As we emerge from a news agenda seemingly forever dominated with stories related to travel restrictions, flight cancellations, and the cost of living crisis, the travel industry has undergone a particularly turbulent period. With trust in the sector declining and consumers also being increasingly careful with spending decisions it’s never been more vital to develop a strong PR strategy to stand out from the crowd and drive appeal in the current market.
While there is pent up demand for travel, consumers are arguably more cautious and spend more 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:
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.
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.
More than 70% of global travellers say sustainable travel is important to them (Booking.com 2022), 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.
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. To catch consumer’s attention, give 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. Instead of investing 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.