Caroline Van Praagh is a PR and Communications specialist, having worked in the industry for over eight years. Caroline has experience from both international and boutique agencies including Weber Shandwick, Mason Rose and Campbell Bell Communications.
Caroline is passionate about helping brands achieve their objectives and using strategic and thoughtful PR and communications in that process. Caroline’s experience means she has an in depth understanding of creating brand messaging, putting together and managing PR campaigns, media relations, organising events and social media management.
How did you get involved in the luxury travel sector?
I’ve always loved travelling and have been lucky enough to experience some great places around the world. During my first PR role, I worked on a couple of travel clients and realised how much I enjoyed helping travel clients with their PR because it was something I was naturally passionate about. My second job saw me working for an agency called Mason Rose that specialises in luxury travel PR and really building my travel media contacts, something which I went on to continue to do in the next agency, Campbell Bell, where I managed the PR for a hotel collection, a tour operator and two hotel openings, which I loved.
Now running my own business, I feel I’mat a stage that my experience, contacts and passion for this industry canreally help hotels and travel businesses with their PR activity.
How would you describe your services and what you offer?
I help luxury businesses including those in the travel sector tell their stories in a clear and coherent way to their target audience to support them in creating exceptional brands. The services I offer can vary per client as it’s about being really targeted and only choosing activities that will help achieve their objectives. Often my work will include building a PR campaign, creating content and creative angles, communicating a brand’s story to my network of journalists, bloggers and other brands, and organising events.
Why is PR and Marketing so vital to the travel and luxury brand industry and what are the common mistakes that are made?
The travel and luxury brand industries are competitive sectors so it’s important that brands have a presence and are proactive in telling their story to their target audience. The common mistakes that can be made involve not spending time researching and planning a marketing campaign to ensure that it is targeted, commercially focused and delivers on it’s objectives. By working with an experienced consultant or agency, they should make it their priority to understand your business and then be able to really advise on how to approach their marketing discipline, such as PR.
What are the latest projects you are working on?
One of my latest travel projects is working with a new holiday search website called Luxtripper. It’s a really exciting project as I’m getting to work with an innovative start up that is changing the way people search and book holidays online with its global patent pending ‘Where To Go When©’ search technology that attunes results to individual traveller types and interests in seconds. I’m really enjoying combining some traditional travel PR with also profiling an inspiring female entrepreneur.
The travel trends of 2016 and destinations you hope to cover?
Working with Luxtripper has shown me that personalisation and prediction look to be big travel trends for 2016. Their team is creating technology that will involve machine learning so that it can predict relevant hotel options for users. I love the idea that this technology adds a more human element into the online search process, as its similar to how a travel agent would have known your previous destinations and be able to suggest hotels you would like but it’s all automated! Through working with another client called Pet-Fi, a new daily digital destination and community for discerning pet-owners that provides its members with the highest quality information, services, and products, I think that pet friendly travel is really on the increase for 2016.
Pets play a huge role in people’s lives and I think brands outside the pet sector are starting to see the potential in tapping into the £4.6 billion annual UK pet market. It will be interesting to see how hotels for example approach this market and create 5 star experiences that are more original than just a dog bowl on offer.