News & Views

Four Conventions You Never Thought To Chase

In the world of meetings – there’s one type of meeting that often mystifies traditional DMO convention sales professionals – the journalist/influencer convention. Yet organizations such as the Society of America Travel Writers or the North American Travel Journalists Association offer destinations the prime opportunity to showcase its best stories to writers and public relations influencers who are well connected in their own right to potential travelers.

Like any convention – journalist conventions provide destinations with traditional economic impact for rooms booked, meals eaten and goods purchased along the way. However, unlike a traditional meetings group – journalist groups have the additional value of augmenting consumer perception of the destination by through the stories they tell before, during and after their visit.

Here are four lesser-known journalist and influencer conventions DMOs should consider hosting if they are serious about generating awareness and changing public perception among key target audiences.

Untitled design (4)Beer Bloggers & Writers Conference: Want to profile your community’s burgeoning beer scene? Consider hosting the America conference which brings together an estimated 75-180 beer bloggers and writers annually. This year’s host is Asheville, North Carolina – with a pre-conference excursion to Raleigh, North Carolina. Bids are currently being accepted for 2017. To win, Zephyr Adventures seek host destinations who can provide a hotel that will meet the group’s unique needs – specifically bringing in its own beer – secure sponsors for two conference dinners and offer-up top-notch key-note speakers.

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TMS Family Travel Conference: The largest convocation of writers, bloggers and influencers in the fast-growing family travel market, this conference brings together more than 30 bloggers annually for professional development and exploration in the local community. When family-friendly Carlsbad, California – a small coastal community in North San Diego – hosted the group, the conference propelled the destination to trend on Twitter for the first time ever with an estimated 89 million impressions. This October TMS Family Travel Conference will take on Kansas City, MO, and the conference is seeking bids for a 2016 host destination. The winning bidder is always a CVB which has partnered closely with a hotel property to tell the destination’s story. As organizer Joanne Vero says, “I do not believe in the cookie cutter approach. I love it when I hear (delegates say) “Why are we going there?” And then once I take them, I love hearing “I can’t wait to come back!”

Untitled design (2)National Association of Black Journalists: This year marks the 40th Annual Convention, where three thousand journalists will join in Minneapolis – and next year in Washington, DC – for professional development and networking. With 80 percent of their membership located within the U.S., cities with an interest in wooing African American travelers will benefit from exposing the group to innovative city tours and unique off-site venues. Many of the organization’s freelance attendees eventually file stories which feature the host destination. Board members tend to recommend their own cities as the host, so identifying board member liaisons is a good method of increasing your city’s chances to host. The next available year to host this established group is 2019 and that decision will be made in Spring 2016.

Untitled design (3)Public Relations Society of America, Travel & Tourism Section: As if the 35+ top-tier national travel and lifestyle media this organization hosts as speakers isn’t enough – imagine a room of more than 250 publicists who spend at least eight hours a day speaking to journalists, consumers, family and friends about travel. Each destination which hosts the conference has the opportunity to show the journalists speaking at the conference around town – while PR delegates themselves experience the best the destination has to offer during city tours and special receptions at interesting attractions throughout the conference. The annual conference prefers to rotate throughout the country to ensure the needs of its national membership are met. This year’s conference was hosted in Lexington, KY with Houston, TX on the radar screen for 2016. The 2017 convention is currently seeking a host destination.

Have experience and success in hosting other writer and blogger groups?  Tweet us your ideas @aboutdci.

Written By

Karyl Leigh Barnes

Karyl Leigh Barnes is President of DCI’s Tourism Practice. Since joining the firm in 1998, Karyl Leigh has led destination strategy and created marketing communication programs for destinations on every continent except Antarctica.

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