PR can play an enormous role in providing your travel agency with the credibility you need to grow. I am often surprised how little attention the entire range of public relations strategies receives from travel agents. For those of you engaged in building a local, community based practice, there may be no more important arrows in your marketing quiver.
Public relations includes media (articles about you), speaking opportunities, events and publication (articles by you). In each of these efforts, your personality is at the core of the marketing tactic. When the public reads an article about your agency, hears you speak, works with you at an event or reads an article you have written, they engage you as an individual, not as a faceless company. That encounter is intensely personal and carries an authority that an advertisement cannot. People are trained to ignore advertising. They are equally well trained to engage those in their presence. When a consumer see an advertisement, there is a large credibility gap to be overcome – the ad merely says what the company professes. When a consumer meets you in person, or reads an article by or about you, the depth of the encounter is significantly greater. Words are suddenly accentuated by actions. It’s not what you say that you are going to do that matters, it is what you actually do that is the measure of your brand.
Public relations works in tandem with your other marketing efforts, enhancing the profile of your advertising, internet presence and outbound communications. When clients and potential clients receive a communication from a faceless company, they are likely to ignore it. The additional depth provided by a personal knowledge of you as an individual, however, makes an advertisement more interesting, or an email more engaging.
Public relations efforts typically require more sweat equity than cash, but don’t be fooled by the low capital barrier to entry. The travel consultant who decides to put their personality on display in such a public way must be continually vigilant to protect their brand. Their every act, every word, is a building component of their company reputation. Engaging consumers through public relations takes tremendous amounts of time and energy. Those travel consultants willing to undertake the effort, and who do so well, will find that the credibility gap in their marketing will be small indeed.