Why to invest in a luxury hotel PR agency during the pandemic
If your hotel, resort, or destination had been considering procuring a PR agency partner pre-COVID, the onset of the global pandemic may seem like the wrong time to move forward. Especially if the agency you were considering is one known for luxury. But the truth is that the expertise and guidance of a top luxury travel PR agency is perhaps more valuable than ever. As Melanie Brandman, Founder and CEO of The Brandman Agency likes to say “While your doors may be closed, your brand is always open.” Brands who are able to stay relevant and in the media conversation are going to navigate the “new normal” of leisure and business travel – and the eventual return of the meetings and events markets – with a distinct advantage: they will have built mindshare with consumers that translates into market share.
There’s no denying the crippling effects COVID-19 has had on the travel and tourism industries. Businesses large and small have found themselves facing unprecedented challenges – including weathering an increasingly bleak forecast as many US states report spikes in cases and a second wave of lockdown looms. Budgets might be tight, but PR is truly an area where the saying “you get what you pay for” rings especially true.
While The Brandman Agency might be known as a luxury hotel PR agency, the truth is that we service a wide range of clients across the travel and tourism industry including lifestyle hotels, destinations, airlines, wine & spirits brands, interior design clients, real estate developments, and more. Our sweet spot lies at the intersection of luxury, lifestyle, and design. And our “luxury” specialization refers as much to the quality of our service as it does to our hand-picked client roster.
Allow us to quickly share what luxury means to us and four reasons why now is indeed the right time to engage a travel PR partner such as The Brandman Agency.
The Luxury of Time
Consistently ranked as one of the top travel PR agencies, we pride ourselves on providing high-touch, thoughtful service that echoes in every client touch point – from our writing to the way we organize our client and media meetings. From the consistent, A-list results we deliver to the way we keep our clients apprised on trends shaping the industry to keep them consistently relevant in a way that is authentic to their brand mission and DNA. We also tailor highly customized, 360 PR plans that are adaptable to help each client, helping them smartly get back to business as they navigate their coronavirus recovery plans.
What this ultimately amounts to for our travel PR clients is the comfort of knowing that we will make the most of their time – one of the most precious commodities. How we achieve this is by learning to think like our clients, internalizing their needs and preferences, being prepared, and always thinking 2-3 steps ahead. We instill in our PR team the importance of never wasting our client’s time with unnecessary back and forth, careless emails, or PR ideas that are operationally difficult to execute for the sake of flash-in-the-pan coverage (who remembers goat yoga?) that does little to build their brand or enhance their authentic narrative.
The Luxury of Expertise
Beyond this, we also define luxury as the ability to honestly and consistently deliver on our promise to provide senior-level counsel to our travel PR clients. It’s amazing how often we’re contacted by prospective clients looking to make a switch because the senior team they were promised during the procurement process slowly fades to the background and junior employees are running the show. Before we go on, let us make one thing clear: we are incredibly proud of our employees at all levels and work to empower and groom top-notch PR professionals. But when it comes to navigating strategic decisions, positioning properties, conceptualizing campaigns, negotiating brand partnerships, and delivering important news to the right media contacts at the right time, the senior leadership – including Melanie Brandman and President, Kristen Vigrass – are personally involved. Full stop.
When I started The Brandman Agency in 2000, I made it my mission to create a travel PR agency that can truly and honestly deliver senior-level counsel to our clients," says Melanie Brandman, Founder and CEO of The Brandman Agency. "As we find ourselves navigating an uncertain and ever-changing future for the travel industry, this senior-level support is more critical than ever"
This senior-heavy mentality – which is foundational to our PR agency – can be traced back to Melanie Brandman’s lineage in the industry. In her role of VP Corporate Affairs at InterContinental Hotels & Resorts, she was tasked with helping hire and fire PR companies for properties around the globe.
