Why Travel PR is more than just press trips.

Why Travel PR is more than just press releases and press trips.

The mainstays of travel PR are press releases and press trips – the content of which fills the media’s travel sections.

There will always be a role for press releases, which remain a highly effective way of securing widespread coverage with an announcement of a new itinerary, a new initiative or a new hire.

Arguably the whole UK media is underpinned by press trips. Where would travel journalism be without them? Offering travel journalists holidays in return for coverage is what oils the wheels of the whole industry.

Within any newsroom the Travel Editor is the most popular person, handing over holidays to reporters from other departments in return for a write-up. A quick look at any media database shows that most journalists like to list travel as one of their areas of expertise. Free trip anyone?!

The travel sector is thankfully on the rise again after two years of Covid suffering. Although Omicron and the Ukraine war continue to threaten chaos and uncertainty. We expect the summer of 2022 should see the mass return of holidays and trips abroad.

A recent Nationwide Spending Report showed that total spending on holidays in January jumped 379 per cent compared to the same month last year. For airline travel, it was 408 per cent and for cruises, it was over twice that at 899 per cent.

Newspaper travel sections have returned to their pre-pandemic sizes after thinning down during lockdown due to a lack of advertising and meaningful content.

There has never been a better time, or a more important time, for travel companies to implement an effective communications strategy if they want to drive sales, assure investors and entice the best staff.

However, there are several other communications tactics that travel brands can use to achieve media mentions outside the travel pages.

Here are our top three tips on how travel firms can secure additional coverage, mitigate problems and exert influence:

Promote a strong spokesperson.

Not every company has a character like Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary in the boardroom. And maybe that’s no bad thing. But just think of the number of column inches he gets. Having an identifiable spokesperson who can become the public face of your company is invaluable.

A strong figurehead can unlock opportunities for opinion pieces that promote your brand and its values outside the travel pages, in the comment sections of newspapers and websites.

Similarly, a spokesperson can provide reactive news commentary around subjects your company has an interest in.

As well as print opportunities, a brand figurehead can be placed as a commentator on TV and radio news – or to discuss travel issues in other slots.

There is an example of PHA’s work in this field here.

Crises reaction and reputation planning.

Every good business should be constantly evaluating reputational issues and preparing for moments of crisis. This is of particularly high importance in the travel sector where things do go wrong.

Take time out of the normal communications cycle to map out potential crises and longer-term reputation issues. Ensure you have key messages in place, know how to escalate a crisis within the organisation and make sure that anyone who may speak to a journalist has received media training.

Resorts, hotels, airlines, cruise companies, holiday parks and venues can quickly find themselves on the back foot responding to outbreaks of illness or tricky complaints from customers. Social media has made it very easy for disgruntled clients and staff to voice their grievances publicly and you need to know how to respond.

It is also very useful to consider bigger reputational issues and consider how they can be turned into an advantage. Can your business take the lead in a tricky field and become an advocate for change?

There is an example of PHA’s work in this field here and here.

Public affairs outreach.

Devoting resources to Public Affairs can pay huge dividends, especially for travel firms at this time. The pandemic threw up lots of challenges. Regulators and government implemented legislation and rules to keep the public safe whilst restricting travel – and crippling travel firms. For example, cruise lines were subject to strict compliance with even sailing banned for long periods. In addition, airlines were investigated for withholding refunds.

The All Parliamentary Action Group for The Future of Aviation was set up in October 2020 to provide policy solutions to tackle the challenges facing the aviation, travel and tourism industries as a result of Covid-19.

That group recently completed an inquiry into how the travel sector will recover from the pandemic and what role aviation, travel and tourism can take in supporting the UK economy post-Covid.

The best and most progressive travel brands will have been engaging with political stakeholders along the way to ensure their voice is heard.

There is an example of PHA’s work in this field here.

Is your travel company or associated business looking for PR or Public Affairs support? Why not get in touch with our team of experts today to discuss how we could support you with a complex Travel PR strategy?

Get in touch with the team