Advertising in an economic downturn could be a boon for local tourism brands

By the BlackDog Research team

Tour Marketing

Image created using generative AI

Economic downturns significantly impact most industries, and one sector that is particularly vulnerable is tourism. Cities and attractions that rely on tourism as a major source of revenue can face significant uncertainty during times of economic downturn. Fewer people tend to travel and spend money as economic anxiety rises, and as a result, the tourism industry often experiences decreased demand and revenue — which can lead to challenges for businesses that depend on tourists for their survival.

Despite these challenges, it is important for tourism businesses to focus on tourism marketing and continue advertising in an economic downturn, as this can help maintain brand visibility and keep potential visitors engaged. BlackDog Advertising helps growth-oriented brands attract more guests and increase bookings by maintaining visibility and engaging potential visitors with an “always-on” approach.

Tourism brands that spend often enjoy long-term success

Cutting costs is a common reaction to economic downturns. However, opting to spend smarter when it comes to tourism marketing and attraction marketing is often the optimal choice for tourism brands considering advertising in an economic downturn. BlackDog Advertising believes that every tourism marketing and attraction marketing opportunity missed is a missed opportunity to reach guests before the competition, attract visitors, and increase bookings. Here are the top five reasons why BlackDog Advertising recommends advertising in an economic downturn.

1. Building for the Future: While it may be tempting to cut back on tourism marketing and attraction marketing in an economic downturn, it’s important to remember that economic downturns are often temporary. By continuing to advertise, brands can maintain their position in the market and potentially set themselves up for long-term success. For example, during the 2008 financial crisis, Amazon increased its advertising spend by 10% and emerged as one of the strongest retailers in the following years.

2. Staying Ahead of the Competition: In an economic downturn, some businesses may choose to cut back on attraction marketing, which can create an opportunity for local tourism brands and attractions to stand out from the competition. By continuing your tourism marketing, your business can demonstrate a commitment to the brand and potentially gain market share while others are scaling back.

3. Maintaining Brand Visibility: In the competitive travel and tourism industry, being out of sight can mean being out of mind for potential visitors. BlackDog Advertising has found that by advertising in an economic downturn local tourism brands and attractions can stay top of mind and maintain their brand presence. For instance, during the COVID-19 pandemic, the tourism board of Aruba continued to promote its destination through various marketing campaigns and social media strategies. As a result, Aruba maintained its brand visibility and attracted visitors when travel restrictions eased.

4. Connecting With New Potential Customers: Even when times are tough, some folks still want to get away and have fun. So, it’s important for local tourism brands to keep advertising and catching the eye of these potential customers. Who knows? You might just convince them to pack their bags and take a trip to your destination. Plus, there are probably lots of people out there who haven’t even thought about visiting a certain place yet. By advertising in an economic downturn, tourism brands can introduce their destination to these folks and get them excited about exploring somewhere new.

5. Make Your Destination a “Staycation”: When the economy’s shaky, many people choose to stay put instead of jetting off to far-flung locales. But if you keep up your tourism marketing, you can still snag those potential visitors who want to do something fun in their own neck of the woods. Take the UK, for instance: During the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, loads of local tourism businesses saw more foot traffic from people opting for staycations.

Adopt an always-on approach to attraction marketing

The phrase “Always Be Closing” is more than just an oft-repeated pop culture adage. It’s a mindset BlackDog Advertising believes every brand should hold in their tourism marketing because the majority of your bookings are won (or lost) online. If you’re not reaching new people, you’re missing opportunities to collect data, build brand trust and inspire potential visitors to set money aside to experience what you have to offer. Ultimately, that makes cutting advertising in an economic downturn because you’re fearful of lost sales a self-fulfilling prophecy. That said, we’d never suggest taking on unnecessary risks or expenses. As always, BlackDog Advertising suggests having a plan designed to maximize your opportunities to connect with people and convert sales.

Here are a few things to keep in mind before you consider turning down your tourism marketing in an uncertain economy:

  • Figure out what percentage of visitors are coming to your attraction. If things do get worse, how much of a drop in visitors can you handle?
  • Don’t stop your attraction marketing efforts! People are still out there traveling, and you want to make sure they know about the experiences you have to offer. Be the first brand they think of when there’s fun to be had!
  • Consider using digital self-placement platforms for your ads. They offer more flexibility than long-term contracts and can help you adjust your marketing as needed.
  • Keep an eye on how your ads are performing. You want to make sure you’re getting the most bang for your buck and getting the most out of your cash.

Keep calm and market on: You'll enjoy the rewards!

The tourism industry is one of the hardest hit during an economic downturn, but BlackDog Advertising believes that growth-oriented tourism brands should keep their attraction marketing efforts going. So, don’t let the fear of lost sales hold you back. Adopting an always-on approach to attraction marketing keeps current potential visitors engaged with your brand.

The worst thing that can happen during an economic downturn is missed opportunities causing you to become a forgotten brand. BlackDog Advertising specializes in helping brands reach potential visitors before the competition and in building out a brand strategy using first-person data to craft communications and increase sales. Stay flexible, adjust your marketing and always stay on.

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