I celebrated St. Patrick’s Day, and the anniversary of my first tattoo, on the roof of the Montage Beverly Hills. I chatted travel with a dozen luxury hotel managers from around the world for a media lunch. The media lunch (sometimes dinner) is just an opportunity to gather a bunch of writers and representatives for some kind of product in a room to discuss the product. The Orient Express (the product) has some amazing resorts around the world and was the host of this event.

On top of lively travel discussion with travel writers and hoteliers, I had a delicious meal and saw a short slide show presentation. Obviously, the point of the event was to make sure that the Orient Express was on the radar of every writer in attendance for at least those couple of hours. They do this with good food and wine and an occasional gift bag of promotional goodies. As a rule, media lunch hosts pull out all the stops. Attendance is one of the perks of travel writing.

However, while the rooftop views from fancy hotels and sumptuous dining are fine, I attend media lunches for other reasons, too. They are great opportunities to meet and develop relationships with travel pros and pr folks beyond email and newsletters. This is important. While I love writing about travel, I frequently depend on industry people to provide photos and accurate information when I am on a deadline, and these are the times I can get face time — the same reason I go to conventions.

Unfortunately, these events usually provide more people than time will allow. Here are a few steps I take to get the most out of an event.

Ask for introductions

The PR (public relations) firm or marketing department will know who is who at a crowded media lunch. I get a visual of who I should be speaking with before I introduce myself and ask for help to point out who’s who.

Prepare, and prepare to deliver, an “elevator pitch.”

An elevator pitch is a 30-second presentation about who you are, what you do and how you can help. It is important to have one for networking. Here is my pitch in a nutshell: “In The Know Traveler is an online travel magazine dedicated to international travel and cultural exchange. We present positive travel information about 130 countries worldwide using original articles, photos, videos, and travel news. For the record, I am ITKT’s editor and am passionate about travel. I would love to hear more about your company and what you want travelers to know.”

For the record, I always keep out the hyperbole; I prefer for my writing and websites to speak for themselves.

Always get a business card

I do use business cards for short notes and email addresses for a follow up communication. I suggest always following up just to say hello, if nothing else.

Don’t be afraid to get up and move around

For a seated lunch, most of my time will be next to the people I am eating with. However, I always give myself time to make the rounds from table to table, at least to get a business card and give the elevator pitch.

To get started and increase your chances of being invited to media lunches, I recommend writing, getting published and contacting pr firms in the field of your specialty.

Photo by Gina Found

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