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Diploma in Travel
Unit Number and Title
Unit 22 Public Relations and Promotions in Travel and Tourism
Public relations and promotion skills have got a significant role to play in travel and tourism industry. Travel and tourism industry is a service industry and hence it is very important to ensure a positive image of the tourist destination among the public. Public relations and the promotion skills do the same. In this essay there will be a detailed discussion on the scope and importance of public relations in travel and tourism industry. The next section will explain about the various public involved within this industry. There are various stakeholders who are plays important role in the industry. There will be discussion about them. Then there will be a PR planning for a particular destination and in the last there will be discussion on the relationship between the media and public relations.
The tourist destination chosen here is Malaysia. Malaysia is best known for the beautiful beaches and the natural beauty which the country has.
Tourism industry is one of the fastest growing industries in today’s scenario. It brings a lot of economic as well certain other benefits to the country and hence both the government and the other private players are showing a lot of interest in travel and tourism sector. This is the time of tough global competition and hence special attention is required towards marketing of Malaysia as a tropical tourism destination too. Public relations has got a very significant role to play in tourism sector. Hence, it is the time when Malaysia also need to understand the importance of public relations and make maximum use of it. Public relations is an exceptional way of communication which helps in creating a positive and recognizable image of tourist destinations (Middleton & Clark, 2012).
In Malaysia the tourism industry is mainly segmented into three sectors - tourist destinations, establishments, hotels lodgings and restaurants. All the three sectors have different category of audiences and hence different types of public relation communications are needed for all the three sectors. For the success of Malaysia as a complete tourist destination, all the three sectors needs to be popularized with the help of public relations. Public Relations achieves this objective by applying various marketing skills, knowledge and strategies to highlight the best of the destination which could be able to attract the customers (McCartney et al, 2008).The role of the public relations here would be to fascinate the tourists towards Malaysia as a tourist destination choice and then to entertain them once they reach the destination. There are various places in Malaysia which are beautiful but unexplored, with the help of public relations tourists could be attracted to these locations too. These locations include places like Perhentian Island. Most of the travel and tourism destinations use public relations along with the other marketing and sales activities which try to create a positive image of the destination. The same could be done to Malaysia. It could also make use of marketing and sales activities to promote Perhentian and several other similar islands as tourist destinations. Public relations is appreciated by most of the travel company as it is very economical and also has highest credibility. Public relation is the tool which promotes the highpoints of the destination in which advertising plays a significant role. It is believed that public relations and advertising are complimentary to each other in travel and tourism industry. Media advertising is the most common form of advertising in tourism sector. It is important that in using public relations as a promotional tool that the correct message is being communicated to the target audience (Morrison, 2013). There are various methods used for this like company’s website, blogs, social networking sites etc. This means the advancement of technology and internet helps public relations a lot. It is seen in most of the cases that if correct information is presented in an appropriate manner then they are able to attract the customers by putting a good image on them. Malaysia too recognized that they could use this to increase the number of tourists visiting the country.
Hence, Malaysia has started to use internet as a marketing tool. The public relations make use of internet to promote Malaysia and its attractions. Malaysia tourism has got a beautiful website where all the details of the various destinations are provided. In Malaysia mostly people go for relaxation and to enjoy the beautiful beaches. But with the help of public relations as a promotional tool there are many other places which could be used to attract the customers (Middleton & Clark, 2012). Few of the places which are the highlights of Malaysia are ThePETRONAS, the KL tower, Bird Sanctuary, underwater world and the famous sky bridge in Langkawi. So with the help of public relations as a promotional tool, Malaysia is able to attract customers not only for its beaches but also for many other attractions which are present there.
The use of public relations in travel and tourism is that the customers can improve their relationships with the company. A good relationship between the company and the customers is the key to success in a service based industry, hence it is very important. Public relations also take care of all the rumors about the destination and also if possible make use of the rumors in their favor.
In a travel and tourism sector there is a huge diversity of publics and audiences. A set of people who are involved with this industry and have direct impact because of any developments in the industry. The various stakeholders involved with Malaysian Tourism are as follows:
Employees: The employees will give their best only when they are satisfied, the company can keep its employees satisfied with the help of proper payments and incentives.
