Trust me, I'm an honest hack

If You ever wanted to know what a real press trip was like I'm now going to spill the beans, because I've just been on one (to the Seychelles).

I'll grant that a trip to a beach paradise in the Indian Ocean might not seem like a particularly tough assignment, though whether paradise will really involve being cooped up with five journalists and a PR rep for a week is slightly doubtful.

This is, basically, what press trips are all about: PR reps trying to sell a place to journalists by showing them as many good things about that place in as short a time as possible.

Naturally, the good things about a country from a touristic point of view tend to involve aperetifs at sunset, fine wines, fresh lobster, exclusive hotels, luxury swimming pools etc. They would not normally involve the soothing attention of the rep and thrill of being on a blind date with strangers (the other journalists) in an exotic climate.

In theory journalists are supposed to inspect what is on offer with the spirit of journalistic inquiry. They lug their notepads around, assessing the sandiness of the beaches, the picturesque qualities of the palm trees, the tallness of the Pina Coladas and wearily jot down the details as they go.

In case you were wondering whether they insist on wearing trilbys and dirty raincoats as they sip their cocktails on the beach, however, the answer is no. Personally I was wearing a silly sombrero and embroidered sandals for most of this particular trip, and my luggage comprised more sun tan lotion and insect repellent than pens and notepads.

Not that this need have interfered with my spirit of journalistic inquiry. In fact, being able to talk with besuited hotel executives while in my beachwear struck me as highly liberating.

What was much more worrying of course was the sinister possibility that the PR representative was giving me free lobster, not merely to enable me to assess the qualities of, say, Seychellois lobster as opposed to Mauritian lobster, but, in fact, to hoodwink me into putting into print the idea that lobsters grow on trees in the Seychelles.

Or even worse (assuming that journalists are not really that naive), to tempt me into writing nice things about the Seychelles with the subliminal threat that my lobster supply would be withdrawn unless I did so.

Journalists accepting

dodgy brown envelopes in exchange for good reports? Nice, cosy relationships between the trade and the press at the expense of ordinary holiday consumers? The unspoken promise of future trips if everything works out "nicely" with the write-up? As far as my trip to the Seychelles went, the evidence was inconclusive. I observed the curious phenomenon of people from trade magazines taking notes and conducting serious interviews while in their swimsuits. They did not look like fat cats. I personally found it hard to dispute that the Seychelles seemed a nice place to spend a holiday, and found it odd that the Seychelles Tourist Board were so anxious to prove this obvious fact.

Far from wallowing in the hospitality though, we were oppressed by the obligation of having to meet so many hoteliers and eat so many banquets in so short a space of time. We were also distracted by our own fascinating group dynamics, to the point where the Seychelles themselves became something of a sideline.

Perhaps more interestingly though, conversations - as always in the travel trade - revolved around the "product". We were presented with the islands of the Seychelles as a commodity to be consumed by tourists. The fact that this was actually a country with real people living in it was almost overlooked.

Instead of free lobster, what would have seduced me would have been the chance to blunder around the country on my own, running into the local bureaucracy, having altercations with town drunks, standing up on crowded buses (if there had been any crowded buses on the Seychelles).

I realise that there are worse jobs in life than eating banquets in the Seychelles and I'm not going to fall in with those irritating people who complain about having to do them. But I don't think press trips are going to corrupt me.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Senior Environmental Adviser - Maternity Cover

    £37040 - £43600 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's export credit agency a...

    Recruitment Genius: CBM & Lubrication Technician

    £25000 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides a compreh...

    Recruitment Genius: Care Worker - Residential Emergency Service

    £16800 - £19500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to join an organ...

    Recruitment Genius: Senior Landscaper

    £25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: In the last five years this com...

    Day In a Page

    The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

    They fled war in Syria...

    ...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
    From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

    Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

    Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
    Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

    Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

    Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
    From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

    Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

    From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
    Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

    Kelis interview

    The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
    Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

    Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

    But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
    Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

    Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

    Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
    Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

    Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

    Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
    Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

    Britain's 24-hour culture

    With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
    Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

    The addictive nature of Diplomacy

    Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
    Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

    Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

    Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
    8 best children's clocks

    Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

    Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
    Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

    Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

    After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
    Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

    How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

    Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
    Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

    'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

    In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea