What is Travel PR? 

by Riley Mason 

When you think of a career in travel public relations, thoughts of plane rides, booking hotels and seeing the world may be the first few ideas that come to mind; however, travel PR can involve different skill sets and lifestyles. I had the pleasure to speak to Hayley Johns, partner and co-owner of Jackson Spalding, about what travel PR looks like for her. 

How did you get to where you are today? 

I graduated from Vanderbilt University with a human and organizational development degree and a communications minor. During my time at Vanderbilt, I participated in an internship with Genesco and worked in their corporate retail department for a semester. The next semester I was looking for agency experience and ultimately interned with a small PR agency. After graduating, I decided I wanted to live in Atlanta and reached out to my connections at Jackson Spalding. I have been at Jackson Spalding since 2008, so almost 16 years now.

What does travel PR look like for you? 

I used to work exclusively for Delta’s community engagement team for three or four years. It may not be what you think about in terms of travel PR, but I focused on their corporate reputation, hubs, cities and reputation among consumers across the world. In a way, it is an important element of travel PR. I also worked on the customer advisory board for IHG Hotels & Resorts. For both Delta and IHG, I worked on planning conferences and employee engagement training. Within these meetings, I worked on engaging corporate travel, luxury travel and other boards to foster consumer relations with Delta and IHG. 

How has travel PR changed and evolved throughout your career? 

COVID has changed everything that we do. Now I work more specifically in facilitating virtual engagement meetings and training. For IHG we have developed a hybrid approach, where we have one major in-person meeting a year and two other virtual engagements. Even though engaging in meetings virtually can be difficult, it opens up different and fun opportunities. 

What does a typical day as a professional working in travel PR look like? 

Every day is very different, which is part of the reason why I love it. I can work for holistic PR campaigns, with a distinct beginning and end, or a challenge that a client needs solved. Delta hires outside agencies for different projects, so my work with them can dip into many relationships with different agencies. Recently at Jackson Spalding, we have been doing more 360 campaign development for our clients, which is exciting.

Is there any advice that you would give a college student pursuing travel PR? 

Reaching out, learning and getting hands-on experience are critical to your future. Being curious and figuring out how to shape your path in college is important. Honestly, it is about passion, curiosity and the willingness to work hard.