How the travel sector can communicate to reassure customers

Every aspect of our lives has been impacted by the coronavirus but one sector which has been severely affected is travel.

The best travel companies are working hard to communicate with customers to reassure them about the ever-changing situation and maintain trust for the future.

As soon as the pandemic began to spread, flights were cancelled and cruise ships returned to their home ports. It was initially forbidden to stay in hotels or campsites.

Whilst some restrictions have been lifted, the rules around air travel are still changing by the week, leading to uncertainty and lack of confidence amongst travellers. There are currently only a handful of places that you can visit from England without restrictions either on arrival or on your return.

This has taken a huge toll on the travel industry. Tui announced a plan to axe 8,000 jobs. EasyJet is closing its regional hubs in Newcastle, London Stansted and London Southend with 5,000 job losses. British Airways is making up to 12,000 people redundant. The Confederation of Passenger Transport recently warned that many smaller coach operators are threatened with closure. Cruise ships are not expected to get back in the water until 2021.

Against this backdrop, it is more vital than ever to communicate well with customers, let them know what is going on and what the future looks like. A very effective way of doing this is through PR.

At The PHA Group we have been working closely with our travel clients to tell their stories and maintain their profiles and reputations during the coronavirus crisis.

Earlier this year we helped cruise ship company Fred. Olsen when coronavirus first impacted the cruise industry. They wanted to maintain their hard-earned reputation as a caring, family-run business. We helped them to communicate what they were doing to get everyone home safely and to explain what their future plans were. More recently, we secured them additional coverage in the Daily Express and Daily Telegraph as a leading voice within the cruise industry.

Another of our travel clients is TravelUp, the leading travel agent. Their business had to rapidly transform overnight when flights were cancelled as a result of coronavirus. They diverted staff from sales to customer services to cope with the huge volume of refund requests. However, many airlines were slow in issuing refunds and TravelUp wanted to explain why things were taking longer than they would have liked.

For them we have secured coverage in the Daily Telegraph, City AM and the Independent. We have also placed pieces in The Sun, Daily Mirror and Daily Express.

What are the key steps you can take to ensure your travel brand is communicating effectively at this time?

The first thing we do with any client is decide on your key messaging. What story do you want to tell? At The PHA Group we help to shape this narrative and work out the most effective way to communicate what you want to say. Perhaps you want to reassure customers that you are still open for business. Or perhaps there have been some challenges over the last few months you want to explain. You will have experts within your company who are well placed to comment on travel issues. We help to identify those people and assist them.

The job then is to decide where you want to be seen and heard. What are the best titles and the best platforms for your business to comment? Our experts have great contacts across the media and can help advise your brand or business on the best opportunities. We use our connections to get you the most suitable coverage.

Although any company will want to be pro-active and seek coverage in the press, there are times when you will be responding to incoming queries from journalists. In that situation you need to act fast, deliver honest comments and think how they will be perceived. We are experts at helping to draft those statements. For those clients who do not have in-house teams we can also act as your press office.

Are you are interested in hearing more about the work we do and what we can do for your business? Speak to a member of our award-winning team today to find out how we could work together.

Get in touch with the team