The Super Bowl has also become the advertisers’ Super Bowl. The large corporate ad agencies compete against the best in their business for the highest stakes in their game. Millions of dollars are spent on producing a single, 30 second (or less) ad hoping to capture the viewers’ attention. Their goal is creating an image and delivering a message. What is interesting is that the goal is exactly the same for a Super Bowl advertiser as it is for the local plumber who places an ad in the phone book.
Both the Madison Avenue agency and the plumber share the same agonizing thoughts: “In a crowded and noisy ad environment, will my ad be seen? Will it capture and hold the viewer long enough to get my message across? Will it make a memorable impression? Will it motivate the viewer? Will it sell my product?” And it all starts with an image.
In the business of marketing a vacation destination like Durango, all the same basic advertising rules apply. We’ve all heard the saying, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” Most tourism advertising maximizes the use of images that are selected to appeal to a desired target audience. What’s more fun than looking at images of dozens of Mexico beach resorts searching for the perfect palm tree or pool bar and imagining yourself in the picture?
Traditional vacation marketing tools such as travel planners, printed brochures, and promotional videos all utilize images to attract initial consumer interest. Only images can quickly convey the character, personality and features of the destination while the consumer can quickly decide if that destination deserves closer consideration. Notice that the operative word is “quickly.” Whether it’s the Super Bowl or the plumber, “We only get one (quick) chance to make a good first impression.”
Newer marketing technologies also rely heavily on images. Tourism websites are richly populated with photos, live camera shots, and streaming videos while social media tools like Instagram can post thousands of images for travel shoppers to see.
Today, everyone has camera in their hand. The tourism customer is now fully empowered with online communication access to post vacation photos, blog about their travel experiences, or upload customer-service reviews. Obviously, having the actual tourist as your 24/7 marketing partner can be good news or bad news. As consumers, we’ve become increasingly more interested in, and dependent upon, what others have to say about a destination or a product.
The bottom line: Images are important, and they matter. In less than a visual second, consumers may decide to look further into what a Durango vacation has to offer, or move on to the next destination. Images may be professionally taken and selected by an ad agency, or taken by the owner of the river raft company, restaurant, or camp ground. In any case, images are who we are.
firstname.lastname@example.org. Bob Kunkel is executive director of the Durango Area Tourism Office.