KeywordsFavorable Attitude Advertising Campaign Marketing Communication Promotion Campaign Tourism Product
Advertising refers to any form of paid mass communication on behalf of an entity, intended to inform or persuade an audience regarding its product or message. The media traditionally associated with advertising were television, radio, cinema, newspapers, and magazines, as well as various forms of outdoor advertising such as billboards. Such communication was not interactive; it most often represented one-way communication between an advertiser and an audience. This top-down monologue meant that, until quite recently, there was little scope for answering back (scant possibility of dialogue).
The most obvious example of advertising in tourism is the promotion of a destination. Indeed, the literature on tourism advertising is dominated by studies on the effectiveness of advertising destinations (Kim et al. 2005; Siegel and Ziff-Levine 1990; Woodside 1990). However, any tourism product can be the subject of advertising, with billions of dollars spent annually advertising flights, airlines, hotels, events, and attractions.
In the current digital age, it is not sufficient to consider tourism advertising in isolation, but rather to view it as merely one form of marketing communication, a broader term that refers to any form of persuasive communication between a tourism entity and its audiences. As such, the media used in modern marketing communications include direct communications via mail, e-mail, telephone, and SMS; Internet web pages; participation in electronic social media such as Facebook and Twitter; participation in trade shows; distribution of travel brochures; or the efforts of sales people at retail travel outlets.
When preparing a tourism campaign to persuade an audience to inquire about or purchase a product, an organization and its advertising agency are unlikely to use mass media communication in isolation. Most campaigns to promote tourism products today comprise an integrated communication package utilizing multiple media simultaneously, such as print, radio, direct communication, and social media. As such, the contemporary promotion of tourism products employing multiple media is likely to encourage two-way dialogical communication between an advertiser and audience, including the exchange of inquiries, comments, and answers.
In general, the objectives of a promotion campaign are to inform or persuade an audience of potential customers, but tourism promotion is likely to have multiple objectives. It is not always the case that the objective is to generate sales. Other objectives include raising awareness of the product, inducing an image of a destination or its product, increasing favorable attitudes toward the product, or stimulating related inquiries. Thus, the success of a promotion campaign can be variously measured in terms of the number of individuals reached by the promotional message, awareness of the product, the number of persons with an image of the tourism product as intended by the advertiser, the number of those with a favorable attitude toward the product, or the number of individuals enquiring about the tourism product.
Aside from generating inquiries about or sales of a product, a major role of tourism promotion is the constructing of brand image (e.g., of a destination). One can therefore distinguish two broad categories of research on the effectiveness of tourism promotion: studies on the impact of promotion on inquiry rates and sales and studies on the impact of promotion on brand or destination image. Currently, the research literature on tourism advertising is dominated by studies of the former, most particularly, increasing the sales of travel destinations.
Conversion studies measure the effectiveness of advertising campaigns, most often by recording the number of persons who request destination information, such as brochures from a destination marketing organization in response to specific advertisements. Some months later, those who have received the destination promotion material are surveyed, and the proportion of such persons who actually journeyed to the destination is recorded (Woodside 1990). A limitation of conversion studies is that they miss the majority of tourists who do not contact the destination marketing organization to request information prior to traveling to the destination (Siegel and Ziff-Levine 1990). A further limitation of conversion studies published in the literature is that they are often restricted to an examination of interstate tourism in the United States. An alternative to conversion studies are advertising tracking studies. Such studies typically survey a representative sample of the target population before and after an advertising campaign has run, in order to record changes in destination awareness, advertising awareness, message recall, destination imagery, motivation, and actual visitation behavior. There is some evidence that top-of-mind awareness of a destination, awareness of specific destination advertising, and requests for information on a destination are indeed related to one another and predict destination visits (Kim et al. 2005).
Gartner (1994) provides a taxonomy of alternative information sources that play a role in the formation of a destination image. He refers to conventional advertising in the mass media as “overt induced” sources of information. Advertising might not be the sole nor most important information source in the formation of a destination image (Govers et al. 2007), but it still plays an important role. Bojanic (1991) provides evidence that those consumers exposed to the greatest volume of advertising for a destination have more favorable attitudes toward the destination, are more interested in visiting it, and have a greater likelihood of visitation.