How to Pitch an Episode for the Amateur Traveler
I often get asked the question “Where do you find the guests that you have on your wildly popular travel podcast Amateur Traveler?” (Well, that’s at least what I hear in my head when people ask a similar question). The answer is that most of the episodes come about because someone pitched me an episode that they wanted to do or that they wanted to hear. Some pitches are well received and some… less enthusiastically. Here is a guide to pitch so that you end up in that enthusiastic bucket.
- Rule 1 – The Amateur Traveler is about Destinations. Pitch a destination, not a book, movie, app, tour, website, news story, the tourism industry, resort, or author.
- Rule 2 – We are looking for good stories, yes, but the target show is a place real people would want to go and activities real travelers would want to do.
- Rule 3 – We are looking for timeless content. People are still downloading even the oldest episodes of Amateur Traveler (2005). We will not tend to do an episode about the London Olympics, Shanghai World’s Fair, etc.
- Rule 4 – Picture a typical American who travels 2 weeks a year. We are looking for an itinerary that takes roughly a week or at least a long weekend.
- Rule 5 – 30% of the listeners of the Amateur Traveler are overseas. I am looking for destinations worth getting on a plane and flying to.
- Rule 6 – All Amateur Traveler episodes are tagged by country name and categorized by continent or region. Look to see if we have done a show on that destination before you pitch. Check out the episode map of the shows I have already done.
- Rule 7 – You are pitching me (Chris). Even if everyone else in the world would be interested, if I am not interested I won’t take the 8+ hours that putting out a single episode of the show can take. Think slightly adventurous but not crazy. Think rich in history and culture. Forget about all-inclusive resorts that isolate you from the culture. Think independent or small group travel over big bus tours. Hanging out all day and drinking just sounds boring to me. Spending a day at the beach is probably a good idea but doesn’t make for a very interesting episode.
- Rule 8 – I am looking for people who have recently spent time in the destination. So I would much rather talk to a local or a temporary local than someone who has only been to a destination for a few days. This especially true for well-known destinations
- Rule 9 – I am not looking to interview representatives of the tourism board who are paid to tell me that a destination is great.
Pitches That I Want
- “I noticed that you have not done a show on Tonga. My wife and I went there and among the things we did was swim with whales. Would you be interested?”
- “I just spent 3 years researching a book on…”
- “I have lived for the last 2 years in name of place, I see you have not done a show on name of place yet“.
- “I could not find an episode on random place that you have not covered, I am visiting there next month. Would you be interested in doing an episode about it when I get back?
- “I see you have an episode on country from n years ago, but I think someone could spend a whole week just in the city area of country.”
- “I see that you may or may not have an episode on place but I wondered if you wanted to come visit so you could do an episode on place”.
Pitches That I Never Need
- “He has written a new novel about some random thing. Please contact me if you are interested in setting up an interview”. We no longer do book reviews on the Amateur Traveler site. We don’t do them on the podcast. Unless the book is a guidebook, don’t bother.
- “Has created the best travel website since sliced bread. Would you like to set up an interview?” We seldom do blog posts about new travel sites because there are so many of them and they all tend to look alike after a while. We never do a podcast about a website.
- “Summer camps are catering to children and teens by offering…” We very very very rarely (almost never) do theme shows on the Amateur Traveler but they are more likely going to be family travel, budget travel, adventure travel, solo travel, and especially volunteer travel. But they will never be about a particular program at a particular resort or camp.
- “In honor of the historic Coney Island Cyclone’s 85th Anniversary…”.
- “I spend a day in…”. The shows that don’t make it past the interview are mostly from people who just did not know enough about a destination to be interesting. I am probably only going to do one show on Iceland every 5-7 years so I am going to wait until I find the right guest.
- “You just did a show on place name, I could do a better job than your guest.” You are probably right, but I just did a show on place name. Only once have I followed up with a show on the same destination in less than a year.
Pitches That I Seldom Need
- “She’s also a highly influential blogger/writer and author of The Something Or Other Book”. The Amateur Traveler podcast is about destinations. Lead with a destination, don’t lead with a person, especially a person I don’t know.
- “He has ridden a skateboard across the United States”. The more odd your story the less relevant it is to actually people trying to decide where to go on vacation. We occasionally do shows on through hiking, trekking, cycling, etc. I will never do a show about riding a unicycle around the U.S., swimming to the Bahamas, etc.
- “He is the head of Such and Such a Place’s Tourism Board. If you would like to organize a time to speak with Him…”. Tourism PR people often make bad guests. No destination “has something for everyone”. Golf bores me and I only get one Spa massage every 50 years. First, pitch me a destination but then, pitch me a guidebook writer, a blogger, a podcaster, a storyteller, a tour guide, or a local. Find me someone who loves the destination but knows what kind of people won’t.
- “I just like to sit in the square and people-watch.” So do I but that makes a boring podcast. I want to hear what is unique about a destination. I want to know what festival I shouldn’t miss, what secret spot the locals know about, and what tiny museum is worth a stop and you better know that I will ask about the history of the place. Think of the Amateur Traveler as an audio guide. The information you look for in a guidebook is what I want on the show.