Sunday, October 14, 2012


Robin Esrock

Robin Esrock, well known travel writer and broadcaster, spoke to the members of the BC Association of Travel Writers yesterday. He's edgy, funny, and has probably  packed in more experiences on the road than all of his audience put together.

Robin told us that the travel writing industry is changing fast and much more challenging to succeed in than it was a decade ago. Why? Here are a few of Robin's reasons:

  • Print is in trouble and travel books don't sell like they once did.
  • Guidebooks are now history books.
  • PR departments and PR firms write the enticing copy, not travel writers.
  • Press trips can be a nightmare in certain countries that over-orchestrate them and rule out remote destinations that the intrepid travel writer wants to visit.
  • Some major tourist boards are focusing on blogging and social media, not journalism.

What isn't changing is that travel writing still sells dreams to millions who are hooked on travel.

The key points that I got out of Robin's keynote:

  • Never call yourself a travel blogger, rather a travel writer or journalist.
  • Figure out exactly what you are chasing as a travel writer. In general: Demographic? Countries? Regions? Style of travel? Your focus? In particular where you're headed: destinations, events, adventures, etc.
  • Thoroughly communicate the above info with tourist boards and PR firms who want to send you on press trips. Research your needs, then ask them to get you to the places, events, experiences you need for your focus and markets. Give the details of your assignments. If they won't play ball, don't go with them.
  • Remember to always review every hotel, resto, event, tour, etc. that you experience.

Robin also reminded us, "Experience counts more than comfort!"

Robin eating fried guinea pig in Ecuador

I can't wait to read Robin's forthcoming book, The Great Canadian Bucket List due in the fall of 2013, a labour of love and much travel time. (For the 40+ traveler from Thomas Allen Publishers.)

Images: With kind permission of Robin Esrock. All rights reserved.

If you also attended Robin's keynote, what were your keepers?