Claudette Covey is the Executive Editor for travAlliancemedia covering Mexico, Canada and the U.S. East Coast for travel agents and consumers. Today she talks to us about how she got her start as a travel writer, how business writing differs from consumer writing and the hottest places to explore in Mexico.
Before we get into what you’re doing now, how did you get started as a travel writer and what led to your early successes?
I wish I could say there was a strategy behind my career as a travel writer, but that simply isn’t the case. After graduating from college with a degree in creative writing, I moved to New York City with the aim of obtaining any job I could find in the publishing industry.My first job was as an editorial assistant with the now-defunct True Detective magazine. I loved the job but the pay was abysmal.
After a year or so with the magazine, I contacted an employment agency that specialized in publishing to find a higher paying position. I ended up taking a job at trade travel magazine, where I worked as a secretary for the ad sales department and later joined the editorial team in the same type of position. Eventually, one of the editors left for another travel magazine and hired me as an editorial assistant, which was really the launch of my career.
I believe my early successes were based more on tenacity than talent. My ability to work extremely well and efficiently with virtually any type of person under a wide range of circumstances also contributed to my success.
Did you do a lot of writing for trade publications before, when you were a freelancer?
My travel background is primarily on the trade side in positions that have included stints as a reporter, managing editor and executive editor. When I embarked on a freelance career after those full-time positions, most of my work came from trade publications. I supplemented that with the occasional consumer magazine article, along with promotional writing about cruise lines and tour operators.
How does writing for business differ from writing for consumers and what do you like about that?
Generally speaking, what makes trade/business writing interesting is that it provides a behind-the-scenes view of how the travel industry operates from a business sense. Stories tend to focus on travel companies from a business perspective and are thereby of more interest to those in the trade, including travel agents, tour operators, and cruise lines. Consumer focused destination writing is a little broader and includes information that would be of interest to both travel agents and consumers. Nonetheless, those articles invariably include information that will help an agent sell the destination to their clients.
That said, the Internet is blurring the lines between consumer writing and business writing. TravelPulse, the travAlliancemedia website, for instance, was once targeted only to the trade. Now it targets both trade and consumer audiences. So as a business writer I am increasingly creating copy designed to appeal to both audiences.
Tell us about your current position as an Executive Editor at travAlliancemedia and what you do on a weekly or monthly basis.
I cover Mexico, the U.S. East Coast and Canada, and travel agents. I write – at minimum – two stories a day on those subjects for the website. I write approximately four 1,500-word magazine articles a month (sometimes more, sometimes less) for our monthly print publications, Agent @ Home and Vacation Agent, on issues pertaining to travel agents and destinations. And I also travel about 10 or so times a year, primarily to Mexico and array of travel agency conferences.
What advice would you give to freelancers who want to pitch ideas to trade publications or even get a full-time position at one of them someday?
First, read the publications and website(s) of the company you’re pitching and suggest ideas that are in line with what those publications and websites are publishing. Just because you have an article that you believe is interesting doesn’t mean it will be an appropriate fit for those publications. So I recommend taking a good hard look at the types of articles being published and suggest story ideas that fit well with that content.
Establishing yourself as a valued freelancer for any given website or publication is a great way to eventually land a full-time position. There’s certainly nothing wrong with letting editors know you are interested in full-time work – when and if you are.
Since you specialize in Mexico and have spent a lot of time there, where would you tell people to go that’s beyond the usual beach resort spots?
I guess it categorizes as a beach resort, but nonetheless, Tulum is hot hot hot right now with hip and trendy travelers. I would recommend it for anyone interested in a “scene.” While large all-inclusive resorts are ubiquitous in the Cancun/Riviera Maya region, Tulum offers a very different low-rise travel experience.
On a similar note, Huatulco in the state of Oaxaca is a sustainable resort community, generating 90 percent of its energy from windmills and 10 percent from water. And it is gorgeous, with 36 beaches laid out over 22 miles and nine bays.
Anyone who wants to truly get away from it all should give Holbox a whirl. It’s a two-hour drive from Cancun and only accessible by ferry. It’s got all of 300 hotel rooms and one ATM. There are no cars on the island. Transportation is by foot or dune buggy. It’s pretty great.
Claudette Covey is an Executive Editor for travAlliancemedia which includes TravelPulse.com, Vacation Agent Magazine and Agent@Home Magazine. The publications are a vital resource for travel agents keeping them up to date on the latest travel news, trends and deals. Claudette specializes in travel throughout Mexico but also covers Canada and the U.S. East Coast.