If you run a travel-related business, you probably already know that the market is congested and that it’s more and more difficult to stand out from the crowd. With the development of low-cost airlines, ecotourism and large online platforms such as Tripadvisor or Expedia, the competition is tough.
Integrating public relations in your marketing mix is an excellent way to make a difference and get you noticed. Here are our top tips to develop an effective PR strategy in the travel industry.
1. Prepare your PR plan a year in advance
In PR, timing is very important. This is particularly true for the travel industry as it is a seasonal sector. That’s why, to be efficient with your PR strategy, you absolutely need to plan ahead.
Basically, your PR calendar will follow your business calendar. Write down every event, special offer or news happening in your business. Then, you can think about the PR responses you will need to prepare.
For example, you have decided to do a special offer in June for people who want to go on holiday before the most popular summer months (July & August). Think about which PR tools you could use to promote your special offer.
Will you send a press release? Will you try to reply to an editorial request to appear in a listing of ‘the best holiday deals’? Will you engage with influencers on social media? You have different options.
Just ensure that you have a good idea of what you want to do. Once you know, you can write your press releases in advance. You will save precious time.
If you want to appear in an article listing the best holiday destinations for July, you need to send your release six months in advance as journalists prepare their articles early. The same is true for the Christmas holiday period.
On the contrary, if you want to react based on news in the travel industry or any news that might have an influence on your business, you need to be quick. No journalist will take your opinion into account if you give it two months after the event.
2. Target the right publications by defining your PR audiences
Another thing you need to do is to prepare a list of publications you want to send your press releases to. It is more interesting to target travel or lifestyle publications as they are relevant to your business. You might also like to appear in the travel section of some national newspapers, depending on the period.
To ensure you are selecting the right publications and journalists, think about your target audience and about what they read. If you are trying to promote business class flights, for example, it would probably be worth targeting business publications. If you are running an eco-travel company, your target audience is completely different. You would try to reach environment-oriented publications for example.
3. Good imagery
When you send a press release, you need to include a picture that journalists and bloggers can use in their article. Make sure to attach a high-resolution picture, that appears as professional as possible.
Once again, it’s particularly important in the travel industry, because journalists or bloggers who write articles about travel will want to include pictures of the destination for their readers.
You could miss out on great coverage if you don't provide a relevant image.
4. Press travel
If you want to stack all the odds in your favour, a good idea is to invite journalists and bloggers on a trip. The same way that fashion businesses send samples to journalists, you can create a bespoke experience for relevant journalists.
The pros of doing this are that you are almost certain to get coverage, and it’s more likely to be positive. However, the cons are if the experience is not great you could end up with a mixed piece of coverage, and obviously, it can be very expensive. So before you embark down this path be sure to budget, organise a perfect trip, and to select the right people.
5. Crisis management: Have a PR plan ready
In the travel industry many things can go wrong which can have a negative impact on your brand and on your sales. It is vital you are prepared to react as quickly as possible. For that, you need to prepare a crisis management plan.
List all the possible risks that can occur and decide the best way to react in each case.
We would advise you to always be on the side of your customer. You want them to think you’ve got their back.
PR is essential for a business in the travel industry. It will help you to build your brand profile and to gain notoriety. To increase your chances of coverage it’s important you plan ahead for the year and that you understand your audiences to ensure your PR strategy is powerful.
A last piece of advice would be to be completely transparent about your businesses and your prices. Many travel platforms try to attract customers by offering incredible deals for example. The problem is, when you click on the deal, you realise it doesn’t really exist. That could be bad for your reputation, so transparency is essential.
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Written by: Julie Cocquerelle, Marketing Executive
Julie has recently joined the team. Passionate about startups and small businesses, she has a background in marketing and PR.