And it was all going so well…Tremendous clients, supportive travel journalists, bags of story ideas, ways of working and two press trips pitched, set up and turned around for national titles.
And then the world was hit by an invisible tsunami: Coronavirus – Covid-19.
Initially, travel editors tore up their travel pages on an almost daily basis, putting out journalist alerts every five minutes (at least it felt like it) calling for rail and ferry holidays… then UK holidays… then ‘remote places to stay in Britain’… then ‘remote places to stay in Britain where you can self-isolate’.
When I prepared my end of March Contact/Activity reports for clients, my workload for most had doubled; tripled for my domestic clients. No wonder I was exhausted.
And then travel fell off a cliff. Editorial was all about virtual holidays, armchair travel and ‘how we used to holiday’ round-ups. April was a whole new PR game. My clients frantically cancelled Easter holidays home and away. Airlines and overseas hotels immediately sat on the money and how tour operators are supposed to comply with the Package Travel Regulations and refund travellers within 14 days I don’t know.
I’m not sure ABTA got their messaging right, but I also think the Right to Refund campaign started as an opportunistic stunt for a particular company. In a time of crisis like this the industry should have come together, lobbied loudly and not pulled in opposite directions.
Now travel pages have been slashed because there is no advertising to support them. Staff journalists have been furloughed. Freelancers are not being commissioned. Everyone is asking “what is the future for travel?” …. watch this space.