After a sun-soaked week in gorgeous Greece, our director Fran and senior account manager Hannah have returned from hosting a six-day press trip with our client Domaine Porto Carras, the largest vineyard in Greece.
As part of a project co-funded by the European Union to promote the vineyard’s unique PDO Slopes of Meliton and PGI Sithonia, Cartwright was tasked with taking ten UK wine industry professionals on a tour of Thessaloniki, to discover more about the innovative production methods, history, and terroir from which the wine derives.
From the Assyrtiko and Malagouzia grape varieties, to Greek cuisine like the spanakopita and baklava, Hannah reflects on the extensive behind-the-scenes planning and preparation required, and the essential elements to consider ahead of hosting any international press trip as a PR agency.
Securing guests: planting the seed early
Given a press trip involves several days out of the office for your guests, it is important to begin distributing invitations several months in advance to allow attendees sufficient time to factor a trip into their schedules – which are often busier than usual over the summer months due to school holidays.
Some journalists are required to take annual leave for press trips, and with no shortage of opportunities landing in the inboxes of wine industry experts, ensuring you get in contact early is crucial to getting your trip firmly on their radar and the dates locked in.
To secure ten wine trade specialists for our trip, we were in communication with our guests as early as six months in advance.
Travel logistics and preparation
It’s no secret that the list of potential pitfalls with foreign travel is lengthy, but the more prepared you are, the easier it will be. Ready an arsenal of information a few weeks prior to your excursion for when your guests come to you with questions.
It’s worth thinking about…
- Timings – if your flights are early in the morning, is a hotel at a nearby airport required? What time will you aim to arrive at the airport and is there an obvious meeting point for your group at or near to the airport?
- Baggage – what is the allowance for large cases and hand luggage? If your guests are bringing large items such as a tripod or filming equipment, will they be required to pay extra?
- Travel agent and flight admissions – how early can you check-in and collect boarding passes for your guests?
- Tour agent – a local tour agent can make the world of difference, such as our exceptional hosts at Taste Halkidiki. Getting an itinerary upfront and helping to manage guest expectations and whereabouts must be managed well.
- Currency – what is the currency of your destination? Will you get cash out beforehand? What is the custom of the host country regarding tipping taxi drivers/hotel staff?
- Location – where are you based in relation to the nearest hospital, chemist, or supermarket? Will you be required to take taxis frequently on your trip?
- Emergency contacts – will you have a point of contact at the hotel or the transfer company if you are delayed? Do your guests have an emergency contact number they can provide?
- Interviews – will your attendees (especially editors) require time for interviews with senior team members or brand representatives? Or video assistance to gather B-roll footage?
- Check out time – when will you be required to check out of the hotel on departure day? Will guests be able to store luggage in a secure place if they would like to check out early?
The final and most important point to consider is how you will communicate the answers to the above questions with your guests prior to, and during your trip.
A WhatsApp group is the easiest and most universal way to send updates to your guests, so make sure you create this a week or so in advance to field any questions. Even if you don’t have the answer, making sure your guests feel able to come to you with any queries or issues will get you off to a good start.
A handpicked itinerary
Once you have your guests secured, the next thing to be mindful of is how you can make your itinerary work for the specific people and publications you have on board.
For example, do your guests have any dietary requirements that will impact restaurant selection? Are there are health issues, medical conditions, or disabilities you need to be aware of that must be considered regarding walking distances or accessibility? Do any of your guests observe a particular religion or faith and will activities be respectful to the blend of cultures brought together on your trip?
It is also worth thinking about your itinerary beyond just its focal point. Although our trip with Domaine Porto Carras was focused on taking in the history, celebrating the present and exploring the future of the wines being produced in the region, we were treated to both a gastronomy and heritage tour of Halkidiki. This also gave us time to visit landmarks like Mount Olympus and swim in the crystal-clear waters of Halkidiki’s Gallaria beach bar.
Crafting an itinerary with a varied range of activities – alongside enough downtime to re-energise after a busy day in the sun – is a hugely important aspect that can make or break your time away.
Harvesting delicious results
Having been treated to a five-star, all expenses paid trip, how do you broach the subject of content? As the primary reason for your visit, it is perfectly acceptable, if not expected, that you will engage with guests to get an understanding of what they hope to produce from the trip.
Following the social media and journalist profiles of each guest before you leave is key, and by quickly checking socials on a daily basis, you won’t miss a single Instagram story along the way.
Making sure each guest has the correct social media handles and hashtags of the client, your agency handles, and your personal account is a good way to bring content into the conversation early on.
Get in touch with our food and drink PR team
To learn more about how Cartwright can help you to host an international press trip to your country, contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Check out our food & drink section to find out more about how our experienced team can help your brand reach the right audience.
For more information about our programme with Domaine Porto Carras, please visit the Domaine Porto Carras Instagram, the PDO Slopes of Meliton, PGI Sithonia website and the PDO Slopes of Meliton – PGI Sithonia Facebook page.