Category Archives: Tourism Marketing

Tourism &Attractions Marketing: Visitors Guides and In-Room Publications

After the Brochure and Visitors Map

We’ve looked so far the effectiveness of a brochure and a good ad on a well-used map or guide to your destination.  Now, let’s explore a bit deeper into visitors guides and in-room publications.  There are a lot of them in some of the larger, more developed, tourist destinations.

There is plenty of variety to tourist publications and they are called various things but the bottom line is that you are looking for a publication to advertise and promote your business to increase visitation by tourists.  This should be one part of a much larger marketing and brand management plan.

Visitor’s Guides

Advertising in a destination visitor’s guide is essential to the destination and may be less essential to the actual attraction.  After all, most of these generally are distributed outside the area and many are often distributed electronically now as well.  We all in the tourism industry has some responsibility to promote the destination and to do what we can to support that effort.  This has been one of my ethical codes in this business since starting many years ago.  The biggest bang for the buck for an attraction, however, is generally not in a destination’s visitor’s guide.

Visitor's Guides are often distributed in destination at a variety of locations that tourists visit.

Visitor’s Guides are often distributed in destination at a variety of locations that tourists visit.

Tourist Guides Distributed In-Market

These are publications that you often see near brochure racks, sometimes in them, often at hotel front desks and, along with everything else, certainly you’ll find them in visitors centers.  They generally are everywhere tourists are and are important to your marketing mix as an attraction.  Some of them may be franchised or corporate owned and others may be unique to a specific market.  Regardless, they usually have great distribution and are well known by the hospitality industry workers within the tourist market they serve.  These are great for scavenger attractions to advertise in as it is people who have not yet decided what to do are picking them up right in your market.

Some visitior's guides are like magazines and are structured like that when displayed at hotels and attractions.

Some visitior’s guides are like magazines and are structured like that when displayed at hotels and attractions.

Destination Magazines

These often fall under the heading City Magazines though some of them also serve as destination magazines.  They sometimes are free and sometimes they are a cost.  If they are free they generally aren’t as widely distributed unless the paper quality and overall quality of the publication becomes more newspaper-like than magazine-like.  Regardless of the definition there are publications that may have a specific niche in a destination such as an art niche or a sports one or even an outdoor niche.  These could be important to your marketing mix depending on your product.  As with everything else, run some numbers on how many potential people you are going to reach and check to see if your potential visitors are using the publication to make decisions to visit.

These destination-focused magazines may or may not be distributed primarily in  hotels because of their wider appeal by locals who often will save them for friends and family who visit and use them themselves.

These destination-focused magazines may or may not be distributed primarily in hotels because of their wider appeal by locals who often will save them for friends and family who visit and use them themselves.

In-Room Publications

Higher end hotels usually have their own in-room publication and it is often branded with the resort’s name.  There are also franchises and chain publications that appear in-room.  Travel Host is one that has been around for a long time.  Guest Informant was well known and has become part of the Morris Publications and has been rebranded as the Where GuestBook.  There are others and ownership is not that important.  The significant factor is these are distributed in-room and you have a captive hotel-staying guest browsing through them.  The number printed isn’t as significant in this case as the same magazine can be read well over a hundred times by a different tourist.

The attention you must pay here is to the rooms that the publication is in.  Are visitors staying long enough to be lured to your attraction if your ad or message is convincing enough?  If looking at one single property you can get those figures pretty easily.  If it is multiple properties you sometimes have to make an educated guess like so often is the case.

Hardbound books in hotel rooms are nothing new.  Guest Informant was doing it for years and is now renamed and part of Where.

Hardbound books in hotel rooms are nothing new. Guest Informant was doing it for years and is now renamed and part of Where.

Next Steps

So you now know you need a brochure and an ad in the primary tourist map for an area and now something in some of the destination publications whether they are distributed in hotel rooms or in other locations.  This is starting to get expensive!  Yes, it can be but overall marketing costs shouldn’t be more than about 7 or 8 percent of your gross sales so you should be happy to spend marketing dollars – generally it means sales will go up!

Of course at some point not everyone will be able to do everything.  If your budget is relatively small it may take more than just reading one or two of my blog entries to come up with a careful strategy to increase tourist visitation.  I’ll have plenty of helpful hints on what to do for free or cheap to promote tourism at some point.  But i wanted to cover the very basics first and if you can’t do the basics then we’ll start at free in a future story.

For information on how St. Petersburg became a cultural tourist destination incorporating many free or inexpensive tourism marketing tips included in this series, you can view that series here.

 

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Tourism & Attractions Marketing: Maps and Directories

How to Effectively Use Maps & Directories to Increase Tourism Visitation

Maps & Directories

There’s so many publications out there even in this web world!  Yeah, I still hear that as often as I heard it twenty five years ago.  Seems like there are publications everywhere that you should be advertising in.  The publisher always thinks you must be in their publication.  But of course you probably can’t be in all of them.  So I’ll take a look at some publications by type to try to give you a better idea how to wade through the many publications that are out there.  If you’re not in a highly developed tourism market, you might be lucky and only have one or two.  For this post, we’ll look just at maps and directories.  We’ll look at in-room publications and destination guides another time.

