The Importance of Marketing in Tourism

by Trudy Brunot; Updated April 19, 2018

Statista values the global tourism trade at $8.27 trillion. In order to tap into that market, destinations (countries, cities, resorts and attractions) need a magnetic brand image that attracts travelers. Using different print, broadcast and online advertising, together with signage and direct mail, marketing communicates the brand message throughout the five stages of traveler decision-making, identified by author Devashish Dasgupta in her book, "Tourism Marketing," as:

  1. Get desire to travel
  2. Collect and evaluate information
  3. Decide on destination
  4. Prepare for trip
  5. Evaluate experience upon return

Maintain Interest

Create Interest

A location with a floundering economy or an attraction that has lost popularity can use tourism marketing to recapture tourist interest. It creates a brand that changes how people perceive it.

To overcome lagging tourism outside of its major cities, California launched a campaign to position them as gateways to lesser known parts of the state. According to marketing agency DCI, revenue grew 20 percent in five years.

And Heritage Museums & Gardens in Cap Cod, Massachusetts, countered flat visitor statistics with marketing that highlighted its Norman Rockwell exhibit. The result was a 50 percent increase in foot traffic in one year, according to its agency Mascola.

Broaden Audience

When a location with an established tourist following in one demographic wants to reach a new market segment or age group, it turns to marketing.

For example, Miller Brewing Company launched a special campaign to attract young adults to its brewery tours in Milwaukee. Agency NOISE reported the effort resulted in more than six years of increased sales and attendance.

Scotland targeted American businesses with a DCI-created campaign to position it as ideal for business meetings and incentive travel programs. More than $12 million in bookings resulted.

Reinvent Reputation

One of the biggest challenges in tourism, declined sales and interest, requires marketing to overcome misconceptions or lack of interest.

Bermuda's Department of Tourism introduced a new campaign with the slogan So Much More after a 10-year drop in its tourist trade. The marketing program created by Fusideas captured a 4 percent increase in travel to the island the first year.

After its Cleveland Rocks campaign didn't resonate with travelers, its economy declined and its professional sports teams suffered losing seasons, the city of Cleveland embarked on a rebranding effort to overcome its identity crisis. The new marketing campaign by MMGY Global positioned the city as irreverent, eclectic and independent, and used the slogan This is Cleveland.

Several travel publications, including Fodor's Travel and Travel + Leisure magazine, put the city on their 2015 choice destination lists after the campaign appeared in print, broadcast and social media. The city attributes being chosen as the site for the 2016 Republican National Convention to the momentum this marketing campaign generated.

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About the Author

Trudy Brunot began writing in 1992. Her work has appeared in "Quarterly," "Pennsylvania Health & You," "Constructor" and the "Tribune-Review" newspaper. Her domestic and international experience includes human resources, advertising, marketing, product and retail management positions. She holds a master's degree in international business administration from the University of South Carolina.

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