Getting sponsorship for travel
If you want to make money as a travel writer, being hosted or going on a famil (where you get to stay, travel or experience activities for free) is almost a necessity. Writing compelling requests to tourism bodies, PR agencies or other operators to ask for hosting is crucial.
So how do you make a sponsorship request?
Getting sponsorship for travel
If you have an idea for a travel story but need support to get there or assistance once you've arrived, it's worth gauging how likely it is that you'll get hosted before you pitch to a publication.
Requesting sponsorship or hosting is different from going on a press trip, when you're likely to be with a group of other journalists, writers, bloggers and photographers and you'll all follow the same itinerary (usually jam-packed full of activities and experiences). I like to do my own thing and set my own agenda - it usually means more work, but more flexibility in the long run.
If I’m travelling interstate or overseas I usually send an email to the tourism body, but if I’m only after accommodation or on-ground support, I tend to contact the appropriate PR agency or the hotel directly.
Sponsorship letter sample
The sample email below is the template I use when requesting to be hosted. As you can see, it’s pretty flexible and you can change it as you need to, but it has everything a travel writer needs to include to ensure that your request is looked upon in a favourable light.
Dear tourism body/PR agency/tourism operator,
My name is Lindy Alexander and I am a freelance food and travel writer based in Australia.
I am looking to travel to [location] in [month/year] to write an article about [topic/angle].
My work has been published widely in [name of magazines, newspapers or websites] and I write regularly for [publication names].
Once I’ve arrived in [destination] I would be keen to stay for [number of days] and [add in which activities you’d like to do, hotels you’d like to stay at, restaurants that you’d like to eat at and so on].
I anticipate placing a story about X [give the specific angle of at least one article you’re planning on pitching] for X publication [circulation XX].
To put this story together, I am looking for hosting in terms of [list what you need such as airfare, hotel accommodation, admission, access to particular people to interview and meals].
Would you be able to let me know whether this fits within your current focus and hosting capabilities?
If so, I look forward to any suggestions you may have on making this story great or any new experiences that are on offer in [location].
Samples of my work are available here: link to portfolio
I look forward to hearing from you and working together,
But what if you’re not sure you can place a story with a particular publication?
You can always say something like:
I would be looking to secure commissions from either X magazine [add a brief description and website, e.g. “Australia’s premier food and travel magazine with a readership in excess of 700,000], X magazine [description and website] or X magazine [description and web address].
I look forward to hearing whether you think these publications are of interest and whether you may be able to host me if I secured a commission with one of these magazines.
My results using this email
So far, I’ve had only positive responses to these requests. At the very least, most operators will come back and say they are happy to host me provided I can secure a commission with at least one of the publications mentioned. I know some writers are happy to go on trips without having a firm commission, but I like to have a definite commission from at least one publication before I accept any offer of hosting or sponsorship.
Sometimes the organisation or agency offering the hosting wants to know more information (such as the particular angle of the piece or if a piece is commissioned then when it may be published or, and this is particularly the case for tourism bodies, if I can get additional stories published from the one trip).
There is definitely an art to pitching tourism boards in order to get sponsorship for travel, but I've found that if I have a publishing history with a particular magazine or newspaper or if I can clearly identify a niche I write about , then I'm much more likely to get a yes to my proposal.
· Check that the tourism board/PR agency/tourism operator are happy to host you before you pitch to an editor
· Tourism boards have to consider a number of factors such as availability of finances and their particular focus for the year/season (e.g. themes or events or destinations they want to highlight) before they will host freelance writers
· If you have a strong social media following it can also be worth mentioning that you’re also looking forward to sharing information about the destination with your followers
· If you can access them, it’s always worth adding in publication circulation numbers
READER TIP: Travel and lifestyle writer Jennifer Morton adds: "One thing I would add (that worked for me) is to put a call-out on TravMedia. I had a commission so I asked for hosting (ground support only) in a general call-out and got a free night's accommodation, a walking tour of the city and a few good contacts in return."
Have you gone on many famils or hosted trips? Would you add anything to the request above?