert an appointment you must get to that you remember)” and give them your card. I only say give them your card on the off chance that this person is awkward and not the decision maker, and the country actually does have an interest in doing sponsored trips in the future, but they merely selected a person with Pee Wee Herman social skills as the front person.