What Travel Journalists Are Looking For in 2024

Okay, so we get that Q1 is pretty much over, but we’re about to drop some knowledge that might shake up your strategies. In January, our Travel PR team spent some days in the Big Apple, chit chatting with top-tier media to showcase our travel and tourism clients at TravMedia’s International Media Mission (IMM). Think speed dating, but for PR pros — without the cocktails and awkward pick-up lines. 

Day one of the two-day summit consisted of roundtable discussions and panel presentations from some of the industry’s leaders, discussing relevant trends for both DMOs and media. From AI to sustainability to FAM trips to podcasts, the day was filled with juicy conversations (and thankfully, lots of coffee). 

Here’s what journos are saying about the year ahead:

How AI is Effecting Journalists

  • With AI becoming journalists’ number one competitor, journalists want to offer more stories that provide a first-person narrative.

It’s no secret that journalists are seeing tougher times with January layoffs. At the same time, AI is becoming friendlier and friendlier, and more accessible to the industry. 

Because of these two factors, there’s a larger pool of freelance journalists pitching editors, and journalists are looking for one thing, and one thing only: stories that will get picked up. 

Unique travel stories (like the Mayo trail – yep, MAYO) and first-person experiences that AI can’t duplicate will be king in 2024, and likely years following. We all want the same thing: a flashy headline in a target publication. 

Press Trips: What Are They and Why They Are Important

  • It is near to impossible for journalists, especially freelancers, to offer a confirmed story prior to a press trip.

Press trips, also known as familiarization trips or FAMs, are part of the game. They aren’t just a tactic, but a necessary tool to bring powerful stories across the line. It’s the only way for a journalist to properly communicate an immersive message through first-person experiences, and it makes a difference in how the tale is told. 

Industry-wide, it’s no longer expected that journalists will have a confirmed story prior to a FAM trip. With the ever-changing landscape, it’s simply out of the journalist’s hands to confirm a story, when their editors and publishers hold the ultimate approval. In our humble opinion, we believe in relationships over transactions, and have faith that the journalists we work with will come through (and can tell you from experience they do). 

We recognize these trips require a big lift from destinations, and because of that, we will only ever recommend a hosted experience if we believe that it’s in the best interest of our Destination Marketing Organization or hotel clients.

“Green” Journalism and Sustainable Tourism

  • Journalists want destinations to show, not tell, how they are being sustainable.

Okay, before you roll your eyes, we know that sustainable tourism has been a very prominent travel trend for the last few years. Destinations and hotel properties continue to make waves in the sustainability realm.

However, it’s important to ensure these efforts don’t come off as greenwashing — making a product, policy, activity, etc. appear to be more environmentally friendly or less environmentally damaging than it really is. 

Journalists are looking for destinations and hotels that truly exemplify their sustainability efforts — they aren’t looking for hotels that are simply reusing bath towels. Some examples of true sustainability initiatives include eliminating single-use plastics on property, hosting beach or lake clean ups in the area, or maintaining a local lake-sourced cooling system which eliminates the use of electricity to cool water.

While travel trends are ever-changing, it’s our responsibility as PR professionals to provide writers with creative, relevant storylines tailored to their needs. By developing strong relationships and strategically sharing our brand’s key messages, we’re able to support media and bring powerful pieces across the line.

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