Promotional Events: Advertising, Publicity and Selling


Promotional Events:  Advertising, Publicity and Selling

You have learnt that promotion is an element of the marketing mix. All communication from the marketer to the environment regarding the marketing organization or regarding the product is a promotional activity. 

The purpose of promotion is to create awareness and then make the environment favorably inclined to the organization.

Only when the environment is favorably inclined to the organization, will:

• Customers buy its products,

• Employees prefer to work for it,

• Suppliers be happy to provide raw materials, and

• Financiers offer finance for capital and operations


Promotional Events

In promotion, an organization, is talking about itself and its products (whether goods or services). Promotion however is not the same as propaganda. In propaganda, there is a connotation of falsehood, trying to misinform. Promotion, however, as a marketing activity is based on respects for the customers and does not seek to misinform. Any misinformation in promotion is considered unethical and with the growing consumer protection awareness campaigns can lead to legal action also.

Promotion refers to the set of activities that communicate about the product to the prospective and existing customers. Promotion aims to:

• Inform prospective customers about product or producer,

• Inform existing customers about changes in products,

• Generate interest in the offer,

• Persuade prospective customers to try the product (first purchase), and

• Persuade existing customers to continue the use of product (repeat purchase)

If A is the total market, B is the portion that is aware of the product, C is portion that has tried the product and D is the portion that has tried and is satisfied, promotion tires to improve the ratios B/A, CB and D/C.

There are also various ways to communicate:

1. Advertisement

2. Publicity,

3. Public Relations (PR),

4. Personal Selling, and

5. Sales Promotion

The products in tourism, they are many and are offered by different organizations.

These may not connect to each other except through the common customer i.e. the tourist. Each of these organizations may do its own promotion or some may join together.

The promotion may be of a:

• Country as a whole,

• Specific destinations and locations,

• Specific activities or services,

• Tour packages

• Accommodation/food etc

The main decisions to make in promotion planning are:

1.     Objectives of promotion,

2.     Choice of mix,

3.     Selection of media,

4.     Formulating the messages, and

5. Timing and intensity of the campaign.



Events take place in normal course or are organized specially to highlight some of the unique aspects of a country, area or people. These events could be of interest to people outside the country or area. Such events could attract tourists if they become aware of them and can become promotional events.

1. Advertising

Advertisements are paid non-personal forms of presentation. Messages are presented through media viz. newspapers, magazines, journals, radio, television, posters, hoardings, cinema slide, yellow pages, stickers, exhibitions, stalls, direct mail, giveaways etc.


• Reach homes, (T. V. Press) or are stationary (Hoardings):

• Are transitory (T. V. Radios) or could be referred back (Magazines)

Advertisements arouse curiosity and interest. They improve receptivity, but rarely lead to purchases without further promotional efforts.

The decisions to be taken regarding advertisements are:

a. What is the objective?

b. What is the target audience?

c. Over what period should the campaign last?

d. Scope i.e. National, regional, International.

e. Whether separate ads for different regions or audience segments?

f. Media to be used, copy, theme and images

g. What is the best timing and frequency?

h. Cost effectiveness.

While preparing message the following guidelines may be kept in mind by you:

• Give clear unambiguous messages

• Convey range, depth, quality and level of service

• Emphasis benefits, not technical details. Only promise what can be delivered.

• Develop continuity through symbols, image, format, theme, etc.

Messages should emphasis the key benefits that the target market must perceive and will value. Messages must be credible, likeable, and attractive. Appeals may evoke sense of pleasantness, moods, luxury, distinctiveness, fantasy.

Advertising techniques may have:

• Domination - having big impact,

• Concentration - one clear appeal, and

• Repetition - impact through repletion

A tourism destination has a visual appeal. Colour, movement and sound that may convey the atmosphere add to effectiveness. If any special event is to be advocated, it has to be done sufficiently early keeping in mind that decisions to ravel are not taken in a hurry. There is a certain gestation period of decisions, planning and buying in tourism. For example if one wants to go to the hills in summer the selection of the destination, planning and booking have to be done much earlier, may be in February or March.

In case of international tourism, tour packages are offered even a year or two in advance. The target audience can be determined taking into account tourist segments by place or origin and flows. If the intentions are to generate tourist flow from new territories or flow from other destinations, perhaps intensive campaigns may be necessary.

Preparing an ad copy is a highly specialized task, needing visualizing and creativity.

The advertisers will have to work in close consultation with the copy writer, feeding him with ideas to be translated into works and visuals to produce the commercial impact.

2. Publicity

Publicity is unpaid for communication, usually impersonal and appearing to emanate from source other than the marketer. Publicity takes place when media, on subtle persuasion or otherwise, carries an article or news items about the marketer or the good/services offered. Publicity is more credible than advertisements when it is seen as originating from the medium or some other person, not the marketer.

Kinds of Publicity in Media

The tolls of publicity are:

• Press releases

• Press conferences

• Conducted visits (familiarsing/FAM trips)

• Presentations

• Informal briefings 

• Sponsored articles

In the case of a hotel/resort, news may relate to the facilities and conveniences in the property; events like marriages, seminars, exhibitions, inaugurals or sports that may take place in the property and important persons who may visit the property.

