News & Views

What Do Travel Media Want Now? Editors Tell Travel PR Pros At SATW

As travel PR and destination marketing professionals start to shape their 2022 strategy, we hear them ask frequently, “So, what do travel media want now?”

For travel PR professionals and destinations, collaborating with the media and understanding what’s next for them is key to success. Knowing what editors are looking for is half the battle. Being able to provide them with ideas and pitches to satisfy those needs will help you achieve your goals, and theirs, of promoting better travel opportunities than ever before.

So, we listened to a variety of editors at SATW’s recent convention in Milwaukee and distilled the responses of: AAA Explorer, Hemispheres, Travel + Leisure, and Travel Pulse.

Unfortunately, there is no new normal as the pandemic changes things daily.

Fortunately, however, there are a few key lessons that will help destinations keep the travel media focused on them.

1. New Isn’t New Enough

While travel PR professionals will continue to discuss new hotels and attractions as they open (side note… T&L is filing 20-25 stores a day on new openings and launches), story pitching needs to expand to offer other angles that the media and audiences want. Simply having something new will only attract so much attention.

So, what do travel media want now? The travel media wants to cover sustainable, outdoor,  and “better travel” stories. Take it from AAA Explorer, these angles are going to attract people who are thinking more about their spending decisions and vacation time, and the media wants to cater to those needs.

Remember that many travelers have more money to travel and are more keyed into sustainability issues, so positioning your destination in that way without simply greenwashing it will help create better content and an overall better image for your destination going forward. Find these sorts of stories in your destination and make them front and center so that the media will latch on quickly.

2. Beyond Local Stories

 Part of creating “better travel” stories is highlighting local people. Travelers want to see that a community is doing good for its own people so that they feel better about going there. This means working with your partners and influencers on the ground to mine and unearth these sorts of unique angles that writers wouldn’t otherwise be able to find.

It will require getting away from Google and going out into the community – safely, of course – and meeting new people and experiencing new places firsthand. Travel journalists know you have a major museum, but they don’t know about the local entrepreneur doing something amazing in your destination.

Imagine a story about the first Black-owned and operated artisan market in Louisville or the queer-owned farm-to-table restaurant making waves in Tulsa. These are stories travel PR professionals have pitched that highlight the diverse people who are on the ground creating the experiences that visitors want. These are the engaging stories that people want, the storytelling that will keep us thinking about destinations, that will leave visitors saying, “I want to go to that destination one day to see what that person is doing.” This is what Hemispheres wants now – particularly profiles of business leaders.

3. Rethink Pitching Calendars

More than just finding good content is deciding when to pitch it out, and we want travel PR professionals to rethink your practices. Our pitching calendars are so often tied to themes and holidays in a way that seems more than archaic in 2021. There will always be cyclical events and annual happenings that require coverage at a certain time – we won’t talk about holiday shopping in May and a story linked to skiing in July.

But there is no need to limit LGBTQ content during Pride Month when gay and lesbian travelers travel all year. Black travel stories should be a focus beyond just February when we commemorate Black History. We need to break this way of thinking when it comes to DEI to remember that niche travelers and under-represented groups are booking trips 12 months a year, and it’s a positive move to make sure their stories are told, well, 12 months a year!

Break free of the traditional calendar. Time doesn’t mean as much as it did before. Standard holidays and vacation times are less important. People can travel whenever and want to feel like our destinations acknowledge them more than just once a year.  That’s what travel media want now. And Travel Pulse is no exception. Yes, cruise and tours are of great interest, but ensuring they represent and entice the broadest range of travelers is crucial.

4. Calling Long-Haul Travelers

Travel PR professionals are realizing that the same vectors they use to attract people to visit can be used to get people to relocate and stay in their community. Blend more stories and information about community outreach and economic development into travel content. Happy places to travel are also happy places to live, and many travelers have relocation on the mind.

In Cleveland, it meant the tourism office piggybacked off major events like the NFL Draft that – in regular times – would attract visitors in order to position the city as a great place to live and not just visit. Pitching stories about living in Tulsa that touted its “Tulsa Remote” program was able to attract both visitors and longer-term residents.

In Chattanooga, the DMO and Chamber have partnered to brand the city as a workcation destination. Using a website and digital advertising they drove potential vacationers to visit a curated list of Airbnbs with the fastest internet in the country.

This is new and different thinking for the travel PR world, and one that has been accelerated by the pandemic and our more local thinking. And, its what travel media want now.

Considering a Travel PR refresh for your destination now that the future is looking a little brighter? DCI has more than 60 years of working with destinations to create the right plans to target the right media. Contact Karyl Leigh Barnes at [email protected] to get the conversation started.

Written By

Karyl Leigh Barnes

Karyl Leigh Barnes is President of DCI’s Tourism Practice. Since joining the firm in 1998, Karyl Leigh has led destination strategy and created marketing communication programs for destinations on every continent except Antarctica.

More Articles by Karyl Leigh Barnes

Interested in how DCI collaborates with our clients to increase visitors and business inquiries?

Get In Touch
We have updated our Privacy Policy to include GDPR. If you continue we will assume that you agree to our privacy policy.