Whether it’s for a full-on review for a major publication, or simply a three-line recommendation for where to stay in a particular destination; a savvy hotelier should learn how to best deal with journalist requests and visits. HotelREZ Hotels & Resorts spoke to three well-known travel writers to find out what is it they are looking for when writing about your hotel. Click below to download a practical checklist for hotel managers on handling media relations.
(Treat them) Just like any other guests
When asked what they are looking for when staying a hotel, the journalists were unanimous: it’s extremely important you treat them just like any other paying guest.
“As a travel writer reviewing a hotel, I am looking to have the same experience as a guest, so that I can get a true feel of what the place is really like,”
says Esme Fox, a Barcelona based travel writer and hotel reviewer.
Heidi-Fuller Love, a professional travel writer who visits as many as 140 luxury hotels per year agrees:
“A good hotel makes EVERYONE feel like their most valued guest.”
Stuart Forster, an award winning journalist and photographer who has worked with major publications, also reminds us that travel writers are pretty much just like any other business traveller. Particularly when it comes to their need for comfortable, secure and technology-enabled rooms:
“As a travel writer I enjoy staying in quiet, clean accommodation that has reliable Wi-Fi and at least a couple of power sockets.
(…) A well-lit desk with a comfortable seat enables me to get on with a couple of hours work at the beginning or end of a day, so that’s always good to have in a hotel when I’m travelling to get the low down on a destination. Feeling secure is important too. I don’t always want to schlep my laptop around with me.”
And, even though journalist visits are often complimentary (usually in exchange for some level of PR), an all to often mistake hoteliers make is expecting a great review just because the room isn’t paid for.
“When a hotel considers that ‘because it’s only a review visit’ (and this happens more than you think!), that they can give me just any old room and not bother to have me meet the hotel manager/owner or sample the food in their restaurant or some signature spa treatments, etc., they make a huge error. If I don’t sample the best of a hotel, how can I talk about it to my readers?”
(Make it) Pitch perfect
There’s no point pitching a city-centre hotel to a countryside focused publication, yet, hoteliers make this mistake more often than you think. You don’t have to pitch your hotel to every publication out there, just the right one, which can make all the difference.
“It’s very important the hotel fits in with the audience we are writing for. For example a luxury hotel website for older travellers will not feature a budget hotel preferred by young people,”
Esme Fox explains.
One great way to get a feel for a particular journalist you’re trying to pitch to, is not only reading their articles, but following them on twitter. Know what their topics are, what they like and don’t like, what they write the most about. And if any of their posts are relevant to your own hotel’s twitter feed, re-tweet them to your own following. It will certainly help when you’re pitching your hotel to them.
(Give them) An inside story
The golden rule of travel writing is to give readers something unique. An inside story. Think about your own hotel. What makes it interesting? What’s unique about it? What is it most people don’t know about it?
“One of the most important factors when deciding to write about a hotel for me is that the hotel has something unique about it. Either in design, restaurant or even the types of packages they offer,”
“As a reviewer of hotels I’m looking for something out of the ordinary to pique my interest and act as a hook to grab the attention of readers. That might be the décor, ambiance or location of a hotel – something that provides a wow factor,”
Stuart sums up. Heidi agrees:
“Whether the (hotel) owners run an orphanage, or the building was owned by royalty; they have amazingly eco-friendly policies or they are way off the beaten track. I want something that makes this hotel different from all the others.”
(Go) The ‘extra-mile’
Everyone agrees: there is nothing quite like outstanding service, when it comes to hospitality.
“I am (generally) looking for a hotel that offers a consistently good service, not just to the travel writer when they stay, but to all guests all the time,”
“While it’s unfair to compare the characteristics of a five-star hotel with a budget B&B; both should aspire for excellence in their respective categories and to be the best of their type in their particular location,”
“(Ultimately) I want great staff who love their work and make me feel happy to be in their hotel,”
A helping hand from HotelREZ
Be prepared next time your hotel receives a journalist/reviewer. Download our hotel manager’s checklist for handling media visits.
About the travel writers in this article
Heidi-Fuller Love is a professional travel writer and luxury hotel reviewer with a regular hotel/restaurant news review column for Good Things Magazine in the UK, and a monthly show for British Airways reporting live from the airline’s destinations around the world. She has also recently launched her own French travel website.
Stuart Forster is a professional photographer and travel writer, based in North-East England. He was recently named Journalist of the Year at the Holland Press Awards. His work has been published in magazines and newspapers around the world, including the Washington Post, the Guardian, Financial Times, and Sydney Morning Herald plus magazines such as National Geographic Traveller and Tatler. Stuart also has his own travel site (www.go-eat-do.com) and contributes with guest posts for other blogs, including the Huffington Post.
Esme Fox is a professional travel writer who has had work published in a variety of renowned travel magazines and websites including Food and Travel Magazine, British Airways’ High Life, Rough Guides and b.there magazine (Brussels Airlines’ in-flight magazine). Based in Barcelona, Spain, Esme so far travelled to over 50 countries, across six different continents.
Feature image by Serge Kij via Flickr
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