Finally, finally, finally - winter is behind us. Sure, it means that Caribbean travel opportunities may also fade away, but Europe, Canada, Asia, Africa, the United States . . . there is so much of the world to see and to write about!
This issue of TMAC Travels has lots to help start your springtime writing engines: Sandra Phinney gives us a new perspective on calculating what your writing time is worth. And Kat Tancock has a social media perspective on creating captivating food photos.
And there is good news, very good news from our national treasurer, Grant Fraser. Grant reports on TMAC's healthy surge back into the black! Make sure to read the finance report - it's good news all around with lots to celebrate.
INSIDE TMAC TRAVELS
- PRESIDENT'S REPORT
- TMAC 2015 YEAR-END TREASURER'S REPORT
- SOCIAL MEDIA REPORT
- CHAPTER NEWS
- MEMBER NEWS
- NEW MEMBERS
- SPOTLIGHT ON NEW MEMBERS
- WHAT IS OUR TIME WORTH?
- PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT: INDUSTRY HOW TO MAXIMIZE YOUR CONFERENCE ROI
- INQUISITIVE MINDS WANT TO KNOW
It's hard to believe that this year's Conference and AGM is a mere 10 weeks away. I just returned from yet another whirlwind visit to Cape Breton (the first was the site visit one year ago) where I participated in a panel entitled Media and the Tourism Industry Impact during Destination Cape Breton Association's (DCBA) Industry Day. It was indeed a very impressive lineup of topics and speakers and I was both thrilled and flattered to take part in it. My visit also gave me the opportunity to spend time with the DCBA team all of whom are busy ensuring our visit to Cape Breton will be amazing from beginning to end and beyond. To date, more than 95 industry and 86 journalists have registered and many of the pre-and post tours are already at capacity, so if you are planning to join us, act soon.
In addition to the continuing updates re: the 2016 TMAC Conference and AGM, the Request for Proposal for potential 2018 and 2019 hosts was issued to TMAC industry members in March.
The 2016 TMAC Conference and AGM Sponsorship Package will be distributed shortly highlighting four new sponsorship packages as well as a number of à la carte opportunities to suit everyone's budget. Preference for sponsorship will be given to TMAC members.
As you know, TMAC's 2015/2016 ten-member board meets monthly to report out on various committees and discuss issues and initiatives that impact us all. A few notables include:
- the introduction of a membership incentive between October 6, 2015 through to December 31, 2016 which offers new members $100 off to either the 2016 or 2017 conference fee.
- the adoption of the Travel Writer Advocacy Policy
- the re-introduction of chapter funding whereby each chapter will receive $25 per member in good standing as at March 31, 2016 to a maximum of $2,000 in 2016.
- the introduction of a significantly reduced re-instatement fee of $75.00 for those members who did not meet the renewal deadline of March 31, 2016.
This year's board has two more meetings before the Conference and AGM at which time a new board will be introduced to membership. As part of that process, a Call for Nominations will be issued shortly to help recruit TMAC members to fill open positions on the board.
A Call for Volunteers was issued in February and 12 TMAC members raised their hands to volunteer. Maureen Haley, Chair, Volunteer Committee is busy connecting volunteers with committee chairs now. Volunteering on a committee is a great way to meet TMAC members across the country and provide you some great insight on how TMAC's national board functions. If you or anyone you know would be a good fit for the board, please complete the nomination form.
With only three months to go, this Board still has a few new initiatives to develop and approve. Needless to say, we warmly welcome suggestions from our membership at any time.
Positive, pro-active and productive!
- Elizabeth Kerr, TMAC president
TMAC 2015 YEAR-END TREASURER'S REPORT
The following report is based on the audited year-end financial information provided by TOCS and our accountant, Les Lucyk, CPA.
For the year ending December 31, 2015, TMAC's total assets were $193,352 vs. $84,146 a year ago. This increase is due to a higher cash balance in our current account ($173,464 vs. $69,083 Y/E 2014).
