Guest Post: Journeying into Travel & Tourism PR
If you’re like Monica, me and many others worldwide, you like to travel. Why not marry this love of travel to a career in Travel and Tourism Public Relations?
Travel and Tourism PR covers destinations and tourism boards, hotels, resorts, airlines, cruise lines, rental car companies, tour operators, travel service providers and more. Before you pack up your resume and journey into Travel & Tourism PR, here is a guide to get to know this sector.
1. You don’t travel all the time. Or maybe not even at all, depending upon your client. Like other industries, you need to be intimately familiar with your client. You’re the spokesperson and face of the organization to the media. If your client is a destination, hotel or resort, and not local, traveling to the client is important to understand what makes it unique, the experience, the culture, etc. However, keep in mind this is a business trip – not leisure – so while guests may be sitting around the pool sipping cocktails, you’ll most likely be in a conference room.
2. More than a love of travel. It’s a love of an industry. As with any industry that I have worked in, I find it critical to stay on top of trends and monitor what competitors are doing. With travel and tourism, this involves reading travel trade publications, consumer news, travel blogs and following social media influencers on a daily basis. While traveling interests you, are you also interested in all facets of the industry?
3. Not all travel media is the same. Like any successful PR strategy, Travel and Tourism PR is not a mass distribution of releases to all “travel” media. Not all travel media is the same. A columnist may only focus on business travel or family travel. If you work with an adults-only resort that caters to the leisure travelers, the columnist is not going to be interested and mark your email as spam.
4. Think outside the box. Coverage for travel stories in media is competitive. Many travel departments at daily newspapers have been reduced to one person – if any at all. Many niche travel print magazines have ceased publication, while many that remain continue to reduce editorial. To get your clients’ story coverage, think outside the box. Over-the-top luxury packages, specialty concierges, World Record attempts, unique experiences and creative hotel deals are what catch editors’ attention. Also, what trends and larger stories can your client be a part of?
5. Use a mix of tactics. Successful Travel and Tourism PR relies on a variety of tactics – press releases, press visits, media outreach and social media strategies. Promotions and deals drive immediate business. Press visits allow for in-depth coverage focusing on the experience your organization has to offer.
6. Get social. For many organizations, social media falls under PR. A travel and tourism social media strategy should involve engaging on the networks where the organization’s audience is, sharing news and photos, providing customer service, and engaging with current and potential customers. Social media also strengthens media relationships by sharing media coverage on your social media channels, and building links and traffic to their article.
7. Beyond traditional media. In addition to traditional online and print media outlets, there is a growing number of travel bloggers. Bloggers, like the media, have a niche – family, luxury, budget, Europe, etc. Bloggers may not have the large reach of traditional outlets, but often have a highly engaged, loyal niche audience. Follow bloggers on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and their blog to get to know their style and types of stories they write about before pitching.
8. Build your network. Network with the Public Relations Society of America, join Society of American Travel Writers, and attend Travel Blog Exchange and other industry conferences. Get to know key influencers and media members. It will help for them to have an expert to turn to for a story and for you to better pitch them applicable story ideas.
Travel and Tourism PR is more than a love of travel, and more than just racking up frequent flier miles. It’s applying best practices to the travel and tourism industry – understanding your organization, fine-tuning your message, targeting your message to the right audience, and measuring your results.
Julie Harper is PR Director at MP&A Digital & Advertising in Williamsburg, Va. The award-winning integrated marketing communications agency specializes in the hospitality industry, primarily working with luxury resorts in the Caribbean. She is a member of PRSA and an Associate with the SATW. Her 12-year communications career has spanned PR, corporate communications, marketing and advertising for the hospitality, healthcare and power generation industries. Connect with her on LinkedIn.