Matt Caiola, CEO of 5WPR, on Travel Technology & Changes in The Travel Industry
Travel Technology is a rapidly growing part of the travel industry that offers travelers unique experiences, transparency, and greater flexibility. Matt Caiola, the CEO of 5WPR, shares about his company’s recent expansion into travel technology and the huge changes within the travel industry.
Matt Caiola, the CEO of 5W Public Relations Agency, has been with the firm for over ten years. The 5W PR Agency has more than 300 employees and is one of the biggest independently-owned PR firms in the United States. They specialize in partnering with both emerging and established companies and helping them reach their strategic PR goals.
Matt notes, “Clients come to us for media relations and thought leadership and speaking, and so many great things. We do a lot of communications programs.”
Expanding into Travel Technology
5WPR has recently expanded into the travel technology industry, which Matt says was inspired by the increase in travel coming out of the pandemic, among other things.
“The pandemic caused a lot of things, especially when it comes to travel. I think most people were hunkered down in their houses… Coming out of the pandemic, travel was the first thing that everybody wanted to do.”
Since travel restrictions have loosened up, more people are eager to travel, which was one of the reasons that Matt and his team entered into travel technology. Travel technology includes services that help individuals get their money back for missed or delayed flights, online travel booking, unique travel experiences, and much more.
Matt explains, “The vision is that it’s just a secondary group from our travel tech team. One of the things we’re very good at doing is we’re really focused on B2B, which is the business-to-business and the consumer tech angle, so it’s kind of like a merger that takes a few of our specialties, and it’s focused more on the travel sector.”
What Does Travel Technology Solve?
When asked about problems in the travel industry and what travel technology solves, Matt shared, “I don’t think there are necessarily always problems [within the industry], but it’s more about enhancing [travel] experiences.”
He shares the example, “We live in a world where everybody is go, go, go, and they’re on their phones, and they’re on their apps. and they’re trying to get something now. So, it’s pretty much focusing on in-the-minute type of categories within the travel space.”
Travel technology allows users to immediately solve problems, like flight delays or hotel changes, and enjoy the travel experience more in the moment.
Matt explains that “For us, it’s about this group of clients we have and enhancing and emerging this industry to a more self approachable and backed up version of the travel industry.”
Travel technology can also open doors to individuals who may have previously felt intimidated by booking complicated travel experiences.
Case Study: Harvest Hosts
One travel technology client that 5WPR has worked with is Harvest Hosts, a membership for RVers that creates unique RV experiences by allowing RVers to camp out at farms, museums, wineries, breweries, distilleries, and more.
Harvest Hosts has thousands of partnerships throughout the country, allowing RVers to experience unique experiences and campouts throughout the United States.
Matt adds, “It’s a membership-based community where RVers pay and they can travel the entire country. They can stop at places that are safe, exciting, comfortable, and warm. Instead of the traditional, I’m going to a winery, you can actually stay at a winery.”
This experience of staying on-site at unique locations gives travelers a completely different experience. After the pandemic, so many people felt stir-crazy, and Harvest Hosts allowed people to get out and see nature while enjoying their RVs.
Working with Influencers and Creators
Matt shares that 5WPR is always working with influencers and emphasizes the importance of media work.
“For example, we’ve had clients in the past where I’m working for private jets and booking your flights and things like that. So, for us, it’s all about the experience, so when we approach influencers and things like that… We would give them the experience of the RV and going different places.”
He explains, “It’s almost like a journalistic approach of their [the influencer’s] life and what they’re doing for 24, 48, or 72 hours. So, we love that type of approach because it just takes a little bit of the meat and potatoes of traditional media relations, and it makes it more live.”
Trends in the Travel Industry
Matt notes that there are many travel trends currently. One huge trend right now is people booking trips with little notice.
Previously, people would book trips months out. However, now many individuals can work remotely, freeing up their time and allowing them to book a last-minute trip. Certain places, like Disney World, still require more detailed planning because spaces can fill up quickly. However, more and more travelers are embracing last-minute, fast-paced travel and making changes to their travel plans quickly.
Matt notes that “You have to be completely flexible when it comes to talking to your customer… I think what we’re seeing now is travel is very accommodating to the consumer itself and there is a flexibility that if you want to upgrade or you want to get that extra night or day, they [travel companies] will be very accommodating to you.”
Transparency is another huge trend, not just within the travel industry, but in the technology industry as a whole.
“Everybody wants to know what’s happening. Are there any hidden fees? Things like that.”
Matt gives the example of another client, AirHelp, as an example of transparent travel technology. AirHelp helps users solve money and compensation problems if their flight is delayed or canceled by protecting passenger rights against airlines.
Matt shares that he is excited about the future of the industry.
“Everything in communication today is all encompassed into one. All of our clients and the way we all view things and as a company is very much on a global scale … You’re not just targeting a certain location. You’re targeting the world.”
He notes that 5WPR is always trying out new trends, like NFTs, crypto, and blockchain.
“We’re always looking for emerging areas. We’re continuing to grow because of our full-scale approach on how we operate with our clients and how we build campaigns.”