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The travel industry has always been a dynamic and creative space, requiring the companies which work within it to make a virtue of a fast-paced environment. Significant developments in travel technology – including rapid digitisation, have compounded this but, pre-COVID, change and growth were more predictable, allowing us to plan for the longer term.

Lockdown brought the travel industry to a halt. As we emerge from that and move towards recovery the pace has once again quickened, bringing with it a new and shifting environment to traverse. Changing government regulations, flight paths and varied and unclear public advice on travel, means that long term planning is out. This is especially relevant for quarantine rules, which have created confusion with their unpredictability and have had a significant impact on consumer confidence. The ability to adapt and innovate on a weekly or even daily basis has become essential, as rapid and more unpredictable change becomes the new normal.

The travel industry has been through its hardest year in history, but diversification and the ability to adapt swiftly has helped many travel brands survive. Spreading risk across a diversified portfolio is not a new concept, however within travel – where specialisms historically have underpinned a stronger brand identity and client base, it has not been as prevalent. As the sands have shifted, and the need for lithe and swift adaptability became necessary, MMGY Grifco and MMGY Ophir identified and kept this at the heart of the decision to merge, creating a more diverse portfolio of brands.

MMGY Grifco and MMGY Ophir have retained their travel specialism but by bringing the two companies together, we have created a broader spectrum of brands within a single family, with new and exciting opportunities for our clients. From boutique hotels, to travel technology products, spa brands and travel accessories, we can identify, articulate and broker new partnership and collaborations within this expanded community, reaching new audiences and demographics. This is true for the obvious possibilities for international travel partnerships between hotels, tourist boards, airlines and tour operators, and also for less traditional opportunities including the identification of trends through analysis of data or wider trends opportunities. These kinds of partnerships can be an incredibly beneficial for clients as an effective way to expand their audiences, organically, and with minimal spend.

Portfolio diversification is important not just in times of crisis. It is increasingly the path to survival, securing access to a wider variety of opportunities for all travel brands. The global pandemic has changed consumer behaviours and many brands have seen their focus markets wiped out overnight as a result of quarantine restrictions. We are finding that our ability to provide responsive and agile opportunities for our clients to partner and collaborate is allowing them successfully to pivot. This effective PR and marketing strategy allows them to identify and target new demographics, which may never before have been relevant. Mindful of confidentiality and brand competition, we can forge these relationships while ring-fencing brand integrity; separate creative and management teams can work independently and competitively within a collaborative landscape.

The travel media has also been heavily impacted throughout the pandemic. Reduced budgets, changing team structures and a highly competitive market has meant that the working relationship between agencies and journalists has also evolved at a rapid pace. Under pressure, journalists are looking for overarching trend stories, encompassing multiple properties and region-specific stories to fit the daily news cycle. From a journalistic perspective, an agency with a wider and more diverse portfolio within their specialist sector is an excellent resource. We also spot the trends, allowing us to place multiple clients in key target media across print, digital and social media as well as pitching bigger picture stories, generating larger scale coverage for clients across the portfolio.

As we move forward as a combined MMGY Grifco team we are hopeful for a more positive 2021, without a crystal ball to divine the next steps.  However, the six months since March have pushed us to become more agile with our creative thinking, more responsive to challenges and more open to new opportunities than ever before.