So you want to host a travel journalist

Travel journalists, more than ever these days, come in all shapes and sizes. We have our share of prima donnas, snobs and princes/princesses, but the majority of genuine travel journalists just want to get the job done responsibility and respectfully.

The new wave of social media practitioners means that there is an even wider range of skill sets, personalities and experience all requiring their own considerations for PR hosts.

The Australian Society of Travel Writers, where I was a member for more than a decade, issued its own guidelines for PRs wishing to host media. Republished below.

If you have your own observations or advice, we'd love to hear from you. Please comment below.

Related story: PR and Media Survey


It is common and established practice for travel journalists to accept transportation, accommodation and other travel-related services or products free of charge, or at subsidised levels, which allows them to research destinations and experiences for their work.

It is also common and established practice for providers of travel and travel-related goods and services –airlines, tourism organisations, cruise lines, car hire companies, accommodation providers, tour operators, destination providers and so on – to offer their products free-of-charge or at a subsidised rate, for the purposes of gaining editorial exposure.

In order for both travel journalists and travel providers to maintain professional and ethical standards, the ASTW has produced the following guidelines for both parties. These guidelines are not legally enforceable, but they are prepared in good faith in order that travel journalists and travel providers clearly understand each other’s expectations.

From the perspective of travel journalists, hosting does not mean hiring. Journalists must always retain their independence and integrity. What hosting does mean is fair representation of the destination or product experienced and meaningful acknowledgement of the support provided.

From the perspective of travel suppliers, provision of free-of-charge or subsidised travel products or services is an investment in promotion, and the result must (within reason) reflect this investment. The provider must be acknowledged in a meaningful and realistic way, and the product or service provided must be represented fairly.

It is to be hoped that these guidelines encourage an atmosphere in which journalists can perform their duties without onerous demands from providers, and providers can be assured that their investment in media travel will be respected by journalists through fair, accurate and prominent representation.


To ensure that an investment in media travel results in fair and reasonable coverage, a provider of travel or travel-related services needs to understand the publication or program for whom support is being provided, and preferably the individual being hosted.

For the best outcome, it is requested that the hosting organisation provides the following:
  • A detailed itinerary, specifying all travel, accommodation and activity arrangements for the travel journalist, plus contact details throughout the journey
  • Clear advice on what is included in the travel arrangements and what must be paid for by the journalist – such as airport taxes, alcoholic drinks and WiFi costs
  • Confirmed air travel on all sectors, to ensure that the journalist is able to reach all planned locations. It is requested that standby or subload flights not be used for media travel
  • Confirmed accommodation, preferably with a separate room for each travel journalist. Shared facilities can be intrusive, particularly when travelling journalists don’t know each other and/or need to file stories en route
  • Professional meet-and-greet services on arrival at the destination’s airport. This is a simple courtesy which enables journalists to move quickly to their next engagement and, where applicable, meet their hosts
  • Itineraries developed for mutual benefit. That is, to accommodate the specific interests of the visiting journalist(s) while maximising exposure for the product or service the host is seeking to promote
  • Some free time so that visiting journalists can rest between engagements, explore a destination independently and/or have an opportunity to transcribe notes, write reports or use social media. Crammed itineraries can be tiring, and ultimately unproductive, if the journalist is allowed insufficient time to explore a destination independently.
  • Where possible it is requested that hosting organisations minimise the number of participating partners in media familiarisation visits, as it is often difficult to ensure that every sponsor is acknowledged in future reports.

Media hosts also are requested to make themselves aware of the various outlets of proposed freelance participants and, where possible, avoid inviting ‘competing’ writers to join the same trip.


Assistance provided to journalists by travel industry companies is not a donation – it is a business investment upon which a reasonable return is expected.

The ASTW acknowledges that without the financial assistance of travel sponsors, many members would not be able to travel.

In addition, the ASTW believes that where travel assistance is provided for a journalist, it is incumbent upon the journalist to respect the terms of that support, initially through the courtesy of attending events or appointments arranged by the host.

