It’s no secret. The travel and hospitality industry is hurting. I don’t have to tell you about hotels laying off staff, restaurants cutting back on hours or cruise lines, airlines and tour operators discounting more heavily than ever — all in the name of trying to get cheeks in seats or heads in beds, aka the bottom line.
So we turn to the most important question: how can travel public relations continue to add value in this challenging economy? Whether you’re in-house, a solo practitioner or agency public relations rep, you might have come across one or more of the following situations in the past year:
- Being asked to come up with big, new ideas but with a very limited budget or staff support.
- Reduced marketing budgets; being asked to demonstrate to decision makers what the return on public relations investment has been and why it should continue.
- Being asked to write basic press releases on a non-newsworthy topic.
- Implemented social media without understanding its impact on the company.
If you’re starting to look at 2010 (or even the next three months) and deciding how public relations fits into your business plan or your clients’ future plans, it’s best to start internally. Make sure the public relations rep is right in the trenches of the business planning phase. It sounds like such an easy step, one that most people wouldn’t miss, right? In the past 20 years, we’ve seen CEOs, presidents and business owners in the hospitality industry make mistakes when using public relations. If public relations is viewed as an afterthought, then your role as a public relations professional diminishes from day one.
Instead, start by asking questions such as: Can I join my CEO/owner during meetings when key business decisions are being discussed? Can I review the Web site copy to ensure consistency for the brand and its key messages? Can I set up meetings with operations and HR to see if there are challenging areas that can be addressed before we invite media to experience the product?
Try it. I encourage you to ask.
You not only gain more by learning about the company and its challenges, but your role will soon grow into a strategic public relations counselor as you create solutions to address them.
By attending our workshop, “Strategic PR for Travel/Hospitality Industry,” on Monday, November 8 at the PRSA 2009 International Conference, we’ll give you more questions to ask, along with recent travel and hospitality public relations case studies and examples and how travel public relations can be of even more value in these difficult times. Plus, we’ll give you ten tips on things you can do immediately to make an impact as soon as you get home from Conference. Now that’s value!
See you then!
Karen Gee-McAuley, executive vice president, BLAZE PR, oversees client service and business development primarily in the travel/hospitality practice. Karen has more than 20 years of public relations experience related to the travel and tourism industries, as well as the healthy lifestyle and food and wine industries. She is a member and serves on the marketing committee for the Hotel Sales & Marketing Association International’s LA Chapter, and is a member of the Condo-Hotel Association, International Spa Association, Public Relations Society of America and Society of American Travel Writers.
Join Karen along with Craig Rexroad for their co-presentation, “Strategic PR for Travel/Hospitality Industry,” at the PRSA 2009 International Conference: Delivering Value, November 7–11, in San Diego, CA!