Press Pass Logo - September 2019

Volume 37, Issue 08, November 2019

In this Issue:

From the Editor

Chris Cutler - Pretty blond sitting behind her computer desk with blurred bookshelves in Greetings, everyone!

As I write this, the IFWTWA Annual Conference is around the corner. I’m thrilled to be attending and presenting (with Mary Farah) as I am a huge fan of IFWTWA and Santa Fe. It’s been years since I last set foot in that beautiful city, and I cannot wait to see it again. I also look forward to meeting many of you.

The next digital issue of Food, Wine, Travel Magazine will preview during the convention. This issue will highlight hidden treasures throughout the world, everything from ice cream in Guatemala to the Prohibition Museum (Did you realize Prohibition began 100 years ago?), from a small town in North Dakota to thermal spas in both Hungary and Australia, and so much more.

Speaking of Food, Wine, Travel Magazine, please check out our editorial calendar below. In addition to the themes each issue will cover, the article introduces two new features to the digital issues.

Thank you to Kurt Jacobson for his article on increasing your chances of getting comped at a hotel. He offers a lot of good information in it, and I think you will find it useful.

Again, I ask you to please make sure to share the website articles and digital issue links on your social media.

The Official IFWTWA Magazine
ISSUU (digital edition)


Chris signature

2019 Annual Meeting
 of the 
International Food, Wine and 
Travel Writers Association

Date: 11/12/2019

The board of directors hereby gives notice of the annual general meeting of the International Food, Wine & Travel Writers Association (IFWTWA) to take place on Tuesday, 12 November 2019, at 9:20 a.m. at the IFWTWA Annual Conference located a the La Fonda Hotel in Sante Fe, New Mexico.

Agenda for the meeting:

  1. Report on the activities of the organization in the past year.
  2. Presentation of the annual report.
  3. New Business

How to Increase Your Chances of a Hotel Comp

By Kurt Jacobson, Freelance travel, food and wine writer

Hotel Reception Desk

It never ceases to amaze me how difficult or how easy it can be to land a hotel comp. In my four years of travel writing, I’ve somehow managed to have 100 hotel feature articles published on two websites and one magazine. Almost all of those hotel stays were comps, many of which I contacted the hotel directly. Some of the visits have been in spartan lodgings, while others have been in the lap of luxury.

First, A little history is in order. I worked as a professional cook and baker for 20 years. During that long and demanding career, I worked at a few restaurants in hotels. Neither hotels nor restaurants are an easy choice of businesses. Many calamities can befall either and shut them down. When I contact hotels, I often stress I am not seeking a room during high-occupancy times to make it less costly to host me. I let them know I used to work for a couple of hotels and understand their situation. Off-season travel is my preference, and mid-week stays are okay with me if they can’t comp a weekend.

At first contact, if I’m sending a cold-call type email, I always include links to articles on hotels similar to the hotel I’m querying. Hotel PR staff are just as hammered with queries as editors, and I want to make it easy for them. If they can click on an article link and see my work, it makes their job easier.

Once I have their attention and the conversation is leaning towards hosting me, I let them decide the best dates for my stay. Sometimes those stays are peak season, but usually it’s during their offseason.

One of the best ways I’ve found to land more desirable dates is to find hotels that have recently completed a significant remodeling project, changed ownership, or just opened. These situations seem to make comps more available.

Modern glass angular Westin Hotel, Denver Airport, Colorado

Back when I was in my first year of travel writing, the Westin had just opened the Denver International Airport property. The Westin is a wonderful hotel at an airport I fly into often. I couldn’t believe my luck when the Westin comped a junior suite, a bucket of local beer, and dinner.

Since then, I’ve gotten a bit pickier. Instead of accepting just one night, if I have to travel a long distance by car (three-five hours), I ask for two nights lodging. This is not an unreasonable request.

To find hotels that have recently undergone renovations, I ask local visitor bureaus, DMOs, or PR firms. By subscribing to TravMedia emails, I often get tipped off about new hotels opening or extensive renovations. Sometimes a newspaper or magazine article will tip me off to a hotel to approach.

Once a hotel has offered a stay, I then conduct further research to see what other stories might come from my visit. I recently stayed in an 1880s era Victorian B&B in Easton, Maryland, and had two good story ideas come from that trip. Always look for more than one story to come out of your hotel comp.

Ridgewood Lodge Hiking Trail - Green foliage with blue multi-directional arrows to points of interest

Good photos of the hotel, the room I stayed in, and common areas are a must. Photographing hotel rooms can be a challenge for some, so it’s important to be a competent photographer. Some publications will let you use sourced photos, making it much easier on us writers.

