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.
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.
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.
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.
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.