Use PR to become the attraction tourists seek (Part II)

By Wendy Bulawa Agudelo

17231052_sThe travel/tourism industry offers numerous opportunities for businesses to gain traction. Axia Public Relations offered up a few key tips on the subject in Part I, and we’ve got even more for your consideration here:

Keep your eye on the news.

While much of the daily news focuses on politics, weather, sports and crime, it can also be a hotbed of possibilities for connecting with your city or business. Is a major sporting event coming to town, a politician in your neighborhood for a visit or even a reality TV show mentioning your state by name? Popular culture and local events provide a spectrum of opportunities that local businesses can leverage.

Consider the changes that the summer months bring to Martha’s Vineyard, the small island off the coast of Massachusetts. President Obama and the first family vacation there nearly every year (along with many other notable celebrities, politicians and sports figures) and area businesses use these opportunities to enliven their own marketing efforts through creative PR tactics:

  • Local ice cream shop Mad Martha’s created a uniquely themed flavor called the “Barack My World,” featuring coffee ice cream with a caramel swirl and macadamia nuts.

  • Hot spot bar/restaurant Sharkey’s Cantina advertised a new drink called the “Obamarita,” a margarita made with crushed mandarin oranges (rumored to be President Obama’s favorite fruit), pineapple juice (a nod to his Hawaiian heritage), triple sec and tequila.

These creative twists reel in travelers and offer something unique while also giving area media unusual angles to incorporate into their news pieces.

Invite Samantha for a visit.

Most Travel Channel watchers are familiar with Samantha Brown, who jets across the globe in search of unique and fun locations and resorts to review. If you feel your city or business would fare well in the eyes of the discerning Ms. Brown, consider reaching out with your pitch to see if you can book her for a visit.

Leverage hashtags.

As part of an overall public relations campaign, it’s important to strategically consider social media. The media knows that the most efficient turnaround comes from the use of social media, so using hashtags across an array of social media platforms could help you gain momentum.

For example, if a hotel boasts incredible sunsets viewed from the deck restaurant where it also serves five-course dinners by candlelight, it can encourage guests to post photos (Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, etc.) alongside specific hashtags (#hotelhashtag) to further increase social media engagement and impressions. Each hotel should use a unique hashtag as well as popular hashtags that relate to the topic (#sunsetatthebeach). Hotels can simply ask or even incentivize visitors to do the marketing legwork for them using nominal gifts like special turndown services or milk and cookies before bed, etc. All the little extras invested can ultimately result in more bang for your hashtag buck.

Market to Hollywood.

If you believe your business or attraction has highly visual appeal, it could also serve as the perfect home to a future television series, locally produced show or even Hollywood production. Think of how many reality TV shows are currently in production and how frequently stars from those shows appear at local restaurants, shops, attractions, hotels, etc. You may be sitting on a jewel of a location for the next greatest production, but first you’ve got to pitch your locale and its unique benefits to producers.

Public relations experts can assist in uncovering unique angles of your property to pitch as well as connect you with production teams to shape future storylines incorporating your location. For example, Whole Foods has earned significant air time through its relationship with the Top Chef series, and many episodes of Hell’s Kitchen take challenge winners on boating or helicopter excursions off to fancy restaurants or even to specialized salons and spas. These locations invariably earn millions of impressions and, likely, a considerable number of future visitors.

Consider broader audience appeal.

Travel and tourism industry businesses need to focus more on the needs of their target audiences and less on decision-makers alone. Plenty of families like to travel but often struggle with finding the right locations where diverse age groups can truly engage and enjoy a vacation. Appealing to the needs of every particular age demographic – including those families that must travel with pets – is important when attempting to capture family dollars. Parents want their kids to have safe and enjoyable trips and, at the same time, enjoy some down time on their own. Promoting your own creative solutions and amenities can often seal the deal. If you can offer your visitors “the first pet-motel-inside-a-hotel,” for example, call the press.

The travel and tourism industry is rife both with competition and opportunities for public relations creativity. PR is an optimal marketing vehicle to achieve differentiation and can assist in building a credible, competitive stance in areas where many feel drowned. To learn more about how public relations can support you, download our free Online Reputation Management e-book and give Axia a call. We’d be delighted to help.

 

Wendy Bulawa Agudelo has more than 15 years of experience in technology, business, consumer and non-profit public relations. In addition to serving on the Massachusetts Down Syndrome Congress PR Task Force, Wendy enjoys cooking and rooting for her favorite New England sports teams.

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Featured image credit: 123rf.com

Topics: Public Relations, Featured, Travel

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