Key Takeaways from the 2018 PRSA Travel & Tourism Conference

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I recently attended the 2018 PRSA Travel and Tourism Conference in New Orleans and learned a great deal about updated travel and tourism PR trends. The key items covered at the conference included marketing and branding big ideas, leveraging data and research, engaging with media, working with influencers and hosting them for familiarization (FAM) visits, and the importance of videos and other viral content in travel and tourism.

Below is a breakdown of some of the key takeaways from the conference:

  • Marketing and Branding Big Ideas:
    • There are several key trends that tourism and travel destinations should be utilizing as they engage with media and influencers, including:
      • Trails - From food and drinks to thrill attractions and scenic drives, trails are an easy way to market your region while using already accessible resources.
      • Ecotourism – From farm-to-table to u-pick to natural wonders (lakes, parks, nature preserves, etc.), environmentally conscious writers and travelers want to experience the natural beauty of regions.
      • Nostalgia – From drive-in movie theatres and restaurants to old-time arcades and trains, giving the media and visitors a walk down memory lane gauges people’s interest.
      • Craft, Artisanal and Unique – From craft breweries and distilleries to artisanal dishes and unique finds, items you can’t find anywhere else draw people’s attention.
         
  • Leveraging Data and Research
    • Data and research add credibility to any pitch, as well as generate tourism pitch ideas you may otherwise not think of. Ways you can use data and research include:
      • Third Party Studies – Use research from others to make your destination or attraction stand out.
      • Expose a Trend – Conducting your own third-party survey can position you as a thought leader and expose a trend no one knew about.
         
  • Digital and Print Media
    • From professional freelancers to industry trade, digital and print media continue to be integral when engaging with media on behalf of tourism clients.  Some things to remember when identifying what media to engage with include:
      • ROI – When identifying which writers to engage with or potentially host for a FAM visit, think about where your story will run. Look for freelancers who write for a variety of outlets and could potentially run your story in several digital and print publications.
      • Know their Audience – Limit your pitches to topics relevant to the outlet’s audience and editorial scope. Reference past issues to see what kinds of things have run before. If you aren’t sure, inquire ahead of time to find the right person to pitch.
      • Be Quick and Responsive – Most reporters are on tight deadlines, so being quick and responsive is key to ensuring your client makes it into the story. Have an up-to-date high-resolution photo library on hand and a quick fact sheet ready to send to the media if needed.
         
  • TV and Radio Media
    • TV and radio are great outlets to engage with for your tourism clients. Tactics that will result in TV and radio press coverage include:
      • Live Demonstrations – From cooking to party planning to show and tell, showing regional audiences something your client has to offer will motivate them to visit.
      • Food Drops – From delivering donuts on National Donut Day to free food for the opening of a new restaurant, delivering food and a press packet is an easy way to get press coverage.
      • Live Remotes – Inviting a TV or radio station to broadcast live from a grand opening or big event is a great way to generate awareness about your attraction.
      • Press Kits – Creative and compelling media kits attract media and will resonate with them longer than a press release.
      • Satellite Media Tours – Satellite media tours are great way to position your client as a thought leader and get facetime in front of the media.
         
  • Influencer and FAM Visits
    • Today, influencers can be just as effective as traditional media. However, for influencers to cover your destination, usually FAM visits are a must. These visits can range from:
      • Group FAM Visits – Including five to ten writers, plus guests.
        • Most writers at the conference weren’t fans of group visits.
        • Recommend for a new attraction opening, an event a client is hosting or other large-scale experiences.
        • If you do a group FAM visit, I recommend creating separate treks for writers to participate in so they get a variety experiences during their visit.
  • Individual FAM Visits -  Include one writer, plus a guest, and is spread over a longer period time as opposed to one single event.
    • Writers like these better than group visits because they get more custom and unique experiences.
    • Writers enjoy one-on-one time with clients.
    • Recommend identifying how many you would like to do in a year with your client, then looking for influencers that will bring the most return on investment.
       
  • Video and Other Viral Content
    • The rise of engaging social content has transformed the tourism industry and given visitors bureaus and attractions access to audiences across the globe. A few tactics that have been especially successful include:
    • Short Videos – Brief social media videos that tell a story and are compelling are going viral on social media and attracting new people to destinations. They also are resulting in additional media coverage for clients.
    • Infographics – Engaging infographics that are eye-catching are a great way to tell your destination’s story and are good visuals to include with a digital story. Also, infographics are an easy way to share survey results and other statistics.
    • Photography – A photo should tell a story. It should capture emotion and fully encompass the region or attraction you are promoting. One photo should say 1,000 words.