Maps and directories have been published for years in Florida.  These two vintage maps are for particular roads, the Orange Blossom Trail and the Florida Turnpike.

Maps and directories have been published for years in Florida. These two vintage maps are for particular roads, the Orange Blossom Trail and the Florida Turnpike.

Distribution

When an advertising sales person says things like “we’re in every hotel and welcome center” you might want to be cautious.  Every is a strong word.  I base an advertising decision on the facts when buying tourist advertising.  Find out where is the list of hotels or tourist locations the product is in and then spot-check some of those locations.  Ask the front desk what publication they refer visitors to.  Check to see what map the bellmen use to direct guests.  If the hotel still has a concierge, ask them.

In the end, you want a map or guide/directory to an area that is actively used by visitors.  If it is only available at a few locations, then it isn’t worth as much to you.  You want your message to get to people at a nearby airport as they arrive at your destination?  Then go check out what you see and encounter as you actually arrive at the airport.  One airport in Florida actually had its information center on the departures level and was therefore not much use to attractions, however, there were maps and guidebooks distributed at arrivals areas.  Always do your own checking and always do it from the visitor’s perspective.

Charlotte Harbor in Florida has a guide and map that is distributed just about everywhere in that area.

Charlotte Harbor in Florida has a guide and map that is distributed just about everywhere in that area.

Numbers

It really does come down to numbers in the tourism advertising arena.  How many maps are being produced and distributed to your potential customers?  It takes as much money and effort to place an ad in a map (or any tourist publication for that matter) that reaches two people as it does to reach two hundred thousand people.  At some point, you need to draw the line what you won’t do because the numbers are too small.  Only you or your consultant or advertising agency will know that.  If it is a monthly map, how many are produced and distributed and how many are tossed at the end of the month.  Get to know your real numbers.

Effectiveness

This is always a challenge for anyone in marketing, however, this isn’t that challenging in tourism marketing.  Just go to an area of your town or city where there are a lot of tourists looking for things and see what they are using.  What map or guide do they have?  In some destinations you see the tourist after tourist with the same maps or guides physically out looking for something to do.  It is more challenging now with smart phones because everyone has their own map with them but they still pick up and use the old style maps and guides.

When you have your graphics person create the ad, you may want a coupon, but you definitely want the look to be like your brochure.  Don’t change fonts.  Be consistent.  Look to see what your ad would look like on the map.  Does it stand out?  Does it drive someone to want to visit?  Does it help the visitor come to you?

Within The Destination 

The destination is where the visitor to going to spend their vacation.  This might be something as broad as New York or as narrow as Jekyll Island.  Each day, while in destination, the visitor decides what to do and where to go.  They may have seen something online before arriving in destination and decide that is what they want to do.  Or they may have no idea and try to figure it out by looking at maps, asking the front desk or waiter, picking up a visitors guide of sorts or any number of things.

If you do most of your marketing to visitors once they are already in destination then you are in the scavenger business.  Most attractions are that way.  You’re now competing with your colleagues for things to do.  This could include shopping, a beach or mountain day depending on weather, a museum or a free art gallery.  You work together to get the visitor to come to your town, but you compete once they’re there.

So these scavenger attractions probably aren’t reaching a visitor before they are in destination.  But they should be cooperating with each other to get them there.  Once in destination, this is where the attractions try to to lure in the visitor.  And maps and guides are what we are looking at today.  These can be effective in reaching tourists if their distribution is right for your attraction.

The map for the Florida Attractions Association has been produced for many years and was distributed at each member attraction in addition to welcome centers and brochure racks.

The map for the Florida Attractions Association has been produced for many years and was distributed at each member attraction in addition to welcome centers and brochure racks.

Distribution

Years ago, there was a brochure distributor that just serviced campgrounds in the region of Florida I was working in at the time.  This was before anyone ever heard of a luxury RV resort too!  I was responsible for marketing at a museum and it just didn’t fit our demographic though I was, and am, a huge believer in brochure distribution.  So you might have to do some research on who your best customers are and go after similar ones in destination.  If most of your visitors are staying in four and five star resorts, that tells you that probably you should not bother focusing on interstate exit locations for motels.

So far we’ve covered having a brochure (we’ll cover distributing it soon enough) and now maps and guides.  Just remember to really do your homework on distribution.  There are plenty of guides and maps out there.  Pick the one that has the best distribution and usage with regard to your visitors.

You should now have a better idea on how to start a tourism marketing campaign for your non-profit attraction, museum or destination.  The brochure followed by some key print ads.  We will look at plenty of other things you should be doing but we’re still working on basic foundation stuff for now.

 

 

 

 

Tourism & Attractions Marketing: The Rack Brochure

The Rack Brochure for Tourist Attractions

Having professionally been in the tourism industry for over 25 years in Florida, I sometimes get asked if there is one thing you would never ever cut from a marketing budget, what would it be?  And in the 25 years the answer has been the same: the brochure.  If you had to have one printed thing, that would be it.  Today, I’d probably opt for keeping a web presence but in the right conditions with the right talent on staff or contract that shouldn’t cost you much so it wouldn’t necessarily have to appear as a large expense once developed.

