Planning your media activity for 2020? Here Claire Norrish and Pandora George from Authentic PR discuss how to achieve powerful PR in the luxury travel and hotel-spheres this year to guarantee the best return on your investment.

The landscape of hotel and travel PR has changed dramatically over the last few years. Every day the inboxes of hotels around the world heave with a deluge of influencer enquiries. For many these are unchartered waters that are a tricky sea to navigate. At Authentic PR we engage on a daily basis with a combination of platforms to deliver the right kind of PR for our luxury hotel clients. We work with experienced travel journalists both in the UK and internationally and a small handful of selected niche influencers, chosen carefully by our team, who we know from experience will deliver results and benefit our clients directly. 

There are some excellent high level influencers out there, and there are many who are more questionable. In terms of followers, it’s all about quality not quantity. Engagement is key and the audience the influencer appeals to and the values that person has, are paramount.

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For example a five star spa hotel in Bath might be approached by a wellbeing influencer with 250K social media followers, but if she’s between 20-25 and based in Australia, her posts may increase the hotel’s social traction, but this may not have a direct effect on bookings. It’s too easy to give away room nights to potential influencers on a promise, and not see ROI so every collaboration needs to be carefully micro-managed. 

The other thing to be mindful of, is that many influencers may be great at telling a visual story about your hotel, but as many are not professional writers, their written reviews may not portray your establishment in the way that you would like it to be. Additionally the rules need to be set out before collaborating with an influencer. You need to establish what you want out of their visit – how many stories, posts, tweets and supply them with the correct geo-tags and hashtags for them to include on their channels. 

You need to find out if you can have access to their content afterwards (useful for digital marketing especially if they are using drones!) and most importantly establish what date they are intending to publish their content. (this can drag on for months if not established up front).  And for paid for promotions, as this is a complex area, you need a reputable agency to manage fees and contracts to avoid pitfalls.

We firmly believe some of the very best hotel PR still comes from press visits from high quality writers and journalists who publish informative, unique features that truly represent a place from their personal experience, in trusted publications.  The shared digital metrics and the gravitas of for example, a travel feature in the

Saturday Times, Sunday Telegraph or Conde Nast Traveller to a luxury demographic, still outweigh a collection of tagged stories or grid pictures in a lesser known influencer name that disappear quickly down the digital stream. Journalists (and celebrities) have become influencers, and good ones at that and it takes years of experience to know exactly who the great ones are.

Sara McCorquodale the author of the new book ‘Influence’ (Bloomsbury) reported in The Sunday Times on 8th September 2019 that the digital influencer industry by next year will be worth £8bn and shows no signs of slowing down. As a result, McQorquodale has also developed an influencer-intelligence platform called CORQ.

She says: “My team of journalists and I research social platforms to discover the most relevant influencers alongside emerging talents across various sectors. We profile each person so brands and the public can understand who they are and what they stand for and whether they have any controversies in their background.  This editorial insight is combined with data analysis of their social media through a unique algorithm that scores each influencer out of 100.”

She continues: “We don’t get a cut if they are booked for campaigns. Our only agenda is to provide pertinent information because in this world of influencer marketing facts are all to often obscured.”

PR Week reported on 5 September 2019 that a panel discussion at Ogilivy’s London office experts agreed ‘The gap between good and bad influencer content is going to get worse’, during a panel ‘the agency’s head of creative Chris Wall explained the influencer ‘hype cycle’. This is where influencers, creatives and consumers can move through the ‘trough of disillusionment’ and onto the ‘plateau of enlightenment’.  He said it feels like creativity had peaked as there was an over-saturation of similar images’.

It’s clear there is no ‘one size fits all’ for travel PR success, and it’s a hot topic right now. A complex and rapidly changing area that requires constant and careful monitoring. From our agency experience as luxury travel PR’s, true success comes from a drip feed effect from many streams. It’s word of mouth, a travel newspaper or magazine feature online or in print,  an instagram post by an influencer you trust and follow, a marketing email from the hotel, a google search, a celebrity endorsement, a high profile newsy event – it goes on.

Above all, it’s about understanding your audience – who you are targeting both now, and for years to come. The luxury hotel industry is about longevity. Hotels don’t come and go like a beauty product or a seasonal fashion trend, so it’s about generating PR and publicity from both the established influencer trailblazers as well as the new emerging talent. However what must never be underestimated is the PR power of high quality travel journalism in national and international press titles by experienced writers delivering original, balanced and informed content.

More about us:

Authentic PR is a UK-based luxury travel PR agency founded by Claire Norrish and Pandora George who provide publicity for luxury hotels, yachts, retreats and unique travel experiences in the UK and across the globe. To get in touch contact  

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Zoe Monk

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