By Jennifer Rodrigues Q: Now that most travelers are using the internet for hotel research and bookings, should I bother to advertise my establishment "offline"?
A: Online is where the travel industry lives and thrives. Increasingly, it's also where it's spending its money. A 2010 survey found that 51% of hotel operators polled were shifting their marketing budgets towards the online space.
There's a simple reason for this trend - marketing chases the consumers, and in travel and hospitality, online is where consumers can be found, and more importantly, where consumers are booking travel. Potential vacationers usually want to maximize their time and their dollar so they're more likely to use the internet and other modes of online communication like smartphone apps to make a decision about their upcoming hotel stay. For travelers, overwhelmingly the easiest way to research a vacation, compare prices and finally make a booking is electronically.
The other gift of the internet is the ability to target your audience more specifically than in most offline channels. People reading Newsweek might linger for a moment over a glossy one-page ad for a hotel or airline, but the chances are fairly high that they don't have immediate plans to travel. Online, though, anyone visiting a travel-oriented web site is at least considering a trip somewhere, making a property's ROI much higher on these customers who are already primed to buy.
Additionally, offline advertising often means local advertising. Very few media have the worldwide reach and speed of delivery of the internet. A big ad spread in a city newspaper, for example, is attention-grabbing and impressive, but it only reaches a certain number of potential customers in a certain place. Of course, the same can be said for the splashier (and often, more expensive) forms of offline marketing like billboards and posters.
All of that being said, traditional advertising still has its place in the marketing mix; after all, despite the dominance of the internet, people still read magazines, watch TV and read posters/billboards. These classic forms of marketing can still serve a function, but they should be seen as complimentary to a concentrated online effort - following instead of leading.
Advertising is about making a potential customer familiar with a brand, and the traditional methods can certainly help with that. Well-produced TV commercials, for example, can make a hotel or destination look tantalizing and irresistible. Also, there do remain pockets of specialization in the offline world. There will always be glossy travel magazines like Condé Nast Travelerand any number of TV shows filmed in exotic locations around the globe to tempt potential travelers into booking with a particular property.
But purchasing advertising space in those mediums is usually expensive and can be time consuming to produce, so it is recommended only for those with very large marketing budgets. Even then, the percentage spent on the classic forms of marketing should be comparatively low compared to the online/electronic channels. After all, hotel marketers are wise to concentrate on reaching consumers where they are researching and booking travel: online.
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About Jennifer Rodrigues
Jennifer Rodrigues, Visibility Development Manager with ThinkInk and TravelInk'd, is a seasoned public relations professional with a passion for the hospitality industry, which is expressed in her role at ThinkInk's travel division, TravelInk'd. At TravelInk'd, she is responsible for developing cost-effective and creative public relations and marketing strategies for clients in the travel and tourism, airline, lodging, cruise and meeting/event sectors. For more information on TravelInk'd, please visit www.travelinkd.com or contact Jennifer at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more news about PR and marketing in the travel industry, follow TravelInk'd on Twitter @TravelInkd and visit the TravelInk'd Facebook Fan Page.