Press Pass Logo - September 2019

Volume 38, Issue 02, February 2020

In this Issue:

From the Editor

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

As I started to work on Press Pass this month, I began to think of the things the month celebrates. I know, of course, that February is Black History Month and American Heart Month, and we can't forget Groundhog Day (2) and Valentine's Day (14). There is, however, so much more that we might be able to use in writing this month.

What kind of article can you come up with to celebrate World Nutella Day (5) or Drink Wine Day (18)? I can think of a few to cover Pistachio Day (26) and National Tortellini Day (13). If you need some inspiration, you can check out a list here.

In this issue of Press Pass, we have some helpful photo tips from Dave Nershi in his new bi-monthly column, information we got at the NYTimes Travel Show Media Day, and the board report. And don't forget to check out the 2020 Travel & Words Conference.

As I mentioned on the IFWTWA Facebook page, we are changing the publish date of Press Pass from the first of the month to the tenth. Deadlines for articles and inclusions will change, also. Please have articles to me by the 25th of the month.

Before I go, I’d like to remind you to update your profile. It helps readers, editors, hosts, DMOs, hospitality management, media organizations, and your fellow members the opportunity to get to know about you and your brand. Please keep it updated with refreshed article links and avatar.

Here’s to a great February!

Chris signature 

Don’t Miss the 2020 Travel & Words Conference

By Allen Cox

The Travel & Words Conference is an annual professional development and networking event that takes place in a different Pacific Northwest destination every year. The 2020 event will be held May 3-5 in one of the country’s most exciting adventure capitals: Bend, Oregon.

Travel & Words Conference presentation room attendees

Travel & Words attendees register for either the Beginning Track or the Experienced Track, depending on their experience as a travel writer. Conference content is specifically geared for the two experience levels.

At Travel & Words, all attendees will:

  • Hear presentations from top industry experts, including travel editors
  • Meet and network with approx. 25 destination marketers from around the Northwest
  • Enjoy two hosted evening networking receptions, one of which is offsite at one of Oregon’s top museums
  • Sharpen your skills in a variety of workshops
  • Apply (by March 15) to attend a pre- or post-conference fully hosted media trips

Learn more and register at

Lodging discounts for conference attendees are available at Riverhouse on the Deschutes (the conference venue) if you book before April 5.

Riverhouse on the Deschutes, Bend, Oregon entrance

A few comments from past attendees say it all:

  • “Travel and Words offers a friendly venue where writers of every skill level can connect with editors, tourism professionals and other writers. Plus, you discover what’s new and exciting in the Northwest, often before anyone else does.”

  • “I get all my story ideas for assignments for the entire year at Travel & Words.”

Note: Travel & Words is not affiliated with IFWTWA; this announcement is provided as a courtesy to IFWTWA members based on approval by the IFWTWA Board of Directors. 

Food, Wine, Travel Magazine Submission Deadlines

By Chris Cutler

Deadlines Graphis

If you are planning to pitch an article for the next digital issue of Food, Wine, Travel Magazine, now is the time to start. To refresh your memory:

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 15.
  • Deadline to submit is March 15.
  • Publishes May 2020.

  • Picture Yourself Here is a photo essay that will be two pages of photos/captions only. All images must be yours and high-quality photos (nothing blurry, dark, uninteresting). You must submit a minimum of 15 photos. Resize your photo to be 1000 pixels wide, 72 DPI. Caption all of your images using a phrase, not a sentence. For example: Italian spaghetti made by Chef Gorgonzola © Jimmy Jamieson.

Quick Tips

The Coronavirus and Travel

As you most likely have heard, the Coronavirus outbreak has caused concern among travelers worldwide. The CDC advises all travelers be aware and take preventive measures they use to avoid most airborne illnesses. If you need more information, you can read up on it here.

Bucket-list Travel

What do ziplining through the forest, hot-air ballooning to see the Northern Lights, and partying in Las Vegas have in common? They are bucket-list travel destinations. Read more here.

Did You Know?

