We seasoned PR professionals are used to change. In the twenty plus years that I’ve been working in this industry, I’ve gone from pitching features to journalists via fax (yes, it was that long ago!) to selling in content collaborations with influencers via Instagram DMs.
However, this lockdown and the subsequent recession likely to follow it will, I predict, have a profound effect on the way travel and lifestyle PRs work, and the wider travel and lifestyle sectors. Here are my predictions for what may happen and why:
- Prediction 1 – Brand authenticity will be demanded: Whether it’s to do with having more time to think, fewer ways to spend money, or less money to spend, consumers are getting more conscientious. Coming out of lockdown, authenticity will be crucial. Brands will have to behave authentically and do what they say in their PR and marketing. Expect greater scrutiny about how companies operate before and after a customer spends their money with a brand.
- Prediction 2 – A greater focus on supporting and engaging with those ‘close to home’: During lockdown, many of us had to heavily rely on the support of our local community and local businesses. I do not think this will be forgotten in a hurry, and I’m hopeful that local businesses can rely on that greater appreciation as we all start to venture out again. Similarly, local businesses should be mindful of their neighbours and the diverse communities that make them up when they are looking to open again and increase their customer base.
- Prediction 3 – Offices become optional: Now that employees en masse have proven they can work productively at home, I’m expecting that agile working will be the rule rather than the exception for the creative industries, particularly those operating in PR agencies. It will become the norm for most meetings to take place without all attending in person, and this can only be good news for staff retention and engagement, and keeping more talented people within the industry who simply cannot combine a gruelling commute with responsibilities such as childcare.
- Prediction 4 – Influencers will continue to gain traction and marketing spend over celebrities: Influencers have really shown their worth during lockdown, keeping those of us stuck at home entertained, and raising and championing the issues of the day in a way that most celebrities noticeably haven’t. The fast turnaround of influencer content and the unique creative nature of posts curated at home alone has left old-school celebrities trailing in their wake. I expect those influencers who have had a ‘good lockdown’ and increased their follower engagement will continue to gain share of brand spend in the year ahead. Savvy PRs will be keeping a keen eye, and recommending their clients work with the cream of the influencer crop.
- Prediction 5 – Bleisure travel will increase: As we continue to take fewer trips abroad in the short-term, those travelling for business will want to minimise their time in the air and maximise their time exploring their business destination, combining business with leisure, so bleisure. I predict the engagement of the bleisure traveller will be important to tourism recovery globally and locally, so sharing and promoting places to explore or shop within the vicinity of business hubs could be a wise start for businesses.
- Prediction 6 – The multigenerational leisure trend will keep on growing: In the last few years, the holiday market had seen a steady growth in families made up of three generations or more holidaying abroad together. Perhaps understandably, as we were forced to spend so much time apart from our oldest loved ones in recent months, the visitor economy is noticing that trips to UK attractions coming out of lockdown are echoing this too. I expect quality family time at home and abroad will continue to reflect this trend.