The Travel & Tourism Group was relaunched by the A Marr + Associates team and 4mediarelations with a panel discussing ‘How to get the most out of the World Travel Market and other travel fairs’. The event saw PRs in the travel sector gather for a fascinating discussion and the panel imparted valuable advice to the group, so we’ve summarised the key points for anyone unable to make it.
Our panel was made up of Darren Ryan, Associate Director of 4mediarelations, Lottie Gross, Web Editor of Rough Guides.com, Paul Nelson, Portfolio Press and PR Manager for World Travel Market and Steve Robertshaw, PR Manager at Visit Sweden, chaired by the group chairman and WTM veteran Frank Marr, Director at A Marr + Associates.
With WTM London attracting over 3000 media visitors from all over the world it is a perfect opportunity to connect with press and also to build up new business connections for potential PR opportunities.
What should PRs be doing beforehand?
* WTM London hosts a planning day annually in July, so PRs should attend and communicate key stories to the in-house PR team. PRs must try and gather information as early as possible before WTM London and other travel fairs.
* A couple of weeks before the fairs, PRs should look into the existing support that these fairs provide. For example, WTM London has about 3000 journalists in attendance, with about 60% having a consumer focus, so it is vital that PRs make use of the in-house support. WTM London has two radio studios on site, run by 4mediarelations, a TV studio and a team working on pushing out consumer orientated travel content. So don’t be shy about getting in touch with the team - they’re there to help! And the later that you leave it, the less chance you will have of securing valuable exposure.
* Review your press materials. What was useful last year? What did you get coverage from? What did you not see appear in the media? Adjust your content accordingly.
What should PRs be doing whilst there?
* Be welcoming and accommodating! Travel fairs are a busy time and often journalists or bloggers may turn up to your stand expecting meetings. If you can’t arrange this at short notice, make sure that you have an information sheet of relevant contacts that you can provide for them to get in touch afterwards. Ultimately every person visiting the stand is also a potential traveller to your destination - don’t put them off because you consider them to be less of a priority.
* Build a database of contacts to approach after the event! While there isn’t always time for in-depth discussions during fairs, a fleeting chat and a follow up e-mail could make all the difference!
* Do your best to meet face to face with key contacts. In our digital world it is easier than ever to avoid meeting in person, however travel fairs are a valuable opportunity to make lasting relationships. Organise meetings beforehand as much as possible.
* Attend key events - don’t just spend all your time on your stand as you will miss opportunities. WTM London, for example, is launching a blogger networking event this year with 100 handpicked bloggers sitting at tables for PRs to approach.
* Ensure that you know who’s who at your stands - destinations will be bringing with them partners and local tourism representatives, all with their own stories and offerings. Knowing who to direct enquires to will save time and make it as easy as possible for journalists to collect information.
* Visit the Rough Guides stand! You’ll find representatives there from the guide books - they are on the hunt for stories and new openings to update their books, and this is your chance to provide the web team with content to consider for the year ahead. The Rough Guides website set the travel agenda in January every year, and their Rough Guide to 2016, which detailed the top 10 countries, top 10 cities and top 10 regions for the following 12 months is consistently the most viewed feature, with over 40,000 unique views per month and 600,000 views on the day it was released. It gets picked up by newspapers and reported on around the world!
What mistakes should PRs avoid?
* Choose your main travel PR representative wisely at fairs. Whilst it may be tempting to give the responsibility to junior staff, WTM London have found that this can cause issues year-on-year as juniors move agencies and contacts are lost, making it difficult to maintain a consistent relationship between agencies and in-house PR team.
* Think twice about what you are giving out to journalists. Ask what they need before handing out huge bags full of leaflets and USB sticks - let the journalist know what you are giving them. If they don’t want it when they are at the stand, you can guarantee that they won’t read it later.
What makes a great story at a travel fair?
* As the official broadcast partners for WTM London for many years, 4mediarelations understand what makes a great story. Travel fairs such as WTM London are often the only opportunity for destinations to show off their ambassadors, whether they are government ministers, the heads of tourist boards or key celebrities with a strong link to or passion for their destination. These are the people that you should be putting forward for media interviews! It may be the only time that they are in the country, so ensure that you make time for them to promote your destination to consumer as well as trade.
* Make sure that your story is genuinely newsworthy! While clients may think that they have a good story angle for media coverage, as PRs we often know if this is not the case, so be brave and push for a story that you are confident will get coverage.
* If you have organised meetings with journalists, make sure that you know their publication inside out. Don’t waste their time pitching stories that won’t work for them. You’ll most likely make a bad impression and reduce your chances of working with them again in the future.
What makes useful press pack information?
* PRs need to ensure that press packs for journalists are as clear and relevant as possible. New openings, key events and story angles for the upcoming year should be set out clearly and succinctly. Think about how journalists could make use of the information you are providing, rather than using the press centre for content that has been created by tourist boards for tourists!
About the Travel & Tourism Group
The PRCA Travel & Tourism Group aims to advance and improve PR & communication professionals through education, innovation and sharing best practice.
It is headed up by the Chairman, Frank Marr, Director and the Vice Chairwoman, Simona Morar, PR Coordinator, both from travel & lifestyle PR agency A Marr + Associates. The Board of Directors is made up of Darren Ryan, Associate Director and Jennifer Cimerman, Campaigns and Media Director, both at broadcast specialist PR agency 4mediarelations.
We hold events annually and meet on a quarterly basis to share information, network, and develop new business relationships.
The travel and tourism sector thrives off good relationships between agencies representing a variety of destinations, accommodation providers, airlines, tour operators, tourist boards, and attractions. We hope to encourage collaborative work and learning from our successes and our mistakes.
Our membership consists of agencies that specialise in travel and tourism, multi disciplined agencies with an interest in the sector, client side representatives from a wide range of tourism organisations and supporting media.