Luxury Travel, Lifestyle and Marketing Trends

Trends in Travel Public Relations

I was recently a panelist on “The Changing Face of PR” at the ATME Conference (Association of Travel Marketing Executives) in Miami last month. With social media, depleted editorial staffs in the nation’s leading newspapers, declining viewership in network TV, and the “consumer terrorism” of online reviews, what does all of this mean for the PR industry today? My topic, ‘Top Three Must Do’s in PR’ in today’s world helps PR Pros tackle these issues:

1. Produce Quality, Quantity and Diverse Content

–        The good news? There are abundant distribution channels that exist today to get your message out. But you must be present across the consumer’s behavioral path, because each is a potential contact point and integrating these marketing channels can provide a comprehensive approach.

The 3 P’s of traditional PR content are still valid – product, packages, and promotions. But now we need to think beyond these and create content that addresses the psychographics of your target markets, e.g. their special interests and passions. Think not only in niche terms, but micro-niche.

–        A growth area for content is service articles, traditionally the staple of B2B programs. There are endless opportunities, e.g. articles on tips, how-to’s (look at’s success), and top 10 lists via slideshows which the media love, as well as copy.

–        Content that shows thought leadership and innovation to establish clients as an industry authority, a source for the media. Admittedly it’s a process, but once you achieve this, it’s the gift keeps on giving. Surveys, audits, research are all effective platforms to launch this approach.

2. Customize Your Message to Your Audience, to the Medium

What hasn’t changed in decades is being relevant to the media you’re addressing, using targeted, customized pitches and lists.

–        In a PR GENIE survey of journalists in 26 countries, the #1 complaint (59.5%) with PR is irrelevant PR pitches. That’s up 2.5% just in one year.

–        The #2 complaint (new this year) is mass PR pitching over social media. Messages need to be further refined for each social media channel, as people want different things from Twitter and Facebook, which are still different from Pinterest, Tumblr, and Instagram.

3. Build Relationships with Media; Make It Easy For Them to Experience Your Product

–        Nothing can replace face-to-face meetings and press visits, which remain powerful PR tools. Such interaction helps keep you top of mind when looking for their next source.

–        Following and friending media and other influencers on social media offer insight into their personality, their interests, their travels, stories they may be working on, and plant story ideas. In the same PR GENIE survey, 59% of journalists say they follow and friend PR professionals on social media. 70% have used twitter to post a question to get public reaction and used replies as a part of a story; 62% have done so on Facebook.

–        Also facilitate  relationships with  the product itself. Brand managers are rethinking the traditional presentation of their products and finding other ways to reach out such as pop ups – shops, restaurants, hotels – which celebrate the essence of a brand for a targeted audience or timeframe. Low budget alternatives are DIY packages to create the experience at home.

The following is an expanded version of this speech, which includes industry examples for each topic.

Blogpost by Karen Weiner Escalera, President & Chief Strategist

Visit Barbados & Rihanna: A Match Made in Social Media

On December 17th, Visit Barbados launched Rihanna’s 2013 Barbados Tourism campaign: Are you a Tourist or Traveler? to the world – well, the social media world. The online-only campaign, running mid-December through February, began with a video on Facebook of the award-winning pop singer in her native homeland.


Putting the Experience into Historic Monuments

How to make a historic monument sizzle (figuratively and literally)? As described in The New Yorker, Lucy Worsley, chief curator at Historic Royal Palaces (UK), which runs Hampton Court Palace, Kensington Palace, the Tower of London and others, has come up with a crowd pleasing idea: recreating 230 years of royal cooking and entertainment for visitors with food and drink.


Drugstores Raise the Bar

Not much has happened with drugstores since the famed Le Drugstore atop the Champs-Elysées in Paris (now Publicis Drugstore) opened in 1958 when founder, Marcel Bleustein-Blanchet, created a new concept for Paris that became a legend.


Hotel guest directory done right

The guest directory of Berlin’s Minilofts, an apartment hotel owned by two architects, gets my vote for one of the best I’ve ever seen….and used. Written by the hotel manager, who works part time at the English language magazine for Berlin, the 18 page guide is comprehensive and perfectly geared towards its guests, which Minilofts describes as “international guests….(with) an independent streak and a fascination with culture.”


Destination content a winner for hotels

Over the last couple years, we’ve seen that increasing destination content and SEO go hand in hand, because researching destinations has been shown to be the most popular use of Google in the travel category. Case in point: planning for an upcoming trip to Paris, I was online researching museum exhibits. Among the top results served up was Plaza Athenee’s hotel website summarizing the cultural highlights of the season.


Destination to Destination partnerships

New York City and Miami tourism officials announced a new partnership (“Rivals, Not in this Arena”) to boost travel between the two destinations, 1088 miles apart. Launching in 2011, this novel approach involves joint advertising, sales on American Airlines airfares between the two cities, and promoting special events and deals in both destinations to boost tourism during their respective slower seasons.


Destination Marketing Tips in a Time of Crisis – Part 2

Effective crisis management can help to limit the damage caused by intense, negative media coverage. To be prepared, an organization must create a detailed crisis communication plan with a crisis communication team assigned to execute the plan that spells out the official spokesperson, key audiences, and internal and external communication chains of command. Practice crisis scenarios and recommended action, and have prepared fact sheets, statements and news release templates on hand. Sometimes, the best course of action might be to “wait and see” rather than risk fanning the fire.


Destination Marketing Tips in a Time of Crisis – Part 1

Be proactive with positive news. There is always something positive to say, even in a time of crisis. New tourism appointments, new flight service, new attractions, increased cruise ship arrivals, festivals, events, hotel packages and hotel developments generate positive news that helps rebuild an image in the eyes of overseas visitors, namely, potential tourists. Social media is a ripe avenue to share your positive news with a large audience, and it’s recommended to set up a news feed on your website to ease browsers search for updates.