I should explain how I made the appointment with the director of sales for this hotel.
There are various ways you can go about it (cold calling, however, isn´t usually the best way), but in this particular case it was through (yet again) a connection. Over a year ago, I attended a media lunch in NYC sponsored by a PR firm, where I met the VP of sales and marketing for the hotel´s Caribbean and Latin American properties. Though we´d only emailed once or twice since that lunch, I sent an email to let him know I´d be in Mexico City, why, and asked whether I could meet with any local property managers. He facilitated contact with the local director of sales, and that was that.
I´ve just finished the hotel inspection and lunch and another lengthy, fascinating conversation about perceptions of Mexico “en el exterior,” and am about to overdose on some museums and galleries.
First, though, I wanted to mention something that we talk about in the MatadorU course regarding “stacking” projects.
If you haven´t figured it out by now, travel writing-travel photography isn´t exactly the most stable or lucrative of career choices, though it´s always interesting and usually fun. There´s no way you can make a dime unless you either do everything by desk research (not at all recommended) or unless you stack projects, which means that you work on multiple assignments and projects while on the ground.
I came here with two big projects, the magazine feature and the app, as well as an idea about an essay I want to write, that I´ve been writing, mentally at least, for a few months. But I´m always, always, always walking with all six senses in hyperawareness mode, ready to pick up some other ideas for stories.
One idea I forgot to mention in the first post kind of fell in my lap, and though it didn´t work out because of timing limitations, I want to mention it as just one example.
I already told you that I had dinner on Tuesday night with a friend who is a director of sales for a hotel. She´d invited me to stay at the hotel, which I declined because I didn´t want to abuse our professional relationship, as I didn´t have an immediate outlet for writing about it and had stayed there recently. I mentioned to her that it´s tough for a travel writer to sell a story about a hotel from a very established brand because editors don´t tend to see these properties as newsmakers. You´ve got to work other angles in order to make these places newsworthy.
Before we talked about this though, she mentioned that Chef Morimoto was in town, working on the restaurant he´ll be opening here. After our dinner, it occurred to me that shadowing him for a few hours could potentially produce a fresh story about the hotel that editors would also be interested in because the angle was unique. And there was built in fun factor… the next day, local chefs were taking Morimoto to one of the best food markets here, and he had never been before. I sent a quick email to propose the idea. Though, as I said, the timing didn´t work out, that´s one example of how to stay alert to stories while you´re already working on other assignments. There are other examples, too, ones that actually interest me much more, but I´ll save those for a post coffee post.