From the brochure generally flows every message about your attraction (which can be a town, a district, a historic house, a museum, an amusement park or just about anything that attracts people).  The brochure is your primary public image and should condense everything you are about into one flat sheet of paper that gets folded in a variety of ways to make the brochure or it could just be a simple 4 x 9 (inches) rack card.

Brochures have been used for many years to attract visitors to attractions such as this vintage Florida Attractions Association map from the mid 20th century.

Brochures have been used for many years to attract visitors to attractions such as this vintage Florida Attractions Association map from the mid 20th century.

Get Your Brochure Noticed in the Rack

You’ve seen them.  You know what they are.  They come in a wide variety of styles.  The point is that yours should stand out on the rack and tell prospective visitors what your attraction is about which in turn should entice them to visit.  So you have two primary roles for a brochure:

  • Have it stand out and get picked up in the rack
  • Entice the visitor through photographs or copy to visit

So, take stock in the visitor experience for your attraction or destination.  What is it?  What are your prospective visitors looking to experience?  Figure that out and put it in the brochure.  Of course, it is much more complex than just that but in its simplest form, that is really it.

This is a mini-brochure rack.  These brochures are small and fit in your wallet and provide just enough information and often a coupon for admission or a discount on a meal.

This is a mini-brochure rack. These brochures are small and fit in your wallet and provide just enough information and often a coupon for admission or a discount on a meal.

You will want to invest in some photography.  This is critical to any brochure.  I once knew a museum that had photographs of all the galleries done for a brochure and they even printed it.  When i was asked what could be done about bringing visitors in to it, I started with the brochure.  I showed them a very nice brochure promoting the museum.  I said that there was one major flaw in it.  What is missing in the brochure?  Everyone looked and thought perhaps a website, hours, prices, that sort of thing.  The answer was people.  There were no people in the brochure.  Who wants to go to a museum that has no one visiting it?

Then there are those that think a brochure through to the point that it has so much crap in it that it doesn’t do its job.  You know the people I’m talking about.  You hear them in meetings.  They’re the ones who will say “we have to have our prices in there, people want to know.”   This person is an operations person and while their advice is nice, prices don’t need to be in a brochure.  The job of the brochure is to entice someone to visit.  And unless admission is free, it probably isn’t worth mentioning price.  And yes, of course, they may call and ask or look on the web.  That doesn’t mean you need to promote it in a brochure.

If you can only afford a rack card, by all means it is better than nothing and some people can be enticed to visit with just the information (meaning photographs and copy) in a card.  Others may need more images, especially if there is an admission charge.  This way they will say “oh, there’s a lot there to do, it must be worth the admission.”

Cover Design is Key for a Brochure to be Picked Up

Another important factor in the rack brochure is the cover.  This is how it gets picked up.  People see a sea of brochures in a rack and they pick up the ones they’re most interested in.  But they really only see the top one third of the cover in a rack.  So be sure when designing the brochure that it looks good in a rack and is enticing enough to pick up by your target audience.

Pay careful attention to color in the brochure.  If you’re targeting females, remember that over a third of them place orange in their least liked color.  And earth tones tend to get lost in a rack.  Remember also that you will want to carry out a similar look and feel to any online or printed materials you are doing for the same attraction.

Times have certainly changed when museums printed brochures like this.   This is from the T. T. Wentworth Museum in Pensacola from the mid 20th century.

Times have certainly changed when museums printed brochures like this. This is from the T. T. Wentworth Museum in Pensacola from the mid 20th century.  Still, the basics of design show the top portion is what is actually seen in a rack.

A simple map that shows how to get to the attraction for key areas that are easy to identify is helpful.  Sometimes the most simple thing like “where is it?” comes out of a prospective visitor’s mouth when looking at your brochure.  If they can’t figure it out, they won’t be visiting.

So, if you’re working on a marketing plan or a business plan for your non-profit attraction you will want to include a brochure.  If you can afford to do an overall branding discovery for your attraction, then some of what you learn there will help you in the brochure design.  If not, then this is your key piece so it will become part of your overall branding.

This is part of a series: The Basics of Tourism Marketing for Cultural Attractions

 

Learning Lessons in Tourism Marketing from a Road Trip

Lessons in Tourism Marketing from a Road Trip

I have just returned from a road trip in our motor home in which we really had no agenda or itinerary for two weeks other than to travel and enjoy our journey.  Well, perhaps we had one other requirement: to feel cool weather.  This was the ultimate luxury for Floridians toward the end of July.

There’s a travel blog that details the traveler’s perspective on these trips called How Do I Travel which i write.  However, professionally, I’ve taught tourism courses and been in the tourism industry for many years in Florida so it is impossible to totally shut that down when travelling.  So many small towns I go through I want to desperately help.  To help them to develop their tourism business but it is not possible to do with such limited time.  And some do not want help.  Others are just nowhere near having the infrastructure.  I always order print publications from destinations we are possibly going to visit and this these publications give us ideas on directions to head.  And I always learn about our wonderful tourism industry when I travel and bring back ideas and trends to share.

Printed visitors guides still come in handy and we explore each and every one of them for current places to consider while on a road trip as well as future places to visit.  I just can't help using them as teaching tools to help other attractions learn more about destination and tourism marketing though.

Printed visitors guides still come in handy and we explore each and every one of them for current places to consider while on a road trip as well as future places to visit. I just can’t help using them as teaching tools to help other attractions learn more about destination and tourism marketing though.

