This is part 2 of a series on Travel PR. In 2011, the PR agency I founded, 5WPR was named the ninth largest travel PR agency. Book excerpt from new Amazon best selling PR book by Ronn Torossian “For Immediate Release: Shape Minds, Build Brands, and Deliver Results with Game-Changing Public Relations”. Mr. Torossian is CEO of 5WPR, 1 of the 25 largest US PR firms in the US
I think everyone can agree that the airline industry as a whole offers an incredibly unpleasant customer experience. From the time you take your shoes off and empty your pockets, to when you’re patted down and interrogated, to when you squeeze into an uncomfortable seat, to when you finally unfold yourself and get off the plane, you are made to feel as if the airline industry has just done you a huge favour by taking your money and getting you to your destination late, tired, hungry, and cranky.
What excellent opportunities the failings of the airline industry present to competing industries—ground travel suppliers. Greyhound, Amtrak, and limo and car service (or even rental) companies can and should be capitalising on and publicizing the fact that very few people enjoy air travel, and there are plenty of other options. Frankly, an entrepreneurial car service—a bus or train company, too—could employ PR initiatives comparing these services to an airline’s service—and succeed. Couldn’t hired car companies, for example, provide luxury transport for up to three people within a range of 150–300 miles for less money, and quicker (considering the time added on to a flight in terms of getting to and from the airport, time spent going through security checks, inevitable delays, and waiting at the gate)? Couldn’t they provide better service, and with more comfort, than an airline? Why not issue press releases about how convenient it is to rent a car, with average travel times from Boston or Washington, D.C., to New York City, or San Diego to Las Vegas, in a car versus an aeroplane? I guarantee the company who did so would get an enormous amount of positive attention—and business. Think about it: come and go on trips when you want, on short notice, not have to pay for checked baggage, and never get felt up by the TSA in the process. Wouldn’t the car service win?
How about train travel? You don’t have to disconnect your iPad or iPod during departure and arrival. You can talk on a cell phone or sit in a quiet car if you want to escape the constant buzzing of your mobile device. Why doesn’t Amtrak create viral videos of the experience of a train versus the experience of a plane? Hundreds of thousands of viewers would likely respond positively to funny, relevant videos. Maybe Amtrak would even start turning a profit. Because let’s face it, at least within a radius of a few hundred miles, the train is almost always the better choice. It’s more civilized, more comfortable, and usually quicker door-to-door (considering all the extra time airline travel involves). Even the sandwiches and coffee in the train dining car are more palatable than what passes for food on an aeroplane. And guess what? It won’t cost that much to do this PR angle effectively.
Let a car, bus, or train line issue a press release or hold a press conference at LAX or any West Coast airport, challenging the airlines that it guarantees quicker door-to-door service from Airport X and Las Vegas. These alternative transport companies could specifically target people who take flights between those two cities, telling them that their services are not only quicker, but their interiors are modern and clean, and passengers have plenty of legroom. In fact, the companies could offer free trial rides replete with cheerful attendants on board to serve juice and snacks, offer newspapers and headphones for music and built-in TVs. Complete the campaign by holding a satisfaction survey with each group of travellers when they arrive at their respective destinations. The companies would get a lot of media coverage on the results, and what would amount to millions of dollars in terms of advertising dollar equivalency. A positive message would be conveyed in a very human and humorous way: why take a plane when a bus (car or train) can get you where you want to go faster, and in a much friendlier manner? And yet, transportation companies haven’t taken PR advantage of all that is lacking from the air travel industry. It’s a lost opportunity.
“For Immediate Release” is available for purchase at: http://www.amazon.com/Immediate-Release-Deliver-Game-Changing-Relations/dp/1936661160/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1320236624&sr=8-1
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