"Did you know, a person almost always voids insurance coverage if they’re inebriated in any way—basically if you’re drunk and get hurt, you’re not covered.

As destination wine tours become an increasingly more popular way to vacation, [are often included in many IFWTWA press trips, and are activities and events many of our members attend while traveling] we thought a reminder couldn't hurt. While we truly don’t want to get in the way of anyone’s good time, this nuanced angle travel insurance companies use to get out of covering people is something the Consumers Advocate team finds a little frustrating—'we just want to get the word out.'"

Here is an in-depth description of the subject courtesy of 

IFWTWA Member Benefit

Medjet Logo

Consumers Advocate Top Insurance Pick
for the VIP Traveller

Read the full review here — Get IFWTWA Discount

IFWTWA globe logo

Destinations and Writers Meet One-On-One to Discuss Travel in 2020!

By Deirdre Michalski & Linda Milks

As we mentioned last month, exhibitors and sponsors had the pleasure of meeting with enthusiastic travel writers during the Santa Fe conference to discuss plans for 2020. This was an excellent opportunity for various destinations across the county to share with our writers information about their town, what makes it special, what they want to be promoting this year, and collaborate on possible introductions and future press trips.

Two business women at table in collaboration

IFWTWA is very grateful for the support of our exhibitors and sponsors at our annual conferences. We encourage you to consider these spots to explore, write about, and enjoy.

This month we’ll look at  Palm Springs, CAAlbuquerque, NM; and Medford, OR.

Stay tuned over the next several months as we look at others that include  Celina’s Bisochitos (Albuquerque);  Park City, UTKansas City, KSFlagstaff, AZMemphis, TNWhidbey and Camano Islands, WAVivac WineryPhoenix, AZ; and Paso Robles, CA.

Palm Springs Preferred Small Hotels Logo

As someone who lives out west and has only been to Palm Springs once, I was happy to talk with Kim Munkres to learn more about the Palm Springs Preferred Small Hotels (PSPSH). There are 80 hotels, she told me, each with its own unique architectural style and color scheme. I love that guests can stay in everything from inns or bungalows to ranches or resorts. In addition, each provides a different experience, and travelers—be they alone or with a group—can find something they like.

Want to be alone? Try one of the more secluded choices. Prefer more action? You’ll find plenty of fun at the bars or pools. Want a Mediterranean or a Mid-century modern vibe? There’s a hotel for both. Want to ride a bike around town? They all offer that service. Kim also told me that because the owners are mostly local and not huge corporations, they are involved in making their guests’ experiences genuine, relaxing, and individual. I’ve since checked out the PSPSH website, and I’m quite excited to experience some of them soon.

By Chris Cutler

Kimberri Munkres avatarI am delighted to assist travel writers, bloggers, influencers, and producers with story support and ideas, photos, and itinerary development. PSPSH is a consortium of over 75 independently owned, boutique hotels loaded with visually-appealing inspiration. From quirky to charming, mid-century modern to clothing optional, Palm Springs Preferred Small Hotels has the perfect stay.

Contact Kimberli Munkres, PSPSH to set up your FAM Trip

Visit Albuquerque Logo

Albuquerque, besides being one of our exhibitors at our IFWTW Convention, was where I had just experienced a delightful few days on a pre-trip. Brenna Moore, our CVB host, showed us as much of the city as she could crowd into those few days. It helped so much that she gave us a pass for museums and attractions for our free time. We stayed in the authentic Hotel Chaco; enjoyed delicious food; sampled interesting wines and cocktails; were entertained by authentic Native Pueblo dancers; visited museums like BioPark, Turquoise Museum, and Museum of Science and Natural History; and enjoyed one of the most beautiful sunsets I have ever seen.

The top ranking attraction for me was perhaps the first thing most people think of when they hear "Albuquerque" — a sunrise hot air balloon ride. We soared about 14 miles above the city and viewed if on a perfectly clear morning in a Rainbow Ryder's balloon. We landed in a grassy golf course where we met some of Albuquerque's native wildlife, tiny kangaroo rats. Thank you, Albuquerque.

