After a turbulent period of travel restrictions, flight cancellations, and the cost of living crisis the global travel industry is predicted to fully rebound by 2024 (WTTO). Although the cost of living is still at an all-time high, according to Mastercard’s 2023 Travel Industry Trends report, global travel remains robust, up roughly 31% in March 2023 compared to the same period in 2019.
Following the pandemic, consumers are placing more value on travel than ever. According to a survey by EasyJet, one in three people say they used to take travel for granted, but following restrictions they want to make the most of it, with 87% saying they will spend more on holidays this year.
With travel back on the agenda and fast becoming a top priority for consumers, it’s vital to develop a strong PR strategy to stand out from the crowd and drive appeal in the current market. People may be willing to spend more, but they will arguably be cautious and spend time planning and researching trips before committing, so well-placed press coverage with reliable information and first-hand reviews will be key to influencing enquiry and purchasing decisions.
Here are our top tips to develop an effective travel PR strategy to stay relevant and drive appeal from your key audiences:
The word “sustainability” is often thrown around and more brands and destinations are re-thinking their own strategies to become ‘greener’ businesses. However, in order to be communicated effectively, this can’t be just a tick box exercise.
78% of global travellers say sustainable travel is important to them (Stylus 2023), but should you really be talking about sustainability in your PR strategy if you’re not committing to actionable changes?
Reports show that while travellers say they’re interested in travelling sustainability, they are still unsure of how to do it. Therefore, travel brands need to take the lead and showcase how they’re driving change. Consider carbon calculators, experiences that give back to local communities, and transparency over sustainable pledges.
Nail your USPs
Some may think offering something for everyone will drive mass appeal and open yourselves up to a flurry of interest, but can everywhere truly be family-friendly, a solo travel haven, couple’s paradise and group holiday at the same time?
Instead, decipher what your key selling points are and centre your strategy around these elements. This makes the destination more relevant for targeting your key media publications that are read and trusted by your specific audiences.
Keep in mind that word-of-mouth marketing is popular in the tourism industry, so a personal touch goes a long way. Consider what you want your destination to be known for – whether its culture, activities, history, food – and build unique experiences around these that travellers can’t get elsewhere.
In PR, timing is key. As well as aligning your media calendar with your business calendar – plotting every new opening, event, and promotions in advance – consider media lead times so coverage lands at exactly the right time.
For example, when hosting press trips, media aren’t always likely to publish their articles instantly on return. If your destination is due to host a large-scale event, consider hosting a press trip well in advance to drive coverage and help build a buzz beforehand.
Most destinations rely on the summer period as their peak booking periods, so if you’re aiming to be included in article listicles around this time, media materials should be prepared and pitched at least three to six months in advance.
Likewise, consider exactly who you’re pitching to and when. Mass mail-outs will likely be deleted and unread if timings don’t align – if your destination is offering late deals with short expiry dates, make sure you have a strong media list of weekly and online contacts, as publications with long-lead times will file copy well in advance.
Utilise video content
In a digital world, seeing is believing. Social media platforms are now dominated by reels and video footage, so destinations need a bank of short, snappy footage of their tourism highlights and “hidden gems” to complement PR activity.
Utilising influencers on press trips is a great way to collate video content, to share on social media channels. With 35% of consumers saying they use social for travel inspiration, catch their attention by giving them a real-life account of what life is like in your destination so they can visualise a holiday there.
More often, authentic, genuine user generated content (UGC) is more likely to be trusted than heavily promotional branded videos. With Gen Z naming TikTok as their go-to inspiration when deciding holiday destinations, it’s not necessary to invest in large-scale video production. Use visitors and influencers to capture Instagram stories and TikTok videos to showcase the true personality of your destination.
If you’d be interested in discussing your travel PR strategy why not get in touch with our expert team today.