To make sure I publish the best story possible, I always have someone at the hotel or their PR firm fact-check my article. On a recent stay, at the Hilton Short Pump in Richmond, the general manager fact-checked my article and pointed out that the on-site hotel restaurant had changed. This same manager sent me the fact sheet I used to list the hotel’s restaurant, and it turned out to be wrong! By taking this extra step, I’ve only ever had two articles of my nearly 400 need correcting.

After the story is published, I send a link to the hotel and ask them to share the story on social media and their website. This request is a courtesy I think all of us should be doing. By sharing the story, this helps you, your publisher, and the hotel.

For the record, I mainly pursue hotel feature stories for the comps. My two main publishers pay $25 per article ( and nada (, but the comps make it worthwhile. This type of writing isn’t for everyone, but if you want to rack up a bunch of comped hotel rooms outside of media trips you can do it.

2020 Editorial Calendar

By Chris Cutler, Executive Editor

Food Wine Travel Magazine Logo

It’s time to roll out the editorial calendar for 2020, believe it or not.

WINTER: Food and Wine Issue: No destination highlights except in relation to wineries or restaurants..

  • Deadline to pitch article is December 1.
  • Deadline to submit is January 15.
  • Publishes February 2020.

SPRING: Summer Travel Guide: Spotlight places to visit and things to do when the heat is on…cool comforts, waterfalls, mountain treks, beaches, etc.

  • Deadline to pitch article is February 1.
  • Deadline to submit is March 15.
  • Publishes May 2020.

SUMMER: Obsessions: Stories about how a destination, food, wine, became an obsession with the writer. How did a place, food, wine capture a person?

  • Deadline to pitch article is May 1.
  • Deadline to submit is June 15.
  • Publishes August 2020

FALL: Winter Travel: Travel is not only a warm-weather activity. Spotlight on fall/winter festivals, places to visit and things to do when the temperature drops.

  • Deadline to pitch article is August 31.
  • Deadline to submit is October 1.
  • Publishes November 2020

DECEMBER: Holiday & Entertaining….Short issue highlighting the foods and wines of the holidays. Recipes for craft cocktails, dinners, desserts, etc.

  • Deadline to pitch article is October 1.
  • Deadline to submit is November 1.
  • Publishes December 2020


  • Picture Yourself Here is a photo essay will be two pages of photos/captions only. We will send out instructions for submitting to this feature soon.

  • Destination Spotlight is a destination that epitomizes the theme of each issue. Editorial board will pick it from writers’ pitches. Instructions to follow soon.

Article Opportunities

Thanks go to Debbra Dunning Brouillette, Tropical Travel Girl for this list.

Stack of opened magazines

Porthole Cruise Magazine

Porthole Cruise Magazine ( features sophisticated cruise and travel editorial for savvy consumers worldwide. Expert writers and columnists cover everything from the latest trends in cruise travel to ship reviews, destination features, and onboard cuisine, entertainment, amenities, innovations, spas, and more. Send queries to: Executive [email protected]  Writer’s guidelines can be accessed here:

Taproot Magazine

Taproot Magazine ( is an ad-free, independently published bimonthly print magazine, celebrating farm, food, family and craft through writing, photography and the arts, both fine and domestic.

Info on submissions can be found here:

Email: [email protected]

Pay rate varies depending on the type and length of submission.

Ensemble Vacations

Ensemble Vacations® ( is a consumer travel and lifestyle magazine published by Ensemble Travel® Group for its member agencies, including American Express Canada and Uniglobe Eastern Canada. It is published four times per year by Ensemble Travel Group for the top clients of Ensemble agencies, comprised of mid- to high-end leisure travelers who are seeking unique, luxurious getaways and impeccably personalized service.

Access Writer’s Guidelines and more information here:

Compensation is competitive with other national magazines.

Transitions Abroad

Transitions Abroad ( has long been known as a trailblazing travel publication and online information source. We aim to create inspirational yet practical planning guides for cultural immersion travel, work, study, living, volunteering abroad and much more.

Access writer’s guidelines and more information here:

Payment for freelance articles is upon acceptance, ranging from $75 to $150.

Get to Know Our New Members

By Cori Solomon, Membership Chair

Row of wine glasses with various colored wine


Carolyn GrahamCarolyn Graham
Publisher. Producer. Editor. Writer.
New Mexico

Carolyn Graham has worked for regional and special interest magazines for more than 25 years. She's a New Mexico native, and after graduating with a journalism degree from New Mexico State University, she moved to Carson City, Nevada, to become a newspaper reporter. She soon shifted her focus, joining the editorial staff at Nevada Magazine, the state tourism publication.

