ResponseSource Blog

PR Sector Focus: Travel

By Kelly Atkin

26th July 2017

Category: PR, PR Sector Focus

This month’s PR Sector Focus is on the travel industry. Is it all sitting on the beach and sipping margaritas? We don’t expect so.

We spoke to four industry professionals to get the inside scoop on what it’s really like working in travel communications.

 

 

Why do you enjoy working in the travel industry?

 

Travel makes a lot of people happy, it is a great sector to work in because the possibilities are endless. From business travel to domestic holidays through to long haul, the tastes and desires of consumers is so varied. From a PR point of view we also sometimes deal with the other side – when things don’t go according to plan. I enjoy this part too, I like to problem solve! Crisis comms is important within the sector as travel can be emotionally charged, it is high expectation and can be high cost and when things go wrong people, understandably, get angry. I enjoy going the extra mile with my clients to make things right for customers.

– Kally Carder

 

Travel was a big part of my childhood, with my family running an independent travel agency, so it’s an industry I’ve been part of even before my own career in travel PR began eight years ago. What I love most is getting to see and experience new hotels, resorts and attractions before anyone else, and being part of shaping how they are launched to the public. It’s always nice to be able to pick up the phone and offer journalists and bloggers an amazing experience too – I’ve met some great friends on press trips and been fortunate enough to visit some incredible places.

– Rose Allerston

 

There are some great people within the industry, and it’s a good community to work with. It can be very varied, and you get to work with a whole range of organisations and businesses. The large variety of people/organisations to work with means we’ve been able to create some really unique PR campaigns.

– Frank Marr

 

I have always loved the buzz of travel and all that it entails. Here in the UK, we have some amazing adventures on our doorstep, from a sun-kissed Cornish beach, a lofty mountain or the shores of a peaceful loch or lake.

Getting ‘lost’ in the wonderful outdoors has always been a source of true inspiration to me and I wanted to find a way to bring this to families in an affordable way.

– Charles Gulland

 Hotel
Recent requests from journalists looking for travel expertise using our Journalist Enquiry Service include:

  • World’s best rooftop spas
  • How To Combat Pickpockets while on holiday
  • Dog friendly accommodation
  • How to holiday like a celeb
  • Things to do with your kids for free on school holidays
  • Hotels and resorts that cater for coeliacs
  • STUNNING hotel interior imagery
  • Tips on how to cut the cost of holidays abroad

 

What’s the biggest misconception of the industry?

 

It’s one big holiday! We occasionally get to travel, but there’s a lot of hard work that the team does behind the scenes.

– Frank Marr

 

I think there can still be quite a bit of misconception about the demographics of who holidays where. It is fascinating to discover customer buying habits and what’s important to them about their holidays. Also, we represent a number of domestic operators – the UK is absolutely stunning, has so much to offer and can really rival any destination abroad for beaches, countryside and attractions. Many people think you have to travel afar to see fabulous sight – not necessarily true!

– Kally Carder

 

 What is your busiest time of year?

 

School holidays and the lead up to these are always busy. Summer months tend to be the best time for journalists to take press trips, particularly in the UK, and there is a lot that goes into making sure they have an outstanding experience.

– Rose Allerston

 

Our domestic clients’ peak times are summer, which means it is a busy time for us. However, we tend to do a lot of campaign planning in the quieter months and business stories usually come to light off peak – in terms of financial results, acquisitions etc. so all year is busy!

– Kally Carder

 

Boom months typically seem to be October and November. However spring campaigns can become quite labour intensive. What makes the travel sector so diverse is the fact a lot of clients differ, depending on their seasonal appeal, whether it’s winter sports PR or summer family holidays promotion. Our campaign and PR calendars have to be very structured.

– Frank Marr

 

 Campground
Some of the travel specific search terms from our Media Contacts Database in June include:

  • Adventure
  • Camping
  • Airport
  • Nordics
  • Festivals
  • Food travel
  • Summer holidays
  • Travel technology
  • Elder travel
  • Mountaineering

 

What are your must read travel publications?

 

I’m a huge Condé Nast Traveller fan and Sunday Times Travel magazine. Grazia has some great features too. For everyday travel reviews The Sun and The Telegraph are really informative. And the Scottish media – The Scotsman and Herald are great. In terms of trade I religiously read TTG and Travel Weekly and Breaking Travel News online is fab.

– Kally Carder

 

Condé Nast Traveller is the travel bible in my view but the travel pages of titles like Stylist and Grazia are great for picking up tips and ideas too. As someone who loves the UK and finding new destinations for walking, I also love Discover Britain magazine and always keep an eye on social feeds for the likes of TravelMail for inspiration.

– Rose Allerston

 

They really do vary depending on the target audiences. I personally love the New York Times travel sections, RoughGuides.com always have nice ideas and Cereal Magazine for its aesthetics. I also think YouTube stars Fun For Louis and Evan Edinger have done some really good things for travel media. Instagram photographer Finn Beales is also brilliant. I think the ones to watch are LoveExploring.com and LoveFood.com as they have an exciting team behind them. This year has also started to see the impact on Influencers and Travel Vloggers who have started to compete on numbers and audience reach like never before. Our work with YouTube stars has shown that they can be nearly as effective as national newspapers and TV audiences with views in the millions.
– Frank Marr

 

 Conde Nast Traveller Magazine
Our Media Contacts Database includes key travel media outlets such as:

  • Television programs such as Travel Channel
  • Consumer magazines such as Condé Nast Traveller
  • Trade magazines such as Selling Travel
  • Radio programs as TravelBites Radio
  • Websites such as AOL Travel UK
  • Blogs such as lastminute.com blog

 

Where is your favourite place to visit?

