When asked, “Why do you want to work in travel PR?” most interview candidates respond, “Because I love to travel.”
That’s a great starting point to build on if you’re considering a move into the field. But pursuing a successful travel PR career requires a skill-set that encompasses much more than having an impressive list of exotic vacations under your belt.
Before you make the leap, here are a few tips to keep in mind to ensure you make the right move.
1. Think about whether you have a genuine interest in the industry vs. a love for traveling.
Put your travel history and desires aside and ask yourself: Does the travel industry truly excite me?
Will I enjoy reading travel blogs, travel agent trade magazines, the travel sections of all the major newspapers, and so on, during my spare time to stay abreast of new trends and industry news?
Do sustainable tourism or business travel trend reports pique my interest?
Am I willing to put in whatever time is needed to get a crisis under control?
As you make your decision, your answers to these questions will hold more weight than your love for traveling.
2. Evaluate your natural skill-set against the typical PR job description.
Are you naturally organized, detail-oriented, and a good multi-tasker? Will you be able to summons your best creative juices at a moment’s notice to formulate a hotel package idea that’s never been done before and can capture national headlines? Do you forge new relationships and connections often because of your great people skills?
If you’re enthusiastic, enjoy research and conceptualizing ideas, and possess solid writing skills, you’re off to a promising start. Travel and tourism PR jobs will demand as much of these traits as any other sector of the industry.
3. Decide what you want your work day to be like.
The mantra that “no two days are ever the same” holds true no matter what type of PR you do. But it’s important to know that the kind of travel brand you represent affects the complexity of the campaigns you’ll execute, the amount of travel you’ll do, and the type media you work with—just a few of the many factors that will affect what your daily schedule is like.
For example, an online start-up that operates in the travel space will undoubtedly require frequent interactions with tech reporters—in addition to the usual travel and lifestyle editors—while a cruise, insurance, or rental car corporation will want to maintain regular communication with key business and finance columnists.
For some accounts, there’s no international travel required—a few annual meetings and a press trip or two a train ride away may be the only travel you’ll experience in a year. For others, you may become familiar with international red eye schedules.
Decide how much time you’re willing to spend away from home, and how often you’re willing to travel. During your interviews, ask the questions that will help you understand what sort of travel schedule will be required both at your level and as you move up in the company.
4. Talk to the industry veterans.
There’s no better way to get a full understanding of what your experience will be working in travel PR—or in any PR sector for that matter—than to speak to the people who’ve been doing it for years. Before you proactively begin searching for positions, take time to network.
Reach out to executives at the agencies who represent the brands that interest you (or, if you’re looking to work in-house, reach out directly to the brand executives) and schedule time for an informational chat. Any executive with a desire to recruit the best talent in the field will be open to speaking with a smart individual who has transferable skills and a genuine interest in the industry.
There’s a lot to consider when making the move to travel PR. But if you do make the jump to work with a brand or agency you believe in, and in a capacity that meets your career goals, you’ll be in for a fulfilling journey.
Andréa Skerritt is an account supervisor at M Booth. A Caribbean native, Andréa has represented brands across the travel sector including hotels, tourist attractions, car rental corporations, destinations and online travel service providers.