The ASTW asks that its journalist members demonstrate professionalism at all times by:
  • Where possible, meeting with the host prior to a trip and ensuring that there is a clear understanding of each other’s expectations – in particular the acknowledgement requested by sponsors
  • Not placing unreasonable demands upon hosts – such as by making late changes to itineraries, or requesting upgrades on flights, travel deals for friends or family members, or additional accommodation nights
  • Minimising changes to flight schedules, particularly international flights where changes can incur a penalty
  • Dressing neatly for hosted flights, events and meetings with sponsors
  • Not disclosing to other passengers any details of free-of-charge or subsidised travel. While not a widespread problem, such disclosures have occurred and can anger fare-paying travellers, particularly in premium cabins. Please use discretion when travelling on a hosted trip
  • Behaving in a responsible manner aboard sponsored flights, and at sponsored events, specifically in relation to the consumption of alcohol, volume of conversation and appropriate language
  • Attending, and being punctual for, all scheduled meetings and activities arranged by hosts, and partners who are contributing to the journalist’s visit
  • Checking out of hotels on time and checking in at airports well ahead of flight departure times
  • Ensuring payment of personal costs – such as for WiFi, mini bar snacks and telephone calls.
  • After a hosted trip, journalists should follow-up with a letter, email or phone call to thank the organiser and provide copies (hard copies, PDF files, links, etc) of work resulting from the sponsored trip as soon as possible after publication/broadcast.


The bottom line when travelling is respect – in the case of hosted travel, this means respect for the hosts, for the journalists, for the destinations, and for the travel industry itself. The ASTW hopes that these guidelines promote goodwill and strong and harmonious relationships between travel journalists and their hosts.

What the Top Ten overused travel cliches really mean

If you ask me, travel writing is supposed to be informative and entertaining. You either read it for a bit of fun and maybe a giggle, or for serious research into your next holiday that you've scrimped and saved for all year. It doesn't help if every place you read about is described by the same dull and repetitious words. Chances are the place is as equally dull and unremarkable.

If you're a travel writer, copywriter or public relations scribe, then you are forever dipping into the lexicon of adjectives and adverbs trying to find a new twist on an old subject. Trotting out the same old tripe is not going to impress anyone anymore.

Here are some of the most popular and overused cliches in the travel writing business and what they probably really mean. I've included some real life examples for your entertainment. Why change the names? They wrote it.

Luxury - we make the beds and do the cooking.

Luxury and 'luxurious' are constantly changing and relative terms. It means a level of service or experience beyond what you might expect at home or in your day-to-day living. More recently it has come to denote less tangible qualities like location or superlative service. Just because you say it's luxury doesn't make it so. How do you describe 'luxury' to a prince/princess or head-of-state? Bling and lapdogs don't equal luxury, sorry Paris Hilton. If you insist on using this word, make it relevant and meaningful, if you can.

Unique - different from the hotel across the road

If you want to drive your editor insane, use this word lots. Because of frequent misuse by lazy writers, 'unique' has lost its true meaning. If you want to get really finicky, everything down to molecular level is 'unique', so it's hardly a useful word to describe anything anymore. Do you mean 'exceptional', 'outstanding' or 'without equal'? Then say so. And 'unique' does not exist in degrees. Either it is, or it isn't. 'Most unique' or (cringe) 'almost unique' will ensure your submission is the last one an editor will ever read from you.

Best kept secret nestled uniquely in verdant paradise

Nestled - the builders are finished and you can check-in

A resort or hotel sits on a parcel of land, or in some cases, over water or perched on a cliff. Just because there's uncleared jungle out the back or it's up against a canyon doesn't make it 'nestled'. You might think it sounds cool and hip to 'nestle' something, but it just shows you are lost for words, grasping at straws or scraping the bottom of the barrel. Get it?

Pristine - there is garbage collection and someone sweeps the street

If I read this word, it instantly makes me (and many readers) think you have never seen pristine, ever. Anything touched by the hand of man instantly loses any quality of pristine. To describe a holiday resort (next to another resort) on a 'pristine' beach not only insults the word and your readers' intelligence, it advertises your ignorance. The Moon was pristine until some blokes left footprints and space junk all over the place.

Did I forget to mention 'lush and exotic'?

Hidden Gem - people stopped coming and we need the business

You found it, so it wasn't very well hidden was it? And if the clue in the brochure or guidebook calls it a 'hidden gem', then forget it. Even though your new-found boutique hotel might be 'out of the way', 'off the beaten path' or just at the end of the main drag, doesn't mean it's a hidden gem. Either way, as soon as the ink hits the paper, it's found.