By Katy Walls

Brenna Moore avatarVisit Albuquerque's Marketing, Communication & Tourism Department offers assistance to travel media with site tours to Albuquerque as appropriate, including periodic themed group media tours.

Please email information regarding your assignment and the publications you represent along with travel dates to [email protected] or call 800-733-9918 ext. 3349.

You may also request assistance by submitting details on our Travel Media Assistance Form.

Contact: Breena Moore, Visit Albuquerque to set up your FAM Trip

Travel Medford Logo

After talking with Ashley Cates and Andrea Childreth from Travel Medford, I learned a great deal about their area. Medford offers the perfect opportunity for a memorable Southern Oregon getaway. It’s the gateway to some of the region’s most breathtaking natural attractions. Twenty-seven miles north of the California border, Medford sits in the Rogue Valley, between the Cascade Range and the Siskiyou Mountains. They shared that just two hours from Medford is Crater Lake, the deepest lake in the U.S. and one of the most pristine on earth. Hiking, biking, fishing, and foraging are just some of the opportunities to experience the beauty of South Oregon.

Since wine is my passion, I learned that wine also flows in the area. The Rogue Valley wine region is the southernmost in Oregon. Medford is the ideal starting point for the four area wine trails. Seventy grape varieties are grown in the Valley, and there are 53 tempting tasting rooms in Rogue Valley.

By David Nershi, 

Food, wine, outdoor adventure and more in Medford

If you’re not from the Pacific Northwest or have had the opportunity to visit the region, you might not have heard of a place called Medford. Fortunately, I used to live in Seattle and do know the area…well, at least I thought I did. And then I met Andrea Berryman Childreth and Ashley Cates, representatives of Travel Medford. Within minutes of chatting to these two bubbly women, I had to admit that the sole amount of my knowledge amounted to a mere drop in a very big bucket.

I was aware this southern Oregon town and the surrounding Rogue Valley is a wine destination, but I didn’t realize the sheer extent of this claim to fame, as I’m not savvy on the subject. With a whopping 88 vineyards growing over seventy varieties of grapes, combined with 53 tasting rooms and four dedicated wine trails, the Valley is a mecca for wine enthusiasts.

Where there’s wine, there has to be food, and according to Andrea and Ashley, you can easily indulge your inner foodie with artisan cheeses, handcrafted ice cream and chocolates, local produce, and much more. Farm stands, farmers markets, food trucks, and restaurants serving fresh, innovative fare abound, with a variety of cuisines from Greek and Korean to Mexican and Hawaiian. I am salivating as I write these words, itching to sample this world of flavors.

The region is also an outdoor playground, with some of the state’s most breathtaking spots, from Crater Lake National Park and the Natural Bridge to the scenic Rogue River, Union Creek and Table Rocks. And I hear the waterfalls are spectacular. You can hike, bike, paddle, raft, fish, swim and even ski in this natural paradise. It’s heaven for adrenaline seekers, as well as those wanting to just stop and nibble at the blackberries. And the region’s 200 days of sunshine up the incentive to get outside and explore this picturesque area.

Just twenty minutes south of Medford is Ashland, home to the renowned Oregon Shakespeare Festival, a must for theatergoers. But, there’s also plenty of arts and entertainment options right in Medford, with local theaters and performing spaces, some even historic and restored to their former glory. I was told I should definitely put the Britt Festival on my list. It’s a summer music and arts event on a hillside estate in nearby Jacksonville that draws world-class performers.

It’s time I took another look at Medford, as obviously I’m missing out on a lot!

By Debbie Stone, 

I was sitting across the conference room and spotted two friends, I knew they were friends because they were laughing easily with each other and clearly comfortable in conversation. It was later I met Ashley and Andrea of Travel Medford and was embraced by their kind warmth. We all live in the same state, however, hours apart. I was excited to learn of Medford's anchor location to many hot spots in Oregon, such as Crater Lake, Appelgate wine region, and the Rogue River. I didn't realize how perfectly located Medford is in Southern Oregon and, as such, a great place to day trip from. I am eager to explore destinations from Medford.