Customers: They always expect the best quality of service which gives the best value of their money.
Creditor: These are the investors those who have direct impact of any financial developments in the company.
Management: They make sure that company perform effectively and efficiently.
Government: They make sure that all the legal rules and guidelines are followed by the company and also there is a fair competition in the market.
Union: They make sure that the all the rights of the labors are given to them and also they are paid properly.
Supplier: They supply the raw materials and other required things and hence they always count on the revenue that they get out of the purchase made.
Community: They make sure that due to the developments made at the place for tourism should bring in some benefits for the local people too.
Owners & Stockholders: They are the one who are effected by the profits made by the company.
In International Tourism there are variety of audiences. Since the tourists are from all over the world and hence there is a huge difference among the visitors. They belong to different cultural backgrounds. For public relations team in Malaysia it is very important to keep this in mind, as while promoting the country as a tourist destination they need to make sure that the message which they are sending is reaching to the people correctly. There are chances that due to cultural difference the message could be misunderstood. Depending on the variety of the audience the marketing strategy changes. For example, advertising of Malaysia as a tourist destination would be more focused towards their interest in discovering new culture so that they can change their perception about Malaysia (Rozier & Santos, 2011). In order to attract the public towards Malaysia as a popular tourist destination it is very important to reach the target audiences in the best possible way and highlight the things which are of interest for them.
The current trend of audiences in Malaysia reveals that mostly people come for a day or two days visit there and then move to nearby country Singapore for shopping. But now there is a significant change in the trend. Malaysia now has discerning visitors who are sophisticated and ready to pay more for the special treatment and some extra services. These are the set of audiences which are suitable for Malaysia as a tourist destination. In a tourism industry, the stakeholders are shareowners, employees, customers, suppliers, lenders and society. Anyone who is affected by the outcomes and the operation of the business is the stakeholders. In travel and tourism too, there are various stakeholders (Morrison, 2013). The criteria varies depending on the destination. Every tourist destination has its own rules and guidelines based on which the stakeholders also vary.
While setting the goals and objectives for the campaign using a range of public relations and advertisement promotion skills, the most important thing is that planning should be done for at least 6 months and then it should be revised every 3 months. For planning campaigns for Malaysia tourism, the same would be done. The subsequent revisions would be done based on the progress of achievement of the goals till that date. There are various promotional tools which are being used in order to make sure that the set objectives are achieved. The promotional skills are brochures, leaflets, newsletters, news releases, featured articles, events, exhibitions etc. Among these most of the companies promoting Malaysia as a tourist destination go for brochures and advertisements. On television, there are number of advertisements which displays the exotic locations of Malaysia with excellent ambience and amenities (Deuschl, 2006). But now even the media has started taking tourism seriously as they have understood its importance towards the contribution in economy of the country.
Now there are various other important promotional skills which are used by public relationsteam of Malaysia. Some of them are press releases and fact sheets. The public relations person tries to give all the important news to the press so that it can reach out to the people. For this, if required, the journalists are also provided with the facts sheets which contains all the data and the information related to the tourist destination and its highlights. The Malaysian websites are also used as promotional skills. The public relations person tries his level best to make the website as attractive as possible by putting up colorful and beautiful pictures of various locations.
In tourism industry the public relations and the promotional skills are segmented broadly in to parts. The internal public relations and the external public relations (Hudson & Ritchie, 2006). The internal public relations are mainly intended for the workers whereas the external public relations are for clients, investors, public institutions.
The internal public relations of Malaysian Tourism consists of followings:
The external public relations consists of following:
Participation in the events: this is commonly used by most of the tourist companies. By taking part in the events the tourism companies of Malaysia are able to build up and strengthen their networks with other organizations and authorities. They can also increase their marketable and profitable contacts which are very important in tourism business. Different types of events which could be attended are carnivals, commercial events, fairs etc.
Event Organization: the tourist company could organize an event which would be able to attract the media through which they can promote the destinations.
Media Relations: this is of most significance in tourism industry. The public relations could improve and maintain their relations with media by giving regular important news to them. They could also do the same with the internet media. Both the types of media-the traditional one as well as the internet media are important for the tourism business.
