It’s a great pleasure to share our #FreelanceFriday featured journalist for May 2018: New York native, Caribbean aficionado Ed Wetschler. As the Caribbean editor of Recommend Magazine and executive editor at Tripatini, Ed uncovers the authentic delights of the region. An award-winning journalist, he has also contributed to The New York Times, Caribbean Travel & Life, Delta Sky, Frommers.com and more. Ed keeps his readers in-the-know with news they can depend on for expert travel planning for all facets of the Caribbean from regional news, new flights, luxury enclaves, niche travel, off-the-beaten path adventures and, yes, where to find the perfect Cuban cigar.
Q: How many times a year do you travel?
Once a month, but I’ll be grounded in June; I have to renew my passport because it’s all stamped up. Occupational hazard.
Q: What draws you to your stories?
Usually the editor-in-chief contacts me with a general theme (e.g. wellness); then I narrow that down to a tightly focused angle (e.g. resorts that offer boot camp weeks).
Q: What is something unique you do while at a destination/resort?
Whenever I check into a hotel, I keep my bag outside my door until I’ve photographed the room. It’s now or never, because within 15 minutes, chargers, vitamin bottles, and wet laundry will be strewn all over the place.
Q: What is a fun fact about you?
My signature Facebook photos in which I straddle Caribbean cannons in a faux heroic Gangnam-style pose have launched a small army of other Gangnam-style cannon riders/writers from as far afield as Portugal.
*Bonus fun fact: I am the press trip pharmacist. You have an allergy, a headache, a gastrointestinal problem, a cold? To quote Billy Swan, I can help.
Q: Can you share a favorite press trip experience? Why was it memorable?
I could share so many! There was the 14-hour eating binge on the last day of a culinary trip to Anguilla (we’d been training hard for this all week); snorkeling with both sharks and penguins in the Galapagos; visiting the home of a subsistence farmer near a resort area; and, after our commercial flight from Punta Cana to Puerto Plata was cancelled, getting a ride on a Dominican military transport plane. Top Gun, Baby!
Q: What is your ideal pitch?
An email with a clear subject line that tells me why I should write about this now, links to a good website and photos (for social media posts), and an open invitation to see the place/event for myself. For bonus points, the pitch would include prices. The fact that so many pitches — and travel articles and blog posts — do not mention price amazes me. After all, price is often the first thing travelers look for.
Q: What is the best pitch you have received? Why did it stick out?
It was a pitch for Tabasco, Mexico, home to the pre-Aztec and pre-Mayan Olmecs. I’d never read a travel story about visiting these ruins, so I replied, we worked out a visit, and I wrote a good article for Delta Sky.
Q: What is the worst pitch you have ever received?
Any pitch with a cryptic subject line, bad grammar (e.g. “Resort X Marks It’s Grand Opening”), or an invitation to a press trip that’s just a month away. The latter always confuses me: Are the organizers disorganized, or is it simply that I’m on their B List?
Q: What is your pitching pet peeve?
Responding to one of my HARO inquiries about some aspect of Caribbean islands by touting a destination that isn’t a Caribbean island. Like Panama. (“Can’t you fit it in?”)
Q: What is your favorite destination and why?
Everyone asks me that, and the answer keeps changing. I’m like the leprechaun in Finian’s Rainbow who sings, “When I’m not near the girl I love / I love the girl I’m near.” (Just substitute “place” for “girl.”) Also, “favorite destination” depends upon what you’re in the mood for. Romance? Family travel? Culinary travel? Partying? Golf?
Q: What do you wish people knew about the Caribbean?
I wish they understood how different each island is in its topography, rainfall, vegetation, culture, attractions, and more.
Q: If you weren’t a writer, what would you do?
I currently do some PR pro bono for a non profit, and I’d do much more of that if I had time. I’d also be more attentive to my wife and friends than I am as a travel writer.
Q: Fill in the blank. I look ahead at the future of travel to the Caribbean and see…
– More all-inclusive resorts offering sophisticated cuisine
– Contemporary design that doesn’t evoke the destination
– Overbuilding of shorelines
– Overcrowding of harbors and port cities because of cruise ship visits
– Continued progress at enhancing off-campus attractions such as historic sites, museums, reefs, farm visits, zip lines, hiking trails, and music/sporting/culinary events
Ed, thank you for always making it a pleasure to work with you.
If there’s someone you’d like to see featured or just want to say hello, e-mail Erica Hammett at firstname.lastname@example.org. Stay updated by subscribing to our blog and following us on Instagram and Twitter @MPA_Marketing. Happy pitching!