Digital PR hacks for the travel industry

If you thought travel marketing was important a few years back, you’d better believe that it’s off the scale now. Since emerging from global lockdowns and with the rise of social media and influencers, (Gen-Z are now using TikTok over Google as a search engine – we wrote a blog on it, check it out) it means that the world is becoming more visible than it’s ever been before. And that means that consumers are looking for constant inspiration everywhere in the form of their next big trip and the best travel deals available. 

But while this obviously means that there are now more opportunities for travel brands, it also obviously opens up the competition. It makes it a lot harder to stand out from the crowd of other travel businesses and guide people to your checkout, which is why you need to be on the ball when it comes to the changing trends in the travel biz. So, we’ve decided to give you a heads up. 

Here’s how to create a strong digital PR campaign for a travel industry client…

1. You need to be offering something new and interesting

Firstly, you need to make sure that your story has a hook that draws people in. It also needs to be unique to the usual stories you see. For example, opting for a data-led campaign is likely to give you an edge as the information is factual. Data-driven marketing also promotes more personalised content, which will cause users to increase their engagement. Think about it, when something is relevant to your needs, you’re much more likely to share, like, and engage with the content.

What is a data-led campaign?

Basically, it’s when a campaign uses data as its main hook. It means numerical research has been done when putting the campaign together and then used or manipulated to form a tangible story. These kinds of campaigns often offer new perspectives on topics and come across as more trustworthy (providing your research methods are sound), and therefore more likely to be organically picked up.

We recently launched a super successful travel campaign that was fresh, interesting, and centred around data. The fact that it was based on facts, and based on an entertaining concept was the catalyst for how well it did. We worked with iVisa, a company that helps you with – you guessed it – visas, and built a happiness index that looked at the happiest cities in the world. Using the natural appeal of sunshine and travel, we created the index by looking at 5 core happiness factors. These were the cost of living, the friendliest locals, sunshine hours, working hours and life expectancy. We gathered numerical data on each of these categories and used it to rank each of the 50 chosen cities from the highest (happiest) to the lowest (unhappiest).

With a goal of securing 30 high DA links in 6 months through various digital PR campaigns, here’s a quick overview of what a strong concept combined with just as interesting data can achieve:

  • 116 pieces of coverage across 8 countries
  • 52 links secured with an average of DR48
  • 2.54 million views
  • 43.1k engagements across social channels
  • Links secured with DR of 94

And creating a data-led campaign also leads nicely into our next point…

2. Encourage the journalists to link back to your site

Most marketers run digital PR campaigns to get links back to their website, so it’s important there’s something on your site that journos can – well – link back to. And it’s got to be more than just your homepage. 

The example we mentioned above does this really well. The full version of the research is displayed as a blog post on iVisa’s website, and as well as including the numerical data throughout the content, it’s also presented as an infographic showing which cities have the highest score for the different happiness factors. For example, Lisbon was the happiest city overall, but the graphic also showed that Frankfurt, Germany, had the best working hours, Las Vegas, USA, had the most sunshine, and San José in Costa Rica had the happiest people. 

It’s important to organically grow links because they act as a vote of confidence when it comes to how authoritative and trustworthy your site and content are. The more links you get, the higher you’ll appear in the search results, which in turn helps to increase revenue – which after all, is the main goal of a travel business. Or any business in fact.

3. Ensure your campaign translates well across your target countries

In order to maximise your campaign’s reach, you need to make sure (regardless of the content or data) that it can translate well across your targeted countries. So, be smart about the topic you choose, even if you’re a niche business. You want the subject to be universal and accessible, whilst also being unique and interesting, as we mentioned before.

For example, launching a campaign about the current state of the UK’s beaches likely wouldn’t provide you with much traction or international coverage. However, using the same premise but expanding it to cover the state of Europe’s beaches gives you a much higher chance of landing coverage across European media. 

Basically, just make sure that the campaign makes sense in every country you are targeting. 

4. Consider time zones

As well as the obvious, like making sure you’re not using slang specific to one area, and that the topics aren’t too restricted, you’ll also want to take into consideration the different time zones. International advertising efforts require your ads to be displayed in the correct time zone of each location, and not just the time zone that is defaulted in your account settings. You’ve also got to think about seasonal timings, too, if your campaign is trying to reach different parts of the world.

Plus, there are the real people you want to think about – the journalists. Make sure you’re emailing them at a time that is convenient to them and that it’s also at a time where they’re most likely to see it. For example, if you accidentally drop a journo an email at 11 pm at night their time, it’s likely they won’t see it until the next morning. Which by then, they’ll probably have 1000s more that will have buried your email way down in the inbox queue. 

Be smart, email scheduling is a thing.

5. Translate your press releases

This brings us to press releases. While outreaching in just one language is great for all of the countries that speak it, you’re limiting yourself to certain titles in the countries that don’t and excluding areas where you could have a real chance of being successful. For example, if you’re outreaching to France with an English press release, you’ll likely only see coverage in the “ex-pat” type titles that produce English coverage. Therefore, you’re restricting the reach your really great campaign could achieve, just by sticking to one language. We’ve got some tips on translating your press release, too:

  • Choose who to target – This all comes down to your PR goals. Say, for example, your client is a travel company who wants to sell an experience in Spain. You’ll want to translate your press release into Spanish and then target Spanish publications that cover international travel. It’s important to know who you’re trying to reach before you begin.
  • Use professionals who are experts at translating press releases – Press releases often contain info specific to an industry. As you’re working for a travel company, you’ll need to make sure the translators you use are experts in the tourism field.

  • Localise your content – When targeting international publications, you need to make sure your content is localised. This includes:

  • Selecting appropriate images to go with the press release. 
  • Using unique cultural angles to tie the release to, e.g customs or local holidays.
  • Adapting the design and layout of the press release to display the translated content properly.
  • Converting to local standards, e.g measurements and currency.
  • Using preferred formats for phone numbers, addresses, dates, etc of the country. 
  • Addressing legal requirements and local regulations.
  • Adapting your graphics to the translated area.

6. Crisis management – have a ready-made PR plan

OK, you probably don’t want to think about a campaign going pear-shaped, but you need to be prepared, regardless. (It’s like that in any industry, it’s not just you.)

But the travel sector, in particular, can experience things going wrong – especially in the aftermath of the pandemic, and this can have a negative impact on a brand and its sales if the issue isn’t resolved immediately. Cue the crisis management plan.

It’s so important that you are prepared to react as quickly as you can in the event of a problem, so in your management plan, make sure you’ve listed all the possible risks that could potentially occur along with the best solutions for each case. 

And in the majority of cases, it’s advised you stay on the side of the customer, as you want them to think that you’ve always got their back. 

Create a killer campaign

There’s no better feeling than watching a campaign that you’ve grown and nurtured taking off and exceeding all of your expectations. And we’ve got a lot of experience when it comes to travel PR – we’re based in Barcelona and have a team of staff who are based in different parts of the world, so we already know a thing or two about managing different languages, cultures, and time zones.

We can help you to create the ultimate tourism campaign, and whether it’s a product you’re trying to sell or a service you’re trying to promote, we’ve got the tools and experience to take them from a 5 to a 10. (And higher, but we don’t like to brag.)

Sophie Crosby
Head of Content @ Minty Digital.
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