5 Reasons travel marketing campaigns fail

Once upon a time, firearms just weren’t that reliable. You’d load your gun, pull the trigger and be summarily shot in the face. The term used to describe this undesirable, albeit accidental, phenomenon is called “backfire”. It happens in marketing too, where groupthink, overzealous leadership, an over-ambitious agency or just plain ignorance produces marketing campaigns that have the world making this emoji face: 🤔. In this post, we’ll explore the top 5 reasons travel marketing campaigns fail and how to avoid them. 

1. Honesty

“Aleppo is a lively bustling city, with beautiful scenic walks, exquisite architecture and a history to die for.” Well, this is technically true, but it is also war-torn, militia filled and frankly the worlds most dangerous city. All marketing is based on relative truth. Not to say that marketers lie, but the truth can often not be explained in 5 words. For example, “Head and Shoulders will clear your dandruff in 7 days”. This is a relative truth. It’s not an absolute truth. The absolute truth is “If you use head and shoulders every day for at least 7 days, but more likely 10 days, then there is a high probability that your dandruff will disappear, but if you stop using head and shoulders after this time, it is almost guaranteed that your dandruff will re-appear”. Doesn’t have the same ring to it, does it? Absolutely truth, or relative truth, it doesn’t matter, just don’t LIE. The tiny country of Lithuania learned this lesson the hard way, when they launched their $150,000 “Real is Beautiful” campaign, only to use stock imagery of other Nordic and eastern European countries in the campaign. There’s no relativity there – that’s just a lie. 

2. Travel marketing campaigns fail: Inappropriate Targetting

One of the main reasons travel marketing campaigns fail is inappropriate targeting. Who do you actually want to visit your destination? Often the response will be “everyone”. But that’s not actually true, “everyone” is a pretty massive concept in marketing, because it includes all the good people, and frankly all the bad people too. If you’re marketing a quaint scenic village in the Swiss Alps, you don’t want stag parties from the UK arriving at your destination. Taking the time to appropriately target your prospective visitor is critical to ensuring the results you’re looking for from your destination marketing campaign. But equally important is to look at all the different segments that you’ll be targetting and ask the question: “Do these individual segments work well together?” 

3. Bad Timing

Much like comedy, marketing is all about timing. However, we’re not after hilarious results. The timing of campaigns can be extremely difficult to judge. There are standard awareness days, cultural holidays, religious holidays, political and sporting events that marketers can navigate around, but what about the one-off sudden events? Every campaign should have a contingency plan, bracing themselves for the “what-if” scenarios. Whilst it’s easy enough to pause digital campaigns, outdoor, events and other campaigns can be more challenging, which is why it’s critical to have these “what-if” plans in place. 

4. Bad Taste

Some campaigns are just…. Bad. The challenge that faces travel marketing is a unique one. A destination may be being promoted by an agency in their own country around the globe. The problem with this is that what is seen as funny in some countries is seen as downright distasteful in others. 

5. Cultural Insensitivity

Finally, cultural sensitivity. Much like ads that are in bad taste, cultural sensitivity is critical when trying to attract visitors from certain regions. The long white vales worn by Arab men may seem amusing to you, but in this region, they have both culturally and practical applications. Even small details such as the destain shown by some in this region when the soles of the feet are shown in an advert are something you couldn’t possibly be expected to know unless you’re a regional expert. That’s why we pride ourselves in our 60 years of regional expertise and know that when we deliver campaigns for our clients we are hitting all the right buttons and none of the wrong ones.

Gulf Reps

Gulf Reps is the leading travel and tourism representation company in the Middle East. With over 60 years of regional and industry experience. Gulf Reps has served clients on six continents delivering transformative results to everyone from hoteliers to tourism boards. Our mix of world-class marketing expertise, PR specialists, unparalleled connections and relationships and eclectic mix of marketing channels makes working with Gulf Reps the only sure way to drive Middle Eastern tourists to your destination.