The advertising and the editorial content of visitors guides, whether online or in print, is fascinating to me and you can learn so much from it.  And being a tourist as well as a destination marketer I hope to bring some type of interesting angle when looking at these guides and ads.  I learn a lot when doing it and I hope to pass on some of that knowledge through this blog.

As I write the travel blog portion of this trip on another blog, I will be looking for interesting examples of destination marketing, real-life visits and how those might have been improved or just simply surprising tourist destinations that are completely off the radar.  When taking a road trip (at least me anyway) you really don’t know where you’ll end up or what you’ll find.  It is all spontaneous but based on awareness of the product around you.

RVs were heavy on the I-95 between the Northeast and Florida.   My preference is to avoid the interstate system as much as possible while exploring the great backroads and destinations of the country.

RVs were heavy on the I-95 between the Northeast and Florida. My preference is to avoid the interstate system as much as possible while exploring the great backroads and destinations of the country.

One of the joys of travel is finding that interesting destination that really was unexpected and finding a destination that simply isn’t a destination but is enjoyable and interesting for what it actually is despite the fact that you can’t get a magnet with the town’s name on it to save your life.  I am fortunate to have grown up and gone to school in the Harrisburg – York – Lancaster – Lebanon market.  Gettysburg and Hershey were staples of local trips.  I never realized then just how significant this area is in the tourism industry and how well the region’s product is developed.  I was re-energized reading a story about how to turn Harrisburg into a cultural tourist destination recently that has since had several stories published on the subject.  It can be done and so while the trip was enjoyable and restful, my mind was working and my thought is to share some of those thoughts here.

Camping can be just about anything from resort living such as this RV resort on Hilton Head Island to roughing in at one of the many great state parks.

Camping can be just about anything from resort living such as this RV resort on Hilton Head Island to roughing in at one of the many great state parks.

So as I manage to wade through the travel stories in the evenings and weekends and consult with the visitors guides that brought me there, I’m sure i’ll come up with some interesting tourism thoughts that might help professionally and will post those here.  In the meantime I will continue to blog about museums, finance, marketing and general management in addition to tourism – all of which are closely linked.  Thanks for following.

10 Trends in Destination & Tourism Marketing

10 Trends in Tourism Marketing for Destinations

Having been in the tourism industry for well over 25 years and having taught tourism marketing classes I find myself in a position to be able to identify and comment on trends in tourism marketing with the thought that it might help smaller attractions and in particular museum or other cultural attractions or even destinations.  Staying ahead of the trends for planning purposes is the key to long term tourism success for a destination.

This blog entry takes this background and marries it to the fact that I have been planning road trips in our recently purchased RV and studying destinations and tourism marketing materials in the process.  While there certainly are more trends than what is contained in this article, this is a start and is based on an in-depth examination of some random states’ visitors guides in the northeastern United States.

There are some common denominators in tourism marketing throughout the United States and some emerging, as well as established, trends that bear looking at.  Let’s look at what is really for sale in some of America’s top tourist’s visitors guides (in no particular order):

1. Discovery – If you read destination visitor’s guides you would soon figure out that we humans enjoy discovery.  And most people like discovering things that have been discovered before them and curated to the point that they know they, too, would enjoy discovering it despite the fact that it has been already discovered.  The word “discover” appears often in tourism marketing.  A lot of destinations promote themselves under the headline of “Discover (fill in the destination).”  Everyone wants to be a Columbus but no one wants to discover something that isn’t worth discovering so it helps when the tourism product is curated or validated by someone or a group of people.

Discover Monadnock in New Hampshire invites you, along with many destinations, to "discover" it.

Discover Monadnock in New Hampshire invites you, along with many destinations, to “discover” it.

Hardly a state exists where you can’t find an image promoting it without it being paired with the word “discover,” whether it is discovering history or the arts or the entire state.   This is probably more ubiquitous than it is a trend but it filtering down to a lot of other tourism product than just state-wide tourism promotion.

2. Experience – Everyone wants an experience.  No one just wants to go somewhere.  It isn’t enough that you have seen a destination anymore, you have to experience it (after you discover it, of course).  Many destinations use “Experience (fill in the destination)” and this has been a growing trend following the “Visit (fill in the destination)” craze.  From attractions and restaurants to hotels and entire destinations, visitors are encouraged to “experience” the tourism product.   We have long since known that the experience, the intangible product, is actually what is being sold after all.  It is only fairly recently that this is how destinations are marketing themselves.

Many destinations want you to "experience" them.  This one for New Hampshire invites you in for just such an experience.

Many destinations want you to “experience” them. This one for New Hampshire invites you in for just such an experience.

3. Fun – Who doesn’t want to have fun?  No one.  This could be also called Participate but the end result is still fun.  Some destinations package a lot of fun experiences and position on fun.  There are some destinations in New Jersey where the word is everywhere.  And rightfully so, their tourism product is fun – from watching salt water taffy being made to arcade games on a boardwalk to jumping in the waves in the Ocean.  There’s also water parks, amusement parks, gaming centers and more in these types of destinations.  It also isn’t unusual to find a Ripley’s in these types of destinations and to find the destination marketing to families and using words such as tradition in their copy.

