It has always been challenging to build communication and PR around travel because it’s often considered “less important” than other industries like healthcare or agriculture. Mindset Consulting has worked closely with travel industry experts, and we have both seen and overcome many of the PR obstacles travel startups face.
Fortunately, the numbers show that not only is the travel sector rebounding well post-pandemic, but it is slated to reach $12.6 billion by 2026, up from the pandemic level of $8.6 billion.
Within the travel technology space, revenues have not picked up as steadily, although the industry is recovering. What this does mean, however, is that traveltech startups with disruptive ideas now have a valuable opportunity to make their mark – and PR plays a key enabling role.
3 Ways Your Traveltech Brand Benefits From PR
1. PR helps you meet your target audience where they’re most likely to go.
You can use PR to promote your brand wherever your customer happens to be located. For example, before visiting a new destination, people typically do extensive research. If your product is connected with those destinations, PR can help promote both the region and your product, bringing it to travelers' attention.
2. It improves brand credibility and Google results.
Traveling is not the time for risk-taking. Nobody will choose a travel company with no trustworthy, reliable search engine results backing it up. PR is therefore the best way to bolster your online reputation and establish a credible presence.
3. Great PR can alter human behavior patterns in your favor.
We're creatures of habit, and we often need a push to try something new, especially concerning travel. For example, Helsinki-based hospitality company Bob W is leveraging tech and PR to influence people to try a new kind of travel accommodation. Their short-stay luxury rentals are changing how people travel and lodge, and their strong digital presence has played a significant role in their success. The company founder participates in podcasts, posts interesting interviews with their team that offer a human face to the brand, and their social media is filled with eye-catching photos and engaging questions that make the audience stop scrolling and take a closer look.
Your Traveltech Company Needs PR to Attract Attention
Almost anyone can come up with a traveltech idea that addresses some pain point they've experienced. However, even if your idea is really good and disruptive, you still need to bring it to the attention of your audience and the media. What’s more, given that this audience typically comprises “seasoned” travel veterans, you need to build trust with them, and convince them that they really would benefit from doing things your new way.
PR offers unique benefits in this respect. Traveltech brands can use PR to demonstrate that they deeply understand the travel industry and their specific niche within it. Brand speakers should also support statements with figures, market research data and knowledge of other players.
For instance, to establish a transparent, trustworthy position for our client Voyagu, Mindset Consulting focused on building the founder's personal brand and directed media pitches to specialized outlets. Through expert and thoughtful columns in relevant publications such as HospitalityNet and Benzinga, we emphasized the founder's expertise, enabling Voyagu to position themselves as a visible and credible industry player.
Accepting interviews (such as these ones with PhocusWire, Authority Magazine and Starter Story) and creating multiple directory profiles also boosted company reach and improved reliability and trustworthiness among audience members.
7 Insider Tips For Traveltech PR
1. Have an intimate understanding of the industry.
The travel industry is slow to change and prefers traditional ways of doing things, so you need a thorough understanding of how the “old ways” work to succeed. Everything is subject to strict regulations, and all major players use strategies that have been proven for decades. Innovation is essential, but you can't expect rapid adoption of something dramatically different from what's known.
To introduce a new product, you need to know how to best prove the effectiveness and necessity of your idea within the existing framework. For example, airlines have specific software used to plan flights and optimize load. However, the industry has not updated its programs according to the latest advances in technology, so it’s up to startups to prove that their solutions are cost-effective and can be integrated just as seamlessly into an airline’s established routines to convince them to make the switch.
2. Clearly define your business goals.
Clear-cut business goals allow your team to choose the best media outlets to achieve those goals – and that will also sharpen your PR strategy. For example, companies focused on raising investments and networking should pitch to outlets like TechCrunch, Entrepreneur or Forbes, which will also raise your profile. Our clients Mirai Flights and YouTravel.me are excellent examples of how reporting investment news in the proper outlet (TechCrunch, in this case) can further brand goals through PR.
3. Leverage the current market agendas for relevant content.
Staying abreast of the news allows you to capitalize on trending topics to further your position as an industry expert.
The topic of emissions, for instance, is a growing concern according to a recent McKinsey survey. Almost 40% of travelers are willing to pay a minimum of 2% more for carbon-neutral travel, so, for example, this is a perfect opportunity to talk about Lilium’s first all-electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) jet.
Other popular discussions include staffing shortages and long traveler wait times. Last summer, both these issues put travelers under terrible strain, opening the door to tech solutions and travel platforms that could ease these difficulties for both travelers and advisors.
4. Strive to be a thought leader.
Don’t write something just to put your name in the media. Whenever you pitch a column, remember that it should highlight a significant market problem and include the founder’s expert opinion, presenting immediate viable solutions.
Every published piece should position you as a trusted thought leader in the travel industry, no matter the topic.
5. Choose relevant outlets, and pitch creatively.
Travel can be covered by business and lifestyle outlets, both broadly and in niche markets.
Stay familiar with news sites like Skift, PhocusWire, TravelDaily, BreakingTravelNews, Travel Tomorrow, and HospitalityNet.
Additionally, whenever you’re pitching to an outlet, do so creatively. Journalists get mountains of pitch emails, and most go unanswered.
David Mack, deputy director for breaking news at BuzzFeed News, says, “I can probably count on one hand the amount of general PR pitches I’ve responded to over the past few years. You have to tailor your pitch like a cover letter for a job application.”
One eye-catching example comes from Entrepreneur’s editor-in-chief Jason Feifer about a woman who was founding a butter dish company and needed basic market research to launch her product. Marketing firms quoted her $10,000 for this information, so instead, she arrived at the airport early every time she traveled and went from gate to gate, asking people the questions she needed answers to. She included this interesting story about her business in her pitch, and was able to grab Feifer’s interest.
6. Attend special events.
Seek industry-relevant events like the Skift Global Forum and participate as a speaker or attendee. This event is the most important one in the travel industry, so even if you don't take to the stage, it's still a valuable opportunity for networking and developing relationships with the press.
7. Have a crisis prediction plan.
Communicating with journalists is tricky because travel is often deemed "less important" than sectors like health or ecology, or even viewed negatively due to its perceived environmental impact.
For instance, the airline industry is considered a top contributor to pollution. So as the travel boom continues, it's more important than ever for airlines to actively address the emissions issue with better transparency and thoughtful, well-developed stances on the problem.
Take time to develop competent, cogent positions that reflect your values, and differentiate you from competitors, to manage objections.