By Megan DeAngelo
Press and trade trips are an impactful tool to create personalized and authentic on-site experiences, allowing key audiences to immerse themselves in a new region and experience the land, people and culture. These trips are essential for continued growth and awareness by giving producers the chance to connect with guests and tell their story. Wineries and distilleries invest time and money as hosts, but a successful press or trade trip comes down to properly executed elements that are crucial to explore in advance.
Define The Objective Of The Visit
The first step is to decide on the goal of the trip. The objective of any trip is to gain interest, spread awareness and ultimately grow demand, but that will mean different things for each client. Is your client a high-end producer, looking for coverage in only the most elite beverage publications? Is the wine or spirit widely distributed across the US, which means you can target various outlets? Is the product available on and off premise? Is your client interested in expanding distribution? Once these items are defined, you can begin to curate your list.
Create A List Of Targeted Press And Trade
Just as it is a commitment on the end of your client, journalists/trade also put their lives on hold to take part in activities. When someone is on a trip, they are away from their job, family and life in general. At their core, press and trade trips serve as research and education. While a luxury for most people, it is important to keep in mind who is appropriate to invite and how exactly to do so. Freelance writers are strong options as their schedules tend to be more flexible, but they generally have to pitch the story angle to an editor so coverage is not always guaranteed. Full time staff writers for some publications cannot accept trips, while others can – with the possibility of hitting several syndicated outlets. As far as trade, many sommeliers and bartenders cannot take time away from the restaurant, while others have junior staff who can manage while they are away. Keep in mind, potential guests get pitched ALL the time. Make sure you are inviting people who have a direct interest in the winery/distillery; create an appropriate angle, present it carefully and discuss story options together. The bottom line: do your research.
Collaborate With Your Client To Create The Ideal Itinerary
Producers and distillers love to tell their story; history of the land, native grape varietals/materials, innovated techniques and so on. However, they are not always mindful of a schedule. On a wine trip, cellar visits are followed by vineyards tours, wine tastings and lengthy lunch and dinners – sounds awful, right?! But those days tend to be long, and filled with copious amounts of information. It is important to plan thoughtful and interesting activities keeping in mind the attention span of the guests. Find a balance between taking advantage of the time abroad, while giving time for guests to relax and decompress between events. They will deeply appreciate the effort and will be able to give their hosts the attention they deserve. Work with your client to include their products on the agenda, along with cultural elements as well. Give media and trade a sense of place so they can better tell the story or sell the product. Time of year is also crucial. Before sending invitations, consider weather, local happenings, industry events, holidays, etc.
Invite, Follow Up And Plan
Once you have decided who you are going to reach out to, decide how you want to approach each person. Research journalists, find past articles they have written and figure out what they are most interested in. Look up appropriate restaurants and the sommeliers/bartenders, read lists and strategize where your clients products could be included. Some press and trade require a formal invitation to gain interest, while others prefer a bulleted list of what is included and how the trip going to benefit them. Just as with product pitching, know your audience and act accordingly. One thing that is true across the board is that everyone is busy. Pitch the trip 3-6 months in advance to secure participation. This will not only show your guest that you have thought of them in advance, but also allows you to concentrate on other details as you get closer to the trip date. Share complete itineraries with confirmed attendees as early as possible. People want to know what they are signing up for before committing. Be organized. Collect travel information from each participant, book flights in advance, and coordinate travel plans. Connect with each participant on a regular basis and update them often as they trip is approaching. The more you prepare before departure, the smoother the journey will be.