Publicity will be carried by the media if the activities and messages are:

• Interesting,

• Timely,

• Accurate, and

• Newsworthy

Sponsoring is excellent publicity. A leading hotel group (Sheraton hotel & Towers etc) might sponsor a cricket match or a TV serial and gain publicity. International tourism promotion depends heavily on Publicity. A new airline route is an occasion for publicity. So is a report in the news paper regarding an event of package? For example "Argungu Fishing Festival" is being remodeled. This was news in the news papers. The impact was much more than any advertisement could have. This news was carried also by the T. V. the details and the descriptions create image of a unique experience and tourists thinking of going to Nigeria would "desire" to savor the same.

Malaysia is planning to welcome 20million tourists by the year 2000. They expect seven million tourists in 1994, which is being promoted as the Visit Malaysia Year (VMY). As part of this promotion, Indian newspapers carried special supplements with articles, advertisement, interviews and photographs. The entire space in the supplement may have been paid for in which case it is strictly "advertisement". Yet the matter will be gone through as if there is news, the format of presentation being the same as the editorial pages of the publication.


Kind of Publicity in Oral

Word of mouth publicity is very effective. It is said that sources of information are credible according to a hierarchy. In descending order of credibility are:

• Intimate family,

• Personal friends,

• Professional colleagues,

• Retailer's representatives and

• Producer's representatives.

Word of mouth is more effective than advertisements, an endorsement by one who has used the services more reliability and impact than an advertisement. You ask about the destination from your friends and tell them the one you have "experienced. In most cases, you search for a person who has experienced the services to seek information like where did you stay? Was the stay comfortable? Or how was the bed tea?

Therefore, it is a good strategy to encourage customers to talk of satisfaction. Develop materials that customers can pass on. Cultivate opinion leaders and emphasize on conveniences. Any customer who perceives special value, not commonly available elsewhere, is a potential medium for word of mouth publicity.

Contacts with customers can be maintained through:

• Bulletins, mentioning new facilities or up-gradate ion of existing ones,

• Greetings, gifts or souvenirs, and

• Invitation to revisit offering special items/services.

In the case of tourism, the travel agencies, hoteliers, airlines etc. are part of the services and also part of the promotion.

The personnel in these organizations provide service. They are also depended upon by tourists for information and advice. They are a useful `word of mouth' media. Such personnel may be taken to the facilities and destinations and made to experience the services and attractions. Word of mouth publicity happens when people talk about satisfying experiences. Satisfaction is the difference between actual experience and

the expectation prior to the experience. Robert Galvin, Chairman of the Executive Committee of Motorola Inc. says that there are four levels of acceptable service-`Good', 'Very good', 'Near Perfect', and `WOW'. John Humble, the management consultant from the UK, uses the word `Delight' for 'WOW. Both WOW and Delight occurs when the experience is far beyond all expectations. That is a level which is least forgotten. It is always talked about.

When actual experience falls short of expectation, there is dissatisfaction. This is also noticed and remembered. When actual experience matches expectation, there is neither dissatisfaction nor satisfaction. When actual experience exceeds expectation, there is significant satisfaction, but may not be strong enough to be noticed and remembered. But the satisfaction becomes a WOW or Delight, when the actual experience exceeds by a wide margin. Only a WOW experience is remembered positively.

One expects courtesy and attention in a hotel. If it is missing there is dissatisfaction. But there is no significant satisfaction when courtesy is noticed. If the manager of the hotel calls you up as soon as you enter your room and ask how you are-that is beyond expectation. That may be remembered but still not a WOW, but if that evening, the band plays a birthday song because it is your birthday that is WOW.

To be told that one does not have a reservation (in a hotel or airlines) is bad, to be welcomed as if they are waiting for you, instead of next is good. To be received as soon as you reach the lobby with your favorite drink may be a WOW. To be left hanging on the telephone, without knowing whether the person you are calling for is available or not, is bad. To be told that the particular person is not available and that you could leave a message is better. When the M. D. of a company gives you his personal number and tells his secretary to give your calls top priority it is good. To be handed over a new book in library because the librarian knows your taste is WOW.

3. Public Relations

Public Relation (PR) is the deliberate, planned and sustained efforts to establish and maintain mutually beneficial relationships between an organization and public. It comes from recognition that without the active support from the public, the organization will have difficulty to carry on and grow. Shareholders, suppliers, customers, agents, employees-all have stakes in an organization. In the case of tourism, the trade and commerce within the vicinity of the destination and the local people also have a stake. The environments are affected by the influx of tourists. Tourists being visitors from a different culture and society (even if within Nigeria) may be accustomed to behaviors different from the locals. There could be a fear that the younger generation may be `spoilt' by mixing with tourists. The increased activity accompanying tourists' growth may bring in undesirable persons, thus affecting the sense of security. If the local people start reacting to these 'encroachments' into their ways, their behavior may significantly affect the pleasure of the tourists. PR is essential to ensure that the relationships are conducive to the growth of tourism.

