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GEC PR’s Review of World Travel Market 2019

The 40th edition of World Travel Market London was busy for GEC PR, with the team meeting with industry partners and media to update them on the exciting developments taking place with our clients. Key travel trends were also discussed during seminars at WTM, and we learnt all about the latest environmental concerns faced by the industry and the rise of conscious travel, as well as the changing role of the digital landscape in promoting destinations.

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Where to find GEC PR at World Travel Market London 2019

With just one week to go until this year’s WTM London, here’s all you need to know about where to find our team and meet our clients.

World Travel Market will take place from 4th – 6th November at ExCeL London, offering an opportunity to meet, network, catch up with the GEC PR team and brush up on the latest industry trends.

You can find us at the following stands at WTM:

Stand AS140Visit Maldives / Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation – Experience the “Sunny Side of Life” of Indian Ocean’s paradise destination

Stand AS530Madhya Pradesh Tourism – Explore the “Tiger State” of India

Stand AS800 Kyoto Traveler’s Inn (exhibiting as part of Kyoto DMC Hotel and Experience) – A traditional hotel experience in the heart of Kyoto, Japan

Stand AS410 Odisha Tourism – Discover India’s ‘Best Kept Secret’

Stand NA340 Philadelphia CVB – The World Heritage City famous for its cheesesteaks and cultural attractions

Client Activities at WTM

Visit Maldives   (Stand AS140)

The Maldives has welcomed an influx of new resorts this year, including several new family-friendly and adult-only properties, as well as expanding its luxury portfolio with high-end properties. In 2019, the Maldives also welcomed an increase in airlift for UK travellers with the launch of a new five-times-weekly flight from London Heathrow to Malé, via Bahrain, with Gulf Air in late October. In 2020, developments at Velana International Airport will continue with a terminal expansion, which will mean the airport will be able to cater for over 7.5 million passengers.

Competition: Travel agents joining us at the @VisitMaldives stand will have the exciting chance to win a holiday to the Maldives. Visitors to the stand can also travel to the island nation virtually through the magic of virtual reality and enjoy on-stand Maldivian music performances from a band, as well as traditional snacks.

Madhya Pradesh Tourism   (Stand AS530)

Madhya Pradesh is the second largest state in India and along with six tiger reserves, is home to mountains, architectural wonders, holy cities and three UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The state’s rich forests, which form about 25% of its land area, are a refuge for barking deer, leopards, cheetal, wild boars, blackbucks, nilgais and crocodiles. Sir David Attenborough’s recent BBC wildlife documentary series Dynasties included an episode filmed in Madhya Pradesh’s Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve. The central state has also been shortlisted in two prestigious categories at the International Travel and Tourism Awards, which will take place at WTM.

Competition: Delegates from Madhya Pradesh Tourism will be available for meetings and are looking forward to showcasing their extensive wildlife offering, exquisite traditional culture, rich heritage, cuisine, and Indian hospitality. One lucky travel agent will win a FAM trip to Madhya Pradesh, India’s ‘Tiger State’ and one of Lonely Planet’s ‘best value’ destinations for 2020. To stand a chance of winning, agents should book in a meeting with the tourist board by emailing MPT@gecpr.co.uk and answer a question about the state in order to enter a business card prize draw.

Kyoto Traveler’s Inn (exhibiting as part of Kyoto DMC Hotel and Experience on stand AS800)

Kyoto Traveler’s Inn, which is a seven-minute walk away from Higashiyama Subway Station, is well-suited for those who want to see the sites of Kyoto when visiting Japan for the 2020 Olympics since many of the city’s shrines and temples are located within walking distance from the hotel. For those looking for a truly Japanese experience, the hotel offers guests the chance to stay in traditional Japanese accommodation with futon bedding and tatami flooring.

Competition: Try on a real kimono from Kyoto DMC Hotel and Experience on the Japan National Tourism Organization stand (AS800) for a chance to win a three-night stay for two at Kyoto Traveler’s Inn when you post your kimono selfie and tag #KimonoKyoto and @kyototravellersinn on Instagram or @kyoto.travellersinn on Facebook.

Odisha Tourism (Stand AS410)

The ‘soul state’ of Odisha is India’s best kept secret and a hidden gem for UK travellers planning a visit to India. Situated on the east coast of India, Odisha is gifted with uncrowded and unspoilt beaches such as Gopalpur, Chandipur, Puri and Konark. A land steeped in history and mythology, the serene state is well-known within India for its ancient temples, tribal cultures, and abundance of natural beauty, including Bhitarkanika Wildlife Sanctuary and Chilka Lake, which is Asia’s largest inland salt water lagoon and home to large flocks of flamingos.

