News & Views

Travel Media Wants and Needs: Travel PR Tips for Summer 2021

This summer 2021, travel is once again possible, almost as we once knew it. Within the United States, vaccination rates have excited travelers and the media is looking to give them the information and stories they want to explore again this year.

Moving forward, destination marketers and travel PR professionals need to understand what the travel media needs to accomplish these goals. The stories we all pushed for the last year aren’t going to cut it anymore. Our recent report, in partnership with the SATW, makes that clear. We surveyed nearly 300 travel journalists in the U.S. and Canada to understand better how their needs have changed since the onset of the pandemic.

In the study, The Future of Travel Editorial: What Writers & PR Pros Need To Know, a major takeaway is that the COVID-19 resilience stories of 2020 are a thing of the past. No one wants to read about a restaurant transitioned to takeout anymore. It was important during the peak of the pandemic, but it’s time to move forward. Safety and new protocols are still important, but the media wants destination stories among other angles detailed in the study.

Travel PR professionals can download the report here, but in the meantime, we have a few thoughts on how to meet the media where they are to create coverage for summer 2021 travel and beyond. Start tweaking your angles now because summer 2021 travel is right around the corner.

1. “We beat COVID!”

Capri made headlines in May when it announced a successful vaccination rate, beckoning visitors back with the promise of COVID-free experience. While it’s a small island with a reputation for luxury, it was still a fascinating story that the media ate up with gusto. These sorts of stories are powerful ones, helping to highlight safety and responsible travel in a way that will lure North American travelers from their year-long isolation.

This angle is especially useful in destinations where COVID has truly been “beat,” but even in destinations like New York City where the virus continues to circulate, stories about high vaccination rates and accessible vaccinations – like in the subway system – will be angles that the media will be happy to receive. The key takeaway from our research is that the media is moving forward, so bring all of the momentum you can to your travel PR pitching.

2. “Road trip better”

The reality is that domestic travel will still take precedent throughout 2021, so stories about road trips and local experiences can still gain interest. When pitching these stories, however, they need to go beyond just “take a road trip here.”

They need to be about realistic or focused itineraries that make sense with a car. Perhaps they can include a sustainability angle, or maybe something about visiting a place only accessible with a vehicle.

Simply positioning your destination as a reasonable place to drive around is not sufficient anymore – that was 2020’s approach. In 2021, travel PR pros need to do better. In May, for example, stories circulated about a new app to identify safe spaces for queer Black travelers, elevating stories about road trips to something more. Destinations need to look beyond the windshield to find stories that will inspire people to take a road trip instead of just informing them.

3. “Still the great outdoors”

The media, both in the U.S. and Canada, still wants stories about outdoor experiences. The trend is less of a fading one and more of a permanent fixture as long as COVID is around. As travel PR professionals, be sure to tap into any outdoor experiences your destination has in each and every pitch.

Make those pitches even better by giving writers an update. What’s new now? Kayaking in Florida or hiking the Grand Canyon are perfectly fine outdoor experiences, but the media doesn’t need to be told that. If, however, there’s a company or offer that’s doing things a bit differently – or if it’s just brand new! – lead with that in your pitch. Travel media still reports wanting new events and offerings for summer 2021 travel, so be prepared when pitching.

4. “We’ve reopened!”

When European countries started setting dates for reopening to international travelers, the excitement in the media was matched only by confusion over what it all meant. The takeaway is clear. Information on destinations reopening as the pandemic continues will still be impactful during the summer 2021 travel season.

Places like New York, Paris, and L.A. might steal some headlines, but smaller destinations are going to be just as interesting to the travel press. There is a collective fascination with reopening, how different places are doing it, and what might be new moving forward.

More than just saying a destination is open, travel PR pitches to the media should provide as much detailed information as possible. Describe the restrictions still in place. Mention any vaccine or testing programs. Introduce any emergency stop procedures that the destination is considering if COVID spikes again. The media is thirsty for this information, so don’t leave them parched.

5. “Avoid the crowds – still”

It’s a perennial favorite for the travel media that is less of a luxury now and more of a requirement. Media professionals confirm that they still want stories about how to avoid the crowds. And we’re not just talking about pitching a story about going to the Colosseum at off-peak times.

Dig into your destination to find all the remote, secluded, outdoor experiences you can and put them front and center. Think about day trips from popular destinations, or alternatives that deliver just as much with fewer people. Outdoor dining and wine experiences, star gazing, hikes and boating – the media wants it all.

Even if more travelers will be vaccinated, it will be a slow boil to get us all back to the point where we want to brave crowds again, and summer 2021 travel will still be the year of truly getting away. From people.

To gain more insight into what the travel media is looking for, DCI partnered with SATW for their latest report on the state of the travel industry. You can contact SATW member, Janelle McKinsey, at [email protected] if you want to know more about this study or for assistance in helping to tell your destination story to media.

Written By

Janelle McKinsey

Janelle is the Account Director in the DCI Los Angeles office. With a background in media relations, she enjoys story telling and is fortunate enough to do so within the exciting world of travel.

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