Total TMAC 2015 revenues were $306,463 vs. $219,342 in 2014. The total revenue figure is comprised of membership dues ($110,836 vs. $93,987), conference revenue ($170,622 vs. $107,368) and awards ($25,005 vs. $17,987). Travel and awards subsidies collected were $23,031 vs. $15,783 expended resulting in a surplus of $7,248. This amount is included in the total operating surplus figure of $101,179.
Total expenses were $212,532 compared to $235,684 for the same period in 2014. Conference expenses ($67,287) and the TOCS management fees ($88,242) account for the largest amount of administrative expenses followed by the website and maintenance expense (Kellett) of $16,530, as budgeted.
Overall, total administrative expenses decreased by $23,152 or 9.8%. The largest contributor to this decrease are conference fees ($67,287 vs. $96,520 in 2014). Fees paid to TOCS remained virtually unchanged at $88,242 vs. $89,713 in 2014.
I am pleased to report that at the end of 2015, TMAC reported a surplus of $101,179. This compares to a surplus of $1,330 in 2014, a $25,418 loss in 2013 and a loss of $1,490 in 2012.
If you have any questions about TMAC's financial statements, feel free to send me an email.
- Grant Fraser, TMAC treasurer
|3. SOCIAL MEDIA COMMITTEE REPORT
From the social media committee, five tricks for better food photos.
Whether you're shooting for your articles or to post on social media, great images of local eats are a key part of travel storytelling in today's food-crazed world. But are you translating that delicious dish into pixels as well as you could be? Follow these tricks to boost the quality of your images. (Just don't forget to stop shooting and eat!)
i) Know your equipment
From macro to zoom to wide-angle, different lenses excel at different tasks - and it's worth learning how to make each one do its best. If you're shooting with an iPhone, know that your best food shots will be at right angles, either top-down (that classic tabletop scene) or straight forward (think a hand holding an ice cream cone against a brick wall). Turn on the gridlines on your phone to help you line things (knives, table edges, doorways) up properly.
ii) Set the stage
A little prop styling can go a long way. Take a few shots as you play around with the scene, straightening silverware, removing dirty glasses and adjusting plates and napkins. Rather than always shooting the perfectly laid-out dish, try "in progress" photos where, say, a piece of pie is resting on the fork, ready to be eaten, or a bite has been taken out of that burger.
No matter how beautiful the setting, if the subject is out of focus you're missing your best shot. On a smartphone, tap the screen to set focus (this will also set exposure). On an SLR or point-and-shoot camera, learn how to focus on various points in your scene.
iv) Use natural light
Food looks its most delicious when it's bathed in natural light - not a flash, and not overhead lighting. It's extremely difficult to get good photos in a restaurant at night, so consider using those for documentation purposes only, to help you describe the dish later. Harsh sunlight and shadows can also detract from the attractiveness of the subject, so watch where you're placing that plate. Learn to look at the scene as a whole and create a photo from it, rather than just documenting.
Move beyond the Instagram filters and learn to edit to make a photo look its best and make the food look as appetizing as possible. On your phone, you can use the in-camera editing tools to adjust brightness and contrast (often just tweaking those two can make a big difference) and rotate or straighten. Or download an editing app such as Priime, Snapseed or VSCO to gain even more control (and more sophisticated filters).
Posting your photos on Twitter or Instagram? Make sure to add a description and tag #tmacca so we can repost on the @travelmediaca accounts!
- Kat Tancock, social media committee chair
ALBERTA & N.W.T
The TMAC Alberta/N.W.T. chapter is busy planning our greatest spring season yet. Fresh off a fun and successful Mix & Mingle hosted by Tourism Golden, we are moving right into our next M&M event at Pigeonhole; named Canada's Best New Restaurant 2015 by enRoute magazine. The event is sure to be a crowd pleaser, offering members an opportunity to connect over Canada's most delicious fare.
In early March a few chapter members attended the Alberta Magazine Publishers Association (AMPA) Conference. Thanks to a new partnership, AMPA offered TMAC AB/N.W.T. members a discounted registration fee to attend. Workshops included seminars on how to get the most from Instagram, native social content and a keynote address on digital revenue ideas.
Planning is well underway for our PD session, happening May 13-14. Stay tuned for more details!