Coastal Virginia appears to be all about "fun" in this ad inviting you to have fun in only a few footsteps.

Coastal Virginia appears to be all about “fun” in this ad inviting you to have fun in only a few footsteps.

If your attraction or destination was so inclined you could, like others, simply say “Experience the Fun at … ” or “Discover the Fun at …”  And, of course, it has been done and continues as a trend in state visitor guides.

3. Local – This speaks to the unique product that the tourist will consume – a local experience that can’t be experienced anywhere else.  Every town now has shops, restaurants and other things that are unique.  This local and authentic tourist experience is something that continues to grow in popularity.  This could be something like a chocolatier, a craft beer brewery, a candle or soap shop, a local farmers market, or a strip of independently owned shops in a town center.  While the old style urban renewal projects which were so popular years ago included things like The Gap or Ann Taylor and a national or regional restaurant anchor or two along with some shops selling kites, t-shirts and hats was once the thing visitors sought out, they have done those and are looking for a more local and authentic experience.

This editorial feature focuses on the thirty local restaurants in downtown Carlisle, Pennsylvania.

This editorial feature focuses on the thirty local restaurants in downtown Carlisle, Pennsylvania.

If you just search for images on the web under “shop local” or “buy local” you will find no shortage of graphics used in social media promoting the local movement.  It has gained the greatest ground in places like Portland, Oregon, Ashville, N.C. and St. Petersburg, Florida.  While it may have started as a movement to protect mom and pop shops, main streets, local farmers and artists, it serves as a terrific tool in promoting tourism.  Few destinations promote their chain supermarket with produce from South America after all.

In New Hampshire, eating local is one of the features of tourism promotion.

In New Hampshire, eating local is one of the features of tourism promotion.

4. Beer and Wine with Locality – There once was a time when most towns in the northeast had their own breweries.  Over time, many of them closed.  That trend has completely reversed itself.  It now seems that there isn’t a destination that doesn’t have a craft beer maker or brewery in it with larger cities having entire trails of these breweries.  Something that largely is credited to Portland, Oregon, now has become pretty mainstream and is still gaining momentum.  Many destinations continue to promote the microbrews and the brewery experience to visitors.

The cover of the New Jersey visitor's guide focuses on wine with its Grape Escape headline.

The cover of the New Jersey visitor’s guide focuses on wine with its Grape Escape headline.

Wineries have become equally popular starting in Napa Valley and now in destinations such as Pennsylvania and New Jersey.  Even Florida has wineries.  These all provide an authentic local experience and give the visitor something to buy to take back home that isn’t the tacky souvenir of days gone by.

At some point every town will have a craft beer brewery or a winery and these will diminish as a tourist draw as most tourism products have in the past but it will be some time before this happens.  As soon as the market expects a destination to have a product, it becomes no longer as important to the tourism product mix.  Most recently (in the past dozen or so years) IMAX theatres were once important to the tourism mix but are now not as significant in making a destination unique as they are in so many markets.

5. Outdoors – As people look for more experiential travel experiences, many destinations are including outdoor activities such as canoeing and kayaking as well as golf as part of their tourism mix.  There are hiking and biking opportunities in many destinations that often get overlooked as part of the tourist experience.  More and more destinations appear to be showing this as part of its nature package.  Even destinations where the natural environment isn’t the most suited to outdoor activity can find something to attract visitors interested in the outdoors.  And this is happening in even the most urbanized of destinations such as the High Line in New York City.  This plays to the general trend toward better health globally and will continue to be a trend in tourism marketing.

This ad for Clarion, Pennsylvania not only is about experiencing the destination but it is focused on the outdoors and the destination being known as "River Country."

This ad for Clarion, Pennsylvania not only is about experiencing the destination but it is focused on the outdoors and the destination being known as “River Country.”

6. Open All Year – Many destinations are known for a particular season.  Ski resorts in particular have done a good job over the years of spreading out their tourists to year-round with a variety of tourism products such as historical towns, outdoor activities and more.  Summer destinations, such as New Jersey or other states known for their beaches, promote year-round activities.  The State of New York even has covers on its visitors guide to coincide with the season offering not only a wealth of summer activities but specialty seasonal tourism offerings as well.

A very well done ad for Princeton, New Jersey makes it clear the destination is not just a single season destination.

A very well done ad for Princeton, New Jersey makes it clear the destination is not just a single season destination.

A number of states use, or have used, the Four Seasons of Fun concept including New Hampshire, Utah and Wisconsin.  There are variations on the theme, but destinations want consumers to know they are not just seasonal destinations anymore.  Attractions in Florida have long focused on increasing visitors during typical off-season times such as Fall.  This is why Epcot does the annual Food & Wine Festival and the Magic Kingdom, Universal Studios and Busch Gardens do a special Halloween event.  With more tourism product, the state then has something more to offer the consumer.

7. More than Just What We’re Famous For – Many destinations are known for one thing or another for the most part.  Take beach destinations, for example.  It isn’t uncommon to see these promoted now as “more than just a beach.”  Even Daytona Beach has a small historical downtown that is interesting and not something most people seek out.  Therefore, the visitor “discovers” the small treasure.

The Jersey Shore is naturally more than just the shore.

