Eva Kütscher

TravelTech: Travel Communication for Tomorrow

Not even a pandemic could lastingly affect our desire to travel. That said, the travel industry is facing a number of potentially disruptive events at the moment. But it is precisely these crises and the volatile market environment that are also creating opportunities for travel tech start-ups. Communicating these opportunities in the right way helps create relevance and build trust.


The travel industry has experienced turbulent years. Until 2019, revenues knew only one direction: upwards. But then Thomas Cook, one of the biggest players in the market, went bankrupt. The image loss was huge, the trust in tour operators tarnished.

Only one year later, the pandemic came along and caused one of the biggest crises the travel industry has ever experienced. Very suddenly, the pandemic led to unprecedented declines in sales and changes in travel behaviour, to which the travel industry had to react. As if that were not enough, inflation and rising energy costs now also threaten the business of travel companies.


Desire to Go on Holiday Still Stronger Than Price Increases and Fears for the Future

So far, travel associations have reported positive results for the year 2022. The travel industry seems to have recovered from the pandemic more quickly than expected. TUI is expecting to be profitable again in 2022, and Lufthansa already is. It seems like not even a pandemic or chaos at the airports due to staff shortages can break people’s desire to travel and discover the world. 

But the situation remains tense. According to a PwC survey, three quarters of Germans are thinking about cutting back on their holiday spending as a result of price increases. Moreover, the uncertainties of the economic situation mean that the tried and tested is constantly being thrown overboard. What was taken for granted before and during the pandemic is now questioned. More than ever, travel companies have to earn their trust and show themselves to be crisis-resistant. 


Traveltech Companies View the Crisis as an Opportunity to Innovate

Start-ups in the travel environment, so-called TravelTechs, have an advantage over large travel companies. They are usually better able to meet the challenges of flexibly reducing and increasing capacities. In addition, their innovative products drive change and provide simple solutions to complex problems.

Therefore, the current crisis, in which travellers are dissatisfied with the chaos and more open to alternatives, is a real chance for TravelTechs. These companies should use this opportunity to draw attention to themselves.


Using Data PR to Highlight Your Relevance

One possibility: dazzle with knowledge. Precisely because of the many uncertainties and changes, facts and figures that shed light on the situation are more in demand than ever. Previous industry benchmarks are no longer valid today. Forecasts can look completely different within only a few weeks. This raises questions that are in need of answers. How are travellers making their bookings at the moment? What are they interested in? Are they behaving differently than they did a few years ago? By sharing such information, TravelTechs are killing two birds with one stone: getting themselves talked about by the media with exciting stories and highlighting their own expertise at the same time.

PIABO's long-standing client Omio, for example, regularly conducts surveys, the most recent of which was on the topic of sustainable travel, and reports such as the EU Mobility Report, in which the travel platform analyses its own data. In this way, Omio provides journalists with insights into the travel behaviour of people in Europe and at the same time shows that it always has its eyes and ears close to the target group.

Holidu and elvah have done something similar by jointly analysing which countries are the best to travel to by e-car. They compiled data on the charging point infrastructure in Europe as well as the number of holiday accommodations with charging points in a comprehensive ranking - including tips for travellers. This was of particular interest to the Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland. The topic was picked up by regional media and resulted in double-digit publications. 


Newsjacking: Get Involved in Current Debates

These volatile times are also the ideal moment to make a statement. Precisely because so much is happening, it is important to communicate proactively with the outside world and to comment on current events. How was it possible for a certain situation to come about? What has to change to make things better? What is needed now? You don't necessarily have to be particularly courageous to get involved in current reporting and "hijack" it for yourself - called newsjacking in PR jargon. In his blog post, my colleague Fabian Zeitler explains how newsjacking works and how your own messages can be linked to current news. 

An example of how to be successful with newsjacking can be found at Omio. The company used the current air and rail chaos to draw the attention of the German newspaper FAZ towards its own vision, namely to radically simplify the booking of cross-border journeys over land. The result was an article describing how monopolies and decentralised, scattered data from the major rail providers inhibit innovation and presenting Omio's approach to solving the problem.


Reacting Flexibly to New Developments

In addition to powerful messages and the right touch for (current) topics, it is also important to prepare for potential smaller and larger crises that could affect your own company. How crisis communication works has been summarised by Maria Samos Sanchez here.

In today's volatile market, only those travel companies will survive that keep their eyes and ears open at all times and are ready for new partnerships, target groups and, if necessary, business models. For all of them, trust is more important than ever. Travel companies gain this trust through know-how, but also through an empathetic understanding of the needs of their target groups - and ultimately through a pioneering spirit.

Let‘s drive your success story.