In Transit: 3 PR Pros on What’s Trending in Travel and Tourism

May 1, 2019

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Tarran Street, Global Director, PR Operations
Expedia Group, Bellevue, Wash.

What are some Travel & Tourism trends you’re seeing right now, and how are they impacting Expedia and travel booking in particular?

Virtual tours! Whether it’s a hotel room, a vacation rental, a cruise ship or even an activity at a destination, giving travelers the chance to explore the experience before they get there is great.

What are some of the major ways that you’ve seen the sector evolve in recent years?

I’m really into numbers, and public relations, in general, has a huge opportunity to keep drilling into how we measure our success. I think it’s particularly true of the T&T sector. Imagine the day when we can track an image from an Instagram post across various locations and tie it to our storytelling or booking efforts. It’s gonna be big.

What’s top of mind among your peers in the travel and tourism area right now?

Content that is shareable and can get extra legs after a trip or single news announcement. Creating those stories, memories, moments and photo ops can make a great initial story, but can be woven into future storytelling too. 


Nikita Jankowski, Director of Marketing
Destiny USA, Syracuse, N.Y.

What are some travel and tourism trends you’re seeing right now, and how are they impacting Destiny USA?

Nearly two years ago, we opened up an on-site hotel, Embassy Suites at Destiny USA, to answer the demand for accommodations. Prior to the hotel, families traveling more than an hour or two to Destiny USA would either make day trips or have to find lodging in Syracuse after a long day of shopping (250-plus retail and outlet options), playing (18 attractions) and dining (45 options).

Luckily, they didn’t have to drive too far because everything in Syracuse is within 10–15 minutes. However, consumers were known to comment that if there was a hotel onsite, they would stay there. We listened, and now, our new hotel is the leader in daily occupancy and daily room rates in Syracuse.

At Destiny USA, we’re seeing the trend of leisure activity and hospitality merging and co-branding, and we are reaping the benefits with consumers and with travel writers as well.

What are some of the major ways that you’ve seen the sector evolve?

Ecotourism seems to be growing for Destiny USA, surprisingly. As the largest retail destination in New York state, our property is also one of the best places for spotting bald eagles. Destiny USA sits off of Onondaga Lake, within the City of Syracuse and over 80 bald eagles are spotted nesting and fishing here. The edge of our parking lot, closest to the lake, is a hot spot for bird-watchers and their binoculars.

What’s top of mind among your peers in the travel and tourism area right now?

Right now, we’re talking about the PRSA Travel & Tourism Conference that will take place in Philadelphia on June 16–19. This is, by far, one of the best conferences I’ve attended.

I’m so proud to have the chance to assist in planning the conference and work on the leadership committee with so many hardworking, dynamic, inspiring and incredibly amazing PR professionals!


Casey Barks, Director of Communications
Fairmont, Austin, Texas

What are some travel and tourism trends you’re seeing right now, and how are they impacting Fairmont and hospitality in particular?

Smaller market cities have become a top travel bucket-list destination choice for many leisure vacationers. Locations such as Austin, Raleigh, N.C., Nashville, Tenn., and Spokane, Wash., are hot places to visit because of the affordability and unadulterated culture. Travelers have either already visited main market locations or know someone who has and want “something cool and different.”

Because of the overwhelming amount of tourists flocking to major market cities, it is becoming apparent that their culture is changing. You can still catch a glimpse of what made the smaller destinations unique and exciting, and visiting to experience it now before the same changes happen is front of mind. This is also apparent in travel and tourism media, as many journalists are looking to feature areas that haven’t been heavily covered, making their stories more “exclusive.”

What are some of the major ways that you’ve seen the sector evolve?

We all know that the world of bloggers and influencers has drastically changed how we do our jobs. Vetting numerous inquiries for hosted visits and accommodations by influencers has become day-to-day operation for most in the industry, and because there has yet to be any specific regulations or journalistic ethical standards created, many PR professionals in the sector are having to create their own processes, systems and internal contracts.

Influencers are also now more heavily utilizing agents and management companies, meaning that the inquiries and proposals coming across our desks often are sent by a third-party contact. This means that the negotiations and requirements for partnering are being handled not by the influencer themselves, but by a representative that may create their own processes and procedures. It is the wild west of our industry, and there is currently no slowing down.

What’s top of mind among your peers in travel and tourism right now?

The overall expansion of what is technically the role of a travel and tourism PR professional is a top topic in the industry. The job is no longer limited to just media relations.

Currently, we are seeing reputation management, social media content creation and strategy, advertorial placements, and SEO/AdWords tactics becoming more prominent tasks assigned to our departments. As the scope of how the public consumes content evolves and grows, so do the methods in which PR practitioners must create and steer the image and perception of their brands.

 

The 2019 PRSA Travel & Tourism Conference takes place June 16-19 in Philadelphia. This is the only event designed by travel communicators for travel communicators.

Amy Jacques

Amy Jacques is the managing editor of publications for PRSA. A native of Greenville, S.C., she holds a master’s degree in arts journalism from Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School. She also holds a bachelor’s degree in advertising from the University of Georgia’s Grady College and a certificate in magazine and website publishing from New York University.

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