Speed Dating Tourism Style @ Javits

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Picture it – hundreds of small tables staffed by representatives of destinations, hotels, attractions – from Australia to Rwanda and from Indianapolis to Florida, talking for only 15 minutes with travel media that ranged from seasoned journalists representing major online, print publications, television, and radio to travel writers and bloggers looking for stories that will populate their posts for the next few months. The event is akin to speed dating: you get 15 minutes to pitch the virtues of your destination/hotel/attraction and listen to the writer’s pitch and then move on to the next suitor.

International Media Marketplace, produced and directed by TravMedia is led by Nick Wayland, who has borrowed the speed dating format and introduced it to the travel industry suppliers, journalists, writers, and bloggers who are looking for what is new and news worthy.

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IMM statistics indicate that over 2500 international media and 1425 exhibiting companies have met through his network since 2013. All of this talking, meeting and greeting has resulted in over 50,000 one-on-one appointments between international media and travel/tourism brands across 15 IMM events.

The recent January program at Javits’ River Pavilion brought over 700 media, public relations representatives and exhibitors together to share information, ideas, and organize assignments.

TravMedia CEO, Nick Wayland, started International Media Marketplace in 1999. Wayland, a former travel editor, was looking for a more efficient way to research and report travel news and now TravMedia delivers information of interest to travel writers, travel public relations professionals, other industry leaders and trend setters who want to share information about destinations, events, conferences and other happenings in the travel and tourism space. The company operates in 10 countries and offers information exchange and contacts with over 40,0000 media and pubic relations members.

Important and Relevant

While some may think that writing/reporting on travel and tourism is not as relevant as writing about politics, banking, health or fitness, the reality is that travel journalism and travel writing is necessary because it offers a way for people to learn about other cultures in a “boots on the ground” format.

There is a difference between travel journalism, travel writing/ blogging. Unfortunately, on many occasions, everyone writing about travel is thrown, incorrectly, into the same pool.

Alexander von Humboldt (1769-1859). One of the 19th century’s most popular travel writers.

There is a Difference

Writing about travel is not a new phenomenon. For centuries, merchants developed trade routes and returned home with tales of different cultures, food, drink, religions, art and music, languages and behaviors. As word spread, new explorers were sent to validate the impressions and to learn more about the opportunities in faraway places with strange sounding names. Marco Polo, Christopher Columbus, Charles Darwin, Lewis and Clark all journaled what they saw on their adventures.

Travel writers are about sharing their experiences, frequently stating (and in some cases over-stating) their view of a destination, hotel, restaurant or festival they witnessed or experienced.  It may also include fictional elements and other literary license that would not be acceptable in traditional news media. The information is shared through online blogs, podcasts, self-published books and e-books. What is missing from those who self-publish, is control on what is fact, what is fiction, what is accurate and what is hyperbole. Because many of the electronically published stories or podcasts are not reviewed by publishers or a team of experts, there may be information that has not been fact checked and viewpoints may be skewed by personal incentives or relationships.

Of course, there is value in the information produced by travel writers. The information they share through online blogs, podcasts and self-published books may be just the inspiration a reader needs to get off the couch, cut the cord to the refrigerator, and set about traveling, even, in some cases, duplicating the experience they just read.

Travel journalism is aimed at travelers who want to fully understand the culture, and customs of the destination.  Travel journalists are required to follow the professional codes of journalism, accurately representing places and people.  Journalism has an investigative aspect to it. The reporter acknowledges a problem a country may face and presents different points of view that can help explain to a traveler why the country’s government or citizens might act a certain way. The journalist reminds readers that a foreign country is not just a fun, mystical place to visit, but a land with problems and possibilities, just like their own home country.

Meeting People. Beyond Facebook

At the end of the IMM day, the importance of writing or reporting about travel is that a myriad of stories about the world are being shared. Travel is a very social industry and travel meetings/ events frequently end over a glass of wine. Thanks to Visit California, the IMM day ended with a glass of wine from some of the many vineyards for which the state is recognized. California has over 3,782 wineries, leading the US. The runners – up are Washington (681), Oregon (599) and New York (320). California is the leading wine producing state in the US, making approximately 90 percent of American wine.

Mixing

The travel/tourism industry is very social and business meetings frequently end with a glass of wine and free-wheeling conversation. Fortunately for industry members, socializing is recognized as being as important as “pitch-time.”

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© Dr. Elinor Garely. This copyright article, including photos, may not be reproduced without written permission from the author.