What is BBC Travel?
BBC Travel is a feature section within BBC.com that provides inspiring and high quality content on destinations around the world. It is fuelled by new, unexpected and emotionally engaging stories from a global community of editors and authors who provide a trusted perspective on the world of travel. We are independent, impartial and honest.
BBC Travel is targeted at curious, passionate readers who want to learn about the world as much as they want to travel there. They are professional, affluent and intelligent. They are more concerned with the value of an experience than its price.
What is BBC Travel’s content strategy?
We tell readers about places they’ve never been and show them a new side to places they think they know. With an open mind, an eye for the surprising and a global voice, we inspire our readers to fall in love with the world.
We believe the world has become an incredibly negative place, and travel sites have followed suit. It’s all about baggage fees and flight delays, blackout dates and how long it takes to get somewhere. In a world of negative industry news, top 10 lists and substance-less roundups, most travel sites have forgotten about the experience of travel. We’ve forgotten how to celebrate the people, places, experiences and cultures that make this world so wonderfully diverse and amazing.
BBC Travel brings that celebration back.
To do that, we tell stories with new or unexpected angles that haven’t been covered before. These stories are emotional, relatable or educational (in the least-stuffy sense).
- Emotional: Emotional stories tug at you and elicit an emotional reaction. They can make you laugh or cry, feel empowered or scared. They can even prompt a sense of pride or nostalgia. They leave readers feeling like they’ve just watched a really great movie that they have to tell their friends about.
- Relatable: Stories should have an inspirational or unexpected human interest angle that helps a reader connect with a character and feel as though he or she is part of the story, or stories should say something about the reader and what he or she values.
- Educational: Educational stories pique readers’ curiosities and teach them something that few people know. They become the “cocktail party” conversations of travel, letting readers in on a secret that they’ll want to humbly brag about knowing. These stories can also teach readers something about themselves.
How are we doing this?
- We craft compelling, immersive and contextual travel stories, giving readers narratives that both paint a picture and provide a depth of understanding.
- We take our readers to a destination right now by ensuring that our stories have a relevant (non-seasonal), “why now” hook. Someone who has been to the destination before should be as captivated by the story as someone who is going there for the first time.
- We’re bringing back characters, and we value telling the story through the perspective of noteworthy locals. If half the fun of travel is meeting people along the way, then let’s highlight those people and encounters.
- We give context. We don’t just tell you what fondue is, we illustrate where it came from and explain why you should eat it in Geneva.
- We cover experiences that are high in value, regardless of the price tag. Travelling should be empowering, educational, inspiring and rewarding, and our content should create a burning desire in our audience to visit the places we write about.
- We look for photo-heavy commissions and ensure that all the photography on the site is of a standard of excellence.
In short, we're looking for stories that feature a new or unexpected angle that hasn’t been covered before, a strong, context-heavy narrative and an encounter or character that makes the story emotional, relatable or educational.
What will we likely reject?
We will likely refuse point-of-interest (POI) or venue-based articles or guides, lists or roundups. We will likely not accept pitches for event-driven pieces unless you have been specifically commissioned to do one.
BBC Travel will also likely reject:
- Any ideas that are too general
- Substance-less lists, bullets of venues and ideas without real writing attached
- Stories pegged to a seasonal “why now” hook, (ie, we should do this story because it’s spring)
- Outdated ideas (trends that peaked a while ago)
- Pieces that don’t keep the BBC audience in mind (eg. Top youth hostels of Europe)
Please note: You will likely not get a response from us if your pitch falls into one of these categories.
Pitches must fit the above criteria. Please submit a title (max 39 characters) and a short synopsis (50-100 words) briefly explaining the chosen topic/theme/angle/why you think it would work on the site/why it is relevant to the audience/why we should be writing about it now/what makes it emotional, relatable or educational, etc.
Questions to ask when crafting a pitch:
- What is the unexpected or new angle to this story?
- What is the (non-seasonal) “why now” hook?
- Is this story emotional, relatable or educational? How so?
- What’s the human interest angle?
- Please be aware that we receive many pitches, so it can take time for us to reply.
This is an example of a good pitch:
Spain’s secret food societies
I had heard about Basque gastronomic societies, sometimes called txokos, on my first visit to the region in 2013, but couldn’t figure out how to snare an invite to one. There are 1,000 or more of these clubs—which have traditionally been all male but now may or may not be—scattered around the Basque Country. The Basques are a proud yet somewhat reserved people. Secure an invite to a gastronomic society, I was told, and you’ll see how they open up around the common bond of good food and drink.
