The travel industry is infatuated with the word “free,” and face it, so are travelers. Don’t believe me? Then feel free to ask anyone who has taken advantage of a “free” deal and regretted it.
Not a day seems to go by that I don’t receive an email that commends me for my “well-written” site and asks, “Do you accept sponsored content and if so, how much you charge?”
These blind queries — they’re so generic that they can’t even bring themselves to address me by name or say which site I write for — are being sent by companies trying to place what’s called “native” advertising online.
Here’s what you need to know about native content: They’re ads masquerading as objective stories. And the practice has become so worrisome that the Federal Trade Commission, which regulates this form of advertising, recently held a workshop to discuss the problem.
But what, exactly, is the problem?
Let’s talk about money.
If you’re going to be a successful travel blogger, you’ll need some to pay your Internet service provider and web designer. You’ll have to pony up cold, hard cash for the equipment I recommended in the second part of this series.
It would be nice to have a little left over to pay the rent, too.
People think you have to take the vow of poverty when you become a travel blogger, or that your “payment” is press trips. Not necessarily.
When you get a fare quote from an airline or online agency, you should expect to pay that price. Right?
It’s not that the travel industry lies — although it often does — but that quoting a less-than-inclusive ticket price has so many advantages.
For starters, the government doesn’t make you do it. It’s also easier to quote an “unbundled” fare. Plus, it makes you more money ($7.8 billion in airline fees last year, most of it tax-free).
All that could change if the Transportation Department has its way.