Restaurants Not So Eager To Host Media In Post-Pandemic Recovery
One of the biggest perks of being a travel blogger is all the free stuff we get from tourism boards and local businesses.
A favorite perk, however, might be going away in the post-pandemic world. Restaurants are not so quick anymore to host meals by providing free food – and drinks. Suffering from losses due to closures and limited seating capacities, they can no longer afford to provide free meals, even if it means losing out on coverage on a blog or news outlet like PubClub.com.
To compensate, some tourism boards are offering pre-paid credit cards they give to travel writers. But those might be less than $100 to spend for a pair of days meals, which goes fast if a blogger brings along a friend/spouse/associate.
For many travel writers and bloggers, getting free meals is a big part of the incentive of going and writing about a destination. You get to eat at restaurants you would likely never experience in your normal course of travel and you’re often pampered with personalized service from the manager, offered complimentary appetizers and whatever the kitchen wants to place in front of you.
Plus, some like to showcase their speciality cocktails, craft beer lineup or wines from local wineries. It’s a pretty fulfilling experience.
Of course, travel writers are hardly the only ones who enjoy a free meal. I’ve been a sportswriter for daily newspapers and can tell you that press box food is talked about more than the result of the game. I’ve even known some writers who choose which team they will cover on a particular day because of the press box food.
I carried this knowledge with me when I began a career in public relations. When wanting press coverage for an upcoming event, I knew the best way to lure media was to hold a press day around a media luncheon. A big part of the job was to choose and work with a restaurant to hold the meeting.
You’ve probably heard the old expression that “the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.” Well I can tell you from personal experiences that the way to a media person’s heart is through free food.
I’m not knocking the actions of my fellow bloggers and media members as I have taken full advantage on it many times myself. I love having plates and plates of food placed in front of me and handed cocktail after cocktail or have seemingly bottomless supplies of wine or beer.
And all at no cost other than a tip to the servers if on a solo trip.
That great perk, tho, may be gone for now. At least in the “transition time” between COVID-19 lockdowns and adjusting to post-pandemic full openings. And, as we’ve seen with airlines adding on all kinds of extra expenses to the price of tickets and hotels adding “resort” fees, once a company starts something it is reluctant to go back to its ways of the past.
So what should we do if a restaurant won’t comp us a meal? Well, remember they are likely to be struggling and need our help to promote their business. If you like a place or want to check it out for editorial coverage then go ahead and do so, even if it comes out of your pocket or the visitor’s bureau pre-paid card doesn’t have enough money on it to get you that fancy appetizer or extra couple of cocktails.