Above: The above is actually where tequila is made! Can you believe the FACTORY is that stunning!?
A few weeks back, if you remember, Shaheen and I got to take a quick press trip to Guadalajara with the Patron team to see their beautiful Hacienda; home of their tequila distillery as well as La Casona, a private guest house (it’s called a “guest house” because it’s not a public hotel!) and restaurant. It was such a cool experience. I’m excited to share some photos from the trip today!
I’ve been getting a few questions from readers about press trips specifically. (Especially because I’ve been trying to do a lot more “behind the curtain” type business posts like this one!) And the main one is–”wait, how the HECK do press trips WORK?”
So, before I share some photos of this trip, let’s dive into that topic, shall we?
What is a Press Trip, anyway?
The truth of the matter is, every press trip is different, so it’s not a “one size fits all thing” but I’ll try to generalize the topic just for the sake of giving you a better picture!
A “press trip” is essentially a (for the most part) “free” trip that an influencer or member of the press is invited on in order to get a more in-depth experience with the brand, and therefore, hopefully will result in additional positive PR coverage for that brand. Sometimes the brand will require a certain amount of coverage in exchange for the trip (i.e. X amount of posts tagging the brand, using this hashtag, etc), other times, they won’t require anything specific, but obviously, they hope to gain some organic coverage from it. (As was the case with Patron; they didn’t ask for anything in return, but obviously I was impressed with the brand and think they’re doing some newsworthy things you guys will want to know about–thus, here we are!)
Press trips are a really great way to establish or deepen relationships that develop into more meaningful partnerships down the road–for both parties. Someone asked me, “why would a brand do this?! How can that be profitable?” And the answer is: if you invite the right people and execute the trip in the right way, it should result in a lot of positive ROI for the brand over time!
So it’s basically a free vacation?
NO. Not at all. This is a very common misconception but it couldn’t be further from the truth. Press trips are still very much work trips. By committing to a press trip, you are committing your time and energy to that brand for the duration of the trip. You don’t get a lot of time to work on anything else because the schedule is typically pretty jam-packed and there isn’t a lot of free time. While press trips are super cool, they are not typically “relaxing vacations” despite how it might look on Instagram.
Depending on the trip, they can actually be…a lot to handle.
There is a lot of pressure to be in the moment yet capture everything at the same time. Also, you’re always constantly juggling other deadlines so you may have to work a lot of extra hours at night to make up for that time lost during the day–or you may have to say no to opportunities that you would’ve otherwise been spending time on. So that can result in you losing out on revenue because of the time commitment. I’ve also been on other trips where I barely got to sleep and I vowed to never take a press trip ever again. Basically, as you probably learned in high school economics, the whole concept of “There’s no Such Thing as a Free Lunch” kind of applies here.
HOWEVER– that was definitely not the case in this instance. This particular trip had the perfect amount of activity planned to where nobody was exhausted. It was very organized, well-executed, and FUN! We also had just enough free time to squeeze in a few outfit shoots–which was SO wonderful, seeing as it was still really cold back in Chicago! It was a great “double duty” opportunity if you will. (You can see shoots we did at the Hacienda here and here!)
The Patron team really did a phenomenal job of really giving us an authentic experience of the brand and everything they’re about. It was definitely an awesome experience that makes the “career highlight reel” list.
Oscar pouring us some spicy margaritas at the Hacienda bar!
How this particular trip worked:
Patron and their PR agency (who I’ve worked with in the past!) organized a small trip for members of the press–mostly freelancers who write for popular publications and then Shaheen and I. (We were the only bloggers!) The trip was really geared around giving us an authentic Patron experience, learning how their tequila is produced from start to finish and really getting a “taste” (literally and figuratively!) of the heart of the brand.
Because I have worked with Patron previously (they have always been awesome partners to work with!) and already had a relationship established with them, I was lucky enough to get the invite! (SCORE! Again, major career highlight!)
I will start out by saying, I do not identify as a mainstream tequila fan. But I really do love Patron. I was so anti-tequila for so long, but Neal finally got me into it by making me Patron cocktails. It’s the only tequila I will drink, and the only one I really enjoy. And I’m not just saying that. (You know I wouldn’t say it unless I meant it.)
My biggest takeaways from the Patron trip:
What’s funny is that while I’m pretty familiar with the process of, say, distilling and aging whisky, or making wine, I have never given ANY thought to how tequila is made. The whole experience was so cool and eye-opening. I think after this post, you will wholeheartedly appreciate your next margarita a whole lot more.
So, before I show you all the awesome photos of our experience, I wanted to highlight some quick takeaways about the brand that truly makes them different, and a brand I’m really excited to support!
I know you guys love supporting really great brands that have a lot of heart, so I think you’ll find these facts particularly interesting:
This is an obvious factor here. And if you’re not super familiar with the brand, you may be thinking, “is the higher price tag justified?” Some brands, you never know if the price tag is REALLY due to the quality or just because of the label–and here, it’s definitely because of the quality.