Why now hook: A number of all-male gastronomic societies have gone co-ed in recent years. And just a few months ago, a ban on women entering the clubs on Fridays has been lifted.
Sharable element: This hidden world of food will teach readers something new. They’ll be clued in to a secret Spanish culture that they’ll want to share with their friends and brag about knowing.
Feature articles (800 to 1,000 words)
We’re looking for features that inspire, entice and excite. Content needs to be immediately engaging, and written in a tight, fast-paced narrative style, packed with insider knowledge and with a strong “why now” hook. Articles need to be inspirational with a small amount of practical content, and they must be sharable.
The fee for a feature article is US$350 for a new writer and US$450 for a seasoned writer. The amount will be confirmed with you upon commissioning.
If you’re a good shooter then we’d love for you to supply relevant images to go with your feature, along with caption and credit information. If we run several of your images we will pay you an additional $100. Otherwise we can source accompanying images from stock libraries.
Here are some of our favourite stories:
Bhutan’s dark secret to happiness
Can Canada teach the rest of us to be nicer?
Why you should never drink whisky on the rocks
An ancient Ottoman capital surfaces
The Swedish cheese that can’t be moved
One of the US’ greatest mysteries
Rare photos of untouched Australia
Did this sleepy village stop the Black Death?
Photo essays (7 to 20 images, plus captions)
Photo essays should have a strong narrative arc, telling the story through images and informative captions. Horizontal format images are preferred as they look better on our site, but vertical images are also acceptable. All photo essays will only be commissioned upon seeing the images – please deliver the high resolution images via dropbox, wetransfer or another file transfer system. Payment is US$450.
Below are some of our favourite photo essays:
Where Algebra got its name
The master of Japan’s ancient tattoo tradition
India’s last surviving headhunters
Europe’s fierce, fabled villages
Most of our columns are not available for pitching. However, if you have an idea for a new column that you would like to write, please send through a pitch.
Tone should be evocative, authentic, entertaining and inspiring, aimed at professional and well-educated readers. Please look through the content on BBC Travel to get an idea of the style and tone we’re looking for. If you live in the UK, you can access the site via this Google Translate link. We shifted to this editorial vision in October 2013, so any story that ran before then is not a good example of what we’d run now.
We do not offer author bios unless you write for us regularly, but please provide your Twitter handle in your submitted copy so we can include you in our social pushes.
It is BBC policy to give every piece of content at least two edits. Please let us know if you’ll be off the grid for some time and unavailable for edits.
Please hyperlink any POI to the venue’s actual web address. If it does not have its own webpage, use your judgement to link to an informative source (not Wikipedia or Trip Advisor). Please do not hyperlink a subhead when the subhead is the venue’s name, but link the first reference after that in the text. When you can’t find any website for a venue, please include the address and phone number in parentheses.
Please ensure you check and verify all information, facts and documents, particularly those researched on the internet. This may include confirming with an individual or organisation that they posted the material and that it is accurate. We will edit and proof your content when it comes in, but we will not be doing any further fact checking of information.
Press trips, Sponsored Travel, Freebies, Comps and Discounts
BBC Travel does not allow press trips, sponsored travel, freebies, comps, funding assistance or media discounts, except in the rare case in which it is the only opportunity for press to be a part of something before the public launch, it is the only way to gain access to something or the story would be logistically unattainable otherwise. In all cases, this decision is up to the discretion of the editor, and any proposal to accept or attempt to receive such financial assistance should be referred to a senior editorial figure who will ensure the acceptance of such assistances does not compromise the BBC's editorial integrity.
Given the many permutations that sponsored travel can take, we expect you to let us know when pitching if the story stemmed from an experience for which you received any funding assistance, or if you’ll need to seek funding assistance to complete the assignment. In all cases, we need to approve it before commissioning, there is no assurance of coverage in exchange for such services and suppliers will not have an editorial say in the content.
We require all rights to articles/photo essays and will not purchase a piece that has been/will run elsewhere. We expect the narrative to be original content. For images, we require a license to run the photo(s) with your piece or in promotion of your piece.
If for any reason we cannot reach the editorial standards set by the BBC for publication then we reserve the right to pay a kill fee for your time. This fee is US$150 for features and photo essays.
We want to both engage our travel community and raise the profiles of our authors. If you’re on Twitter or Instagram, please send through your handle(s). We’ll file these and use them when tweeting your stories or regramming your photos.
You can also use the hashtag #BBCTravel when posting Instagram travel photos. The BBC Travel Instagram account will “regram” these photos and credit your personal account.
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Travel Editor – Anne Banas