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Tourism must develop credible, targeted communications

It has become easier for the travel and tourism industry to reach people through different forms of media but more difficult to influence them, according…

It has become easier for the travel and tourism industry to reach people through different forms of media but more difficult to influence them, according to panellists at the 54th PATA Annual Conference session Tourism and the Media: Growing the Necessary Relationship, April 19.

Media fragmentation, the rising influence of online blogs and tabloid-style reporting meant travel and tourism industry stakeholders must develop highly targeted communications to reach the people they most want to influence, the panellists said.

YPB&R Chairman and CEO Mr Peter Yesawich said online databases were a vital tool in creating a dedicated medium for direct communications. If you create these lists you can create an ongoing dialogue with people and you can speak directly to those people, he said.

While acknowledging the influence of the Internet and blogs, panellists said there was still a credibility gap with online information.

BBC World Presenter Ms Keshini Navaratnam said the issue of credibility was dependent on journalists asking searching questions and critically filtering information. Generally the consumer is being bombarded with information from 360 degrees, which makes it difficult to distinguish that information, she said.

Panellists advised that communications from tourism industry stakeholders in times of crisis should present the known facts, rather than attempting to spin news.

The travel and tourism industry is very sensitive to adverse news stories (but) it is incumbent on the media to present factual information, said Ms Navaratnam.

Moderator Mr Peter Greenberg of Travel Channel said the news media is more likely to take notice if information is accurate. When you don`t know, say `I don`t know`,

Ms Yeoh Siew-Hoon of SHY Ventures said the travel industry had learned a lot about managing communications through its experiences in recent years. I saw some good information directed to industry players after the December 26 tsunami, she said.

Mr Greenberg also warned against the overuse of PR speak in releasing information to news outlets. The words `luxury hotel` are like a red flag, he said. You have to careful about media releases and the language used. Get your terminology right and it becomes a story.

Theodore Koumelis
Co-Founder & Managing Director - Travel Media Applications | Website

Theodore is the Co-Founder and Managing Editor of TravelDailyNews Media Network; his responsibilities include business development and planning for TravelDailyNews long-term opportunities.