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New Travel Waiver Introduced for Media and Influencer Hosting

By LIndsey Guinn 08/25/2020

Bringing members of the media to California is a foundational tactic in Visit California’s earned media strategy. The cost and care behind Visit California’s more than 1,100 media and influencer visits has more than returned the investment in valuable, authentic earned media coverage — even at the cost of the occasional lost luggage or twisted ankle.

Unfortunately, COVID-19 has greatly amplified the safety risks and potential liability of media visits to such an extent that Visit California paused all in-state visits in March 2020. These concerns — coupled with the invaluable coverage only possible through in-person visits — have prompted the organization to introduce a Media Visit Travel Waiver & Release for future media hosting. Visit California invites you to adapt this template for your tourism organization’s use.

Media Visit Travel Waiver & Release

Please note that this template does not constitute legal advice by Visit California and that you should confirm all points with your legal counsel before finalizing, as local standards and regulations may vary.

The waiver covers concerns specific to COVID-19 and current regulations, as well as general liability. It was created with input from industry partners and agencies and written to be adaptable, addressing the specific issues of travel during a pandemic while being flexible enough to stay relevant once the pandemic subsides. The waiver also addresses Visit California’s Responsible Travel Code to communicate to visiting media and influencers the Visit California's commitment to sustainable, safe and responsible travel.

A recent Public Relations Society of America webinar titled “Hosting FAMs During COVID-19: What Tourism PR's Need To Know About This Evolving Landscape” informed attendees that some states are offering legal protections against the kinds of liability issues that have arisen from coronavirus; unfortunately, the state of California does not currently provide any overarching immunity or legal protection, so waivers are a particularly important measure for California tourism organizations that host FAMs and other media events. The attorney on the webinar, Susan D. Rector, advised, “The more things you do and the more steps you take, the greater chance you have of reducing your liability.”

Going forward, all visiting media and digital influencers hosted by Visit California will be asked to sign the waiver before trip planning and partner outreach begins. While the hope is to never have to fall back on a liability waiver, having one in place can bring peace of mind in general and especially during this unusually difficult period.

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