- Andrea Visscher, Alberta & N.W.T. chapter chair
The February Munch & Mingle was hosted by TMAC Ontario in partnership with Destination Cape Breton. It was held at Verity - voted Top 5 Women's Private Club (CNN). Swag bags were given to all attendees thanks to Verity and Destination Cape Breton. One of our illustrious members, Guy Theriault of Ontario Parks, ensured that everyone went home with a toque or scarf! Pictures attached thanks to Anne Marshall and Guy Theriault.
The Munch & Mingle on March 22, "Colouritblue," took place at the Pantages Hotel and was hosted by TMAC Ontario in partnership with Bruce Grey Simcoe, Blue Mountain Resort, Blue Mountain Village, Grey County Tourism and the Westin Trillium House. Live entertainment was provided by Wild River. There were stories and flavours of their area from apple orchards to salmon to Georgian Bay blues of summer and the Niagara Escarpment reds in the fall. Many guests left with some great prizes and everyone went home with a swag bag full of goodies from the destinations of Bruce Grey Simcoe. Picture of Mill Creek Chocolates, Owen Sound attached thanks to Gary Crallé.
Future Ontario chapter M&M's:
May 24 - Ontario Tourism Marketing Partnership Corporation
June - AGM in Cape Breton Island
July 12 - Special Road Trip (official host and date to be announced soon!)
September - Chelsea Hotel, Toronto
October - Available
November - Potential PD Session
December - Holiday M&M is Available
- Tracy Ford, Ontario chapter co-chair (industry)
We had more than 60 people attend our annual Spring Professional Development session at The Listel Vancouver. Although TMAC member Lucas Aykroyd was set to emcee, he was kidnapped for the day, and replaced by Darth Vader.
Star Wars: Episode TMAC was born!
We had a keynote address from Tom Gierasimczuk, publisher of Vancouver magazine and Western Living, seven roundtable topic sessions and a panel to close out the day where we discussed how to move beyond the standard press trip.
The Listel Hotel - "Vancouver's most art-full hotel" - is home to the brand-new Timber restaurant with casual Canadian fare. TMAC members enjoyed top media and industry speakers who cut through the hype like a lightsaber.
- Brian Cant, B.C. chapter chair
- Pam Wamback, Atlantic chapter chair
Janice Mucalov and George Mucalov are thrilled that their SandInMySuitcase.com blog won Silver for "Best Travel Blog" in the 2015 North American Travel Journalists Association (NATJA) annual competition:www.SandInMySuitcase.com
. They also won a Silver and a Finalist for two travel articles on the fairytale Mexican city of San Miguel de Allende and a "temple whisperer" in Indonesia.
Frommer's just released their travel guide to the Maritimes, written by Darcy Rhyno. It covers Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.
Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21, NS
Nancy Marshall Communications
|Lola Augustine Brown|
Upper Stewiacke, NS
Tourism Kamloops, Kamloops, BC
Upper Stewiacke, NS
Grand County Colorado Tourism , Granby, CO
In this new series, we shine the spotlight on a few of our new members. Each issue of TMAC Travels will highlight one new media member and one new industry member.
TMAC welcomes media member, Nicola Gordon, who lives on the outskirts of Toronto (www.zoom-travels.com
). Nicola is a freelance travel writer, photographer and systems engineer. She says, "The down side of three jobs is lack of sleep. But the up side is my perfect mix - camera time and writing, computer time and I get to see the world!" En route, she likely can be found doing everything from watching birds from a blind at 5 a.m. to savouring a delectable glass of ice wine, chowing down on local food, or browsing in a beautiful garden. "You name it, I'm interested, and I love looking for that fascinating angle to share with readers."
Although Nicola has spent the past few years focused on getting queries, articles and photos out the door, she realized that she was missing an essential element to running a business - networking. "I wanted to gain and share insights with folks who do what I do for a living. I also wanted the opportunity to connect with people who 'get' what I do and who understand the challenges."
What does she expect to get out of TMAC? "I would like to grow as a travel writer, photographer and business person by learning and sharing with the TMAC community."
The Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21 in Halifax, N.S. (www.pier21.ca
) officially reopened in June 2015 and is one of TMAC's newest members, represented by Stéphanie Comeau, Communications Coordinator.
