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

By Wendy Bulawa Agudelo

13139055_sDo you own a hotel or resort destination, or are you perhaps a member of a local chamber of commerce seeking to attract more visitors? A consistent flow of tourists and travelers can make all the difference, and travel industry veterans understand how much time, money and effort it takes to build and maintain that consistency. In fact, many travel and tourism-focused outfits earmark large marketing budgets to further establish brand or locale identity. Looking ahead to the busiest domestic travel season of the year, summer, it’s clear that to be competitive, travel and tourism-oriented businesses can achieve more with expanded marketing programs that include public relations. But what are the best tactics to deploy in such a highly competitive industry?

Dive in to your digital presence.

With significant research and reviews completed online, the travel and tourism industry must remain at the forefront across all social media platforms and planning tools including Google Maps, TripAdvisor and Yelp. Gone are the days when a website was a company’s most valuable digital asset. Additionally, reputation management is now more important than ever. These elements are paramount in separating your business from your competition.

Make sure you address these questions:

  • Are your reviews positive?

  • Have you listened and taken action when visitors shared opportunities for improvement?

  • Are you responding to reviews and complaints immediately and with genuine intent to remedy?

  • Have you updated your digital presence to reflect improvements?

  • Are you running any specials or hosting/sponsoring events?

Think outside the box.

Too often, companies laser-focus their public relations efforts on traditional travel press. However, PR has incredible potential for building brand identity. Consider the benefit your business could achieve through placement in lifestyle and vertical media – think coverage for unique and unusual dining experiences (like Dining in the Dark), unexpected entertainment, adventure-filled children’s activities or even amenities for four-legged guests.

Leverage your amenities to the hilt.

These little details often go overlooked in lieu of what many refer to as “bread and butter assets.”  Yet, most travelers will tell you that the little things are what sell them not only on staying the first time, but many times thereafter, as well.

Does your culinary staff delight with unique menu combinations and taste profiles? Do you have an on-site sommelier who can conduct classes on wine pairings? Can you organize picnic lunches for families, arrange carriage tours around town, host a kids’ camp or offer unique fitness programs like tabata? Consider the season and optimize each amenity through marketing, promotion and, of course, public relations. The more potential visitors know about the unique experiences they can enjoy, the more likely they are to book with you instead of your competition.

Consider partnerships.

Right down the street or perhaps in a nearby town, there are partnership opportunities just waiting for you. Local businesses enjoy partnering to cross-promote marketing collateral as well as special events that, in turn, bring business to all. You could market your property to area photographers for photo shoots, encourage area sports teams to stay, offer a guest-chef series highlighting area chefs or even arrange a room sponsorship for local brands to showcase their wares. The win-win nature of the partnership extends your reach and advances public relations options to encompass multiple brands and businesses.

Has reality TV come to your area?

The broad reach of reality TV has turned even the most unlikely destinations into must-see locations (just look at Duck Dynasty and Deadliest Catch). If you are located in or around an area where reality TV has taken hold, let visitors know. People enjoy visiting places where there’s potential to catch a glimpse of a celebrity. Even Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star Lisa Vanderpump shared that she receives visitors from all over the world at her restaurant, SUR, in West Hollywood.

Travel and tourism are alive and well, even in a slumped economy, which makes the competition for guests and mindshare that much more valuable and difficult to achieve. The PR experts at Axia Public Relations know exactly how to make it happen for you. These are just a few key tactics to consider, but there’s more; Part II will be live shortly. In the meantime, download our  Online Reputation Management e-book to learn more about how public relations can support your business.


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, travel

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