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 ehow.com’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

Hotel Shopping Takes a Leap

We’ve come a long, long way from hotel shops as just a place for guests to buy needed or forgotten toiletries and beach items. The first major change was the advent of  shops with curated fashion and jewelry that made a statement about guests’ style and budget as in what would a Peninsula Hotel guest wear? A “W” hotel guest? Later came fashion exclusively designed for the hotel or resort that made a statement about pedigree and the kind of company the resort keeps (as in Christian Louboutin’s espadrilles for One and Only Palmilla). For the Clinton Hotel in South Beach we came up with the idea of a room service lingerie menu which fit in  with our positioning of the hotel being sensual, seductive, with a French touch. Or for the former Regent Bal Harbour, we offered a fashion emergency button on a mobile phone where guests could dial up a dress or suit for the evening from Neiman Marcus. Now, according to the New York Times,  the St.Regis Bal Harbour Resort in Miami Beach has taken this to the next level. When guests check into the hotel they find a closet stocked with clothing that personal shoppers have chosen with them in mind. The clothing is selected by a shopping team at Neiman Marcus based on an online questionnaire guests fill out specifying their  favorite style icons such as the “Mad Men” character Betty Draper. The James Hotel in New York offers something similar: guests find a box of accessories by New York designers chosen by celebrity stylist Mimi Lombardo. And payment? If an item is missing, it’s considered a purchase.

Hotels are still influencing home décor

First it was hotel bed linens, then spa-like bathrooms. Now it seems that hotels are influencing our interior and exterior home décor, design elements that only used to be seen at five star hotels and resorts.

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Social media’s influence on the Affluent

Recently I was a guest speaker at a Preferred Hotel Group conference, and a question on the minds of many was, “Do the affluent use social media?”

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The new tea lifestyle

Tea is steeped in English tradition, but is becoming a very hot US beverage (could it be that after 200+ years, we’re finally starting to get over that bit of unpleasantness in Boston Harbor?). Tea is becoming the ultimate, affordable, healthy beverage of choice for millions of Americans and, more significantly, a ‘tea lifestyle’ is emerging.

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A new breed of hotels offering “affordable luxury”

We’re just back from the Hospitality Design Boutique Exposition & Conference in the heart of Miami’s South Beach. Most interesting was a panel “Affordable hotels 2.0- Hybrids, New brands and fresh ideas” where the industry’s latest pioneers (Paul Priestman of Priestmangoode, Micheal Levie of CitizenM hotels, Bill Lanting of Stay Hotels, and Enrique Sarasola of Room Mate hotels) discussed the next generation of hotels, design and the newest consumer.

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Can Hip + Sexy = Family Travel?

Does a resort positioning itself as sensual and hip compliment marketing efforts appealing to families? The Fontainebleau Hotel thinks so and top executive, Howard Karawan, points to outstanding sales results over the last two months as the proof that it can be done. In the marketing world, that is no small feat.

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