Five Essential Takeaways from PRSA Travel & Tourism 2024 Section Conference

June 21, 2024
Two speakers on a a panel at a conference

Early in June, in Greenville, SC, tourism PR professionals gathered for the PRSA Travel & Tourism 2024 Section Conference: The Bridge to PRogress. Keynote speaker Tyler Florence, as well as editors and writers from AFAR magazine, Thrillist, Travel+Leisure, and Fodor’s joined us to learn about the latest trends and practices in the industry.

Among the workshop leaders, DCI’s own Kayla Leska provided a talk on the Barcelona Principles and how to select the right key performance indicators for earned media stories. It was just one of many exciting opportunities for tourism PR professionals to learn from each other.

For anyone who couldn’t attend, here’s a recap of some of the major takeaways from the PRSA 2024 conference that you need to know. 

1. Foreground Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) aren’t new words for travel PR professionals, but it’s time to stop making them an afterthought or add-on. Instead, DEI efforts need to be baked into the framework of a destination’s PR strategy. They cannot be an extra or a “nice to have” addition.

For example, one speaker suggested thinking about press trips and allowing plus ones to provide an extra layer of comfort for people of color and those who identify as LGBTQ+. There’s no one way to enhance DEI efforts, but making them part of every PR touchpoint is vital to creating better, lasting relationships with all media professionals covering travel.

2. Embrace Wellness at Events

When it comes to business travel and the events industry, one takeaway for destinations is to consider how wellness can be a more integral part of your offer. 

According to industry professionals at the conference, 84% of meeting planners want to integrate wellness into events. Research presented during the event also indicates that attendance rates and overall event success tend to be better if there is a wellness component built into the meeting or conference.

This is a chance for destinations and convention centers to reevaluate their offer and strategize to partner with wellness businesses that can provide what meeting planners are looking for—and share these stories with the business travel publications that serve them.

3. Serve What Business Event Media Needs

While readers in meetings and events publications are looking for standout factors of a destination, journalists and editors shared what else they need to keep readers reading. Angles that present transformational experiences, cultural immersion, and more authentic destination experiences are in high demand.  

Journalists still seek meeting and events stories that discuss flexible scheduling and itinerary building alongside personalized experience and opt-in/out activities. And if you think virtual and hybrid meetings are a thing of the past, think again. Writers at the PRSA Travel & Tourism 2024 Section Conference shared that meeting planners are still seeking these stories, so destinations have the opportunity to develop media pitches based on these angles and trends, focusing their efforts on stories that will resonate most with publications.

4. Build Relationships More Realistically

A major takeaway that many of us have lived for years is that, from start to end, PR is not something that delivers instant gratification. It takes time.

When pitching, journalists insist, yet again, that you research their work first and only pitch angles that make sense. They are still receiving pitches that indicate the destination made little effort, which ultimately stalls any relationship building.

Additionally, patience is required to maintain a good relationship with the media. It was news to some, but not to all, that it can take months for a piece to finally go to press or go live online, it’s important to be patient with your media contacts.

5. Favor Quality Over Quantity in ROI

While a feature story in The New York Times always remains a goal for most PR professionals, it’s important not to let it overshadow niche publications that may actually result in more significant ROI.

The media is more atomized than ever across social media and traditional outlets, but smaller publications often have more engaged, dedicated audiences. That means their readers may be more likely to investigate your destination upon seeing a feature item.

Moreover, it’s important in today’s media landscape to remember that travel can span different genres of press, so a publication that doesn’t focus on travel can still produce amazing travel content. Be open minded because—if you attended DCI’s workshop at the PRSA Travel & Tourism 2024 Section Conference, you know—qualitative measurement can be more effective than traditional quantitative figures.

So a niche publication that is more likely to produce full feature stories can ultimately be the bigger win than a more widely read outlet that will only publish listicles and ecommerce articles.

Missed the PRSA Travel & Tourism 2024 Section Conference? We can help you stay up to date on the latest tourism PR trends. Contact Cathy Preece [email protected] to learn more about working with DCI’s PR team.

Written by

Rebecca Austin

Senior Account Executive