A Guide to creating a successful tourism advertising campaign. Part1

Tourism remains one of the most viable sectors and business to invest into in today’s economy and for most developing economies, the opportunities it presents are quite numerous.

Tourism businesses are on the rise daily which includes; attractions (relaxation centers, natural parks, museums), accommodation (hospitality, food & beverage), transportation (airlines), associated business (travel agencies, tour operators, events).

With the sector getting more competitive and consumers demanding value for their every penny, it is necessary that tourism investors and businesses take out time to plan towards a successful and lasting marketing campaign.

In today’s highly competitive tourism market, running an effective tourism campaign can no longer be based on a catchy slogan or a sophisticated logo — as good as they may be.

To enjoy success in the marketing process, there is a need to engage in research before making decisions related to the campaign.

Three basic steps are essential before a tourism marketing campaign can be launched:
(1) Highlight the destinations characteristics and market dynamics;
(2) Define its target audience;
(3) Define the campaign objective.

Identifying the Destination’s Characteristics

The very first step to take before running a tourism marketing campaign is to undertake an in-depth study of the destination that is to be marketed — that is, the key components of the destination that may appeal to people’s cognitive and affective processes.

This looks obvious right? But how many times have tourism businesses or investors launch out campaigns without having a sound knowledge about the destination or product they are trying to promote probably because other similar destinations elsewhere are getting results or there are few businesses investing into the sector.

When it comes to tourism — as do other service sectors -, the most important aspect of a destination or product’s appeal are embedded in those elements that create a deep emotional or psychological response to the visitor (consumer).

The tourism market is such that consumers get to experience or enjoy what they pay for only after they’ve arrived at the destination. For instance, a person who decides to travel to Calabar for leisure (maybe from Lagos), pays for the flights (return) and accommodation even before stepping into Calabar for the experience been sort (other expenses such as feeding excluded). So, you see, there is no trial and error.

There is nothing like “let me try out what a destination is first before deciding” — tourists decide before experiencing what a place has to offer.

Careful thoughts and planning are given to travel plans. Tourists carefully compare destinations, features & elements that they feel would meet their specific need (be it relaxation, education, ego or any other).

If the elements they seek are not strongly portrayed by a destination, decision making becomes a no-brainer. This is why effort should be put into getting to know the destination or the product’s key element that will later serve as the campaign’s anchor.

Destination marketers must be familiar with the destination’s characteristics — attractions available, climate, physical settings, types of tourists who have visited in the past.

This also applies to other tourism service providers. As a business person planning to invest in the hotel industry (or already has), you must understand the environment you intend building a hotel in.

What type of tourists visits the destination you will operate in? What is their demographic profile — are they young or old, singles or families, leisure tourists or business tourists? Other helpful items marketers need to know about their destination before the marketing process starts to include (but not limited to):

- The kind of tourists they wish to attract. Does your destination plan to attract short/weekend break visitors, families, spa, or adventure tourists?
- Key attractions in the destination. Does the destination offer outdoor attractions, events and festivals or even shopping? This is probably one of the key elements that you will give more attention to in the campaign.
- Characteristics of existing accommodation (e.g. hostels, motels, hotels).
- Information about the destination. Get to know the destination’s history, icons and celebrities, the climate.
- Special features. Does the destination offer facilities for families with young children, PwDs (i.e. persons with disabilities), groups?
- Local transportation structure. Is the destination easily accessible and what type of transportation options are available (e.g. air, taxis, bus, tricycle, boats)?
- Contact information. Can tourism operators be easily contacted (emails, telephones) or engaged with (maybe via social media platforms)?

This information forms the bedrock upon which a successful tourism campaign is built. If gotten right, a profitable result is inevitable while resources are maximised and appropriately allocated.

Once this information and characteristics are gathered, campaign managers will be able to select those that should be highlighted in the campaign. It could be as simple as the special features the destination offers like facilities with young children or hotels and gyms at the destination offering facilities for PwDs.

Conversely, it helps to know those information that should be kept out of sight in the campaign. There is no perfect destination anywhere without its own flaws be it in its social-cultural or political structure.

Highlight the strengths the destination has while improving on its weaknesses. Improved weaknesses could also be a major point to highlight during the campaign. For instance, a destination with improved roads could be highlighted in the marketing campaign.

A recent study (2018) conducted on domestic tourists in Nigeria revealed that all the participants considered road conditions to be a major factor when deciding what destination to travel to. The better the knowledge tourism marketers and operators have about the destination (or even a product), the easier it is for them to know what direction the marketing process will take and the greater the chances of having a successful and sustainable tourism campaign.

Written by: David Adeloye Ph.D. (Tourism) in collaboration & for Take Out Media.