Engagement and Effectiveness In Tourism Marketing

New media models focus on engaging travel consumers

Unlike old, mass media led strategies, the new engagement model emphasizes effectiveness of marketing communications rather than efficiency. The goal is to really connect with consumers. The media choices leverage their attentiveness, receptivity to ideas, conversations and buzz potential – and help deliver on an authentic brand experience. This is a significant change in communications philosophy – one that diverts media resources to deeper, richer exchanges with smaller audiences.

Today we’re creating more content for fewer people, and spending less to deliver each piece. This is what some insiders are calling ‘narrowcasting.’ Instead of dedicating the bulk of marketing spend to mass media channels such as network television and large circulation print vehicles, we’re diverting increasing dollars by investing in the brand experience, creating our own channels and focusing on tactical executions in a variety of media. The destination itself, its website, blog, Facebook page, Twitter feed, and YouTube channel are all owned media that allow marketers to engage the consumer in appropriate and desirable formats – when and where the audience seeks information. This relationship building approach can deliver a richer brand experience, and fosters consumer advocacy and word-of-mouth recommendations that carry great weight and credibility. Instead of being the center of the marketing communications effort, mass media’s role is now to grow and maintain momentum created by engaging customers.

Media influences on travel purchase decisions

Consumer preferences for travel destinations have always been influenced by media, word of mouth and recommendations from travelers and booking agents. Broadcast media’s influence is shrinking as channels diverge to serve ever smaller segments of the market. In the last 15 years, the Internet has become the foremost influence on the consumer’s decision and purchase process, and continues to grow every year.

Besides influencing purchase decisions, the Internet, websites, blogs, feeds and channels in social networks provide media options that didn’t exist 20 years ago. These are prime examples of owned media: “properties” that destinations and resorts create, manage and use to promote themselves for maximum visibility and deeper connections with customers.

Delivering communications when and where appropriate

The diagram above illustrates the hierarchy of effectiveness and impact of marketing communications and media’s ability to influence the audience’s purchase decision. For impact and higher return on the marketing investment, communications need to be relevant and believable, from trusted and plausible sources. Owned or ‘earned’ media vehicles such as websites, blogs and reviews are more appropriate for these direct and honest communications than paid media.