Communicating safety in holiday-branding campaigns positively influences tourists’ intentions to visit say researchers.
Destinations, hotels and resorts would benefit from including explicit safety messaging in their advertising as lockdown lifts and the tourism industry re-open in many countries.
The research paper, which has been published in Annals of Tourism Research, is the first to test safety messages in destination advertising and highlights the fact that whilst it is widely recognised that tourists prefer to visit safe destinations it is rare to see safety messages in promotional materials.
The research reveals that tourists who are risk-averse and also those who are confident in their own decision-making and travel planning were more likely to be influenced by safety messaging.
“Not everyone responds to overt safety messaging: travellers who do not care about risk are less influenced by it, for instance. But destinations once typically regarded as safe may wish to consider this approach in order to woo new clientele.”
“Historically, targeting business travellers has been key to destinations winning back their reputations after a crisis, so safety messages reassuring business audiences within any of the new ‘travel bubbles’ promising quarantine-free travel may be a good place to start.” says Dr Fatima Wang, Lead investigator and Lecturer in Marketing at King’s Business School
The study used an experimental design with data collected in May 2018 from an online panel in the United States using print advertising Two online ads for a city destination were created for the experiment. The first ad showed “Dubrovnik” against a backdrop of the city. The second ad showed “Dubrovnik, the safe city” instead. One or the other ad appeared randomly for a few seconds to online respondents. Those who had visited the city before were screened out. A comparison of the responses showed a significantly stronger visit intention for the ad containing the safety messaging.