Travel Industry: In Need of Vast Public Relations Improvements

This is part 1 of a 2 part series on Travel PR. In 2011, the PR agency I founded, 5WPR was named the ninth largest travel PR agency and we have worked extensively in all aspects of travel publicity and as such, reading the NY Times on Saturday, 2 articles jumped out at me as perfect fodder for commentary.  The entire travel industry – from airlines to countries, hotels to resorts needs a complete rebrand.

 

Let’s start with an industry that really just could care less about industry – Airlines, and the NYT on Saturday focused on a no-brainer: The awful experience of flying with children (something I have plenty of experience in and can write a 2nd book about).

In this article: http://travel.nytimes.com/2011/11/06/travel/flying-with-children-the-bad-and-the-worse.html?ref=travel

 

The NY Times tells us:

  • “flying with children has become an increasingly costly, “Survivor”-like ordeal. Baggage fees? Start multiplying. Early boarding? Probably not. Hoping to sit together? Don’t count on it (unless you’ve paid extra). A few empty seats where a child can spread out and nap? Good luck with that!”
  • Milk for kids? Are you kidding? As an American flight attendant says: “We used to carry five to six cartons of milk on each flight for coach..” and now, after 9 a.m. there is no milk in coach on her flights — just two pint-size cartons in first class, where cookies are served. “So do we give it to a child in coach or a first-class passenger that has paid full fare?” (of course a billion dollar business like American couldn’t think to review tickets before hand could they ?)
  • Sitting together? Huh why? US Airways sat a 2 year old separate from their mother: “Even if I wanted to leave my 2-yr-old in row 26 while I kicked back with a paperback up in row 5, I kind of think I shouldn’t be allowed to.” “Doesn’t the airline have a responsibility, for the safety of all its passengers, to keep young kids with their caregivers?” (Aren’t there laws against leaving children alone ?)

 

Airlines really seem to live in a world of their own and need a complete rebrand and remake.

 

The other article which caught my attention as a marketer was an article entitled: “Can Egypt Overcome Its Travel P.R. Problem?” (At: http://travel.nytimes.com/2011/11/06/travel/tourism-in-egypt.html?ref=travel  )

It’s an issue which is rarely addressed by the mainstream media – how a city or country’s political crisis can affect travel and tourism to a certain market.

 

As the Times tells us: “WHEN the Arab Spring spread to Egypt culminating in the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak 17 days later, it brought an electrifying sense of achievement and — as travellers and tour operators know all too well — an unwelcome side effect: the crippling of Egypt’s tourism industry, the country’s major source of revenue and jobs. A total of 14.8 million tourists came to Egypt last year, feeding $13 billion into the economy. But the number of visitors fell by 80 per cent in the first month after the revolution, and the industry will probably finish this year down 25 per cent, according to the tourism ministry. That is a loss of more than $3 billion.”

 

Fascinating information – and as we have worked as crisis PR agency for Israel Ministry of Tourism something we know about.  As an aside, one wonders how much the Occupy Wall Street protestors may have cost NYC – Are people afraid to come because of the image these protestors are giving the great city of NYC ?

 

Ronn Torossian is CEO of 5WPR, 1 of the 25 largest PR firms in the US and author of the Amazon best selling PR book “For Immediate Release: Shape Minds, Build Brands, and Deliver Results with Game-Changing Public Relations”.

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