The travel industry is the second-fastest growing sector in the world. According to the latest data published by the World Travel and Tourism Council, this is largely credited to a rise in global wealth, liberalization of international air space, cheaper flights and the use of the internet as a travel tool.
In the travel sector, public relations are more than a necessity. The industry faces major challenges of identifying the most efficient ways of promoting a brand product or service, building a positive image and increasing the visibility of tourist destinations to attract customers in a saturated market.
Below are some recent public relations trends we’ve seen that can impact how brands engage with consumers and stay competitive in the travel space.
A rise in freelance journalism
Earned media isn’t dead…it’s evolving. In fact, as more journalists leave full-time roles for freelance positions, the opportunities are broader. Historically, the confines of corporate media policies have limited the media’s involvement in press trips and experiences. The rise in freelance journalism is a welcomed solution for travel and leisure brands, allowing journalists to enjoy immersive, firsthand experiences with the brands that they otherwise wouldn’t have, resulting in more authentic and engaging stories.
Tapping freelance journalists can also increase ROI. Press trips can be costly, meaning one freelancer can pitch multiple outlets using different story angles versus being tied to an exclusive outlet. As a result, forging strong relationships with those who contribute to multiple tier-a outlets will help drive success.
Influencer marketing: the newest travel agent
Influencer marketing is taking hold over the travel space as more consumers turn to social platforms like Instagram for travel inspiration. Scrolling their feeds and seeing the relatable travel stories of their most envied influencers sparks their own desires, which directly impacts their travel preferences.
Influencers have the unique ability to sell a lifestyle, not just a destination, which opens doors for companies to tap into their influence to introduce lesser-known cities, cultures and experiences to a mainstream platform, putting them “on the map.” Leveraging the ever-growing roster of travel influencers can give businesses the opportunity to mould cities into the next must-visit vacation spot.
Blurred lines: the travel space isn’t just for travel brands
More and more brands are tapping into the travel space to create immersive experiences for customers. When L’Oréal launched its “Beauty Hotel” retail experience it mimicked the hotel experience with its “check-in” counter of a wall of keys for visitors to choose from to win prizes. Similarly, when Xbox launched “Stay and Play” – a pop-up sleepover that allowed gamers to play all night long, with maybe some naps in between – featured room service, a concierge to bring you games and even an Xbox-branded onesie to sleep in.
These are two great examples of companies creating unique travel-inspired marketing activations that exemplify the merger between brand and experience, feeding into a consumer’s innate desire for adventure.