Competition: To stand a chance of winning a trip to Odisha, book in a WTM meeting with the tourist board by emailing odisha@gecpr.co.uk to learn about Odisha’s secrets and enter a business card prize draw during your meeting.

Women in Travel

The social enterprise dedicated to empowering women through employability and entrepreneurship in the travel industry, will host the following events at WTM this year:

International Women in Travel & Tourism Forum Launch

Alessandra Alonso, the Founder of Women in Travel (CIC), invites those working in the travel industry to participate in shaping a gender inclusive industry that meets the talent and leadership needs of the 21st century by attending the International Women in Travel & Tourism Forum on 23 – 24 January 2020, in Reykjavik, Iceland.

Find out more about the Forum by watching Alessandra’s video below and by reading our news post here.

#WomeninTravelandTourismForum #IWTTF #WomeninTravel

To register your interest and receive further information about the International Women in Travel & Tourism Forum, please visit iwttf.com.

To explore event speaker or sponsorship opportunities, please email WIT@gecpr.co.uk

For further information about Women in Travel, visit www.womenintravelcic.com.

GEC PR HIT THE ROAD THIS SEPTEMBER AND HEADED TO BELFAST FOR TTG LUXPO

It’s been a busy month for GEC PR with the team hitting the road (and air!) for various client events and roadshows. One of those events was TTG Luxpo in Belfast, during which I spent a very productive and informative afternoon meeting with the Irish travel industry to talk about the new luxury product offerings in the Maldives.

The event was the perfect opportunity to meet with premium travel agents during one-to-one meetings and to update them on all the new tourism developments taking place across the Maldives including the opening of the ground-breaking multi-island Crossroads project which will be the largest integrated resort in the Indian Ocean.

Other exciting news included the developments at Velana International Airport which will provide capacity for the terminal to cater for over 7.5 million passengers and the continuous expansion of luxury hotel product in the Maldives with the opening of international brands such as Waldorf Astoria Maldives, Lux* North Male Atoll and Hard Rock Hotel Maldives this year alone.

The venue itself, The Merchant Hotel in Belfast, was also a beautiful location for the event and provided the perfect backdrop to showcase all the wonderful new luxury tourism products taking place.

Next on the agenda is World Travel Market so stay tuned for more updates on what’s to come……

Interning for Undergraduates: Making the Most of Your PR Summer Internship

Whether you’ve recently finished first year of university, graduated or making the most of your summer holiday – a summer internship is likely to be on your to do list. Internships are not all about mastering the art of making tea and coffee. A good all-round internship is one that can help you to make connections, get to know the industry and receive recommendations for future positions.

After spending 2 months at GEC PR Travel & Lifestyle, I have gained a clear insight into interning and the travel industry and would like to share my experience, along with my top 5 tips for making the most of any summer internship.

As part of my Summer Internship Programme, I worked as a PR Intern which involved monitoring client coverage, distributing and writing press releases, and compiling monthly PR reports.

This internship has been a great way to build upon my skills and gain new confidence to work in an office environment. I genuinely enjoyed my time here as this was the first time I was introduced into the travel and tourism industry in such a broad manner. Apart from my time in the office, I got to discover hidden London on a summer day as part of the Treasure Trail organised by the Family Holiday Association.

Here are my TOP 5 tips to make the most of your PR summer Internship:

  1. Google is your best friend
    Before actually starting your internship you need to find a few. There are several resources to find an appropriate internship. Searching online for internships on networking websites such as LinkedIn, Prospects, RateMyPlacement and Internwise will give you a great variety.
  2. Make it clear what you want to get out of your internship
    Is there a particular skill(s) you want to gain? Or is there something new you want to learn? Having an idea about what you want to accomplish is a good start. Before I started my internship, I knew I wanted to have the opportunity to figure out if this is the specific career path/role I wanted. And to see whether my skills are fit for the industry or any future roles I will apply for.
  3. Q&A session
    If you want to get to know the inside outs of the industry, ask your supervisor as many questions as you can. The more you ask, the more interest you are showing, and the more you get to understand how everything works.
  4. Contribute
    It might seem as if your first few days at the office are all about observing the people around you, but in fact there are many ways you can contribute. Why not come up with your own idea or project! This is a great way to put your skills into practice and get valuable feedback.
  5. Reflect
    Last but not least, at the end your internship, it is a good idea to reflect on your experience. A few questions to ask yourself:
  • Have I achieved my objectives?
  • Is this the industry that I want to get into?
  • What skill(s) have I applied?
  • What new skill(s) have I gained?