By Valerie Estelle Rogers, 

Ashley Cates avatarHEART OF THE ROGUE. Let Medford be your launchpad for sampling everything Southern Oregon has to offer. Travel Medford inspires discovery through compelling narratives, new technology, and personal interaction to establish Medford and the Rogue Valley as a premier destination in the Pacific Northwest. 


Andrea Childreth avatar

Your contacts at Travel Medford:
Ashley Cates, Travel Medford Creative Director
Andrea Childreth, Travel Medford Marketing Director

From the New York Times Travel Show

By Chris Cutler

As I did last year, I attended the New York Times Travel Show Media Day to discover a few tips that I could pass on to you. In hopes of gaining sponsors for our 2020 conference, I spent the afternoon at the exhibition show and talked with a number of convention or tourism reps. During the morning sessions, however, I attended travel media and information panels. I hope you find this information helpful.

Panelists seated on stage

5. Interest in leisure travel continues to increase, and 56 percent of respondents said they plan to travel in the next six months. Business travel is not growing as quickly as “Go to Meeting,” “Zoom,” and other internet platforms allow companies to meet via video conferencing.

Influencer ad with parachute jump team

4. Millennial spending on travel will go down, and Gen-X spending will go up about 15 percent. Boomers are the main targets right now with their spending expected to rise about 45 percent this year. This matters as you might want to focus on themes popular with boomers.

3. While wellness was an important niche in travel writing and marketing in 2019, this year’s focus is the environment. With concern about the impact of travel on the environment, travelers are seeking ways to lessen their carbon footprint. They are also interested in tours that inform and explore the environment. More than 69 percent of travelers state they want to see the world now before it changes.

Environmental Travel Trend Graphic

Article images @ChrisCutler

2. Every minute, there are 3.8 million Google searches, one million logins to Facebook, and 4.5 million people watching YouTube. The top social media outlet for travel writers and travel websites remains Instagram followed by Facebook, Snapchat, Pinterest, and Twitter.

1. Quality content and beautiful photos paired with professional writers are the keys to success. More than 50 percent of travelers say they pick locations based on photos they see and stories or insider information that they read.

Photography Tip

By David Nershi, CSW 

Understanding how to work with light and shadow is extremely important. Light brings the focus to your subject matter while shadow gives it depth. For most photography, natural light is usually ideal. 

35mm camera, iphone & open laptop on rough wooden desk

Bright light streaming through a window can create a very harsh contrast in your images. On the flip side, you don't want your light to be too diffused, as this will yield a flat, lifeless photo. Your goal is to find a place to create nice, soft shadows.

Put your hand where you plan to shoot to see what sort of shadow it will cast. While this is a good general guideline, it isn't hard and fast. Sometimes pronounced shadow in your images will set a nice mood. It can also be nice when you have glassware and beverages in the shot, as it will cast pretty shadows of varying shapes and tones.

The direction and amount of light is also important. If you have light coming from all around, it will kill the shadows (and therefore the depth) of your scene. Aim for one light source, coming from either the side or the back.

Backlit photos can be especially nice when beverages are involved as the light filters through and brings a lot of life to the drink. If you are shooting with natural light indoors, be sure to turn off any non-natural sources of light. Otherwise, you'll end up with pops of yellowish tones contrasting against the daylight tones.