Paradise - is a place where the ATMs work, the taxis are cheap and you can get a massage and/or cocktail for under $10

Seriously folks, have you ever been to paradise? If so, then you should be writing near-death experiences, not travel. Like Shangri-La or Nirvana, 'paradise' is an aspirational term that ceases to exist as soon as it's found. In my mind at least, true paradise won't ever be in a travel brochure, it's at the end of the white light.

Must-do / Must-See - Take my word for it, I'm a famous travel writer

Says who? Don't be so bossy. It's entirely possible that your reader may not want to see the world's largest tadpole feces or climb the 1000 steps to the souvenir stall at the top. Make a confident suggestion by all means, back-up your assertion too, but make it an order? No thanks. That's arrogant.

Iconic - a cross between eyesore and tourist trap

I liked this word once, but now it gets slapped on every piece of mundane architecture from gas stations to Big Bananas. You might get away with calling the Empire State Building or the Eiffel Tower 'iconic', but you can bet Ballina to a buck, it's been done by every two-bob copywriter and travel hack before you. Want to impress your editor? Then use this word very sparingly.

Exotic - someone or something you've never met before

Oh, you don't say? So you went all 'exotic' and tried the Thai restaurant instead of McDonalds? I often wonder if some writers would know 'exotic' if it slapped them in the face. Do you really mean 'alien' or 'unfamiliar'? Then say so. 'Exotic' is another way of saying 'I have no idea what to call this thing'. As soon as you get off the plane, it becomes 'exotic'. Surprise your readers , or your editor, with something original.

Breathtaking - you climbed a flight of stairs with all your luggage because the lift was broken

If you've just done the world's biggest bungy-jump or skydived from 10,000 feet, then okay. But if you just got out of a gondola with 20 people to see the valley, then it's more likely to be the fat German who farted bratwurst that took your breath away than the view. Save this one up for something really gob-smacking.

More fun reading:

Downloading High Resolution Images from Flickr

In order for this process to work successfully, this presumes you have been granted permission by the Flickr account owner to access the high res images.

Click any of the images below to enlarge.

Fig 1: Select the image you want to download.

Fig 2: Click this icon in the corner and you will see the available sizes, including original.

Fig.3: So long as you can see the 'Original', go ahead and download from this menu. No need to progress to Fig.4

Fig 4: Check out all the different sizes and pick the one you want.

Sending images and graphic files across the Internet - how to get it right.

Holy jumpin' JPEGs Batman!

Anyone who has tried to get or send images has faced this dilemma.

What file type is best?

What's the difference anyway? Tiff, Gif, Biff! who cares?

Truth is, there is a world of difference in the various file types and no quicker way to send an editor into a psychotic fury than give him or her the wrong one on deadline.

Here's a quick-and-dirty rundown of the most common image file types and where it's best to use them.


This clever image show a progressive
scale of compression from L>R
Named after the Joint Photographic Experts Group who created this standard of photographic computer file which first appeared on computers back in the early '90s.

It's really clever because when you create the file (either in the camera or with computer software) you can specify how much compression (quality) you think you need. On a scale of 1-100, 100 being virtually no compression and super quality.

JPEGs (.jpg or .jpeg) files travel really well over email and file transfer. You can have really big images (in pixel dimensions) travel in fairly lightweight files, so if you are sending images with your press release or story, JPEGs are by far the preferred standard.

Compression requires compromise, meaning that you are trading some level of image quality for economy. You can get away with lesser quality for screen (online) publication than print, but with the new High Definition LCD screens in devices like iPads, this gap is closing.

The whizbang software compresses areas of like colour or tone. So, an image of one solid colour will compress to almost nothing, while one with lots of fine detail will not compress as readily. This is why comparing file size (in kBs or MBs) to image size (in pixels) can be confusing.


The Tagged Image File Format (.tif or .tiff) is a useful file still preferred by graphic artists and designers using Adobe products for desktop publishing. It can store lots of different types of data besides just the image.

As a rule-of-thumb, unless you know you are sending your image or graphic to an experienced graphic designer or layout artist, a TIFF is overkill and likely to frustrate a regular publisher, especially an online publisher or blogger as TIFFs cannot be displayed on many common browsers.


A PNG image
The Portable Network Graphics file is a newer file format designed mainly to replace the clumsy old GIF that has been around since 1987.

Although PNG can be used reasonably well with images, it is better suited to net graphics and digital art. 