Better understanding between tourists and the hosts/residents at and around the destination can make them feel favorably inclined to each other. This can be possible through contracts and interaction. It is part of PR activity to make such contracts contribute towards a better understanding. The contracts become more useful if expectations of both are known and each is aware of the do's and don'ts.

The tools of Public Relation are the same as for publicity plus:

• Journals/Newsletters,

• Sponsored visits,

• Sponsorship of activities,

• Special drives, and

• Interest group meetings, etc.

PR efforts are aimed at key personnel and seek to shift the people towards:

• Sympathy from Hostility,

• Acceptance from Prejudice,

• Interest from Apathy, and

• Knowledge from Ignorance.

PR efforts have to be credible but they are difficult to evaluate for effectiveness. PR is the business of everybody in the organization. The top management may lay down the policy. But what others in the organization do also conveys messages to the public. This affects their relationship with the organization. Training and education of staff at all levels on how to deal with customers/people-with courtesy and consideration-has to be a part of the PR effort. As a tourist professional you have to be extremely cautious of this aspect. Leading organizations have PR departments and many others have at least a PR Officer. But many tend to ignore this. .This may have adverse effects in the long term or may be in the short term itself.

4. Personal Selling

Personal selling is a part of promotion. Advertisements and other non-personal communication are not adequate to persuade customers to make choices. The information required to make choices are more than those available at awareness levels. The gap can be reduced via personal interaction. Even then the quality of service and integrity of producers are difficult to know.

Sales person's Duties

Salespersons (boy or girl) have to call on people to sell. Ideally a sales person has to:

• Find prospects: that is, get names of people who are likely to buy.

• Qualify the prospects, finding enough data on th e prospect to decide whether there is need and capacity to buy.

• Approach the qualified prospect by fixing up appointments for presentation.

• Make the presentation during which the salesman will explain what the product can do to the prospect and get him sufficiently interested to try the product.

• Close the sale, that is, make the customer buy.

• Provide after sales service that is to ensure th at the experience with the product is the same or better than what was promised during sale and the customer has no complaints.

A service, being intangible, presents a lot of uncertainties to the prospect. The salesman/girl of a service, if perceived as non-professional, or not credible, increases those uncertainties, they should be seen as reliable, friendly and meaning well. They should emphasize conveniences but not ignore to mention precautions necessary in usage. Effective salespersons understand and empathizes with the customers and are more acceptable to the customers. They also demand services from the organization on behalf of their customers.

Other Purposes of Sales person

In practice, all sales calls are not for affecting sales. The other purposes served through such calls are:

• Data collection and updating prospects list,

• As a PR effort, to tell about new products and achievements of the organization,

• As a service to check on customer's experience and satisfaction levels with what they have bought, leading to feedback for product development, and

• Intensive sale campaigns in specific areas from time to time.

A salesperson must be sensitive to the reality of the situation they are in at any particular time and adjust their normal styles and presentations accordingly. Or else they might be embarrassed. For example, if the salesman of a vacuum cleaner, who , to demonstrate the effectiveness of his product, scattered a lot of rubbish on the costly carpet in the prospect's living room, later found that there would be no electricity for the next four hours.

Generally (subject to exceptions always) people like to:

• Think for themselves and understand the product at their pace. They do not like to be hustled.

• Have second opinions and look at options before buying, particularly if the commitment is heavy. In services the commitment is usually irreversible.

• Be respected for their views. Experienced salesp ersons do not contradict or deny directly the prospect's statements. They avoid an argument. They agree with a `yes' and then express an alternative view with a 'but'.

While buying goods, the buyer takes home what he has bought and uses it there. A post sales call is necessary to know the experience. In the service business, the production and consumption occur simultaneously as an interaction between the consumer and the representative of the producer. This representative is usually not the salesperson. In the case of many services, the feedback can be had during the service transaction itself, examples being cinema, entertainment, beauty clinic, laundry etc. in many other services the feedback is delayed. Examples of this are medical treatment or repair services. In the case of insurance the service is delivered (at the time of claims) long after the purchase is made. During the intervening period, nothing should happen to nullify the arrangement made. Ensuring all this is post sales service.

Tourist destinations are sold personally to intending travelers by travel agents, hoteliers, cruise operators and other intermediaries. Post sales calls help to check whether experience was consistent with expectations and promises. Such feedback obtained during post sales calls helps improve the tourism product and eliminate dissatisfying elements.

5. Merchandising

Activities that take place within the unit are called Merchandising. The objectives of Merchandising are to make customers within the premises:

• Aware of facilities or offers available,

• Want to avail of those facilities or offers on impulse, and

• Have a memorable experience.

Merchandising relies on displays of materials and skills. Utilization of facilities within a hotel by resident guests can be improved through Merchandising. A provider of tourism services has considerable opportunity for Merchandising, i.e. to make the customer who is in contract buy additional services which he may not have originally planned to buy. May be he did not know of the availability of the services or did not know enough to evaluate its true worth. If the additional service on offer is unique and exclusive to that location, the additional costs would seem to be negligible compared to the opportunity-he may not visit the place, at least for quite some time.

If Merchandising is done before the tour commences, the tourist will be ready for it. Otherwise, depending on the availability of money and time resources, there could be disappointment.

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