The Jersey Shore is naturally more than just the shore.

While being more than just a beach destination is becoming popular, so would becoming more than just a ski destination.  And this would be true of major tourist attractions as well.  No one goes to Niagara Falls and expects to do nothing but look at the falls.  But all those other things do help entice someone who might think there isn’t anything else there.

8. Itineraries – So often visitors don’t have the time to do research for a road trip and are looking for something packaged up but yet provides a free and independent travel experience.  The State of Maryland, among others, has a great booklet promoting its byways.

These are not very linear like some but it is comprehensive and gives you a good idea of what to experience along the way and based on your interests you can select your route.  Some regions and states also focus on single routes – such as Route 66, the National Road, PA Route 6 or even the less heard of Pennsylvania Route 422 through four counties which is advertised as a coop in that state’s visitor’s guide.

Maryland even publishes a separate guide for its scenic highways and byways with plenty of suggested itineraries.

Maryland even publishes a separate guide for its scenic highways and byways with plenty of suggested itineraries.

This is something that isn’t terribly new.  In Florida, many years ago, entire routes produced brochures for tourist racks on certain routes through the state and often destinations provided “one day trip” offers using the core destination as a base.   The Orange Blossom Trail through Florida to points in the mid-west was a popular marketing tool in the mid 20th century.

9. Main Street – Often you will see America’s historic town centers promoted in tourism materials.  The angles range and may include any or even all of the following: historical, cultural, food, local, shopping, ghosts or others.  The national Main Street program has been successful in helping small towns not only survive but thrive and it has been successful in larger city’s neighborhoods as well.

These Main Streets are often unique, obviously local, usually not filled with chains you can find anywhere and often contain some element of arts and culture and frequently have local shops and restaurants to attract residents.   Some states do a very good job of promoting these unique destinations.  Virginia has a section on them in its visitors guide that is very well done.

Virginia devotes editorial coverage to towns with historic main streets.

Virginia devotes editorial coverage to towns with historic main streets.

Even in places that you don’t think of for main street activities, we’ve found delightful and walkable main streets even if they aren’t as charming as most.  The point is, they are different than any other and even in some small Texas towns we’ve found fascinating main streets in towns and usually a local restaurant or shop worth visiting if just while driving through.

10. Art – Once tourism and the arts strictly translated to museums and a passive visit to one of them to look at art.    Museums became more experiential over the years and today it is rare that you enter a museum and passively observe art without some type of “experience.”  Hands-on museums have become popular and art museums have incorporated more participatory elements in their exhibits and exhibitions.

Many towns in the U.S. have museums whether they are historical museums, historic houses, art museums, children’s museums, science museums or a zoo or aquarium.  Destination marketers are now figuring out how to set their destinations apart from others.  And often the fact that there is an art museum isn’t sufficient enough.  It must be unique.

In the New Hampshire visitor's guide, there are special arts-focused events such as this one that occurs just once a year.

In the New Hampshire visitor’s guide, there are special arts-focused events such as this one that occurs just once a year.

Once again, my hometown of St. Petersburg serves as an example.  The Salvador Dali Museum opened there in 1982 and is a unique asset to the tourism product.  A collection of works by Dale Chihuly also opened in 2010 further providing a unique museum experience.  But what is beginning to happen is that visitors are seeking out more experiential arts experiences such as touring a local pottery, visiting an artists collective gallery featuring works by local artists, seeing artist studios or participating in local art or gallery walks.  They are seeking out more authentic local experiences.  This is an up and coming trend that is just beginning to gain momentum in some destinations.

This is an incredible ad for Lancaster, Pennsylvania that actually appears in a county tourism guide, not the state guide, but it clearly shows off several trends including the arts and the local concept quite well.

This is an incredible ad for Lancaster, Pennsylvania that actually appears in a county tourism guide, not the state guide, but it clearly shows off several trends including the arts and the local concept quite well.

What isn’t on this list might be a bit surprising.  Professional sports are not mentioned often at all in tourism promotion by state agencies.  You can draw your own conclusions to this observation.

What is bubbling up into the top ten?  

Music and concerts.  Some destinations have captured this market quite well – primarily in the Country and Western Belt though places like Seattle and Austin do quite well with it too.  Most destinations don’t position on music and don’t have enough focus on indoor and outdoor music festivals and concerts because generally all there is to promote is the venue.  The exceptions would be an annual festival – whether it is country, jazz, blues, or another genre that can be promoted year-round.  But a lively music scene that exists year-round would be of interest to tourists.

Another trend that will bubble up is that of gastronomy.  Though this is closely tied to the Local concept, it will become more and more important to a destination.  More and more American towns and cities have developed restaurant/cafe districts that have very good restaurants – and there is the interest to experience local things which this goes well with especially if the town’s restaurant row is on the Main Street which is historic in nature.

Downtown Carlisle, Pennsylvania plays off the local and gastronomy trends mentioned in this editorial that makes anyone who is hungry for something unique want to visit it - and who isn't looking for something like that?

Downtown Carlisle, Pennsylvania plays off the local and gastronomy trends mentioned in this editorial that makes anyone who is hungry for something unique want to visit it – and who isn’t looking for something like that?

