International Press Trips:
Planning a Customized Tour

By Roy Stevenson

Planning an international press trip starts with attending a media exchange event.  When you have access to large numbers of “regular” travel publications, it’s time to start attending these events.

In this article I use my 12-day press trip in SW Germany as an example.  It’s the simplest way to show the steps involved in organizing this kinds of dream press trip.

My starting point for this international press trip was attending the Visit Europe Media Exchange (VEMEX) event in Chicago.  This event is by invitation only and you must apply in advance. 

VEMEX matches up proven travel writers with national and regional tourism agencies looking to publicize their destinations.

While attending VEMEX, I hit it off nicely with the Visit Germany media representative.  I told him about some of my regular publications, and he was able to suggest many attractions in S.W. Germany that were a good match.

After the conference I rounded up numerous paying print assignments for:  Stuttgart, Baden Baden, Baiersbron (Black Forest), Alpirsbach, Heidelberg, Aschaffenberg, Seligenstadt, Koblenz, Wiesbaden, Erfurt and Berlin.

Armed with confirmed assignments, I contacted the tourist offices in SW Germany and requested assistance with travel.

My 12-day international press trip took place the summer following after the VEMEX event.  Yes, there’s a lot of planning that goes into this and it takes time!  First there's the planning, then pitching and getting assignments, and finally linking up with the tourist offices.

The German National Tourist Office (GMTO) designed and coordinated my itinerary.  The S.W. Germany Tourist Board, Visit Berlin, and the Historic Highlights of Germany organization also sponsored it.

My 12 day press trip unfolded with clockwork precision. Not one hitch!  German tourism promotion groups are very well organized.

7 steps for organizing an international press trip

Day-By-Day Itinerary For This Memorable SW Germany International Press Trip

July 7: Sunday
Morning: Train from Paris to Stuttgart
12pm: Tour Mercedes Benz Museum
Guided City tour of Stuttgart
Overnight stay: Hotel Abalon, Stuttgart

July 8: Monday
Tour of Stuttgart historical & heritage sights
Train transfer to Baden Baden
Overnight stay: Hotel Belle Epoque, Baden Baden

July 9: Tuesday
Guided City Tour of Baden Baden & Spas
Afternoon: Rental car to Sasbachwalden (Black Forest)
Overnight stay: Luxury Hotel Bareiss, Baiersbronn

July 10: Wednesday
Program in the Black Forest with personal guide (day hiking, sightseeing, beer tasting, spa treatment, fine dining)
Rental car to Heidelberg (Historic City)
Guided City Tour of Heidelberg
Kulturbrauerei Heidelberg in Old Town.
Overnight stay: Heidelberg

July 11: Thursday
Visit Stift Neuberg Brewery in Heidelberg monastery
Finish sightseeing tour with guide
Train transfer to Aschaffenberg
Overnight stay: Wilder Mann, Aschaffenberg

July 12: Friday
Aschaffenberg & Seligenstadt (Partners in Frankfurt region)
Aschaffenburg-Renaissance Castle on the Rhine.
Tour of Seligenstadt (Glaabs Brewery). Long tradition of brewing. Town with views of the Rhine. Loved this place!
Train transfer to Koblenz
Overnight stay: Koblenz

July 13: Saturday
Wiesbaden tour (Historic City & partner in Frankfurt region)
Wiesbaden & Baden Baden Spas. Wiesbaden is an upscale spa city with castle.
Overnight stay: Wiesbaden

July 14: Sunday
Train transfer to Koblenz
Koblenz (Historic City)
Citadel & Historic city tour
Train transfer to Erfurt
Overnight stay: Erfurt

July 15-17   Monday-Wednesday
Train transfer to Berlin
Three days touring various attractions for several assignments including 3rd Reich Berlin assignment, Karlshorst surrender museum, Communications museum, Roundup stories, Beer & breweries.
Overnight stay: Winters Hotel Berlin The Wall at Checkpoint Charlie, Berlin

Additional details about this international press trip:

All costs were covered for this 12 day trip: transportation, accommodation, meals, private tours, and entry to attractions.

My press packet held my train tickets along with detailed instructions about when and where to catch my trains or pick up my rental car.  It was VIP treatment all the way.

A personal tour guide met me at each destination.  The guide was at the train station holding a sign with my name.  He or she then escorted me to my hotel and took care of getting me registered.

Then, for several hours we’d tour the town’s highlights.  Each evening the guide accompanied me to a local restaurant.  After dinner on some nights we watched cultural events like the huge outdoor opera in Erfurt. 

Some hotels were high-end luxury travel accommodations like Stuttgart’s Hotel Abalon, Baden Baden’s Hotel Belle Epoque, and Baiersbronn’s Hotel Bareiss.  My gorgeous room in Hotel Abalon could have accommodated three families — it was enormous!

7-Step Process for Organizing an International Press Trip

To review, here are the steps to planning and organizing an international press trip such as this one in SW Germany:

  1. Attend travel media events such as VEMEX when you’ve got access to a good variety of publications
  2. At the media event link up with tourist reps who are a good match for your outlets
  3. Pitch story ideas for the places you discussed with tourist contacts
  4. Obtain confirmed assignments
  5. Request travel assistance once assignments are confirmed
  6. Take the trip
  7. Write the travel stories and send copies of publications to tourist contacts

That’s it!  Just follow these steps and you’ll be on your way with your own customized international press trip.

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Roy Stevenson sitting in front of his computer.

Roy Stevenson is a professional travel writer and the author of  Over the past ten years, he’s had more than 1000 articles published in 200 magazines, trade and specialty journals, in-flights, on-boards, blogs and websites and has traveled on assignment around the U.S. and to dozens of international destinations.