21 Jul

Meet the team

The following article was originally published in the July 2022 edition of ABTA Magazine here.

We spoke to Emma Brennan, ABTA’s Head of Media and Communications, about the media team working to support ABTA Members via the press.

The ABTA media team is the go-to place for comment on travel and tourism for national and trade media.  During the last week of May alone we featured in over 230 pieces of media coverage talking about delays and cancellations affecting travellers, including on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Sky News, BBC and ITV.

You can expect to see a range of people speaking on behalf of ABTA in the media, including Emma Brennan and Sean Tipton from the ABTA media team, as well as chief executive Mark Tanzer and directors Graeme Buck and Luke Petherbridge. This breadth of spokespeople allows us to cover a range of interviews while also continuing to deliver our other work for members – such as our proactive media and social media campaigns encouraging people to book with an ABTA Member. This is a key part of the work for ABTA’s media and PR manager Laura Jackson and media and PR Officer Meyrem Ali.

Since the pandemic, there has been an increased appetite among national and local media around stories about travel, which is why we’re seeing such prolific reporting on it. At the moment it doesn’t take much to make a travel story – one photo of a queue at security or check-in and it is national news.

When a travel story hits, it is the job of the ABTA media team to assess ABTA’s role in the story. We take a strategic approach to communications – looking at what the story means for ABTA members and their customers, what we want to achieve by getting involved and what message we want to get across. We don’t say yes to media interviews for the sake of it or if we think the result would be nothing more than to keep a negative story in the headlines; we need to be sure that what we say will help our members, ABTA and the travelling public.

Our primary objective during the recent travel issues has been to support consumer confidence by putting the travel issues into context and offering practical advice about people’s rights if they are caught up in any delays or cancellations.  In this instance, this has been how we best think we can support members, rather than playing into a ‘travel chaos everywhere’ theme which some media have been presenting.

Our main message has been that the vast majority of people have been able to travel without issue but if you are one of the few people affected then you do have rights. 

We’ve also been highlighting that package holiday customers have the greatest level of protection and that ABTA members will be helping those customers affected, as well as sharing insight that more and more people are booking with travel agents and tour operators because of the help they can provide if something goes wrong.

And when we assess how successful our media work has been, we don’t just look at the volume of media coverage we get or where it appears (although both are important). We also assess whether we’ve achieved our objective of saying something helpful that supports our Members.

We will continue to be a strong voice in the media for ABTA this summer, whether proactively promoting the benefits of booking with an ABTA member or by responding to emerging events in such a way that we give the public continuing confidence to travel.