Patron has more rigorous standards than other tequila brands on how the Agave piña’s are harvested; they pay 10% more per piña than other brands. (Specifically, they require as little “green” left on the piña as possible, as this results in the best flavor.) When a piña is inspected and does not meet the quality control, it’s sent back to the farmer who then sells it to another distiller. Crazy, right?
All of the agave harvesting is done by hand–a Jimador can harvest up to 100 per hour–and they’re carried to the trucks by donkey. DONKEY! There aren’t any machines involved in the harvesting process!
They support local families:
Patron doesn’t actually grow their own agave plants, they contract with a small handful of local families in Guadalajara, who are trained to harvest the Agave in the specific Patron style.
In order to become a Jimador, you must be grandfathered into the profession by a family member. It’s a family art that is passed down from generation to generation and is a very prestigious job!
The brand is passionate about its employees, and the employees are passionate about the brand:
The factory is impeccably clean, and the company creates a huge amount of jobs in the community and is also focused on giving back. Since everything in the production process aside from the bottling is done by hand (obviously that’s for sanitary reasons!) they have a system in place for everything–from frequent job rotations to avoid any muscle fatigue, lot’s of breaks, even competitions for who gets to choose the music on the factory floor. You can tell they go above and beyond to make sure it’s a really great place to work.
This is evident in everyone you talk to, from the employees who work in the factory to their corporate employees and even their CMO, who hung out with us quite a bit, was totally down to earth and clearly had a lot of pride in the brand. He knew every employee’s name at the Hacienda and even took the bus to the airport with us when he totally could’ve taken a fancy private car, which I thought was pretty cool. I’ve met a lot of “higher ups” working in marketing and media and it’s so rare and refreshing to meet people like this.
They also have a “send off” tradition where all the guests staying at the Hacienda go outside at night to wave goodnight and cheer for the late crew departing on busses home from the distillery, who light up their phones and wave back! It was so cool to see what a culture of family and respect they’ve cultivated. Something I definitely wasn’t expecting at all.
Their environmental and sustainability initiatives are very impressive:
At the Hacienda, they have a composting area the size of a football field! It’s HUGE. Also, all of the leftover water from the distilling process is filtered and re-used everywhere else on-site–from watering their garden to cleaning and hosing off the floors. We don’t usually associate liquor brands with being environmentally conscious, so this was a really pleasant surprise I knew you’d appreciate!
So, without further adieu–here are some cool behind the scenes photos from the trip! Come along with me to Jalisco!?
The Patron Hacienda
The front entrance to the Patron’s La Casona Guest House
The courtyard is of the guest house area of the Hacienda was stunning!
I loved these beautiful columns in the open “hallway” all around the courtyard!
The setup of their beautiful bar!
Their spicy Jalapeño margaritas were SO good. I need Neal to re-create these for me!
Probably my most favorite new-to-me Patron product I got to try; their Citrónge line. It makes for the best margarita. The pineapple one is especially delicious in margaritas too!
A Jimador uses what is called a “Coa”; a super sharp, flat rounded tool, to trim the agave. They can do up to 100 of these per hour. Is that not insane? It was so cool to watch!
Little baby agavés!
A little meter they use to test the sugar content of every agave piña!
An Agave piña in the process of being harvested.
Outfit details in this post
Walking through the Agave Fields! (Also, a testament to these sneakers. I wore them and got red dirt all over them, soaked them in a bucket of Oxyclean for a day, scrubbed them a bit with a toothbrush, threw them in the wash, and then air dried them in a shady place. They look good as new!!)
The agave that have been inspected and approved to go into Patron production, waiting to be chopped and loaded into the brick oven!
The agave is chopped up and loaded into the oven to be baked in brick ovens for 79 hours!
This is the part that REALLY got me due to its simplicity. I always envision alcohol being made in a big, giant factory operated by machines. Patron uses this big volcanic stone called a Tahona wheel to press the agave. Isn’t that crazy!?
After the agave is baked and pressed by the big “Tahona” it goes into these big vats!
They purchase Bourbon barrels from Kentucky to age their Reposado in! You can really taste the oaky flavor from the barrels!
The GIANT compost area on the Hacienda grounds.
Shaheen planting vegetables in the Patron garden!
The lunch spread that they set up on the top terrace of the Hacienda. (This is the building where the factory is. Can you believe it’s so beautiful!?)
Another delicious cocktail made with Patron Silver and Patron Citrónge orange liqueur
Stay tuned for my outfit post with more details coming on this dress soon!
What did you think? Pretty cool, right!? I hope you have a newfound appreciation for the brand like I did, and that you enjoyed getting to hear a little bit more about the “behind the scenes” of press trips! Thanks again to Patron for allowing me to be part of such a cool experience!