Integrating public relations into your destination marketing strategy

It’s no longer enough to tell people that they should head to your destination; there needs to be an emotive reason to connect and draw them in, along with a call-to-action to alter behaviour: ultimately converting inspiration into sales.

A mix of effective, tailored communications, leveraging content across multiple channels, and implementing strategic travel trade partnerships to secure that “holy grail” call-to-action we’ve mentioned, will help you create an integrated destination marketing strategy that supports every stage of a traveller’s decision-making journey.

You’ll want to engage a range of traditional and non-traditional media to maximise the reach of your message with an emphasis on thinking laterally. While large-reaching, top tier media are certainly a priority, you should also target niche print and digital publications that tie into individual passion points, as the audience there is likely to be most engaged—and book upon recommendations in the titles they read. At Gate 7, we use various tactics to get our stories picked up including pitching programs that incorporate breaking destination news and timely hooks.

Many brands have become publishers in their own right, which opens up a myriad of opportunities to create targeted content for already-aligned audiences. Are your audience families who want kid-friendly options? Grey nomads looking for their motorbike holiday of a lifetime? Couples looking for a romantic getaway? Whoever they are, where they are searching is where you want to be.

Use aligned influencers to inspire travel

Of course – social media has changed the way many people plan their holidays. The 2019 topics & trends report from Facebook IQ found that 67 per cent of travel enthusiasts on Instagram use the platform to look for inspiration for new places to travel to. And a similar number (62%) used Instagram to build excitement for new trips. Tapping into social media and partnering with well-chosen influencers is therefore key.

A recent Gate 7 campaign tapped into the trend for immersive travel and influencer-generated content with a successful campaign for the Japan National Tourist Office. Based on two popular influencers’ journeys, content was curated into hero itineraries for each of the Hokkaido and Kansai regions. All rich media assets were embedded into an interactive online map and itinerary to bring it to life and show audiences where – and how – to spend their time. Inspirational content and ads were served to an audience who were engaged with Japan, travel and Japan National Tourist Office, to maximise engagement and attract higher conversion rates.

The magic of partnerships

Pairing with similarly-aligned brands reaps huge rewards when it comes to co-operative initiatives. You can partner with travel-specific brands such as travel agencies, airlines, or hotel chains, or explore opportunities with brands outside of travel like fashion, finance, or lifestyle. Either way, the key purpose will be strengthening your offer and tailoring outreach for your desired audience, taking them on the journey with you. A trade partner can often share valuable insights into and access to their target audience through opt-ins, access to their points of sale, distribution channels, and the call-to-action that enables tracking increases in sales.

Gate 7 partnered with Australian retail store General Pants to launch a socially‐led content campaign highlighting West Hollywood. The campaign featured influencers that aligned to both brands and involved them creating content in destination, which was shared during the trip, as well as afterward – to promote a consumer competition. Trade partners Helloworld and Delta airlines teamed up with West Hollywood Travel + Tourism to drive bookings. The content was shared across General Pants’ social channels and in-store video, point of sale, and window promotion.

The campaign generated an exceptional ROI of 155:1 and was a huge hit with all partners.

Breaking it all down

If you want to make the most of your marketing spend, an effective strategy should incorporate PR. It has to target a specific market, span multiple channels, and integrate a travel industry partners (or partners) to provide the point of conversion.

It takes time to form the powerful relationships necessary to find and maximise opportunities, but that’s where destination marketing insiders like Gate 7 can add significant value. With the right knowledge and relationships with the right people and brands, it is much easier to form strategically sound partnerships.

And, once you find that perfect combination, the results will follow.