ftnNEWS: How did you decide to establish Travel PR Agency?
Sarp Özkar: Marketing professions have not been given enough significance in the sector for years. While Sales Manager, Operation Manager, Ticketing Manager, Incoming and Domestic Tourism Managers, and even Visa Managers were working in tour operators, the employees who were given the right of marketing title were not employed. The concept of brand management was always of secondary importance. Selling products on that day and selling more on the next day were all on minds. The tour operator bosses were very fond of the logic “Make advertisement and let the phone ring” but since the Media Communication would contribute to the company in the long process, they were not paying attention to this area.
When I started PR works in tourism in 2005, many agencies, airlines, and even giant hotels did not have a PR agency. Mr. Ali Onaran, who is one of the most visionary bosses I have worked with so far, saw the future and since then he engaged a high-cost staff like me in this work. What a great job he did! Those who think my firm as floor polish when I began to work started to say I will go abroad with him, of course. And of course, the sector got leadership based upon the sales figures. At a short time, in newspapers, magazines, TV and even on the radios, the sector started to work more and more with the PR agencies since 2007-2008 partly because it also attracted the attention of tourism professionals. At this stage I saw that: Tourism bosses or managers were working with PR agencies but were still complaining although they made choice among the best known of the market paying serious amounts of money. There were two major complaints: First, they pointed out that there were communicators who do not understand the language and the troubles of tourism. Second, the PR Agency was changing customer representatives once in every few months. Due to this circulation in the media communication sector, just at the point, they started to say he knows our brand and he is getting used to it, I was densely demanded from the tourism companies who saw a new customer representative. In the end, as a tourism man, I wanted to evaluate my great experiences in brand management-media communication field. In order to provide the service that tourism sector deserves. First, I founded Only Travel Marketing and then Travel PR company.
What Does Travel PR mean? What people or companies should expect from your services?
First of all, PR is an indispensable element of marketing. The purpose of PR is definitely not to be a news headline and making more profits in those days. It is one of the strongest supporters of perception creating in 360-degree marketing activities which are held in the way of brand positioning by making Strategic Communication Planning. It is an important power that should support marketing, on the way to branding, on the right channels according to the strategy and roadmap to be followed, with the discourses to be made in the right rhetoric, in place and on time. The most significant aim is to reach the desired brand positioning and to easily sell the same product which the rival firms also have after reaching this positioning. Because when the branding process is completed as wanted, your brand will be paid more just like the other brands.
Who are the customers of Travel PR?
Travel PR carries out all of the media communication and branding processes on behalf of units within tourism such as small or large chain hotels, airlines, airports, tour operators, Development Agencies, Tourism Promotion Offices, Cruise-River tour companies, airplane-hotel search portals. It does not work with any client out of the tourism sector and will not work in the future.
What are your differences from the other PR agencies?
We are masters of tourism terminology thanks to our 25 years of experience in tourism and over 12 years of experience in Media Communication-Brand Management. For this reason, we claim that we are the PR agency that best understands the tourism professionals. We do not work like an ordinary PR agency. Thanks to our domination of tourism, we have a command of many dynamics of tourism like "When is the time for semester holiday, skiing, new year, holiday, summer vacation or early booking period?" and "When do sales start for these periods?" We evaluate seriously both traditional PR and digital PR work. In social media, we can do workshops and experiments with high interaction people. We are working on issues such as photo galleries, video workshops, private interviews, and creating quality content for advertisers, which we can show tourist attractions more beautifully. While doing this, we claim that we are the PR agency that dominates the terminology of tourism and understands tourism men best. Tourism brands working with us will not need to tell this PR Agency about the No-Show, DBL-TWN difference. We will concentrate just on our strategy and work together to achieve the same goal. While doing this, thanks to our experience in tourism marketing, as we will offer a number of benefits that need to be made outside the PR, we are involved in a wide range of issues as much as we are allowed to do so, and we support our brand apart from PR.
ABOUT SARP ÖZKAR
Sarp Özkar has been working as a professional manager since 1993 in the tourism sector. After entering into that sector as a guide, he worked in the positions of Sales and Operations managers in major tour operators such as İremtur, Astro and Asya Tour. During 12 years, responsible for Prontotour brand management, he respectively ran sales management and marketing management. While discovering over 90 countries in the world, Sarp Özkar has organized press trips in almost half of the countries he has traveled to, and he has also worked on "Destination Marketing" studies with journalists. While doing brand management studies, after the delightful and valuable sharing with his journalist friends from all kind of media companies, he had been doing joyful sharing with B2B media writers and national channels of the tourism sector. At that time, many of us were remembering him as a tourism professional who was often seen in the main news reporters "Well, Eid is approaching, now we are asking advice to a tourism professional". He established Only Travel Marketing, which would be the marketing and PR company of the tourism sector after leaving Prontotour in 2015 with his 25 years tourism and over 12 years media communication experience. In Turkey, Travel Marketing also got the registration of Only Travel Marketing brand. He has put into service the first and only PR Agency Travel PR that he has just introduced, which will serve only in the tourism sector.