One of the most exciting and rewarding parts of working in travel PR is organizing and attending media trips. To familiarize journalists with their destination, hotel or cruise line, clients will embrace the opportunity to bring a group of writers on a press trip to expose them to their product. It will save clients time and resources to host a group trip over a pre-determined weekend instead of filling up their calendar with individual media visits and going through the same pitch over and over again. And while there are many benefits of hosting a press trip, there are many moving parts—it can seem like you’re spinning plates! Keeping in mind the following tips before you organize your next press trip will ensure that your clients are happy, the journalists are taken care of, and you, the PR representative, will ensure the trip runs smoothly from start to finish.

1. Find the Right Mix of Journalists or Influencers

When you schedule a press trip one of the first questions will be: who should we invite? Often the most desirable journalists for press trips are the ones who have the most experience. They are familiar with going on media trips at least once a month and are the most prepared for the unexpected bumps in the road that you may encounter. It’s important to consult your agency’s records and see who has experienced press trips for your company in the past and been a pleasure to work with. You will feel better knowing that a writer has been trusted by your agency before and has produced good work on a past trip.

If your client is open to working with social media influencers, it is best not to mix them with traditional journalists. Influencers focus on capturing images while journalists focus on capturing a story, hence they are seeking different end goals. It’s best to stick to one group or the other and present the client with the deliverables expected from each attendee in advance.

2. Stay Extremely Organized with Travel Plans

A lot of people don’t realize that when you organize a press trip you are acting as a de facto travel agent. You will often have to be in charge of buying plane tickets, reserving rental cars or booking hotel rooms for the journalists on your press trip. It can be stressful to organize travel plans for a group of people coming from all different directions to see your client.  It is not an exaggeration to say that for some PR people, one of our worst nightmares is getting a frantic call from a journalist at an airport whose flight was booked for the wrong day. This is why you can never be too organized for your next press trip.

Make a document with everybody’s flight numbers, arrival and departure times and cell phone numbers and give them to the appropriate people on your account team. Have them double check all information, as it can never hurt to have a second or third look at travel plans in case something looks askew. Double check online the day before a trip to see if flights have been booked properly and encourage each person on the trip to check in to their flight with ample time to spare. If there’s a problem, you will want to know about it in advance with time to fix it.

3. Adequately Prepare Your Client

Over the course of a press trip, your client will be spending a lot of time with the journalists you have brought on the trip. Before the trip, prepare a media brief that gives your clients detailed information on everybody attending the trip, including pictures so they are easily recognizable, recent articles by the journalists that are relevant to their interest in the trip, cell phone numbers, social media handles (if they have them) and more information about the outlets they write for. The media on the trip will greatly appreciate your client’s preparation and it will go a long way towards establishing a good relationship between the two.

By providing clients with the social media handles of both journalists and influencers, they can ensure their organization is following their accounts before their arrival. This will also give them a good window into their personality, tone of voice and content.

4. Make a Very Detailed Itinerary

It should go without saying that an itinerary is extremely important on any press trip. Your itinerary is your Bible for the duration of your trip and all trip attendees will carry it along with them at all times. Writing from past experiences, even if you have sketched out what looks like the perfect itinerary, things often do find a funny way of getting off track. A good itinerary will always look over-detailed at first and may look like you have over-prepared. But the last thing you want is your group standing around and staring at each other and saying, “Now what?”

Make back up plans and alternative routes if your itinerary includes making many different stops and traveling from place to place. Plan in advance what you will feel OK cutting from your trip if you get behind schedule. A good itinerary will also have lots of notes and descriptions included of various places the group will be experiencing. Remember, when a journalist is writing an article about their trip, they will be referencing the itinerary. It will save them a lot of time if there are addresses, phone numbers and details on the document that can help them out so they don’t have to call or email you to ask.

5. Be Prepared for Anything

Everybody has a story from a press trip they hosted where things got a little off track. Each journalist who has been on a trip has stories of his or her own as well. This is merely the nature of the beast. As stated earlier, hosting a press trip is a precise juggling act and you can’t expect everything to run smoothly all the time—there are just too many moving parts and too many people involved.  Accepting that there are sometimes going to be things that happen beyond your control will make it a lot easier to handle a situation if and when it arises. Take a deep breath. It will be OK and you’ll do your best to make sure everybody is happy. But be prepared first. Expect that things can go wrong and make a plan for what you need to do in that situation.

6. Enjoy Yourself

Going on a press trip is one of the best job perks of working in travel PR. You get to travel to some of the most amazing places in the world, often before anybody else can have the experience. Soak it in. Yes, it’s hard work and you’re on the clock, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the trip too. You’re going to be counted on to come up with pitches based on what you’ve experienced when you get back, so approach these experiences with a sense of inquisitiveness like you’re a journalist too. Get to know the attendees on your trip as best as you can and work to form connections. Many might be a fit for another client down the road and may be someone you end up traveling with again.