Company Blog: company blog is a platform where news, stories, articles etc. are displayed about the company on regular basis. The best part is that the readers are allowed to posts their comments on it. This helps the company to about itself from the customers’ point of view (L’Etang et al, 2007).
Participation of social networks: involvement with social networks like twitter of Facebook helps the company to get in contact with the customers and hence they could promote the place more aggressively on these sites.
In order to develop an appropriate promotional plan for Malaysia, there are several stages which needs to be taken care. The public relations for Malaysian tourism also needs a plan which could be used to attract more customers from other all the world.
Situation analysis: In situation analysis, the actual situation is being described towards which the plan is focused. Currently Malaysia as a tourist destination has realized that, tourists are not relying only on the travel agencies to plan their holidays. They are more influenced towards mouth of word, varied search engine information and the friends’ commendation. So they have realized that they need to change their ways through which they used to attract the customers (Loda et al, 2007).
Defining objectives: In order to assure the achievement the objective of more customers in the current situation the main goals or the objectives should be to increase the knowledge and awareness of Malaysian tourism board itself. They are the one who will endorse the products and hence they should have complete knowledge about the products. The next objective should be to make the maximum use of media so that more and more audiences could be targeted. The last goal is to involve online media to reach out the target audience. The estimated time period to achieve these goals would be around 4-6 months.
Defining publics: At this stage if PR plan, the target audiences are defined. It is very important to define the target audiences as the marketing tactics will vary according to the audiences. The target audiences for this plan will be the Chinese tourists who would like to spend their vacations at Malaysia (McCartney et al, 2008). They are the audiences which appreciates the tourist destination where they can relax, get to see glamour and get some fun and amusements.
Media selection: Media Selection is the stage where PR decides about the medium through which the details and the information of the destination are communicated to the target audiences. The first method which was used by the Malaysian tourism is online media. They made interactive sites where the Malaysian tourism department get connected with Chinese tourists and solve their queries about the destination. The other method used was to include the help of celebrities and other people who could attract the tourists which their online charm. With the help of online media, they also asked the tourist to create their own travel plans and upload on the site so that they can enjoy the destination as per their will (Middleton & Clarke, 2012).
The Budget: The budgeting is very important step as it helps not only in estimating and controlling cost but also in deciding the amount of investment required. There are broadly two types of approaches for budgeting:
Scientific Method: This is a method which calculates the budget with the help of formulas and while calculating it take into consideration the objectives and tactics. Payback period, profit optimization etc.
Heuristic Method: This is the method which is more subjective and is also a trial and error method. The various factors on which this budgeting system is based are turnover percentage, competitive uniformity, affordable, arbitrary.
The primary public relation costs are time, material, expenses.
Below is the broad level budget allocation for the Public Relation Plan for Malaysian tourism
Cost Per Month
Creative writers' wages
Website Domain cost
Website hourly Tracking/Updating
Implementation and control: At this stage in the public relations plans, the implementation of the plan is carried forward. Proper implementation is the key to success of a PR plan. Hence it is very important that the plan is being implemented properly. In order to make sure that the plan is implemented properly the main tasks are resource allocation and tasks prioritization. Gantt chart is being used for this purpose. It is a chart which helps in making the project timetable. It gives the start and the end dates of the primary and the secondary works. In order to avoid any kind of problems a contingency plan is also prepared i.e. there are always back up plans for every-thing. For example in this plan, the point where the celebrities are involved in the plan, there should be at least two celebrities booked up or some other plan so that incase if one backs out at the last moment there is no major problem in taking the plan ahead.
Measurement: It is very important to evaluate the plan at the end. There are several ways with the help of which this measure met could be done like with the help of surveys, researches and press cuttings etc. The achievement of the goals and the objectives should be checked (Morrison, 2013). In our plan, we calculated that the number of Chinese tourists was about 1.5million which was a record breaking number. The online media, the celebrity and online influence etc. showed up positive response from the customers.
