If Everyone Loves Your Travel Marketing, It Isn’t Any Good

Love this article by Alexi, had to share – view the full article here: http://www.mercurycsc.com/blog/2013/03/12/if-everyone-loves-your-travel-marketing-it-isnt-an/

There is an old adage that has long been a barometer used by travelers (as opposed to tourists) when choosing a destination:

Bad roads = good tourists.
Good roads = bad tourists.

Until now, that is.

The World Tourism Organization reported over a billion tourist arrivals in 2012, up from 350 Million in 1987. The fastest growing segment of the tourism industry? Geotourism, which includes ecotourism, cultural tourism and adventure travel is growing at 17% per year while mainstream tourism is growing at only 4% per year.

The increase in global tourism combined with the growing popularity of Geotourism has been a financial success for tourism suppliers and destinations that cater to this market. That’s good news.

The bad news is that those bad roads (or no roads) leading to awesome destinations are a lot more crowded than before. Tourists are no longer perched in rental cars at the edge of the concrete where it meets the dust, afraid to lurch forward and discover what’s past the bend. They know what’s past the bend.

Why? Because we told them.

As travel marketers, we’ve all been trained to think of our marketing efforts as a tackle box of lures—travel marketing as an attractor. People pay lip service to the importance of a target audience but in reality most travel marketers are chumming the waters hoping for a bite, no matter what kind of tourist they drag in.

But great travel marketing is not about being a bigger lure. It’s about being a better filter.

Admittedly, there already exists a fair amount of filtering in travel marketing. Unfortunately, it’s filtering by price. The result is that places eventually become exclusive domains for the wealthy or overpopulated resorts for the price conscious. Think Monaco versus Daytona Beach.

Travel is a contact sport. Who we see in the hotel bar, on the chairlift or out in the lineup affects the experience. In travel, the experience is the brand. In other words, who you invite to the party determines what kind of party you’re going to have.

And homogenization of any kind makes for a very boring party.

Walking the Walk

Travel marketers need to look deeply into their brands and uncover their true sense of purpose. While this may sound philosophical, it is in-fact exceedingly pragmatic for filter marketing.

If your purpose is to “create memorable experiences for travelers frustrated with the airline industry,” like it is for Nature Air, then delaying a flight to transport an injured dolphin is on brand. If a passenger complains? Here’s a full refund and the telephone numbers to the other airlines you should fly. “Thanks, but no thanks.”

We must tell stories that are effective in attracting the right travelers and alienating the wrong ones. For years, research indicated that the average traveler’s perception of Montana was, “There’s nothing there.” So, how do you turn a potentially negative perception into a meaningful marketing campaign? You tell your audience what they already know—“There’s Nothing Here.” That campaign ignited the interest of the core audience and let the state’s non-core audience know exactly what to expect (and not expect) from a trip to Montana.

How do we know filter marketing works? Because the wrong types of customers just stop calling. This is where most travel marketers get freaked out. Influencing some people to stop calling is simply not in their DNA. It runs counter to everything they try so hard to do (i.e. get the phone to ring), particularly in a seasonal business like travel.

What’s the alternative? Getting people to buy who don’t value your purpose. These travelers will never be happy with whatever you deliver and more importantly they’ll make every other traveler around them miserable as well.

We don’t just advise clients on filter marketing. We do it for ourselves. For example, we publish our manifesto on our site. If you like what you’ve read, we’d love to hear from you. If you don’t, you probably won’t call, and that’s fine by us.

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