Governor’s Tourism Conference

Oregon’s premier travel event is the Governor’s Tourism Conference. This year it was held in Sunriver, Oregon (about 15 miles south of Bend, Oregon) where the resort did a simply super job with food, accommodations, and hospitality.

My first Oregon Tourism conference was at Sunriver ten years ago and I think I’ve only missed one since then. It was great to catch up with folks I don’t see much since I stopped my internet marketing work with for the Southern Oregon Visitors Association a few years ago.

Although it’s been ten years since the internet became a key travel marketing tool, it’s still remarkable how print advertising remains the key marketing vehicle despite ROI measures that would make any truthful marketeer blush. Print enthusiasts, and even some silly “online marketing experts” have kept alive the myth that print ads lead to more than a trivial amount of web activity. I now attribute this to the fact people simply do not understand how cheap Pay Per Click advertising is as a destination marketing tool. It’s not uncommon for places to spend *several dollars* for a single print ad lead where a similar lead could be obtained online for as little as a nickel. I’d assumed years ago this gap would push people to PPC but as with most human behavior there is a huge level of psychological momentum that prevents them from changing behaviors. This is even true for huge companies like Ford that is *finally* moving to a much bigger online spend after a study showed how cost effective the online advertising has been for Ford.

One of the best presentations was from Golf Digest where even their head of research misconstrued results from a study of print vs online activity in planning golf related travel. He noted comparable numbers for the categories of “used print info” and “used online info” and suggested this meant that print advertising was therefore comparable to online in terms of effectiveness. This is technically true but it seems to me *extremely* misleading in terms of return on investment for advertising which won’t be comparable at all (they did not study this). Online you can target an ad and get *global reach*, all for pennies per click. With magazines you’d have to spend tens of millions *per ad* to get comparable reach on your message. Thus, as a marketer if you are deciding whether to run an ad in Golf Digest or run a comparably prices online campaign it is very likely that in almost all cases the PPC campaign will outperform the print one.