Bike riding is another trend that will continue to rise as more bike rental opportunities or bike share programs come about.  It fits mostly in the Outdoor section but is sufficiently important enough to stand on its own.  This, combined with an increasingly friendly attitude by local governments regarding bicyclists in the form of bike lanes and trails will be another product that destinations will rely on to attract more visitors.  Maine is one state that incorporates the biking attraction into its state tourism promotion.

The Mountain Creek Bike Park in Vernon, NJ is well positioned in the New Jersey guide and rightfully so.

The Mountain Creek Bike Park in Vernon, NJ is well positioned in the New Jersey guide and rightfully so.

Unique Festivals and Events is something that people are travelling for based on their particular interests.  More and more of these are drawing greater numbers of visitors if the product is right and well-promoted.  I’m not talking about a Santa Parade, though that does draw visitors from around a town, but something unusual that a visitor would have to travel to in order to experience it.  The more unusual, the further away people would be willing to come from for it.  Some examples of unusual festivals might include Tatoofest in Tampa, the Burning Man Festival in Nevada or the Bald is Beautiful Convention in North Carolina.

This ad for the Maryland Wine Festival is another example of how events are working to draw tourists for niche interests.

This ad for the Maryland Wine Festival is another example of how events are working to draw tourists for niche interests.

You can take these ideas and trends and apply them to your own destination marketing plans.  If your “destination” is another attraction or perhaps a small historic town or even a district within a larger city, there are ideas here to help you on the branding and ultimately, the marketing, of your destination.

Before ending, there is one ad that stood out as possibly the worst ad in any of the state visitor’s guides that I reviewed.  So much is wrong with it from the graphics to the fact that it is for a one-day event and is placed (in a full page) in an annual guide.  In fact, it arrived long after the event was over.

Rutgers Day in New Jersey takes place on one day and yet occupies a full page in the annual New Jersey publication.  My guess is that government dollars funded the ad and somewhere there is an intern who designed it.

Rutgers Day in New Jersey takes place on one day and yet occupies a full page in the annual New Jersey publication. My guess is that government dollars funded the ad and somewhere there is an intern who designed it.

So there you have it.  Ten trends in tourism destination marketing from one person’s observations.  Perhaps this information can help you with your attraction or museum.  I’ve been to so many small towns in America that are just gems of destinations that I never knew about until visiting them.  Hopefully some of them can become more tourism oriented to help their local economies.  Some of these towns that I’ve traveled through, I wished that I could have stopped and talked to someone about how to make them more tourist friendly or how to package them to create a more interesting story to entice tourists to visit.  This is my way of stopping and trying to help.  Thank you for reading this far and hope it was helpful or at least somewhat interesting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Art, Artists, Tourism and Florida

A Brief History of the Selling of Art in Florida

Florida has somewhat matured over the years, especially in its attraction of artists to the state who come here for the relatively inexpensive cost of living and the sunshine.  It is also attractive because inexpensive housing and a fairly good base of art collectors come through the state.

The earliest art sold in Florida was not to Floridians.  It was to tourists. Artists such as Martin Johnson Heade or Frank Shapleigh rented studios at the Ponce de Leon Hotel in St. Augustine and these artists would paint and sell their wares to the wealthy tourists from up north.  Their cluster of studios became somewhat of a cultural attraction to the wealthy patrons staying at the hotel.  This having happened only over 120 years ago as the hotel opened in 1889.

The works were created generally as souvenirs for the wealthy and would typically be scenes that included flora and fauna typical of Florida or perhaps street scenes as was the case with St. Augustine.  Sunsets, steamers and flowering plants were common themes.  This was the start of the art industry in Florida.

Today, while we have certainly transitioned from the old itinerary using steamers and stagecoach, the fundamentals haven’t changed all that much.  Tourists still come in to Florida and still buy art and take it home with them.  While we don’t know for sure what percentage of art is bought by what are now Floridians, we do know that tourism makes up a significant, if not a majority, share of this as the two major art centers of Florida today – St. Petersburg and Miami – have become tourist destinations in the past century and continue with their international draw today.

But back to the 1880s for a moment, as St. Petersburg and Miami didn’t yet exist as incorporated towns in Florida, this was at a time when the railway ran as far south as Jacksonville and steamers plied the St. Johns River. The typical visitor’s itinerary consisted of a trip to Jacksonville, the largest city in the state, St. Augustine for its history, a steamer down the St. Johns River and another down the Ocklawaha.  There were variations on this itinerary and stage coaches were used to shuttle people from the ports where the steamers would call in to small towns such as Gainesville and Ocala.

The city of Jacksonville has changed dramatically since it was the first transportation hub of Florida tourists in the 1880s.

The city of Jacksonville has changed dramatically since it was the first transportation hub of Florida tourists in the 1880s.

Many of these early tourists were considered naturalists as they had an interest in nature.  There was, in fact, little else in Florida at the time.  While most paintings were nature scenes and landscapes, there were details of some of the flowers of Florida in some of these early paintings.

But the artist colony was focused in St. Augustine as the tourist center of the state was located there.  Tourism was in this case acting as the distribution channel for art.   It isn’t very dissimilar to some of the earliest cultural attractions in the state of Florida.  They relied on tourists to support them as the residents of the state were typically unable, for the most part, to support larger cultural attractions that primarily consisted of museums.

