Does what we do actually matter?
We’ve all been wondering this during lockdown, right? But, before I get too philosophical about things, let’s start with a tweet.
This week’s topic is inspired by this (in my opinion) bizarre take on a fam trip. The tweeter, a business travel agent, was angry that it was just journalists who got to go on TUI’s first fam trip since the beginning of lockdown.
It got me thinking: are we really just parasites as he describes? Does what we write even make a difference – to the readers and to the companies that sponsor these press trips?
As a freelancer, I rarely see feedback from readers (I never read the comments), and I don’t often learn how much interest in a place or experience my published articles really generate. Not knowing the impact my writing has means I probably undersell myself and our role as journalists in the media landscape a little bit.
So I thought it would be pertinent to find out just what happens after we’ve been on press trips, like TUI’s post-lockdown fam, and see whether we actually make any difference at all to the organisations that invest in us.
So, what’s the return on investment for a press trip?
As it turns out, it can be quite a lot for some. “We hosted a group press trip to Uzbekistan,” says Sophie Ibbotson of Maximum Exposure. “The same article was published in the Financial Times and The Week, and the fact box detailed a unique product, priced specifically for this coverage. The tour operator received more than a hundred enquiries directly from the coverage.”
Freelance travel writer, James Stewart, also shared his successes with us: “This piece I wrote for The Telegraph on Svalbard generated 10 bookings after it ran, then another four once it was syndicated in Australia.” Assuming that was 14 bookings by 14 couples, based on the price of the three-day cruise, that’s a return of around £28,000 in revenue for the operator.
Not everyone is so focused on cold hard cash, though. Debbie Walker at Drifters Waterway Holidays said they tend to just look at the quality of reporting and imagery used. And at Visit Windsor, it’s all about getting the word out: “It’s about raising awareness that this is a great overnight visit location. The staying is important and press visits help us counter perception that this is a half day or ‘one-trick pony’ destination.”
My guess is that’s what TUI was going for – an attempt to tell the world through the media that travel was back on. But who knows, they might’ve got some bookings off the back of it too.
So, to our disgruntled tweeter above, I say this: we might not actually sell the holidays ourselves, but our words and pictures can inspire people to invest thousands in their next trip.
And, in our current climate, there’s no doubt that the articles published after that TUI press trip will have bolstered consumer confidence – which is a good thing for the entire industry. Now it's just a shame the FCO and DfT can't get their sh*t together...