ave you ever felt uncertainty when paying out the overhead costs for print marketing, wondering whether the materials actually bring a return on investment to your destination?
It may feel like print brochures get lost in a world of short, rapid-fire videos and ever-decreasing attention spans. But we’re here to tell you that when it comes to showcasing your destination through beautiful, high-resolution photography, stunning typography, and elegant design, print still matters.
It’s true that digital platforms dominate the marketing sphere, but the tangible nature of print materials – when used strategically – can be one of the hospitality industry’s most valuable assets. Previously, we debunked myths about digital marketing. This time, we’re going to take a look at some of the most common assumptions about print marketing vs. reality.
Myth 1: Print materials are outdated and ineffective
This is simply not true. While digital marketing has gained prominence in the hospitality industry, print materials can still be highly effective. Many customers, regardless of age, connect hotels and resorts with magazines.
They’ve become accustomed to in-room publications with their glossy pages, jaw-dropping photography, and essential guides for amenities and local attractions – so it makes sense that these same customers would be attracted to a brochure, postcard, or flier. Unlike digital media campaigns, which tend to come and go quickly, print brochures provide a tangible, tactile way to connect with customers.
Myth 2: Print materials are too expensive
Especially when compared with the inexpensive digital programmatic campaigns, the price tag for print materials can land them in danger of being cut from the budget. The reality, though, is that the costs for print materials can vary widely depending on factors like quantity, design complexity, and printing techniques. And, as we mentioned earlier, digital marketing is ephemeral. Print materials, even with a larger initial investment, are in it for the long haul. They can be used effectively for several years before requiring an update.
Myth 3: Print materials are not environmentally friendly
A property’s sustainability efforts (or lack thereof) can be a deal-breaker for travelers, and one of the traditional items they may see as waste is print marketing materials. In order to combat this negative perception (and help the planet at the same time), choose recycled paper, use soy-based inks, and work with printers who uphold environmentally responsible values to minimize the environmental impact of your print materials. And, if you choose to go this route, be sure to highlight your eco-friendly efforts, both in the actual print material and on any display stands.
Myth 4: Print materials lack measurability and analytics
It’s true that print materials don’t offer the same real-time analytics as digital marketing, but you can still measure their effectiveness. Tactics like QR codes, unique phone numbers, or custom URLs can help you glean valuable insights by tracking customer responses and monitoring foot traffic post-distribution. (Note: This isn’t a set-it-and-forget-it tactic. It’s important to make sure that your codes and URLs remain live and relevant to the brochure.)
It’s also essential to ask that important question: “Where did you hear about us?” both in your intake forms and in person during site tours. While it may not be fancy or state-of-the-art, it is a tried-and-true way to track engagement for offline materials.
Myth 5: Print materials don’t reach a younger audience
Almost every recent travel study out there says that Gen Z and younger millennials turn heavily to social media and other digital outlets to inform their travel research. But many travelers, regardless of age, are drawn to slick, well-designed brochures filled with gorgeous pictures, inspirational trip ideas, and all the logistical info they need in one place (See Myth No. 1).
Even if younger travelers overlook your brochure in favor of your website, should that be a deal-breaker? Younger travelers only represent a fraction of your overall potential clientele, and marketing isn’t about casting a wide net – it’s about targeted, personalized messages that speak to each audience in their language, on their favorite platforms.
If you take the time to build robust buyer personas, you may discover that your older travelers do make decisions based on print marketing, because it feels familiar to them. Focus more of your print efforts on that audience, and create another, digital approach for younger travelers.
Myth 6: Print materials have a limited reach
Your distribution plan for print materials may look something like this: local businesses, hotels, tourist information centers, and other relevant locations to reach potential customers. But smart marketing in this instance is about finding ways for your brochures to be targeted, intentional, and visible to your potential audience.
Once again, buyer personas come into play here. Understanding your particular customer behaviors – travel habits, interests, amenity preferences, and more – helps you create a smarter strategy. Here’s an example: If you cater largely to business travelers, consider placing print materials (even an entire booth’s worth) at relevant trade shows, industry events, and other areas where many of your customers will be in one place.
If your property is family-friendly, consider print advertising in publications that target the same audience, or a direct mail campaign that speaks directly to a family of travelers in their home.
Myth 7: Print materials are not adaptable
This myth is based on the cost of redesigning and reprinting, but there are ways to cut the overhead and still refresh your print materials. If you have an evergreen print booklet, for example, you can include one small section that’s “seasonal” and update only those pages. Special event flyers can be used as inserts inside of your regular brochures to bring added attention to upcoming activities.
One thing to consider here, especially if money is a factor: Does it cost any more to refresh your print materials than it does to reskin your website? It’s highly recommended to update your digital properties even more often than print, and those costs can add up quickly, too.
Refining old assumptions about print marketing reveals that they still have a valuable role to play in the hospitality marketing industry. While digital marketing remains at the top of most tactical lists, print materials are powerful complements that provide a tactile and memorable way to engage with customers, especially locally. To maximize their effectiveness, it’s crucial to use them strategically and consider factors like design, cost, and environmental impact.