The annual conference of the Travel Media Association of Canada was held in mid-June 2013 in Saskatoon. Half the members are travel journalists (media) and the others are from the travel industry who represent hotels, PR companies, tourist boards, and tour operators, etc. from around the world.
It was my first as a relatively new freelance travel writer/photographer, and as I had hoped, I learned much; some from breakout sessions, panels, etc. and a lot flowed from just talking to delegates.
The single most important reason to belong to TMAC and attend the conference is the Media Marketplace. This is speed-dating for the journalists and the industry reps and lasts two, half-days. I met about twenty-two reps for 15 minutes each and was a bit intimidated until I got the hang of it.
The whole point is to present yourself as the ideal journalist to assist their industry in getting their message out to travellers by writing about and photographing their destination so well that they are published in many markets. If the reps believe you can do the job, they'll host you to do so; and host you very well indeed on group press trips or solo trips.
I quickly learned that my focus on history and military subjects was in high demand; for example, for the 100th anniversary of WW1 and the 150th of Prince Edward Island in 2014. Just as in any writing, you have to brand yourself well and become the go-to person for industry and editors seeking your expertise.
Industry reps also want their media colleagues to be adept at social media. The platform of choice is Twitter, and media must have a reasonable following. We must tweet on the trips, follow and retweet our host's tweets to "spread the love." They also want us to take good photographs to illustrate our stories, and to offer short videos—text simply is not enough. (The attending editors confirmed that travel writers are expected to provide images and video to assist in generating revenue.)
I came away from the speed-dating section of the TMAC conference with the prospect of three solo press trips matched with assignments from magazines, print and online. I have more in the wings, but not so immediate. I have to follow-up regularly.
For the marketplace alone, TMAC's conference was worth the registration fee, but there's more to tell ....