At a travel bloggers’ conference in Athens, I learned about various resources – things I never realized existed: Destination Marketing Organizations (DMOs) and Tourist Boards and internet pages which list all sorts of important anniversaries you can “pin” an article pitch on. Some people want bloggers to show up and write. This always strikes me as odd, that anyone would do something suggested by a stranger with a computer – which is basically all it takes to become a blogger.
Shortly after returning from Athens, I began to plan our trip to Philadelphia for Christmas. With this advice fresh in my mind, I dashed off an email to the Philadelphia Tourist Board. Immediately, I received a lovely response welcoming me to the city and offering me a VIP museum press pass. Frantically, I reread my email, looking for how I had misrepresented myself. Never lacking in self doubt, I sent a clarification email. “Sorry. Please let me assure you, I am a nobody – neither V nor I, just simply a P – one of millions actually.” The woman responded that she was thrilled to have me in the city, and she would mail the VIP pass to my son.
The pass arrived in a few days and it enabled me, plus three guests, to visit almost every museum in the city for free. Free! With limited pre-Christmas time, we decided to start at the small Rodin Museum. As I sheepishly showed the pass to the sales clerk, the man looked up unimpressed, “I’ve never heard of this.” He read the details, looked at me, reread the details, and then shrugged and handed me three free passes. Then, he added a warning. “Just keep in mind. The Philadelphia Art Museum will likely want to see your press credentials.” For the next hour, we wandered around the Rodin with me whispering at each and every statue, “Can you believe I just saved us 30 bucks?” That night, I placed a few World in Between business cards in my wallet. They would need to suffice as press credentials.
The next day, we tackled the Philadelphia Art Museum which housed a special Paul Strand Photography exhibit. The young woman asked for a photo ID and stepped away from the desk to the back room, “I’ll be right back. Please wait there.” I whispered to Pat, “The jig is up.” I imagined her returning with two armed police officers, “Ma’am, you are going to have to come downtown.” But she came back in a minute or two and chirped, “Everything is in perfect order. Here are your passes. Enjoy the museum.” This time, I had 80 dollars in passes and a crazy adrenaline high.
If I ever expect to make a run at this, my confidence and my attitude will need to change. Perhaps this evolves over time. Or maybe all bloggers present their VIP passes that first time and say, “You are not going to believe this. I have no problem paying. I am even willing to add on a small donation for any trouble I may have caused.”
Unfortunately, before we could visit a third museum, the flu stopped us. Expect a post or two about the museums of Philadelphia once we get back home and Pat can process his photos. When I accepted that pass, I made an implicit contract to write about them. A sweet woman in the tourist bureau trusted me. I won’t let her down. Maybe one day I’ll act like I deserve this. It’s just going to take time.
Categories: The United States