In the industrialized north, philanthropists funded museums and supported artists.  There was no tradition of this in the agrarian south and the model of support became something between fractured philanthropy and cultural tourism from the North.  The state’s earliest “museums” were designed to attract tourists.  These were in Jacksonville and St. Augustine.

The Vedder Museum in St. Augustine.  Photo courtesy State Archives of Florida.

The Vedder Museum in St. Augustine. Photo courtesy State Archives of Florida.

Slowly, artists began to locate in areas outside of St. Augustine.  St. Petersburg probably got the earliest start with artists, or visitors who took an interest in the arts, having had an arts club formed in 1917, ten years before the Florida Federation of Art was formed and well before the 1924 founding of the local arts club in St. Augustine.  Earliest museums in the state included the Ringling in Sarasota and the Norton in Palm Beach.  Art was starting to diversify as a commodity in Florida.   In the decades that followed the Dali Museum in St. Petersburg was soon exporting art in the form of reproduction posters throughout the world.

Today we have significant colonies of artists still in St. Augustine as well as Key West, Miami and St. Petersburg.  There are other clusters of artists throughout the state in other towns and cities of course and many towns now have an arts district.

Marketing Art and Tourism in Florida

The point of this article is to consider what is the next step in the maturation of the arts industry in Florida.  If you look at other similar destinations that have art as a common denominator, you’ll find a movement and an eager tourism industry embracing the “local” feel to the area in places such as Ashville, North Carolina, Richmond, Virginia and Provincetown, Massachusetts.   In much older destinations such as Paris or Venice, albeit far larger cities, the arts scene has flourished to include museums, cafes, galleries and artist enclaves.  In St. Petersburg, my hometown, a very active group called “Keep St. Pete Local” is heavily involved in maintaining the local character of the city that keeps it well positioned as distinct from destinations where a more chain style of infrastructure exists.

One of the arts districts in St. Petersburg, the Central Arts District, has links to the other districts with a trolley service.

One of the arts districts in St. Petersburg, the Central Arts District, has links to the other districts with a trolley service.

Miami and St. Petersburg are both in a unique position to be able to further develop their arts industries through tourism.  Art Basel in Miami continues to be a strong annual arts-related event that attracts tourists in great concentrated numbers.  St. Petersburg continues to draw cultural tourists year-round in what is developing as an arts fair that happens throughout the year and in multiple arts districts throughout the city.

While Miami has matured to include very high end art, St. Petersburg’s niche has been in accessible art for a much wider audience.   The “authentic” experience that a certain number of tourists are now looking for is readily accessible in St. Petersburg and in parts of Miami.  The Wynwood Arts District is rapidly maturing in Miami and several districts have emerged in St. Petersburg that allows the visitor a more authentic experience that isn’t created, such as was the artists studios at the Ponce de Leon Hotel in St. Augustine or the concentration of museums in some cities.

And while it is always up to the artist to sell his or her art, there are quickly becoming areas in the state that are more conducive to this.  And as always in Florida, it is seasonal.  It is up to the state’s tourism marketing organization and the respective county tourist development councils and convention and visitors bureaus to use the arts districts to attract more like-minded tourists and to direct those who are possibly secondarily interested in the arts to these districts.

Second Saturday Art Walks in St. Petersburg have become increasingly popular with tourists and residents.  Many other tourist destinations use this concept to promote the arts.

Second Saturday Art Walks in St. Petersburg have become increasingly popular with tourists and residents. Many other tourist destinations use this concept to promote the arts.

Where Henry Flagler knew that there was a demand and clustered artists around a number of studios in the back of the Ponce de Leon Hotel in St. Augustine, our present day promoters of tourism, myself included, must make it easy for our visitors to find the artists and their works.

Art galleries, shows, festivals, arts centers, artist cooperatives, pop up exhibitions, and artist studios have all become part of the tourist experience in some parts of Florida.  To succeed in attracting more tourists who are prone to not only visit cultural attractions, buy locally-produced art we must target those tourists and let them know what the experience of visiting may include and that is art.  There are thousands of tourists that come through Florida’s cruise ports and a percentage of them all buy prints of art on cruise ships during art auctions.  They could easily be buying original pieces from Florida artists.

Many cities and towns in Florida have arts centers including Delray Beach.

Many cities and towns in Florida have arts centers including Delray Beach.

We must target the people who are most likely to buy art and spend time in our destinations.  Today, it is even more easy to focus on this with the demographic and psychographic information available combined with the myriad of distribution channels to reach these people.  For example, a number of articles have appeared recently speaking to the growing and flourishing arts scene in St. Petersburg.  These writers likely were reached through Twitter, blogs, websites and Facebook postings in some way.  Their articles then further reach yet more people and eventually a reputation as an arts center develops amongst those who are inclined to visit arts destinations.  Advertising messages also can be directed to these audiences and those responsible for marketing to visitors have access to make this happen.

It is important to look at the history of arts and tourism marketing to be able to understand how to move forward.  The essence of tourism marketing vis-a-vis the arts is to convince people to visit and buy art.  This is done through reaching those most likely to visit with your message.  Any destination can do this and with the right resources, can do it better than it is doing presently.