Creating A Destination After Media Exposure
Talk about eyeballs. An estimated 4.7 billion people will be watching the London 2012 Olympics on one kind of screen or another. That’s almost 10 billion eyeballs – enough to give anyone a headache just thinking about it.
While the Games themselves take only two weeks, travel sellers have opportunity to maximize that exposure in myriad ways. For those who actually sell London and the UK, it’s an incredible occasion to push promotions and packages to clients over the next year or more. Cities that have enjoyed successful Olympics in the past have always been able to capitalize on that pretty much permanently.
Salt Lake City, which recently celebrated 10 years since its 2002 Winter Olympics, continues to reap the benefits. In fact, the city held several events to mark that anniversary because it was such a positive event for the city and to maintain its image as an Olympics venue. As the saying goes, “Once an Olympic city, always an Olympic city.”
However, the Olympics are only an extreme example of how media exposure can enhance or even create tourism appeal for a destination. It’s not news to anyone that travelers will visit the site of a book (Anne of Green Gables has driven millions to Prince Edward Island in Canada); movie (“Stars Wars” locations in Tunisia and many, many more); and television (“Seinfeld” and countless others.) However, it’s always good to keep it in mind and to keep it fresh because there are also new events and new shows.
For travel sellers, pop culture and sports (Pop Culture Tourism even has an entry in Wikipedia) present a potential bonanza because they represent millions of dollars of free exposure. Of course, piggybacking on a sports event or pop culture phenomenon is not a slam dunk. It involves determining whether there is a market for the particular destination. Then it means finding potential travelers and putting together a program that makes it appealing.
Prince Edward Island is a lovely place, but travelers have to be convinced that there is enough going on otherwise to make it worth traveling hundreds or thousands of miles (for some reason, the Japanese are fierce fans of the book and many make the marathon trek to the Canadian Maritimes.)
The Olympics should serve as a reminder of the awesome power of a mass event or spectacle. People simply love to visit a place they saw on television. I’m afraid I have not read Hunger Games or 50 Shades of Grey (not even sure if there are geographical locations involved here) but I’m positive some travel marketers out there are already investigating the possibilities.
Ten billion eyeballs may be the peak – but even a few million can translate into a solid tourism destination.