CAMPAIGNS: WTCC attracts global media to conference - Corporate PR

Client: World Travel & Tourism Council PR Team: Tarsh Consulting Campaign: World Travel & Tourism Summit Timescale: February - May 2003 Budget: Understood to be between £50,000-£100,000

Amid its harshest-ever economic downturn and with war in Iraq looming, some of the travel industry's most influential and powerful members - the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) - descended upon the Portuguese port of Vilamoura for its third Global Travel & Tourism Summit.

The WTTC, which has around 100 members, including chief executives of hotel chains, airlines and tourism services, hired Tarsh Consulting to promote the event which ran from 15 to 17 May.

However, with war in Iraq and the outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (Sars), the event was threatened with low attendance from delegates and media.

Weber Shandwick worked for ISEP, the Portuguese tourist authority, to promote Portugal and run the on-site media centre.

Objectives

To lift the profile of the summit by attracting general and business media, as well as trade press. Tarsh was set a target of securing TV coverage by a major network and attendance of 50 international journalists.

Strategy and Plan

Tarsh Consulting targeted journalists interested in economics and the travel industry and provided briefing notes on the significance of travel to the world economy, the summit's objectives, the seniority of the speakers and the six hot topics to be discussed.

Tarsh also recommended the WTTC capitalise on the media interest in Sars by producing a piece of research on the devastating economic impact of the disease and to release it live in Vilamoura at the start of the Summit.

BBC World was given special access to the event and speakers, leading to significant TV network coverage.

Measurement and Evaluation

While the summit was covered by the BBC, NBC, Reuters and Agence France-Presse, as well as international publications including Le Monde, Paris Match and El Pais, full evaluation is yet to be undertaken.

Results

126 journalists attended the event, including six TV networks - the BBC, Liberty TV, Swedish TV and three Portuguese stations. Bloomberg TV carried the whole event live.

BBC World Business Report's senior broadcaster Sagina Quaglieni said: 'The Summit was very well organised and extremely topical, owing to the WTTC's devastating Sars statistics. News value was excellent - we turned around seven packages in three days.'

Pacific Asia Travel Association CEO Peter de Jong, whose region was the source of the Sars virus, initially decided not to attend, as he was too busy dealing with the effect the epidemic was having on regional tourism.

However, he changed his mind. De Jong said: "The prospect of being able to speak about Asia Pacific and the fact that the region was relatively untouched (by Sars) to such a diverse media, meant I could 'lay my Sars egg' in Vilamoura, and help explain the real situation."

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