|ITB 2012: Tourism marketing you'd better avoid.|
Monday, 12th March 2012
Source : Roland Wildberg ~ Exclusive from ITB Berlin 2012
Award winning travel journalist Doug Lansky came to ITB-Berlin to reveal, what he dubbed, "the world’s largest collection of marketing mistakes, including the worst tourism slogans and hotel names. Many of these "lapses of professionalism" were quite amusing. Nevertheless, they underline the industry's laxness when it comes to travel and business sense. Anyway the audience were to Lansky's knees, and not only inside the big ITB conference hall "London", but even outside they were crowding.
According to Lansky, many of the companies working in the tourist sector simply do not invest efforts to ensure that their sales tactics truly come across to travellers in the right way. "It’s amazing what a little investment in spell-checking, for example, can do… Even I ask people to check what I have written and to ask them if they actually understood what I had been trying to
Doug Lansky (freelanced travel writer)
Apparently one does not even have to be at a travel destination in order to delve into the world of misunderstandings.
"It’s already enough to go to the trade-fair information booths of tour operators to catch a lot of the industry's mistakes," Lansky said. "What amazed me the most is that most people working in the tourist industry did not really seem to know the tourists slogans of their own countries – let alone their company's… Perhaps it is better that way, as many of them were either bad, misleading, caused inadvertent misunderstandings or offence or simply ended up saying the opposite of what had been intended."
"If you can pay 2 million dollars for a booth, then you can surely pay a couple of dollars to get someone to proof-read your texts," Lansky said. "Marketing appropriately and effectively is so important. People forget that."
He highlighted themes which bothered him the most: typos, dishonest images and descriptions of the destination, wrong or inappropriate pitching techniques, overkill slogans, non-optimistic words in texts, unoriginal tourist sites, and the negatives of mass-tourism.
Lansky was dismayed how lax people are when running their travel businesses. Many operators miss the essence of their work – looking at the big picture without knowing how to do the little things first. According to Lansky, many operators simply have not understood how to attract clientele - having lost sight of how to make the traveller really understand what they are going to be getting.
"When describing a destination, readers cannot see what you can see. They read you in order to understand what you offer and to be able to travel vicariously before making a booking. Often metaphors are already taken… but you need to develop new ones of your own. Creative writing means not using clichés. Metaphors are important. Making up words is also permissible. Trick is getting the right message across in a correct and even fun way," Lansky said.
"Getting people to understand one's message is the most important task which tour companies have to work on… It is not enough to think that you are giving the right message. You need to find ways to be sure you are doing this. It can be as simple as asking for feedback and analyzing the responses… and asking for feedback only works, when you are asking the right questions," Lansky continued.
"Does the 'China Happy and Healthy Tour' imply that China is generally an unhealthy destination? Can one truly relax in a destination that offers 'Relax in a State of Excitement?' Should so many places be calling themselves 'The Venice of the…?' Should one really give a traveller the idea that there are crystal clear waters right in front of the Taj Mahal? Should you really advertise with rainbows on your travel brochure pages unless you can guarantee rainbows during the traveler's visit as well?" This was just some of the food-for-thought that Doug Lansky gave at ITB Berlin. Others included: checking with local linguists, forgetting online translators; using original texts and ideas; focusing on optimistic imagery; avoiding overkill slogans.
Lansky bemoaned that far too many travel operators offered ‘exotic’ and "exclusive", within a mass travel experience while in reality offering only standard fair found pretty much everywhere in the world. He gave some photographic examples of "exotic" hotel rooms around the world. The rooms were almost all mere images of each other. He also suggested that it was permissible to create new, home grown tourist attractions.
Lansky believes that operators should not give too high expectations - that the packaging should include good and honest content. He reasoned that word-of-mouth advertisement is the best and most effective publicity one can make. Thus travellers should receive not only good value for money but also the service they expect. "Viral, misleading campaigns will only hurt the company in the end," Lansky said.
Lanky concluded that it is not only important to do good and honest PR. He finds it equally imperative to entice travellers back into the realm of cultural exchange within their touring plans rather than coaxing them consistently into tour bus experiences. "Giving people the chance to connect to local people should be what the travel industry should focus on today."