One of our newest corporate members is Switzerland Tourism. We sent Jules Older to interrogate their key player in San Francisco, Matthias Kramer. Jules asked five questions …
What’s your job title, and what does that job entail?
I am Media Relations Manager Western USA at Switzerland Tourism. I am based on SwissPier 17 in beautiful San Francisco. My job entails supporting travel-media professionals with content and story ideas, organizing TV productions and media trips, and setting up events where we connect travel media directly with Swiss destinations.
Where are you from, and how did you get from there to San Francisco?
I grew up in Switzerland’s wide and green Alpine Rhine Valley, where the mountains on both sides rise up to 7,000 feet. For almost five years I worked for Swiss National TV, fact-checking news stories and travel documentaries. Then, when Switzerland Tourism was looking for a “Switzerland Expert,” I jumped into the tourism industry. After three years as Content Manager at head office in Zurich (mainly for the new nationwide road trip “Grand Tour of Switzerland” our Route 66), I was very lucky to have been assigned here. I moved to the Bay Area with my family.
What are the worst and/or most common mistakes you see travel journalists make?
On a personal level, 95% of travel media are a pleasure to work with. The most common mistakes are being too pushy, sending several emails a day, and rude behavior on media trips. On the professional side, keep your website updated and fresh, show that you are an active writer, and list your recent stories. Have potential outlets already in mind when approaching tourism boards. Don’t fudge the circulation or UVPM (Unique Visitors Per Month) numbers of publications or websites because they can be checked by the tourism organizations.
What’s your best advice for travel journalists who long to be invited to Switzerland?
Let us know your interest, already have an idea of the story, content or region you are interested in, and try to get an assignment from an editor. Switzerland Tourism and the Swiss destination partners prefer outlets that reach a wider audience, but niche publications which focus on an interesting target group are also considered. Unfortunately, we have limited manpower and resources (budget, flights etc.), so that we can send only a few journalists to Switzerland every year.
And finally, the question you most want to be asked?
What did you leave behind when moving abroad, and what did you find?
We were totally settled in, both had good jobs, had kids, and I was in a band. The hardest part is leaving family and friends, missing family events. But, you can make a clean cut: sell your car, sell your furniture, sell everything. Find new friends, stay flexible, be curious. And what really helped us, people here are very welcoming.