IFWTWA 2020 Conference Graphic Ad text over seasheels

Get to Know Our New Members

By Cori Solomon, Membership Chair

Row of wine glasses with various colored wine


Kathy Merchant avatarKathy Merchant
Vino Ventures 
Cincinnati, Ohio

Vino Ventures is a wine and travel blog founded in 2013 by Kathy Merchant (and Amy Neyer, who was part of the start-up). Her current blog project is "United States of Wine." Kathy's credentials in wine include Diploma from the Wine & Spirit Education Trust, both French and Italian certifications from the Wine Scholar Guild, and Certified Specialist of Wine. Her travel writing has also been featured by Venue Magazine, Wine Scholar Guild (France), and French Wine Explorers (Tuscany tour). She is the former CEO of Greater Cincinnati Foundation. She has published nonprofit sector trade articles for Stanford Social Innovation Review and Foundation Review, and in June 2020 will release her first book as managing director and editor: Imagineers • Impresarios • Inventors: Cincinnati’s Arts and the Power of Her 

Kathleen Messmer avatarKathleen Messmer
Indie Spirit Live!
Albuquerque, New Mexico

I've been a filmmaker, photographer, and writer for years. With my children grown and gone, I'm able to pursue what I combined with travel. Being able to express myself in both mediums domestically and internationally has been a dream come true.

Liz Orient avatarLiz Orient
The Traveling Editor
San Diego, California

I am a travel journalist by passion and a copy editor by training. I enjoy writing about unique destinations in the United States and abroad. My favorite experiences involve meeting new people and learning about different cultures. I regularly contribute to my own travel website/blog, the San Diego Reader, and East County Magazine. I have published 20 blog posts and 10 magazine articles. I am connected with PR and media professionals on Muck Rack.

Board Notes

By President Linda Kissam

Board Notes

Happy New Year, everyone! 

We start this year out by choosing two new priorities to focus on. The first is membership. We are asking our membership committee to increase overall membership by 10%. Chair Cori Solomon has developed a plan of action of this year, but she could use your help via referrals for not only Regular Members but Associate Members as well.

Remember, you get $25 off your upcoming membership fee each and every time your referral is confirmed. An outstanding example of someone who has really lent a helping hand in raising our numbers is Noreen Kompanik. Since joining IFWTWA, she sent us eight referrals.

The second priority is creating a new mission statement to go hand-in-hand with our new bylaws. We hope to have that in place by mid-year. If you would like to be part of that committee, please contact me at your earliest convenience.

Our 2019 conference was a success and made its financial goal, but we find that we will need to ask more of the 2020 committee. As in your own life, prices keep going up for this association. As they go up, the Board has to keep juggling its yearly budget. The conference and membership revenue are our primary sources of income. As they go, so goes the things the association can offer its members. We sincerely hope that you will attend this year’s fall conference in Florida and that you will refer at least one person this year for membership.

I am pleased to tell you that phase one of the website repair has been completed. Many revisions later, the Board is hopeful that this current version is workable and more user-friendly, but it is an ongoing process. In 2020, we will concentrate on maintaining what we have and making improvements as the budget allows. We still have a contractor working with us on this ongoing project as we just do not have the skilled IT and content volunteers to take this project on. What we had hoped would be a site managed by volunteers has turned out to be too complex and time-consuming. We still could use some content volunteers to help out in specific ways. If you have an interest, please contact us

Our social media outreach is gaining traction. Outside of Pinterest, our other three main social media (SM) channels (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram), showed a significant increase in follower/like numbers for 2019 under the direction of board member Tom Westerhof. With a better handle on the accounts, Tom sees continued steady growth throughout 2020.

Tom needs help with Social Media ASAP. The extra help is required in order to take our SM presence to the next level. Maintaining SM sites is one thing. We should strive, however, to actually make them impactful.

IFWTWA Social Media Numbers Report:

  • Twitter followers (managed by Tom Westerhof) – 7564 (loss of 4)
  • Facebook likes/followers (managed by Tom Westerhof) – 7480 likes (gain of 1553) /8096 followers (gain of 1569)
  • Instagram followers (managed by Tom Westerhof) – 549 (gain of 33)
  • Pinterest followers (currently vacant) – 816 followers (gain of 3)/15 views (gain of 1)

IFWTWA Resources: Connect with our members and experts 

Wine 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.

Reach out today! It's fun and mutually beneficial to network with your colleagues. Learn from each other and grow your own and fellow member's career goals and online presence. We know you are busy, on-the-move professionals, so your participation in IFWTWA is very much appreciated.

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Chris Cutler
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