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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Travel Bloggers: Use This Formula to Write, Travel, and Get Paid

The following blog post is from my good friend and industry colleague, Jim Reddekopp - the Immediate Past Chairman & CEO of the National Tour Association, as well as an entrepreneur who founded the Hawaiian Vanilla Company and Earth Bound Tours.  Jim’s newest endeavor is Entrepreneurs in Travel, an all-virtual program where he personally teaches bloggers how to partner with professional tour operators so they make money from their blogs while getting paid to write and travel (www.entrepreneursintravel.com).

Travel Bloggers: Use This Formula to Write, Travel, and Get Paid

Getting paid to write, travel, and build your blog is easier than you think.

So easy, in fact, it’s hidden in plain view. This technique is also free, which makes most readers jump to the conclusion that what I’m sharing is a gimmick or the latest multi-level-marketing scheme.

This couldn’t be further from the truth. I’m revealing the key principles of a traditional, proven, multi-trillion dollar industry. An industry that employs 600% more people than the global auto manufacturing industry, 200% more people than the global communications industry, and over 30% more people than the global banking industry.[1]
[1] World Travel and Tourism Council; Travel & Tourism Larger Industry than Automotive Manufacturing; April 2012.

The critical difference is that what I’m about to show you is a complete 180 degree shift in perspective.

It’s a completely different way to look at an existing infrastructure that stands ready to put money in your pocket, delight your readers, and keep you focused on traveling and writing.

Why This Is Real, and Why It Matters

Before we go any further, let me introduce myself. I am the Immediate Past Chairman and CEO of the National Tour Association (NTA), one of the largest trade organizations for travel-related businesses and professionals. Our members include tour operators, hotels, airlines, rail lines, bus lines, attractions, and destination marketing organizations.

I grew up in this industry. I watched and learned from my dad who spent his professional career as a successful tour operator. As an insider, I’ve watched the travel and tourism industries become increasingly modernized and personalized, largely thanks to a synergistic blend of technology, new media content creators, writers, and travel bloggers.

This insider perspective also means I see new opportunities that are ripe for harvesting.

Tour Designers – Your Partners in Success

I’m also an entrepreneur and tour designer. I do the behind-the-scenes work to build tour packages for my clients.

For example, I’ve created farm-to-table tour packages for specialty growers who teach fans and foodies how to stay connected with the land while savoring day-of-harvest freshness and flavor. I’ve created Hawaiian luxury tours for a lifestyle blogger. And I’ve created Hawaiian luxury yoga packages for a yoga instructor who offers clients the ultimate VIP health, nutrition, and fitness experience.

In other words, my clients are the hosts of the travel events. Together we can create anything imaginable. From bungee-jumping tours, to heli-skiing expeditions, to world-class spa retreats.

If you’ve ever purchased a travel package, a tour designer did the work to put the pieces together. He or she had the training and industry connections to bring together airline and other transportation companies, hotel facilities, destination centers, and activity or entertainment suppliers.

In other words, a tour designer did the work to bundle the different pieces into a single, purchasable, “unit” or package.  This is very different from being a travel agent. Among other products and services they offer, a travel agent can sell the tour packages a tour designer creates.

Now let’s take this concept a step further. What if you, as a blogger, were able to host a travel event?

Imagine being able to offer a custom-created, passion-inspired, travel package to your readers.

Rather than writing for them, imagine actually traveling with them – bringing them into the experience itself, in person, rather than through words and images alone.

More than sharing bits and bytes of data on a computer screen or mobile device, you’d be sharing the sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and adventures – in person.

As the host, your travel and writing expenses are paid for by the folks who are traveling with you. In other words, when you host a travel experience, you’re getting paid to travel and write.

The key to making this happen is knowing how to work with the right tour designer.

Tour designers are one of the best kept secrets in the travel and tourism industry. Their behind-the-scenes work is the glue that holds most commercial tour experiences together. They’re also some of the most well-connected people in the industry, which makes them the perfect partner to create an amazing experience for your readers.

Here’s where it gets a little mind-boggling.

Working with a tour designer is completely free. There are no – as in zero – upfront costs. Tour designers are not like lawyers or accountants who charge by the hour. Their services are free until the tour packages are sold and the travel experience happens.

