At Opus we host lots of media, and in return they write stories about Vancouver and (we hope) say great things about us. Recently I’ve been approached by writers of travel blogs like vagablond.com who want write a review. Tech companies and celebrity publicists have long recognized the ability of popular bloggers to generate buzz. But only recently has the travel industry begun to catch on.
Yesterday I had lunch with a colleague, Mika, from Tourism BC, who told me she wants to host a media fam comprised solely of bloggers. I think it’s a brilliant idea. Now that I’m a blogger, the importance of bloggers in my mind has increased dramatically.
For those not familiar with the term “fam”, it is short for familiarization trip. Hotels and tourism bureaus host groups of travel agents, meeting planners and corporate bookers to allow them to experience a destination firsthand. The objective is show them such an amazing time that they go home and tell everyone. Everything is usually free, which makes me think that bloggers would be very enthusiastic participating.
When Opus first opened we hosted all sorts of fams to get the word out, giving free accommodation to anyone remotely influential in the travel industry. We now restrict fams to media groups and film companies, who generate the best results. For media fams, our publicists in LA and New York corral journalists from a variety of outlets. We put them up for a few nights, host a dinner, and hook them up at various spas, restaurants and attractions. Past notable participants include George Wayne of Vanity Fair and Grant Stoddard of Men’s Health.
One of our more memorable media fams took place at the same time Anthony Bourdain, bad boy chef and author of Kitchen Confidential, was staying at Opus. We invited him to our reception, and over champagne he enthralled us with anecdotes about his life as a celebrity chef and hedonist. Moments earlier, Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner had been spotted in the lobby, so everyone was feeling that Opus was quite a fabulous place to be.
Then I noticed smoke billowing from the behind of a man Anthony had arrived with. He had unwittingly backed up against a candle and set his jacket on fire. The jacket went up in flames, everyone screamed, and the man ran around in circles crying out for help. Someone yelled at him to remove the jacket, which he finally did, throwing it to the floor. We all poured our drinks on it (a waste of good champagne), and a banquet server stamped it out.
The man was not hurt, but he was very angry. After uttering veiled threats about suing the hotel, he marched off in a huff, clutching his smoldering jacket, never to be seen again. It turned out that he was not with Anthony; in fact, no one knew who he was. Still, I feared that every piece written by these journalists would start with this story, the lesson being not to crash a party at Opus or you may be set on fire. Fortunately, they focused on the more positive aspects of their stay.
Anthony Bourdain swept into Vancouver once again a few weeks ago, on a tour to promote his new book, The Nasty Bits. I haven’t read it yet, but I loved Kitchen Confidential. We held a reception for him, where he once again regaled local media and staff. Fortunately, this time no one was set on fire.
posted by Daniel Edward Craig at 12:49 PM
Daniel – what a great idea to have you doing this. I greatly enjoy it and as a manager in the hotel business it is even better. I wish my GM was as personable. 🙂 I know it must be hard finding time for this but I urge you to keep it up. Thanks!
Queen of My Own Destiny said…
I stayed at Opus several times a few years back, just after you opened. I am no one special and had to rely on a strong US dollar to even afford it. However, your staff always treated me like a princess and made me feel special.Although I haven’t been able to afford a trip back to Vancouver and the Opus recently (guess that conversion rate was too good to be true forever!), I am enjoying reading your blog and “keeping in touch” with the hotel. I will always remember the exceptional treatment and service your staff gave me.Heather MooreLawrence, Kansas
Hotel Newtravel said…
great blog 🙂
I came from shanghai China; I worked as a hotel general manager in shanghai city. I want to be a new friend with you.my bolg is http://blog.sina.com.cn/zhanglei75
Thank god, people to relate at l
ast. I am a General Manager based in the UK. We’re only a little Hotel, about 26 rooms, and although we have two sister hotels we are pretty much stand alone. Anyway, about 2 weeks ago i managed to make a remarkable jump from Senior Receptionist to GM of what can only be described as an extremely run down hotel with spectacular sea views (when the double glazing isn’t full of condensation). Even I am aware that I need help.