Associate Membership Guidelines

The following guidelines for membership have been approved by the SATW Board of Directors. These are the guidelines the membership committee will refer to in reviewing your application. Once you have read these instructions and you wish to apply online you may do so here.

Associate Membership Guidelines

Associate members in the Society of American Travel Writers represent some of the most exciting and talked about travel destinations and experiences in the world. Associates are well regarded in their field and are on the leading edge of evolving communications technologies and concepts. Our public relations professionals understand the needs and demands of travel journalists. They are leaders in the organization and are fundamental to the well-rounded experiences of an SATW membership.

Associate members in SATW receive unique opportunities to work on a daily basis with SATW Actives  – those writers, photographers, editors and other media specialists who create a large portion of the travel communication available today. SATW professional development include programs designed to specifically meet the needs of our Associate members, helping them become even more accomplished in their fields.

Media marketplace is a valued component of our annual and chapter meetings. Each year the SATW Associates Council holds a joint meeting with the PRSA Travel & Tourism section, providing even more professional development opportunities and media networking

SATW welcomes applications from individuals who are professionally engaged in public relations within the travel industry and work regularly with the media.

Below are the guidelines for Associate membership. If you any questions, just ask. We are honored that you are considering membership in the Society of American Travel Writers – Travel’s Most Trusted Voices.

You may be eligible for SATW Associate membership if you:

  1. Represent a DMO (Destination Marketing Organization) and at least 75% of your time is devoted to work with travel media.  
  2. Own or are employed by a public relations firm and at least 75% of your time (based on billable hours) is devoted to servicing client accounts in the travel and tourism industry. 
  3. Own or are employed by and are the primary media contact for a hotel/resort property or travel-related company (airline, cruise line, attraction, tour operator, etc.) 

Up to two individuals from a company, firm or Destination Marketing Organization may join SATW, as long as both work with the travel media.

Associate membership is awarded to an individual, not an organization. Therefore, if you leave your position of employment, the membership stays with you, not your employer. However, if the employer fills that job opening and the new public relations professional applies within a 12 month period, the $125 associate application fee will be waived, with the exception of automatic membership (see below).

Note: if you represent travel-related products that are not destination-focused, such as luggage, gear, clothing, insurance, and accessories, we invite you to reach our members with your message through sponsorship of our annual convention, our newsletter and several other opportunities. However, your work does not qualify for Associate membership.

Automatic Membership

In SATW, we place particular value on the reach and influence of communication directors in state and provincial tourism offices. 

Therefore, if you are employed at a director level equivalent or above at a U.S. state or Canadian province tourism office and oversee the public relations strategy and team for that tourism office, you are not required to submit a portfolio of clips, contacts and other materials for your application. Simply submit a letter on office letterhead, stating your position and the name/contact information of your supervisor along with your interest in becoming an associate member of SATW. An application fee is not required. 

After review and acceptance of that information by the membership committee, you must simply pay the new member fee of $400 and become current on your dues.  

This privilege is extended only to actual employees of state or provincial offices. If media responsibilities are contracted to a private agency, individuals from that agency must apply for SATW Associate membership independently. 

Creating Your Application Portfolio

As you choose clips to submit with your application, consider SATW’s Definition of Travel Journalism 

A travel article, image, video, broadcast, book or similar product must be editorial content that shows, describes, evaluates, discusses, and/or facilitates travel.

A travel article must be a minimum of 250 words. Travel clips must meet the standard established by the U.S. Travel Association, which defines a tourist as an individual who travels more than 50 miles from home for business or leisure. For example, restaurant reviews in a newspaper 100 miles away about your local restaurant is a travel story. However, a local restaurant review that appears in your hometown newspaper or website is not a travel story. Clips are acceptable as long as it appears in an outlet that draws readership primarily from more than a 50-mile radius.

Your Portfolio Should Include:

  1. Contact information (name, phone, e-mail) for 10 travel media contacts with whom you have worked within the past 12 months, and results of that interaction. It is not necessary that these media be members of SATW. 
  2. Twelve clips of media coverage received over the past 12 months for your DMO and/or client(s) with how this resulted from your public relations efforts. No more than two clips may be submitted from one release/press trip and only one clip per person per release/press trip.  
  3. A summary of all public relations activities performed in the past year on behalf of your client(s), such as media functions/visits organized, press trips hosted and press materials created and distributed. 
  4. If you are a supervisory employee, please submit 12 clips generated by your PR team and how they relate to your PR plan.


Summarize all public relations activities you have performed in the past year on behalf of your client(s) or employer, such as media functions/visits organized, press trips hosted, press materials created and distributed. If you are a DMO and have worked with a public relations firm to coordinate any of these activities, please note so in your summary along with the degree to which you were involved in the planning and execution of these activities. 

Photographers are an important component of SATW membership with needs unique to other media. Please include your approach to working with photographers, either still or video, as applicable in your public relations activities.


Scan 12 clips or provide links to media coverage received over the past 12 months for your client(s). Briefly note how each clip resulted from your PR efforts (media kit, press trip, personal contact, etc.) or if you worked with another agency or DMO in generating this media coverage.

You, The Travel Communicator

In a few paragraphs, please tell us about you, the travel communicator. What are your goals and what steps have you taken to achieve them? Why do you want to join SATW and how might we help you achieve your goals in this field?

Information you might include here would be:

  1. Other travel media organization memberships
  2. Social media audience/campaigns
  3. Professional honors/awards
  4. Recent attendance at professional conferences/programs

The membership committee will evaluate this section based on the variety and depth of the material you submit. We look for well-rounded and innovative members who have a history of growth and contribution to the field as well as a vision for the future

The Membership Review Committee

Each application is reviewed by a volunteer committee of individuals representing all geographic regions of our membership. These are editors, photographers, PR professionals and freelancers. 

These people will read the information you provide, perhaps follow up with contacts or maybe ask additional questions of you, to be as thorough and accurate as possible in evaluating your work.

We don’t disclose their names in an effort to minimize the potential for undue influence. Any communication you receive will be from our membership coordinator, Jim Wolters, or the Society’s vice president who is responsible for all membership procedures.

It usually takes about six weeks to complete this evaluation and for you to receive word about your application for membership.

Code of Ethics

All members of the Society of American Travel Writers—Actives and Associates—subscribe to the highest standards of professionalism and, by accepting membership, agree to abide by the Code of Ethics of the Society. 

The code is comprised of principles and rules, and procedures for enforcement. 

The principles represent the highest standards of conduct toward which all members should strive, and represent the overriding concepts from which the specific rules are derived. 

The rules are mandatory. They state the minimum level of conduct below which no member of SATW can fall without being subject to disciplinary action. The rules are uniformly applied to all members. 

The procedures set forth the process by which violators of the rules will be investigated and disciplined. Disciplinary action, which may be imposed by the ethics committee or the executive committee of SATW, may range from a reprimand to suspension or expulsion from membership in the Society. 

For the online Code of Ethics Form, please click here