“We all know the routine,” says Melanie Brandman, Founder and CEO of The Brandman Agency. “Agencies trot out their senior staff during the bidding process and wow you with promises of hands-on involvement. The reality is that this is largely a game of smoke and mirrors. I can’t tell you how many times the pitch – or the signing of the contract – would be the last time I heard a word from senior leadership at these agencies. When I started The Brandman Agency in 2000, I made it my mission to create a travel PR agency that can truly and honestly deliver on this promise. As we find ourselves navigating an uncertain and ever-changing future for the travel industry, this senior level support is more critical than ever.”
The Luxury of Attention to Detail
Another “luxury” that clients of all shapes and sizes can expect from a partnership with The Brandman Agency is an obsessive attention to detail and messaging. When it comes to relaying sensitive updates to media contacts – especially those related to COVID-19 policies – word choice, accuracy, tone, and timing matter. This cannot be understated. A quick Google search uncovers result upon result of tone-deaf pitching during the pandemic (who remembers the latex underwear pitch?) and PR foibles. We believe that one size does NOT fit all when it comes to pitching our media contacts and we take a tremendous amount of pride in curating clear, focused, and impactful media outreach tactics that deliver results.
Beyond our ability to match-make the right journalist to the right story, we also thoughtfully consider and advise our travel PR clients on HOW the message will be best deployed – whether it be via a targeted pitch email, a press release distribution, or an in-person meeting over ZOOM. We also take a “headline first” approach, reverse engineering our pitches from our intended results. The luxury service and thoughtful consideration that we demonstrate to our clients is also apparent to our trusted media contacts: we don’t waste their time with untargeted, blanket pitches with no relevance to their interest or the beat they cover for their outlets. We take pride in the fact that when an email from The Brandman Agency crosses our media contact’s inboxes, they can be assured the contents are high quality and relevant.
The Luxury of Foresight
Another advantage we afford clients of The Brandman Agency is the luxury of foresight. By keeping a pulse on the trends, lifestyle choices, and news shaping the global discussion, we have been early adapters in key areas that benefit our travel PR clients.
Long before the rise of “360 campaigns” and the dissolving of the “church and state” mentality between earned, paid, and owned media, Melanie Brandman read the horizon and anticipated the advantages of developing an owned content platform for an international public relations agency. An avid globe trotter, Melanie was constantly being asked by friends and industry colleagues to share her travel, dining, and shopping recommendations. After compiling these one-off guides, an idea occurred to Melanie. Why not tap into her love of editorial – Melanie spent time early on in her career at VOGUE Australia – and parlay her natural affinity towards being a luxury travel advisor to curate a stylish home for these recommendations? Travel Curator was born in 2011 and has steadily grown from a humble travel blog to a content-rich site with city guides, hotel picks, and a full roster of all things “Worth Traveling For,” an e-newsletter reaching a HNW database of over 650K opt-in subscribers, and social media platform for leading luxury and lifestyle brands. Through it’s booking partner – Curacity – Travel Curator has generated over $2 million in sales for featured hotel partners and has curated valuable city guides for destination clients and brands the world-over.
And while The Brandman Agency and Travel Curator function as separate entities, there are several distinct advantages to working with a top travel PR agency that both generates news and creates a home for content. First – in addition to our ability to think like the client and anticipate their needs, we are also naturally attuned to thinking more like our trusted editorial contacts. Naturally, clients of The Brandman Agency also get preferred rates for customized editorial opportunities to suit their needs. We have worked alongside several leading hotels to support awareness of reader’s choice awards and encourage voting. We also have ample opportunities to spotlight our travel PR clients in editorial features such as trend-driven roundups or destination guides.
And while no amount of intuition and foresight could have predicted how 2020 was going to rock the travel industry to its core, we are firm believers that it is this creative spirit, curiosity, and sensitivity to the needs and challenges of each of our clients that is going to help us collectively come out the other end of the global pandemic resilient – and in some ways, stronger than ever.
We invite you to go on this journey with us and find comfort in the luxury of true expertise and partnership that The Brandman Agency has cultivated over 20 years representing the best of the best in the travel industry.
The Brandman Agency