The travel professionals writing for TRO have given some excellent advice over the past week on how to work with clients when a disaster like the Costa Concordia is splashed across the newspaper. Steve Cousino’s article recommends you address client fears directly and promptly. That is good advice.
Anyone who has been in the travel industry knows how timid the US traveler can be. The slightest hint of danger can send consumers to their basements vowing never to get on an airplane again. Whether it’s a tragedy like the Concordia or a volcano somewhere in Iceland, people fear what they don’t understand.
And there’s your opportunity.
You are the travel professional. You are the expert. So step up to the podium. You have access to tremendous resources explaining the real impact of events affecting the world of travel. If you are willing to effectively share your knowledge, situations such as these provide an opening to establish yourself as the local expert for your community.
Public relations is the art of raising your travel agency’s profile by generating “buzz” through the media, events, public speaking and publishing. Public relation efforts indirectly market your services by promoting you as a “go-to” resource for travel information. As you successfully raise your market profile, organizations will begin to seek you out for comments, advice and speaking opportunities.
The public will look to you for expertise. Bookings will follow.
Good public relations is the result of effort invested over a long period of time, planting the seeds that eventually result in a rush of publicity. A word of warning, however. Public relations is not for the faint of heart. In making the decision to market via a public relations campaign, you are committing to placing your company and its personality in full view and scrutiny. Once a PR effort is unleashed, it has to be followed through with enthusiasm and determination. Not every effort will be successful, but a no effort should fail for a lack of follow-through.
By the way – social media is seldom enough for this type of campaign. Stand up, get out and raise the profile of your company by meeting people and offering your expertise. Long before a media event hits the newspapers, you should be laying the ground work for public relations efforts. Get to know your local media. Establish contacts at newspapers, radio and television stations locally. Network with your local media networks.
Right now, there are people in your community wondering if it is safe to cruise, whether they should go to Mexico or whether H1N1 is still a threat. At the same time, your local media is on a never-ending quest for content, for articles their readership craves and for news stories that will attract an audience. Reach out to your media contacts and offer your expertise. Few efforts you undertake will have so effective an impact.
Follow along this week as TRO’s 365 Guide provides you with a few tools that, properly used, will help establish you as a local expert.