“Welcome to Canada’s Wonderland the roller coaster capital of Canada,” says our guide Matt, the PR manager at the park. “Are you guys ready to ride the Leviathan?”
Fifteen minutes later I was speeding towards the ground face first at 148 km/hr on the first ride of the day at Wonderland’s newest attraction. This was my first press trip.
If you’re wondering what a press trip is let me explain. For travel bloggers, press trips are experiences designed by destination marketing organizations (DMO’s), companies, and tourism boards.
Press trips are used to promote destinations or products by having bloggers experience destinations or use products then getting them to share it with their readers through written posts and social media updates.
After attending TBEX Toronto, tourism organizations in the Toronto region set bloggers up with experiences (press trips) in order to showcase their cities and attractions to promote tourism in the area.
Press trips are, from what I’d heard, jam packed with activities to ensure those participating will see as much as possible. This is done so that everyone gets a good idea of what things visitors can see at the destination while providing them with a variety of things to write about.
Our tour of Central Counties was not an exception to this rule. In fact our itinerary was super packed with awesome places and went something like this.
Day 1: lunch, hike at Albion Hills conservation area, visit Lego Land Discovery Centre (expensive), dinner, accommodation as Aloft Hotel in Vaughan Mills (reasonably priced and swanky as hell), then bed.
For a two-day itinerary this is a lot to do. For the average tourist visiting the area they’re probably going to do two of these attractions a day, and if they visit Canada’s Wonderland just one.
If you’re on a press trip with other bloggers they’re a great place for professional development. Although press trips like this one can be busy, they’re a place where bloggers can meet each other in person, collaborate, learn, and have fun.
On this particular trip I met a variety of travel bloggers from different niches within the industry. Some were luxury travel bloggers (Dream Travel Magazine), some were family bloggers (Trekaroo, Dude Mom, Kids on a Plane), others were travel/adventure bloggers (Going Nomadic, the Shameless Traveler, & Turnip Seeds Travel), and everyone had a lot to share.
On the trip, while we were driving and during meals, we were always talking. We talked about ourselves, our families, our travel experiences, and our websites.
When it came to professional development, these times were an open forum for us to share social media, blogging, and advertising practices. It was also place to make real connections and discuss future plans in an intimate and meaningful setting.
On most press trips individuals are expected to share their experiences via social media and blog posts. However, it’s important for you and the company you’re working with to establish these obligations before hand. This way everyone knows their expectations and what needs to be done.
Personally, I didn’t see a great fit between my website (what I write about) and what we experienced with Central Counties, although it was a lot of fun and I enjoyed sharing my experience via social media. I didn’t feel like the activities were a perfect fit for me to share with my readers through blog posts and photographs, which is why I geared my writing towards the press trip experience rather than the attractions.
For this particular press trip there were no expectations set before hand. From what I gathered, the trip was designed for bloggers to experience Central Counties and share it with their readers however they felt comfortable. For Central Counties, it was a great way to showcase some of their attractions to an international network of travel enthusiasts and their readers.
Of course, this is only one type of press trip, and each one will certainly be different. As a blogger, what’s important to remember is to research of the place you’re visiting and establish the expectations before hand.
If you’re alone on a press trip, try to meet companies half-way by suggesting things you’d like to do on the trip so that the itinerary will be better balanced. This will guarantee, that as a blogger, you’ll find the story you want to write about and the organizer can showcase their featured attractions.
There’s no perfect press trip, and from what I experienced I still have a lot to learn. For me, my tour of Central Counties, Ontario was a great way to meet and learn from different travel bloggers, check out some awesome attractions like Canada’s Wonderland and Oshawa’s treetop adventures, and gain a better perspective of press trips and how they work.
Until the next trip, happy travels!