Why Tourism Advertising is More Powerful Than You Think

I've known Bill Siegel for a long time. He and his firm Longwoods International have been tracking the performance of the advertising campaigns of countries, states and cities for over 25 years. So when he called me up and said, 'Can we get together? I've got some really interesting numbers to share with you,' I readily agreed. Bill had a simple question he wanted to answer: Is there a halo effect generated by tourism advertising? Yes, we can survey consumers and directly see how a state or city's advertising campaign works in influencing perceptions of a destination's tourism product and ultimately in motivating travel. But are there other benefits in boosting the community's overall image with the same audience? North Dakota is a case in point. For the past decade, the state's 'Legendary' campaign has been a successful branding statement connecting the state to potential travelers in an emotional and authentic manner. The most recent ROI research shows that North Dakota's U.S. campaign generated over $100 in visitor spending for every dollar spent on advertising. But here's where it gets even more interesting. Are the same viewers more positive to North Dakota as: A place to live? Yes, up 41%. A place to start a career? Yes, up 100%. A place to start a business? Yes, up 75%. A place to attend college? Yes, up 87%. A place to purchase a second home? Yes, up 113% A place to retire? Yes, up 75%. Tourism advertising helped boost the state's image in unexpected ways. Longwoods asked the same six questions in assessing the impact of advertising campaigns for a number of other states, including North Carolina, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin. The findings couldn't have been more consistent. In each and every case, effective tourism advertising had the same impact, improving consumer perceptions of each state in accidental yet positive ways. And while tourism marketing has been shown to generate significant economic impact by driving visitation, these results demonstrate the potential long-term benefits for broader economic development. Edward Thorndike, an early educational psychologist, first coined the term 'the halo effect' in a 1920 article titled 'A Constant Error in Psychological Ratings.' Thorndike asked two commanding officers to evaluate their soldiers in terms of physical qualities (neatness, voice, physique, bearing, and energy) and personal qualities (including dependability, loyalty, responsibility, selflessness, and cooperation). He found that if an officer liked one aspect of the soldier, he tended to have a positive predisposition toward everything about him. Nearly one hundred years later, the same can now be said of tourism advertising. We've known for a long time that effective tourism advertising campaigns build positive feelings toward a travel experience and inspire travel. But thanks to Bill Siegel and the Longwoods team, we now know that the same campaigns have other benefits that elevate impressions of a destination in an unintended yet positive manner.
Read the full article on Forbes, here