Secret sauces from the Southern Hot Wing Festival (courtesy ilovememphis on Flickr CC)If you are a blogger, here is how you develop a professional reputation to catch the eye of tourism and hospitality organizations that offer press trips and fam (familiarization) tours….

Start in your own town.

Yes, start with the assets right under your nose.

Not coincidentally, this is precisely the sort of advice that new writers get when they ask how to get published in the big national print glossies/magazines – “Get something in your local publications and newspapers before you get the big head about your stuff belonging in the New York Times.”

What was my first big break in a national magazine? When National Geographic Traveler accepted my article proposal about a historic highway that was only a few miles from my Florida home.

I watch with some bemusement as newish bloggers wonder aloud in Facebook Groups and at conferences about how to get invited on press trips (which are work, not play, and come with their own drawbacks and requirements) and then when I ask the person if he or she has approached tourism assets in their backyard, they usually have not.

So here it is, bloggers:  reach out to your own local CVB (Convention and Visitors Bureau) or Tourist Office – town, regional and/or state or province – and see if they’d be interested in a “Like a Local” series on your blog, for example. The same thing might work with a nearby heritage highway or wine, microbrewery or quilt trail.

Even pet bloggers could do a series for their CVB on dog parks and leash-free play areas; visitors to your destination need that information if they travel with pets.

Don’t sit passively by the phone or in your email IN box, waiting for things to magically happen. Craft a proposal about why someone’s support of your travels might be beneficial to them, and pitch it. Your town’s CVB may not even know you exist. Pick up the phone or even go by the Visitors Center in person. You have a big advantage over a stranger, especially if they’ve never worked with a blogger before.

Starting out, you won’t get and don’t need press trips to far-flung places. Build a base first: experience, content and reliability. Demonstrate your chops in Des Moines before worrying about Rio de Janeiro.

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