Internships are as fun as you make them. Grab this opportunity to explore the industry better, reflect on your strengths and weaknesses and make great connections.

Off-The-Beaten-Track in Philadelphia

Philadelphia. An American city of cheesesteaks, Rocky Balboa and LOVE. But once you’ve run up the stairs of the Philadelphia Museum of Art and tucked into a cheesesteak at Reading Terminal Market, what is there to do next in the East Cost metropolis?

Here’s our list of the top five under-the-radar attractions that should be included on any itinerary in Philadelphia.

Fishtown and Philadelphia Distilling

Philadelphia’s cool neighbourhood of Fishtown is a haven for trendy travellers looking to immerse themselves amongst likeminded locals. Along with vibrant eateries, including the highly rated smokehouse Fette Sau, the area is also home to Philadelphia Distilling, which is the first craft distillery in the state of Pennsylvania since prohibition. Following a tour at the distillery (and a cocktail or two) head to Garage Philly to enjoy traditional American arcade games, including skeeball, or a beer in front of a Philadelphia Eagles game.

The Bourse

Although the city is home to two of America’s oldest markets, Reading Terminal Market and the South 9th Street Italian Market, foodies visiting the city should also visit The Bourse, which has recently been transformed into a modern food hall with 30 different vendors. We’d recommend trying a grilled cheese at Mighty Melt or tacos from Takorean, which offers a delicious fusion of Korean and Mexican flavours. There’s not a tub of Philadelphia cream cheese in sight!

Philadelphia Magic Gardens

Following a visit to the renowned Philadelphia Museum of Art, Barnes Foundation and Rodin Museum, travellers with a love for art should be sure to head to South Street for a visit to Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens. The gardens are a spectacular immersive art environment which were created by the mysterious mosaicist Isaiah Zagar, who started decorating the indoor and outdoor space as a therapeutic outlet after having a nervous breakdown.

Mutter Museum

“Dark tourists” who love being disturbingly informed can view a collection of skulls, a giant’s skeleton and even Einstein’s brain at The Mütter Museum at The College of Physicians of Philadelphia. Regarded as America’s finest museum of medical history, the Mütter Museum displays its beautifully preserved collections of anatomical specimens, models, and medical instruments in a 19th-century “cabinet museum” setting, which is creepy enough as it stands!

Eastern State Penitentiary

The sprawling ruins of the Eastern State Penitentiary were once part of the most famous and expensive prison in the world and was even home to the Mafia gangster Al ‘Scarface’ Capone. The prison is now a museum and offers visitors tours through the crumbling cellblocks. Although there are debates over whether the prison is haunted or not, there’s no question that it’s the spookiest place in the city!

Photography Credits:

  • The Bourse exterior photo by Kyle Huff
  • Mutter Museum photo credit Kyle Huff for PHLCVB
  • Eastern State Penitentiary photo credit Kyle Huff for PHLCVB
  • Skyline from South Street Bridge Spring 2019 photo credit Kyle Huff for PHLCVB

What it’s like to intern at a travel and lifestyle PR agency in London

Our intern Isabelle shares her experience of working at GEC PR.

I have to admit that until this year, I never really had any hands-on experience in professional communications. Previously I had tried my hand at writing, editing and blogging, but I still clearly lacked the industry knowledge and routine of PR work. With the end of my MA studies approaching, I decided to find out more and applied for an internship at GEC PR.

Interning was a great way for me to discover more about the world of PR and see if my skills and qualities matched. Working at the office enabled me to get first-hand insights into the whole process: from media pitching to content generation to monitoring and reporting, everything was starting to make more sense. It was great to see all the different pieces come together, and to find out how much work was actually involved in that article you see in the glossy magazine delivered to your desk in the morning.

What I liked about my work here was that there was always something going on. You never knew what a new day would bring. With all the diverse clients and areas of travel and lifestyle, every day was refreshingly different. That’s exactly what I look for in a career, and I think being based in London is the ideal place to find it. All the events, media headquarters and exciting people make it the perfect place for PR.

But as always, time just flies by when you’re having fun. Over the course of my three months at GEC PR, I got a lot of positive feedback and was really able to enhance my writing skills. I also sharpened my eye for all the different types of language that is used, be it in press releases, newsletters or reports. By working at a smaller agency, I profited directly from the incredible know-how of the team. A big thank you goes out to the team for making this such an amazing experience!

Now I finally feel ready to go out into the working world thanks to my increased skills, knowledge and confidence. I wish the GEC PR team all the best and I’m super excited to see what the future holds for me!