How to Work with a Tour Designer

When you know how to work with a tour designer, you have the power to offer unique travel experiences to your readers.

In other words, you have the power to get paid to travel and write.

There are four steps to the formula. Let’s discuss them now.

Step One: Create an Experience
Your first step is to get crystal clear about the type of experience you want to create. The key is to start from within yourself and then take it a step further to embrace your readers.

As the host, you’re the driving force – the engine that fuels enthusiasm and passion about the travel experience. That passion needs to come from within you, first and foremost. What do you wake up every morning wanting to do? What shared focus drives both you and your readers?

Is it food or photography? Is it adventure or relaxing? Is it art…music…wildlife?  Are you eager to do your part to make the world a better place?

The key is to start within, then imagine an experience that will stir the hearts and minds of your readers. An experience that makes them what to get out from behind the computer and join you in a real-world adventure.

Step Two: Plan and Manage the Details

Next we get into the nuts and bolts of putting together an exceptional travel experience. This is where your partnership with a tour designer begins. Together, you’ll fine tune the details of the travel experience.

You’ll decide on accommodations, meals, activities, outings, transportation, and everything in between. Your tour designer’s knowledge and skill really come into play here. Their industry connections and experience are the secret ingredients to putting together a singular and memorable experience for your readers.

Once you plan the details of the experience, your tour designer gets to work converting your idea into a reality. It’s their job to make the arrangements and do the proper scheduling to put all of the pieces together so your travel experience unfolds perfectly.

Your tour designer is also responsible for managing the administrative aspects of tour creation, including setting up the payment systems and managing the purchases.

Step Three: Promote the Experience
Once the travel package has been created, it’s time to promote it. You have a chance to shine, using your blog as a tool to build reader excitement. You can also work with your tour designer to host webinars and teleseminars about the trip. Introduce your audience to the people, places, and activities that are part of the adventure.

Step Four: Manage the Risk

Almost all hosts fall over the same stumbling block: the fear that something will happen and the tour will fail. What if no one signs up? What if travel restrictions are imposed?  What if there’s a strike of some sort, causing delays or loss?

The good news is that you can protect yourself from the “what ifs.” Again, your tour designer can help set up ways to manage risk, using insurance carriers designed to support the travel and tourism industry.
Putting It All Together
There is a natural synergy between bloggers and tour designers.
As hosts, bloggers have the unique ability to stir deep excitement and enthusiasm for the tours they create. This happens because they share their readers’ passion for the subject matter, activity, or location.
Tour designers, on the other hand, have the strong connections, contacts, and resources that only a “local” would possess. In fact, many of them are highly specialized, based on location or activity type.
In other words, as a travel blogger, yours is a creative role – the chance to dream and then actualize a stellar, in-person, travel experience for your readers.
As a co-creative partner, the tour designer is responsible for all operations. Their contribution makes your dream a tangible reality in every sense.
Getting Paid to Write and Travel
Travel and tourism are changing more dramatically, and more quickly, than ever. Bloggers are a revolutionary force, fueling this change. This means there are exciting opportunities that have never existed before.
As a result, it’s never been easier to write, travel, and get paid.
As a travel blogger you have the chance to jump aboard and join this new movement.  When you partner with a talented tour designer you have the power to offer custom-created, passion-inspired travel experiences to your readers.
Being of ultimate service to your audience, you have the power to pull them away from their computer screens and into the world of realized dreams and adventures.

Author Bio:
Jim Reddekopp has been involved in the travel and tourism industry for over 35 years and is the Immediate Past Chairman & CEO of the National Tour Association.

As an entrepreneur he is also the founder of the Hawaiian Vanilla Company, which has been featured in both TV and magazine articles, including The Discovery Channel, The Food Network, The Travel Channel, PBS America’s Heartland, Bon Appetite, Food & Wine, several in-flight magazines, and Hawaii Business Magazine.

Jim’s other company, Earth Bound Tours, has been in operation for over 30 years and has created and managed the travel experiences of over 50,000 guests in the last 5 years alone.

Jim’s newest endeavour is Entrepreneurs in Travel, an all-virtual program where he personally teaches bloggers how to partner with professional tour operators so they make money from their blogs while getting paid to write and travel.

Visit his website at www.entrepreneursintravel.com

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