Logos, for example, come up well with PNG because you don't get those blurry 'jaggies' that can appear when JPEGs get passed around a lot - and your corporate colours are more accurate.


Closeup of JPG (L) and GIF (R)
click to enlarge
The Graphics Interchange Format is older type of image and graphic file now largely redundant and superseded by more useful and efficient types, like PNG. While it still has some uses, like basic animation, there is almost no need for this file type anymore as the image quality is poor.


The Portable Document Format is just that, a format for documents.

The most common and appropriate use for this file type is for the distribution of printed information like ... documents. It's clever because you can embed fonts and graphics and when passed around and around on the Internet, the layout always stays the same (when set up correctly in the first place).

Public relations folks like to include PDFs as press releases so they and their clients can see how neat and pretty it is, but many journalists dislike this format because if they are cut-and-pasting quotes or portions of the information, it can be difficult to work with.

While it is possible to send images as PDFs - and some people do - it is likely to cause frustration to the receiver as they need to extract and convert the image to use it and more often then not, they will mess this process up and get really cranky.


There are many other file types used for online purposes, but their application is specialised and limited. Unless you have a very good reason, you can ignore and avoid these ones for online purposes.

BMP - Bitmap files

RAW - These come with lots of file extensions like .crw .cr2 .ari

EPS - Encapsulated PostScript

PICT - Classic Macintosh QuickDraw file

Roderick Eime has been working with computer graphics and imaging for more than 20 years. He taught photojournalism at Charles Sturt University in the early '90s when digital photography and the World Wide Web were in their infancy.

He is now an award-winning travel writer and photographer.

In search of the world's last pristine seas

Still excited after just returning from three weeks aboard the newly-refitted National Geographic Orion travelling into the remote South Pacific in search of the last remaining pristine reefs on the planet.

In 2009, a small group of National Geographic researchers and scientists headed to the Southern Line Islands of Kiribati to investigate what was reputed to be the last truly pristine reefs left in the world.

Marine ecologist and National Geographic Fellow Enric Sala called the reefs of the southern Line Islands Shark Eden.

"They may be the most pristine coral reefs left on the planet," he said.

The result was the acclaimed video documentary "Shark Eden"

I was fortunate to be invited by Lindblad Expeditions National Geographic to travel with them on the first commercial voyage to the region to see this submarine wonderland for myself and I can tell you I will never look at another reef the same again.

The voyage began in Fiji and culminated in Tahiti and also included numerous stops including Taveuni, Tonga, Samoa, the seldom-visited Northern Cook Islands and the Tuamotus of French Polynesia.

PR and Media Survey - You must read this

If you are a Public Relations person communicating with the media (travel and lifestyle in particular) then the results of this survey might startle you. See what your media pals are saying about you and the way you communicate. Are you turning them on or turning them off?

If you're a journalist and would like to contribute to the 2015 survey, the bi-annual PitchIt2Me media survey targets hundreds of international journalists, asking them what does and doesn’t turn them on professionally.

2014: another 'Annus Horribilis'?

Was 2014 an unusual year for last goodbyes? So many close friends and colleagues lost loved ones too. (Image CNN)

It's that time of year again when many us get all introspective and philosophical.

When I pontificated about 2013 this time last year, it was with some optimism about the year ahead. But now, 12 months later, I think I got off lightly.

Apart from a bit of a health scare for me mid-year and one for my daughter when her appendix went postal in January, 2014 was comparatively uneventful when I consider all the other events both private and public that made last year one to forget.

So many close friends and colleagues had to dig deep into their emotional resources just to get through. Parents, loved ones, spouses and dear friends were all called up to the great beyond in a year that one is tempted to repeat Her Majesty's 1992 phrase: 'Annus Horribilis'.

Will MH370 families ever get closure? (China Daily)

We can't possibly imagine what those close to events like MH370, MH17, TNA222 and now QZ8501 are going through. With 18 major events in all, 2014 was not a great year for aviation. Even as I write this news of another fatal accident involving an acquaintance hits the headlines.

Unpredictable events aside, I imagine my 2015 will progress more or less like any other with travel, deadlines and a few jolly catch-ups. I hope to get a few languishing projects off the ground and I am looking forward to some travel with family and my darling daughter’s graduation in April.

To my dear friends and family, I trust you make the most of every opportunity and not squander the time we have here on Earth. Live, love and be kind, you never know what the future holds.

Look who's talking

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