On June 12, 2022, the CDC announced that airline passengers traveling from a foreign country into the United States were no longer required to show a negative COVID-19 test. Earlier in April, a Florida judge struck down the U.S. Federal Transportation Mask Mandate, and all major U.S. airlines lifted masked requirements for domestic flights. After a 15-month standstill, the cruise industry made a comeback, and despite the rising gas prices, Americans were set to break road trip records for July 4. Experts anticipate that international travel in 2022 will meet and possibly exceed pre-pandemic levels.
There’s no doubt that travel is back, but is it back as we once knew it? And what does this mean for travel and hospitality public relations practitioners and our clients?
Understanding consumer behavior
Data is more critical than ever, and understanding consumer behavior is key to developing impactful PR strategies. With more consumers having an online presence, there’s an opportunity for brands to personalize offers and experiences like never before. Tools like Brandwatch, Brand24 and Mention can track relevant keywords and media mentions and assist PR professionals in analyzing trends and competitors, giving brands a front-row seat to understanding what makes their consumers tick—and click.
|This article is featured in O'Dwyer's Jul. '22 Travel & Tourism PR Magazine
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The media landscape has shifted
Press trips are now more competitive than ever, with destinations and hotels rolling out the red carpet to garner media attention. While group trips were once preferred, the media are now opting for individual experiences and choosing trips with flexible add-ons like flight insurance and extended stay options.
In-person vs. virtual
While the power of in-person meetings can’t be matched, the media have grown accustomed to virtual meetings and are reassessing the value of leaving the comfort of their offices or homes when they no longer have to. The key is to make these gatherings personalized and experiential. Think virtual happy hour for a hotel or destination or a tutorial for skincare brands. These meetings must add value to be successful. Think about delivering a clever media mailer with curated/branded gifts prior to the interview to entice engagement and make the meeting more tangible.
Influencers are here to stay, but with more screen time, consumers have become wearier of influencer marketing tactics and seek more authentic, relatable content. This is why nano and micro-influencers are a brand’s secret weapon. They are enthusiastic about the products and experiences and speak to a niche audience.
Internal comms. are here to stay
During the pandemic, many brands realized their need for strategic internal communications to provide timely messages to stakeholders and consumers and boost employee morale. Company leaders became valuable spokespersons and social responsibility campaigns took center stage as consumers began expecting their favorite brands to speak out about topics like diversity and sustainability.
With hotels and destinations managing staff shortages, improved sanitation protocols, increased travel demand and more contactless technology, PR teams can be excellent allies for the industry’s recovery. By providing clients with insightful intel, trendspotting and a deep understanding of the new consumer and media landscape, PR pros can keep hotels and destinations top of mind and quickly mitigate any unforeseen turn in the pandemic.
Amy Sedeño is Vice President and Partner at Carolyn Izzo Integrated Communications / CIIC PR.
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