Stéphanie says, "We are Canada's newest National Museum and one of only two located outside of the National Capital Region. As a National Museum we are entrusted to collect, share and pay tribute to the Canadian immigration story, from past to present day. We felt the time was right to join TMAC to reach out and share our broader story with our industry and media colleagues from across the country [as] our story touches all Canadians. Museum staff can also work with travel media by providing them access to immigration history content experts, first-hand accounts, genealogy researchers, as well as offer guided tours."
Stéphanie adds, "We hope to create long lasting relationships which will allow us to share our story with Canadians from coast to coast to coast. We look forward to welcoming you back to the start, to walk in the footsteps of over one million Canadians and to discover how Canada has been shaped by the world."
It's a curious human trait how we tend to put certain people and professions on a pedestal, while we look down on others. I was acutely aware of this when I farmed. When I taught university courses and wore a professor's hat, I had tons of respect. Wearing my farmer's hat ... not so much.
Even within the same profession, we set up arbitrary tiers of importance. For example, high school teachers tend to be held in higher regard than elementary teachers. Degrees from big-name institutions are sexier than degrees from smaller institutions.
The same happens in the writing world. There's a lot of prestige associated with writing for national magazines that pay $1 to $3 per word. People are impressed. Mention a little-known regional publication (worse yet, a local magazine) and some people's eyes glaze over. For many, low word-rates imply lesser quality magazines or insignificant productions.
I've discovered that for the most part, this is not true; I now think twice before I assume a snobbish stance.
But the main reason I've made a mental shift (crass as it may sound) is because I can often make as much money writing for a publication that pays 20 cents a word as I can for publications that pay $1+ a word.
"How so?" you ask. It all has to do with how long it takes to produce an article (or complete a contract) and knowing what your time is worth.
If you don't know these two things, start tracking your time. But first, write down how much you want to make a year. Next, look at your freelance business and figure out what things you do in the run of an average week that result in putting money in your bank account.
When I did this exercise several years ago, the first thing I discovered was that based on an average 40-hour week, I'm only in production for 20 hours. For me, "production time" includes interviews, research, transcribing, photo shoots, writing and revision - things that directly contribute to my receiving a paycheque.
The other 50 per cent of my time is spent writing queries, attending conferences, taking courses, doing admin stuff like filing, invoicing, tidying up my office, corresponding, networking, travelling, ad infinitum. Although important facets of my business, these are rarely part of an assignment or contract for which I get paid.
So when I'm in production, those 20 hours have to be worth a minimum of $60 an hour in order for me to reach the goal I set for my annual gross income. (Go ahead, do the math! Whatever your goal is, divide by the number of hours you are in production and you'll find out how much your time is worth.) For some it may be $30 an hour. For others it could be $100 an hour. Matters not. The important thing is to figure it out. Once you know what your time is worth, then you can arrange your business accordingly.
For years I wrote a 1000-word cooking column at 22-cents a word plus $50 for two photos for a total of $270. Average time involved: four hours. I was worth $65 an hour.
On the other hand, I once wrote a travel story for a national U.S. magazine for the same number of words for $1200. It required numerous phone calls, lengthy interviews and several re-writes because the editor kept changing the focus of the article. My net worth per hour for that story was $48 an hour. So high rates do not always translate into high pay for your time.
Of course, if you are a sucker for narrative journalism as I am, the amount of time invested in observing, reportage, photo shoots etc. can mount up to a phenomenal investment for paltry returns even when the pay rate is decent. In some cases, I've barely managed to make minimum wage - all for the sake of story. So I'm not a purist all of the time.
On the up side, Lady Luck occasionally makes an appearance. A few years ago after a backpacking trip to Senegal, I wanted more than ever to tell the tale, but couldn't find a market. I ended up selling the story to a local magazine that paid pittance. However, the gods and goddesses were kind - I received two TMAC awards of $1,000 each for the story and a photo. Instantly the worth of my time on that story catapulted from minimum wage to $200 an hour.
Another way to increase what you are worth is to write more than one story using the same research/interview material by finding different angles, different markets and different subjects to write about based on the original trip or assignment. This is where the time you invest in finding another market can double or triple what you are worth.