Top Tips On How Travel Brands Can Effectively Engage With TV & Radio Producers

As Chair of the UK’s Tourism Society PR Network, I had the pleasure of bringing together some of the UK’s top broadcast travel presenters and producers for The Society’s PR summer event – From Broadcast to Bookings: How To Effectively Engage with TV and Radio Producers.

On the panel were: BBC Travel Presenter Rajan Datar; Andy Clarke, Producer for James Martin’s Adventures; Chris Richards, Series Producer for Travel Man; and BBC Radio veteran and MD of Whistledown Productions David Prest.

The event was attended by a host of tourism brands and PRs, who have since fed back that the tips the panellists shared were really useful and insightful, so in the spirit of assisting travel brand/PR/broadcaster relationships, here are eight tips I took away and intend to implement to get the best out of broadcast opportunities for my travel clients:

1. Allow broadcasters to share their brief with you – before pitching what you think they should see and do. America worked well for James Martin’s team because the tourism boards listened to the producer’s creative needs and requirements (AC)

2. Before pitching to a programme, it sounds obvious but do watch it first before sharing your bespoke pitch ideas (All)

3. Ask yourself why your destination would be relevant to that TV or radio programme. Is there something timely happening that would make for an interesting angle? Is there a unique story exclusive to that destination? (CR)

4. To showcase a destination, let broadcasters meet the people living there – they are the best storytellers about their own country (RD)

5. Recommend good people on the ground within the destination that will make the lives of the broadcast team easier – the name of a good fixer is invaluable information (RD)

6. Try and nurture relationships with a journalist/producer and remember that although a project may not happen overnight, those relationships can prove indispensable in the longer-term (AC)

7. B Roll can be useful for TV, but remember it should feature a diverse mix of people (RD)

8. Great radio requires great facts, great characters and great sound effects (DP)

Why The Maldives Isn’t Just For Honeymooners

The picturesque beaches of the Maldives have long topped the wish lists of newlyweds looking for a location for their honeymoon. However, with a wide variety of accommodation and activities on offer, the Indian Ocean destination is now suitable for all types of holidaymakers. Here’s our insider tips on why the Maldives isn’t just for newlyweds.

Thrill Seekers Paradise

Because of its marine location and due to the fact that 99.6% of the Maldives is made up of sea, the destination is a haven for water sports fans and divers. Visitors can take part in a range of water-based adventure sports, from stand-up paddle boarding to canoeing to being propelled below the surface of the sea by underwater scooter.

Fabulous for Families

The one island, one resort model in the Maldives creates a safe environment for families and many resorts are now well-suited for those travelling with a baby. The clear waters surrounding each island are relatively calm so this means they are ideal for parents to paddle with their children.

Escape the Daily Grind

The peaceful and serene surroundings of the Indian Ocean are ideal for escaping daily life for a wellness break and numerous resorts boast outstanding spa facilities. In fact, the first underwater spa opened in the Maldives in 2017. Many treatments across the country now also incorporate local ingredients and techniques.

Top Five Tips for Travel to the Maldives

  1. What currency do I take? Although the official currency of the Maldives is the Rufiyaa, dollars and credit cards are accepted at resorts and on local islands popular with tourists.
  2. How many islands are there are how do I get around? There are 1,190 islands in the Maldives but only 142 are home to resorts for tourists. 99.6% of the Maldives is made up of sea so the best way to get around once you arrive is by seaplane, speedboat or a domestic flight.
  3. What do I need to pack? The average temperature in the Maldives is 30 degrees Celsius throughout the year so be sure to pack light clothing and lots of swimwear. Holidaymakers will also want to pack sandals as much of their time on the island may be spent barefoot due to the sand. Many of the resorts in the Maldives have UK plug sockets in the rooms but it’s worth packing a universal plug adaptor just in case.
  4. What wildlife can I expect to see in the Maldives? Nature lovers can explore an island’s surrounding house reef and expect to see a wide range of tropical fish. In deeper waters snorkellers can see whale and nurse sharks, manta rays, dolphins and hawksbill turtles. Common island creatures on land include lizards, fruit bats and crabs.
  5. Is there Wi-Fi in the Maldives? Yes, many resorts offer guests free Wi-Fi on the island but to guarantee internet access during your trip, consider purchasing a SIM card when you land at the airport. There are Dhiraagu and Ooredoo internet provider shops in the arrivals hall and these can provide tourist internet SIM cards for as little as £12 ($15) for 4GB of data to use over seven days.