She later moved to Southern California, where she helmed a regional parenting publication. She moved to Orange County to serve as editor in chief of New Mexico Journey, the AAA member publication published by the Auto Club of Southern California, where she also served as features editor and writer for other titles, including Westways, which goes to more than 4.2 million households in Southern California.

She moved back to New Mexico in 2016, where she proudly led a major overhaul of the nearly 100-year-old New Mexico Magazine, where she served as chief executive officer. In February 2019, she co-founded a production company, Goodwest Productions, where she's producing a New Mexico food and food culture show. She's also writing a book about New Mexico's food trails for the University of New Mexico Press, due out in February 2021.


Discover Claremont Logo

Come get a little Claremont "the best-kept secret in L.A."

Discover Claremont — Ron Antonette - California

Visit Omaha Logo

Founded in 1854, the city of Omaha has always been a dynamic, energetic city continually transforming itself.

Visit Omaha — Tracie McPherson - Nebraska


Association Recognitions

By Linda Kissam, President

Blurred image of clapping hands

It’s an honor to introduce you to our new members and to give recognition to members having anniversaries. We thank our new and anniversary members for including IFWTWA on their pathway to success. Your choice to work hard, think positive, network, and use your member benefits bring you to a whole new level of achievement. Way to go! 



Veronica Matheson AvatarVeronica Matheson
Melbourne, Australia

Veronica grew up in London (UK), married an Australian, and now lives in Melbourne. Travel is her passion, be it by land or sea. She has lost count of the countries she has visited, first hitching around the world in a gap year, then over a decade as Travel Editor of an Australian newspaper. She is now a reporter and co-host on Travel Writers Radio. Her websites are; traintrails.wordpress; and


Eugene YigaEugene Yiga
Cape Town, South Africa

Eugene Yiga has written about travel, leisure, food, drinks, television, film, music, theatre, art, books, and more for over 80 publications worldwide. He currently works with destination marketers, global airlines, hospitality providers, tourism boards, and travel conferences to promote locations and experiences. He also publishes a weekly Cape Town Travel Guide podcast that gives readers access to the best new experiences from one of the greatest cities in the world. His websites are and


Board Notes

By Linda Kissam, President

IFWTWA 2019 Board of Directors graphic

Linda Kissam

At the October board meeting we focused on three items. The first is Cori Solomon's three top priorities for membership. The second is the functionality of the website. The third is the introduction of a volunteer contract which is now with our attorneys for review.

Of the three items we discussed, the website took most of the time. Several members and volunteers would like changes or to look at a new website. A list of items to make this website more functional were developed and approved by the Board. They will be forwarded to our IT contractor for resolution. Mary Farah will report back to the Board each month until the issues are either changed or we decide the software cannot do what we want it to do and needs to be replaced.

Please note that all members are required to complete their profile as part of their membership agreement. Just as a reminder the 06.Clips/ Work Samples PDF has been removed. In its place is an easy to use area where eight of your article links can be listed.

Our Annual Meeting will be held at the 2019 conference. Please see formal notice elsewhere in this publication.

Susan Montgomery

The financial statements are prepared in accordance with the cash-basis of accounting, which is a basis of accounting other than accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America. Our financial records are reviewed each month by a CPA. We continue to have a strong cash flow. You can find three years of IFWTWA’s Annual Statement of Financial Position on the website. As a reminder, we have three sources of income: Membership, Conference, and media trip fees. The conference is the largest moneymaker. How it goes determines what benefits, services, and contractors we can afford for the following year. We especially appreciate your support by attending the conference

Report filed by Samuel Jew, CPA
I have performed compilation engagements in accordance with Statements on Standards for Accounting and Review Services promulgated by the Accounting and Review Services Committee of the AICPA.

SEPTEMBER 30, 2019

Cash and cash equivalents  - Checking   $ 17,705
Cash and cash equivalents  - Savings     $ 56,635

TOTAL ASSETS                                       $ 74,140

Unrestricted                                              74,140


Conference 2019
Linda Milks

At this time, it looks like we will have about 73 people at our conference in Santa Fe.

I still do not have videographers. I welcome any suggestions of who I should ask.

I will be changing one of the Workshop speakers from Lian Dolan to Susan Lanier-Graham due to personal issues of Lian’s. This is a great substitute, and I really appreciate Susan volunteering to do this.

The hotel, the pre- and post-trip hosts, and Santa Fe CVB have been great to work with and very accommodating and for that I am thankful.

Social Media
Tom Westerhof

A new social media thread was published in the private group. The new thread gave members an opportunity to share their Instagram profile with the goal of having everyone who shared their Instagram “follow” everyone else who posted in the thread. Almost 40 members shared their Instagram profiles and over 70 comments were posted in the thread. Overall, it was a great success and will continue on Mondays with different social media sites each time.

Focus for our social media sites will be set on promoting the upcoming conference. A “thank you” post to conference sponsors and marketplace exhibitors was shared on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. As a reminder, anything conference related that is shared to social media should include the “#ifwtwa2019” hashtag. This will allow for easy tracking by participants of posts on those two social media sites.

Despite consistent daily tweeting, the numbers for Twitter continue to hover around 7500 followers. Paid promotion of the site will commence toward the end of October as a tie-in to the conference. This should give the association and conference participant’s additional exposure before, during and immediately after the conference.

Numbers Report:

IFWTWA Twitter followers (managed by Tom Westerhof) – 7505 (loss of 4)
IFWTWA Facebook likes/followers (managed by Tom Westerhof) – 3699 (gain of 45) likes
IFWTWA Instagram followers (managed by Tom Westerhof) – 506 (gain of 15)

Membership Report by Chair
Cori Solomon

After three as membership chair, we have gained the following in terms of our Membership.

Total Membership as of October 1st = 205 members

Regular Members = 179
Associate Members = 20
Emeritus Members = 6

In September, we gained four new regular members.

Hands in air to voteEsteemed Members,

It's time for your voice to be heard. Let's be more than a 25% turnout -- let's do this! Vote on the new Bylaws here.

Deadline: Vote by November 10

Contact Mary Farah, Secretary

We Can't See You

By Hilarie Larson, Administrative Director & Adrianne Morrison, Site Content Mgr.

We are in the process of changing OUR MEMBERS directory. Why not take a few minutes to update or create your online profile? The IFWTWA profile is a member benefit that affords you another online presence to enhance your worldwide visibility. If you need help with your profile, reach out, we are happy to assist.

Please keep in mind our website offers two different views: Public and Private (members-only). Once you are logged in, you have access to more menu items, enhanced member profile information, and our social community.


Public Profile (current members): The minimum information required to begin your public directory profile is a recent headshot, your bio, and permission to make your profile public (Z11=YES). 

Membership Profile: See requirements per 4.4 of the Bylaws

Profile Changes for Regular Members:

"Organization" field - Usage Guideline
Use this fill-in field to distinguish you by including your website name, tagline, title (author, freelance writer, editor...) -- please limit to <150 characters (~20 words). IFWTWA has updated your profile's org fields with ideas for how you might use this space -- to make changes, go to My Profile.

Profile Item 06, Clips of my Work - No Longer Required
The Board of Directors decided that a .pdf document including clips of your work is no longer required. You may: 1) remove the document you uploaded; or 2) use this field to display a .pdf document of a recent print article, your media kit, etc. A complete profile, as now defined, requires 8 story links, and is mandatory for media trip applications, Big Blend radio bookings, and other IFWTWA members-only benefits (please see bylaws excerpt above).

Profile Changes for Associate Members:

Host & Contact Profiles:
We are currently developing new profiles for all our Associate members. A ‘Host’ profile page, bearing the logo and current contact information, will serve as your new ‘home base’. Individual profiles of your main contact, plus others you wish to add, will be linked to this new Organization page, increasing your visibility. 

We will be displaying the Associate's logo as profile image and business name in the Organization field. Linked individual profiles will then introduce one or multiple points of contact as individual type profiles with headshot and relevant information.

ScreenShot Associate Host Contact

New Homepage
A new IFWTWA homepage will roll-out in November -- we hope you like the new look and functionality.

Should you have questions or need help in using this website, let us know. Send your comments and any ideas for change or improvement. We are continuously working to improve the site and your feedback is important to us. 

IFWTWA Resources: Connect with our Members and Experts

Espresso cups toast

Connect with fellow IFWTWA experts. Meet virtually in our social community forums; create your own Social Circles. Make connections from your profile. Plan a live meetup. Keep up-to-date by joining our private Facebook Members Group -- participate in weekly social media campaigns for likes, follows & retweets. Attend the conference. Volunteer on committees and work with our Board of Directors.

It's fun and beneficial to network with your colleagues. Learn from each other and grow your own and fellow member's professional goals and online presence. We know you are busy and on-the-move so your interaction is appreciated. Reach out today!

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Chris Cutler
Executive Editor

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