Media and public relations go together and hence the choice of media needs to be done very carefully. First the company needs to decide the category of the advertisement i.e. it could be among editorial, advertisement or advertorials. Then the accordingly the choice of media will be done either the print or the broadcast media.
Some of the other ways could be exhibitions, conferences and seminars. The benefit of these are that more number of people could be reached in person.
The tourism firm which is selected for the PR analysis of Malaysia is Thomas Cook Tours. It is the leading travel and leisure group. The range of methods of public relation campaign could be Product shows, sponsorship, internet PR like blogging, customization of packages etc., and press release, traditional media communication in televisions, radio and print media. Each of these methods has its own reach and target audience. Considering that the firm chose is one of the oldest travels and tourism firm and has international market the PR strategy chosen should have a larger reach and should be the one which is the most cost efficient (Schmallegger & Carson, 2008). The firm also caters to the international clients so the medium of Public relations should be such which covers the clients globally.
Internet is thus a very good medium of public relation in this case. Moreover, the firm could also come up with a PR plan in which it takes each city within Malaysia as a separate entity and plans for promotions and public relations on the city by city basis. This way it would be more efficient and the PR plan could be customized based on the attractions and the business developed by the certain city.
The relationship between media and public relations in travel and tourism business is very strong. The business depends on the reach it could create within the public and how dependable it could become by winning the faith of the consumers. Media is a strong method by which any company in the travel and tourism business could reach out to its client and publish their facts and figures and also listen to its consumers. The biggest advantage of media, specially the social media, in this business is that there is a quick feedback about the services which helps in making the services better and better every time (Schmallegger & Carson, 2008).
Keeping in constant touch with the consumers helps to create plans which suit the needs of the consumers in the best possible way. The media has brought the service providers and the consumers very close which helps both of them in terms of matching the expectations with the quality of service provided. The media has thus revolutionized the travel and tourism industry and has helped both the consumers and the service providers equally.
The chosen media for the use in the travel and tourism organization for Malaysia is internet. With the globalization and the fast growth of tourism industry internet plays a significant role in the travel and tourism industry. The most noteworthy feature of internet is that it can reach out to maximum number of people. The other forms of media have got their limitations whereas with the advancement in the technology each and every one has got access to the internet. Hence today, the time demands that all the travel and tour companies must promote their destinations with the help of internet otherwise they would not be able to handle the tough the competition.
One of the other benefits of internet as a media for promotion is that its operational cost is too low in comparison to other methods (Deuschl, 2006). So it is the best way to reach out to maximum number of tourists with the least cost involved in it. With the help of internet the tourists have got a chance to clear their queries or get the information immediately as there are customer representatives available online to answer the queries. Even the feedbacks reach out to the agencies immediately which helps them to bring the improvements in the area of concern.
The fact cannot be ignored that internet has completely changed the face of public relations and promotions in the field of travel and tourism but on other hand it has created a lot of problem for the agencies too. Among other issues, the most prominent one is increased competition. With the internet there is no possibility that any hidden information could attract the tourists more since all the information is available on the internet (Hudson & Ritchie, 2006). Secondly, even the feedbacks given by the customers are visible to all and hence the companies need to be very careful as they cannot cheat the customers.
Tourists today are smart customers and prefer to do a complete research before planning any vacation. The first thing which they look for is the feedback from other customers, then with the help of various search engines they look out for the information available about the place on internet. Today, even the pictures of the place are made available on the internet and hence the things have become more complicated for the companies. Because if the place do not resembles as it was in picture then the tourists could complain about it on internet which will give a bad impression about the place. So the travel agencies need to be very careful while putting up any details on internet. Internet as a media tool is a like a double sided sword, which has positive as well as negative impacts depending on the usage (Loda 2007).
With the help of this essay, it is very clear that public relations and promotion skills are very for the success of travel and tourism business in Malaysia. Public relations is one of the best way with the help of which Malaysia could promote itself as a tourist destination in the best possible way. It helps a lot highlighting the important things of the country which influences the visitors mind. With the help of proper PR planning and following all the steps it will be easy to achieve the required number of tourists. No doubt there are various media options available for the industries but with the advancement of technology internet plays the most significant role as it could reach ou to maximum number of people in the shortest time.
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