I decided long ago not to write stories for $100 from scratch because I know the value of my time would clock in around $10 an hour. However, I've sold some short pieces by recycling material in 90 minutes. In these instances, my time is worth about $66 an hour.
So we need to know - and understand - what our time is worth.
Addendum: I wrote this piece in response to this article in our last newsletter written by Nathaniel C. Oliver. https://chroniclevitae.com/news/1225-what-are-we-worth#comments
. I enjoyed the article. But his main subject, Scott Carney (and, perhaps the author) believes that we should be casting our lines to the likes of The New York Times and The Atlantic because of the higher per-word rates - which in turn, they believe is an indicator of how much we are worth. I beg to differ. Both can be lucrative; both can put us in the poor house. The important thing is to know what our time is worth in relation to each market we write for.
TMAC President, Elizabeth Kerr polled a few fellow TMAC members to compile this list of 10 tips for you to ensure you get the most from your investment.
- Set reasonable expectations for establishing qualified contacts.
- Attend all social events. Each event will result in at least one new introduction.
- During social events, switch it up. Mix and mingle with as many TMACers as you can. We are all there to network.
- Get to know your Media Marketplace appointments AHEAD OF TIME so you can connect on a story angle right from the "get-go".
- If you have an upcoming press trip, there is no better opportunity to meet qualified media to invite.
- You can't meet everyone during Media Marketplace. Review the list of attendees and identify those (both media and industry) you'd like to connect with and make plans to do so during breakfast (if staying at the same hotel) or during lunch or coffee breaks.
- If this is your first TMAC Conference, take advantage of the buddy system where you will be partnered with a TMAC veteran to show you the ropes. Details to be announced shortly. Even if it isn't your first time, pick a colleague to network with ... it's more fun and less daunting with two.
- There is a great lineup of Professional Development sessions being offered this year for both media and industry. Make sure to register for those that interest you and take the opportunity to join fellow colleagues in what will be a great learning opportunity.
- If you want to stand out in a crowd, ask a question during a PD session. It's a great way for people to identify you if they don't know who you are.
- Consider introducing people you feel would benefit knowing each other. The gesture will likely be returned soon than you think.
This month, a burning question was contributed by media member Hans Tammemagi, but as of yet, no answers from members. I am asking for anyone with success in working with international outlets, to send a reply to email@example.com
Keep your answer brief, but be informative.
How the dickens can we break into overseas magazine and newspaper markets, say, in Europe, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa? Every time I try, I Google the media outlet, get the editors' names and send off (what I think is a compelling) query. And then, frustration, I never hear back. How to break this deadlock?
|12.TMAC TRAVELS - NEWSLETTER SUBMISSION GUIDELINES
TMAC Travels is published bi-monthly. Publication of solicited and unsolicited articles is not guaranteed. Final content is decided by TMAC Travel's editorial board and the national board. Submissions should fit into one of the following categories:
MEDIA MEMBER NEWS
Professional news about you: books published, awards won, new markets obtained, positions attained, requests for travel-related information (story-specific requests ONLY), contact/profile information updates/changes.
Social notices about you: weddings, babies, non-industry awards and so on (at the editor's discretion and with a 50-word limit; these must be things directly connected to the member).
NOT allowed: requests for comps (airfare, accommodation, tickets, etc.), assignment requests, promotion of stories already written. INDUSTRY MEMBER NEWS
Professional news about you/your company: announcement ONLY of new products, new clients, travel-related info requests, contact/profile updates/changes.
Social notices: as per media, above.
NOT allowed: press releases, promotion of anything beyond new products, new clients or awards. (For information on distributing electronic press releases to all media members for a fee of $75, please contact TO Corp at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
The newsletter also seeks chapter news and info on press trips (short descriptions with dates, rough itineraries, requirements - e.g. assignment letter) as well as tips, news and updates submitted by members. PLEASE NOTE NEW SUBMISSION SCHEDULE
Items must be sent, with "TMAC TRAVELS" in the subject line, to Josephine Matyas at email@example.com.
Items may be edited for length, grammar or clarity.