Succí¨s á la Française

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I’ll say this week’s theme in French — succí¨s. This was the first word that came to mind when I contemplated ‘success’ and ‘travel.’ It reminded me of when I started my travel writing career over a dozen years ago. I was in marketing research for a number of years, but grew increasingly dissatisfied with that career path. One day, I realized what I liked to do was travel and tell people about my trips. Following this Eureka moment was the realization that I should become a travel writer.

Not too long after that I met a man at a fundraiser in Provincetown who was the editor of OUT & ABOUT, the premier print-based monthly subscription newsletter at the time. (OUT&ABOUTwas absorbed into PlaneOut, then Here Media and is no longer published.) So, I thought, why not just throw myself on him, metaphorically speaking anyway? I told him that I loved to travel, that I was a good writer, and that I spoke French and Italian. A month later he asked me to write a monthly ‘CityScene’ column about Boston where I was living at the time.

After a few of these he and the publisher offered me my first real assignment and off I went to the South of France with little more than a plane ticket, a rental car reserved, and a few contacts in the tourism community there. No lodging! After a long overnight flight to Nice, there I was on the phone trying to hunt down tourism officials. I connected with one who gave me the name of a hotel that might be interested in hosting a travel writer for a gay publication. I called the name and he invited me and my travel companion — a woman friend from college who also spoke French — to have a coffee with him. No promise of lodging; the day’s getting longer; I’m getting a little nervous.

We met with him, and I guess we charmed him since at the end of the coffee, he offered us two nights hosted accommodations. With breakfast. Succí¨s! My first hosted lodging — all done in French to boot. I called this ‘passing the salon’ test. For each contact we made at a hotel, we were invited for a coffee or glass of wine, and after an hour or so, invariably we were invited to stay the night or have dinner, get a special tour of a vineyard, see a private art collection, or drive in a vintage Peugeot.

For 12 days we toured our way around Provence, passing salon test after salon test, meeting fascinating folks in the travel and hospitality industry — hotel owners, restaurateurs, wine makers, cultural liaison, and on — who imparted the passion and knowledge of their industry and region to us. The article I was assigned to write grew into a major 20-page travel guide that for many years was the definitive gay guide to the area. All in all, un grand succí¨s.

About The Author

In dot 429's words: "dot429's Travel writer, Ed Salvato, is highly regarded as a journalist and LGBT travel guru. Salvato's work has been published by some of the most important LGBT media outlets, including Out Traveler, The Advocate, Out Magazine, OUT & ABOUT, SDGLN.com, TripOutGayTravel.com, and PlanetOut.com. Ed's also the on-air call-in travel expert for the Derek & Romaine Show on Sirius/XM OutQ and Proud FM Toronto. Recently Salvato joined OutThink Partners, a communications and marketing firm, where he is excited to focus on travel, tourism, and the LGBT market." "Salvato is dedicated to connecting LGBT travelers with unique, interesting, and exciting experiences offered by hotels, resorts, and attractions that invite and welcome their business. Salvato is an active member of the dot429 professional network and editorial community." I've also been developing an expertise in social media. I have managed two large social media campaigns this year. One was for a $10M 3-week-long arts festival in Philadelphia (PIFA; PIFA.org) ; the other for Philly's 11-day Independence Day festivities (Welcome America; WelcomeAmerica.com).

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