 

Impossible to say, you can usually find something of interest wherever you go. We’ve taken hundreds of media all over the world and I never get bored of discovering new place. Wales has to be up there though!

– Frank Marr

 

All parts of Scotland, and if heading abroad, then it has to be Italy.

– Charles Gulland

 

The Greek islands – it is a current obsession- I want to work my way round all of them!

– Kally Carder

 

I’ve worked on several travel and cultural campaigns in Shropshire and I just love the area. Famous for its food festivals, there are some amazing independent restaurants and boutique hotels, and the people are always so welcoming. I was lucky enough to work on the launch of Shrewsbury Museum & Art Gallery housed in the town’s former Music Hall back in 2014. The collections and architecture are incredible – it’s well worth a visit.

– Rose Allerston

 

Which campaign has been the most fun to work on?

 

So many! I’ve worked in the sector for 15 years so that is a hard question. We are currently working on a campaign for our holiday park operator client; Verdant Leisure, which I can’t say too much about right now but it is going to be brilliant! I guess looking back launching Flybe was pretty awesome and some of the creative campaigns we came up with for Avis were epic. Making car hire exciting and sexy was a tough one, but we pulled it off!

– Kally Carder

 

I always find participating with journalists fun, one of the most memorable press trips was taking a group of journalists cycling with professional cyclists who have competed on the highest levels and then integrating it into traditional and modern media campaigns.

Early on in my career I worked on some exciting stuff for an electric vehicle campaign where we collaborated with some big brands and created some interactive maps with galleries and YouTube videos which was promoted via one of the biggest travel websites in the world, which felt very innovative in its time.

Also, a year long Four Seasons of Slovenia campaign with Rough Guides was exciting as it nicely integrated photography, videos, galleries and blogs into a 12 month campaign with six blogs created. Creating a Bamboo Beer, being behind the world’s first aerodynamic bamboo bicycle and taking over the Design Museum for a weekend to create a live ‘world’s first ever 3D printed, bamboo bicycle build’ was pretty fun as well.
– Frank Marr

 

Working with stately home Weston Park is a real highlight of mine. It’s a grand house in Staffordshire – reminiscent of Downton Abbey – so I’ve hosted some amazing house parties there with journalists over the years. Everyone enjoys the amazing food and surroundings and gets to meet some incredible characters like the head gardener and butler. More recently I’ve started working with Willerby, the UK’s biggest manufacturer of static caravans, which is going to be great fun.

– Rose Allerston

 

 Railway travel
Some recent food and drink forward features on our Media Contacts Database include:

  • Europe: Scandinavia
  • Supplement: ‘Simply Railways’
  • Next-gen traveler information systems
  • Hotels in the countryside
  • Sustainable travel
  • Touring & Adventure
  • Hotels, Resorts & Spas
  • Responsible Tourism
  • Winter Sports
  • Travel Insurance

 

Have you worked on any campaigns with a more serious message?

 

I currently work on crisis communications for Arriva Buses. It’s fast paced and challenging which the team and I enjoy. It’s often in crisis comms that you establish the best relationships with your clients as you go through lots of ups and downs together. We also work on some very inspiring community and environmental projects with Arriva.

Smoking Gun also sponsored this year’s ABTA Crisis Management Travel Seminar, where the great and the good of the UK travel industry descended on Manchester for a crash course in dousing the flames of a brand wildfire. Offering practical advice, examples of best practice, and training in developing better strategies Smoking Gun’s involvement was fitting given our experience in travel PR. The feedback was unanimously positive, not least following a presentation on social media use during crises given by our MD, Rick Guttridge.

– Rose Allerston

 

As PRs whose roles are to persuade people to travel to certain places, we also have a responsibility in influencing corporate social responsibility, and setting trends to help influence consumer behaviour. Climate change and sustainable tourism are always part of our agency’s ethos. Having started out promoting a national park I really see the importance of supporting local economies.

Our sector can play a key role in supporting schemes such as save the high-street, sustainable travel and protecting the environment. So I would say around 60% of our PR work and campaigns will always consider ethical promotion.  We’ve worked on plenty of climate change/ environmental stories, one standout story was for a cave which is home to a close to extinct animal called the Olm, through some good PR tactics we helped create a viral sensation.

Finally travel crisis are also part of the parcel, whether there’s an incident in a certain location such as a terrorist threat, we have to be able to monitor and evaluate the situation within minutes of an incident. Strategic crisis communications is an essential part of our work which can never be ignored.

– Frank Marr

 

One which springs to mind is when Storm Desmond hit the north west of the England. This devastating storm wreaked havoc across the Lake District, Cumbria and further afield.

As the impact could spell catastrophe for some businesses, our PR team were quick off the mark in contacting the sites affected and offering ways to help them keep visitors coming to them, thus encouraging tourism to continue during a very difficult time.

– Charles Gulland

 

We worked with a travel insurance company for many years and educating people about the risks of not being properly insured, as well as publishing reports, guided by the WHO, on safe places to travel to was really interesting. Some of it was very sad, so that was sometimes hard but very worthwhile.

– Kally Carder

 

 

 

 

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