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Sucked in by the tourism marketing machine

It’s not easy being 100% Pure – but don’t give up, NZ
* Taking a hike – why walking tourism is such a big deal

I wish. Truth is I’m battling a howling gale down The Terrace in Wellington. 

Each little speck of sand, glamorous hotel, sailboat, lodge or shopping spree is slowly chipping away at my resolve to be content in Aotearoa.

The warmth of a New Zealand summer seems far away, making us susceptible to friends' travel stories and flights to ...

DOMINICO ZAPATA/STUFF

The warmth of a New Zealand summer seems far away, making us susceptible to friends’ travel stories and flights to far-away places.

A shared experience of a walk to base camp on Everest or a canal cruise has me automatically adding that to the bucket list in my head.  

That bucket list will eventually kick into action when an airline drops a special deal into my inbox. Next minute, I’m on a flight to Delhi because Fred once told me about camping by the Ganges.  

The tourism industry knows the emotional pull of FOMO (fear of missing out) and is exploiting my friends to its advantage. 

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It picks up and pushes out these stories simply by encouraging the use of hashtags so it can aggregate the information or by creating sites for happy travellers to tell their story.

I’ve recently been absorbed in Airbnb’s customer stories platform – “Stories from the Airbnb Community”.

Great tales come out of a business that brings strangers together through shared accommodation but, rather than describing it themselves, Airbnb harnesses customer stories which make fascinating reading whether you’re planning to travel or not. 

So yes, the tourism industry has got it easy – because no other industry has the capacity to create fabulous stories and inspire people to tell them like the holiday market.

Cas Carter: ''We're all really pawns in the game of tourism marketing.''

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Cas Carter: ”We’re all really pawns in the game of tourism marketing.”

It’s even tricked people into telling half-truths.  

I mentioned to a friend what a great holiday it looked like she’d had based on her posts and she said, “Hell no, we both got food poisoning, Hubby twisted his ankle and then I got a weird rash”.  For some reason, we only want to tell the good on social media.

But friends can be great when it comes to planning. If they’ve already had a successful holiday, why not just steal the itinerary?  On my last holiday I took a friend’s schedule and blatantly copied it.  

I will of course, return the favour to the next person heading to the same destination and so it goes on – word-of-mouth marketing magic. 

The old adage, “A picture tells 1000 stories,” couldn’t be truer when it comes to holiday marketing.  The average person processes images 60,000 times faster than text.

Photo-sharing platform Instagram is the king of story-telling through pictures.  The images not only influence destinations but holiday spots are now being chosen based on their photo opportunities. 

Recent research of millennials shows more than 40 per cent prioritise “Instagrammability” when choosing their next destination.

So, we’re all really pawns in the game of tourism marketing. But just keep one thing in mind.   

When those so-called friends are smiling at the camera, they may also be suffering from Delhi belly or had their wallet stolen.  They’re just too busy working in cahoots with the tourism industry to tell you.   

 – Stuff

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