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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.