Restoring trust post pandemic. Why PR will be vital

Pre-pandemic the travel sector was one of Britain’s fastest-growing industries. Thankfully, after a devastating couple of years 2022 is looking rosier. This means it is time for travel brands to leverage opportunities will full force. And any recovery should start with a well-defined communications strategy to help restore trust with consumers.

According to recent research from the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), the world’s most popular travel destinations welcomed 900 million fewer international tourists between January and October 2020 with international arrivals dropping by over 74 percent.

During the same period, over two-thirds of the worlds airlines became grounded with 18 filing for bankruptcy. The collapse in international travel is estimated to have cost the global tourism sector over $4 trillion. These losses are more than 15 times what was recorded during the 2009 global economic crisis.

Poor customer service impacts trusts

These years of disruption have taken their toll on travel brands. Travel Firms slow refund processes and poor customer service has led to criticism. With many condemned for withholding funds and refusing to hand back cash.

According to a recent survey by The PHA Group, most consumers are now reluctant to book with an unknown travel firm. Furthermore, they are much more likely to check a firm’s cancellation policy before booking their holiday.

With consumers now putting their faith only in brands they trust, travel businesses must work harder to stand out from the crowd and maintain positive relations with customers.

Define a clear PR strategy to build relationships.

A clear communications strategy can help travel firms to navigate complex post-pandemic waters. Moreover, good PR can provide traction for investors, enhance reputations, drive sales and engage with customers. Meaning, firms require a clear strategy in order to communicate better and stand out from the crowd.

Effective media engagement also allows firms to better define their fundamental beliefs and reasons for being and is something that businesses are judged on more than ever. In addition, accountability on wellbeing, environmental impacts and social governance is now a priority issue.

Finally, there is a wealth of tactics available to develop more positive relationships with stakeholders and the media – from positive corporate news to consumer travel advice and business profiling,

Our experience in travel PR.

That is why many travel clients have approached The PHA Group to help tell their stories and safeguard their reputations.

When flights were grounded by covid, leading UK travel agent TravelUp found itself inundated with refund requests. As restrictions outside of their control put them and the airlines in a constant battle.

As over 100 airline partners had prevented TravelUp; and other agencies, from applying for refunds in the standard way, it was impacting their reputation amongst customers.

PHA coordinated a national media campaign that pressured the CAA to introduce a new ‘trust account’ system. Therefore the airline would only receive the money once the flight had departed. TravelUp used this campaign to highlight the wider issues effecting the travel sector.. Further allowing them to easily communicate its customer-first ethos, help them drive trust.

Furthermore, Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines began to impact the travel and cruise industries. The company wanted to ensure it was doing everything it could to get passengers home safely and to communicate effectively with stakeholders and media.

Our strategy centered around fast, open and honest communication. In addition, PHA’s social team used listening tools to track negative sentiment and provide insight into the key issues and questions which required urgent attention. We handled incoming media enquiries and used our connections to ensure balanced reporting in the national and international media, across print, online and broadcast.

Take the next step to learn more.

As we begin to transcend our way out of one of the most devastating periods in living memory, it is encouraging to see consumers once again embracing air travel with demand up 80% compared to last year.

However, the next few months will be pivotal, and rebuilding trust should be the number one priority for travel firms.

If you would be interested in discussing how we could help your travel brand rebuild trust amongst key audiences, please get in touch with our award-winning team today to discuss how we could support you.

Get in touch with the team