INDIA: Almost every traveler is facing the worst nightmare of his/her lifetime. COVID-19 has impacted the travel industry in general. Things are returning to normalcy though at a snail’s pace. The worst part is the impact the pandemic has had on PR relations with travel media, which certainly will take a long time to recover.
Due to the impact of the pandemic, the only travel news that was reported was closures of destinations, hotels, the pandemic’s impact on the tourism community, wildlife sightings in towns, low pollutions, etc. And the impact made influencers post more images and stories of what to do while at home, nostalgic “remember when” articles and images, what to eat during the pandemic to stay healthy, etc. Various brands also pitched in with similar content to maintain a presence on social media. Sustainable and responsible tourism-related stories were in great demand. Now, with the world getting vaccinated, people are talking about the return of leisure travel, thereby opening up new avenues in the storytelling sphere, though in unexpected ways – marking new styles of travel writing, and of course the media relations.
As far as travel in the new world goes, it will be more to engage the world, and not to escape the world. The impact of the pandemic has exposed the world to various issues never thought of before. There will be greater demand for stories that illuminate issues to make travel rebound, and the media will have to be on the lookout for stories related to this.
The PR industry is now trying out various options to reduce the impact by making changes in the travel sphere to adjust to the new normal. The press trips, which were a must earlier have become more complicated. The future of these traditional rips trips is not yet clear. The PR industry is still worried as there are a lot of new logistics to look into, like – how to host journalists amid a pandemic without worrying about what will happen if a media person gets sick on a press trip? And also the fact on how to shortlist media persons who will report on the safety measures, which will be the hot topic for all customers of the brand. Media reporting on experiences will certainly find themselves left out.
Recently, the travel industry has been witnessing a rise in demand by some bloggers who are ready to go at the first opportunity. But a majority of quality content providers and journalists/photographers are still hesitant due to age, health issues, as they will prefer to do it in a way as per their convenience and a bit more responsibly.
Bigger role of social media
Social media influencers who liked being treated as separate entities in the past have come closer to journalists in the last year. More emphasis is now on using social media, and people are using it more often on average. This has rebuilt trust on social media, and we see more and more journalists taking this route more and more. Travel brands are also asking their PRs and their media representatives more about the implications of social media activity for promoting their brands.
Demand for local media
Thrust is now on sourcing media personals living at or near the destination to write about their lived experience is a growing trend post the pandemic. Brands now seek additional insight into their localities and this is a great cost-saving measure too. This will help the media too as they will be able to stay closer to home, spend less time traveling to the destinations, and will give more in-depth stories.
Diversity in travel media
Before the pandemic, the industry was getting plagued by more of luxury travelers, and seniors in the industry were given priority over newcomers and influencers with a smaller follower base. A new trend is now emerging where a greater effort is put toward creating a more diverse database of stories and photos from lesser-known travel media persons.
New format of trust and transparency
The pandemic created a lot of uncertainty, changing regulations, and travel shaming. Today there is a need for stronger trust, and transparency between tourism brands, travelers, and journalists. Now the traveler will certainly be looking for clarity on safety and health measures, flexible booking policies, and consumer protection.
Traditional travel agents
The traditional travel agents will now again be in demand. But they should be ready to answer questions on environmental and ecological issues, wildlife, sustainable and responsible travel among others.
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