Value, ease vital for weekend getaways

High oil prices may be impacting some consumer spending, but when it comes to weekend getaways, most people are biting the bullet and paying more for gas and airfare to get to places where they can recharge their batteries, if only for a few days.

High oil prices may be impacting some consumer spending, but when it comes to weekend getaways, most people are biting the bullet and paying more for gas and airfare to get to places where they can recharge their batteries, if only for a few days.

That means weekend destinations continue to be not only a strong segment of overall travel writing, but also an emerging media category in its own right. "So many people go back to work Monday morning, and when people ask what they did during the weekend, they say, 'Nothing much,'" explains Barbara Peck, deputy editor of Weekend magazine. "So we give ideas on where to go, along with a range of places to stay when they're there."

Peck says only part of Weekend is devoted to travel - the rest targets home activities - but adds that early reader surveys found consumers are actively looking for fun and easy destinations. "We're really a women's lifestyle outlet with a focus on travel and so we want good value, but also destinations that are memorable and will stick in your mind," she says. "We try to have travel to every corner of the country, so there's something for everybody."

Leslie Cohen, EVP with Laura Davidson Public Relations, says that along with value and amenities, weekend travel pitches need to stress the ease in getting to and from a destination.

"Transportation is really important because you don't want to spend half your time getting to a place," she says. "So you want to highlight non-stop flights."

She adds that weekend-destination writing is usually done by the same reporters who do the "Two weeks in Europe" feature. But, she notes, "A lot of travel sections have somebody focused on last-minute values, so that does give you another person to pitch."

As far as trends in coverage, Michelle Abril, SAE with Quinn & Co., says she's seeing more stories on business travelers extending their trips through the weekend. She also notes the need to vary your pitch depending on the season.

"During the summer and school holidays, there's more interest in family weekends," she says, "so you need to stress the kid-friendly activities at a destination."

When it comes to regional coverage, Mack Bradley, SVP with the St. Louis-based Vandiver Group, points out that in addition to newspaper travel sections, there are plenty of standard lifestyle outlets interested in weekend destinations.

"Magazines like Southern Living devote a fair amount of space to these stories," he says. "A lot of these outlets use freelancers and stringers, so you can pitch them along with the travel editor."

PITCHING... Weekend Destinations

Women often drive weekend travel choices, so keep that in mind in pitching titles like Weekend or Girlfriend Getaways

Like most travel stories, weekend destinations need great art. Look at consumer travel titles to identify their photographers, and try to sign one up for a day rate

Highlight the ease in getting there as much as the value when positioning a destination for an ideal weekend getaway

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