Not just a river in Egypt.

It’s as close to a religious experience as I get. On any given Sunday, you’ll find me—no matter where I am in the world—in a Starbuck’s or the like, drinking a quad-espresso and reading the Sunday newspaper. Lately, I can’t help but notice that my paper continues to get thinner, and as I look around the coffee shop, I see fewer and fewer people with ink on their fingers. Instead I see most everyone staring down at their smart phones and tablets, usually with their ear buds firmly implanted.

Clearly, the death march for traditional print media continues, and new technology is beating the drums.

The newspaper industry is desperately trying to stay afloat as consumers have shifted their consumption habits from print to online. In 2011, according to Newspaper Association of America statistics, online advertising was up $207 million industry-wide compared to 2010. Print advertising, on the other hand, was down $2.1 billion—yes, that’s billion with a “b.” This sadly means the print losses were greater than the digital gains by ten to one. The competition from the web is causing newspapers to shift to an online business model, though not as quickly and profitably as they would like, and discontinue their print editions, lay off staff, and in some cases, close entirely.

Magazines are thinning too. Over the past five years, ad pages among high-end travel magazines such as Condé Nast Traveler fell by nearly half, from 1,672 to 973, while Travel+Leisure slipped 36.2% from 1,797 to 1,146, according to Media Daily News. In fact, we’ve seen Condé Nast close a number of well-known travel friendly titles over the past several years including Gourmet, Modern Bride, and Elegant Bride. Even my friends at Bonnier Corporation closed Spa magazine earlier this year.

In contrast, new media continues to evolve and expand. This is why both newspapers and magazines are trying to catch the consumer’s wave of excitement for their smart phones and tablets with new apps and online editions. But monetizing the opportunities presented by these devices may prove to be a real challenge for traditional media companies trying to catch the curve. Many may find that they’ve entered the game too late, with not nearly enough expertise, creativity or commitment.

All of this has made media planning for 2013 a real challenge for hotel marketers.

Even in the new media space, we may find advertising far less effective than we’d like—Google “General Motors pulls Facebook advertising”—as consumers today are far more interested in what their friends and family have to say, far more interested in joining a conversation, than having our marketing messages pushed at them.

For this reason alone, marketing continues to change dramatically, and pose real challenges to those in the hotel industry uninterested in keeping up. They still don’t understand that we’re no longer in control. Thanks to social media and online review sites, the consumer is fully in control of our hotel and resort’s branding, marketing messages, and perceived value.

The “old world” thinkers in our industry are holding on to the traditional with white knuckles, deeply wading in the waters of denial—I know, it was a long way to go to make the article’s headline work, but what do you expect from this Egyptian/American marketing guy?

Today, as I pore over The New York Times Sunday Travel section, I can’t help but wonder if the people responsible for media planning at the Puerto Rico Tourism Company aren’t asking themselves why they’re one of only two display ads in the section—not including the customary back page ad for Liberty Travel—and the only destination advertiser. Of all the destinations around the globe vying for the coveted Northeastern U.S. market, why is Puerto Rico the only destination advertiser in The New York Times this Sunday? Hmmm.

As you begin media planning for 2013, please think “new world,” and come here to pose a question, share a comment, or offer a suggestion.

This entry was posted on Sunday, September 2nd, 2012 at 11:54 am and is filed under Advice, Opinions, Strategy . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

6 Responses to “Not just a river in Egypt”

  1. Tom McCallum says:

    Hi John,

    Great to see you blogging, and, in particular, challenging people to “think different”. I fondly remember our many “outside the box” conversations around marketing and the shift to new channels, new media etc.

    Though I am now no longer working in the travel space (still feels a bit odd, after so many years!), my new career as a Shirlaws Business Coach sees me observing behavioural similarities to so many people who do work in marketing, advertising etc.

    In short, human beings are, commonly, driven by their fears. There are so many fears around changing what we do, as you have outlined above and in other writings.

    One thought from me today, then.

    Life begins… outside your comfort zone.

    • John Fareed says:

      Thanks Tom. Greatly appreciate you for taking the time to read and comment. Love your thought… “Life begins… outside your comfort zone.”

  2. Hi John
    Great piece – hope the uninterested hotel reads it!

    • John Fareed says:

      Thank you for taking the time to read and comment Loreto. I’ll be speaking at the Barbados Hotel & Tourism Association’s Quarterly Meeting later this month. Hope to see you there!

  3. Pamela Hiles says:

    My only comment as a publisher is you noticed the Puerto Rico ad did you not?

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