chapter  6
33 Pages

Advertising, public relations and crisis management

ByKathryn LaTour

Those in the hospitality and tourism industry can relate to the differences between the Himalayas and Catskills. What the industry is just beginning to embrace is how advertising and public relations (PR) can be used to change customers’ image of a destination, hotel, restaurant, or tourist attraction and that having a cohesive strategy can make or break a communication attempt. The category within the tourism industry that perhaps best under-

stands the importance of advertising is the airline business. For instance, in 2005, despite the fact that both Delta and Northwest Airlines filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy, neither indicated having any plans to cut their advertising budget. In fact, the day after filing, Delta took out a full-page ad in USA Today costing roughly $94,000 before discounts, and Northwest Airlines sent its frequent-flier customers an e-mail assuring them it would continue operating as normal during the bankruptcy proceedings. When United went into bankruptcy protection in 2003, its advertising budget actually increased 17.5% from the year before (Thomaselli, 2005). But not all sectors in the hospitality and tourism industry have

embraced the use of advertising (Michael, 2002), and fewer still have successfully incorporated PR into their promotional mix; many cite budgetary constraints as the rationale for their skimpy allocations for advertising (and PR). As the airline example suggests, however, as industries become more competitive, it may be more costly for the organization to not advertise. Industry trends indicate more and more sectors of hospitality and tourism are realizing the benefits of such promotional efforts, with travel sites like Travelocity, Expedia, Priceline, and Orbitz developing advertising campaigns. The cruise industry has also recognized the importance of advertising to differentiate its product offerings (Case, 2006). The academic literature in the area of advertising and PR as it relates

to the hospitality industry has been rather sparse. In 2004, Oh, Kim and Shin conducted a review of the articles published during 2002-2003 in the top four hospitality and top four tourism journals and found only three articles on advertising in hospitality journals and one in a tourism journal. There were two articles on PR (both on crisis management) in hospitality journals and three on PR/crisis management in tourism journals. This author employed the same coding scheme for articles appearing in the same journals between the years 2004-2006 and found low article appearances (one) on advertising in hospitality journals , but more interest in the tourism journals with a total of eight advertisingrelated articles. The trend of publishing more on crisis management was apparent – there was a special issue of Journal of Hospitality and

• • •

Leisure Marketing on crisis management, leading to seven articles in the hospitality area, and two special issues of Journal of Travel and Tourism Marketing leading to a total of 22 articles in the tourism journals. This trend toward more coverage of response during crises follows the more traditional way people tend to view PR, where PR is employed to help a destination or organization restore its image. This is a reactive PR strategy, and both researchers and practitioners find that in order to react well, a firm needs to have a continuous proactive PR strategy in place. Proactive PR is offensively rather than defensively focused. PR departments can help shape a hospitality company’s overall image and presence and should be involved in day-to-day operations. It is noteworthy that while the trend was toward more coverage of PR overall in the last three years, only one hospitality article discussed the more proactive form of PR. Researchers frommany disciplines including psychology, marketing,

and communication studies have examined advertising and PR and how these relates to their areas of expertise. The advertising field has also developed two of its own journals – in 1960 introducing the Journal of Advertising Research to respond to more practitioner-related concerns and in 1971 developing the Journal of Advertising to build on theoretical issues. The PR area has not been as developed, with most of the top research appearing in more general marketing and communication journals, though PR also has a specialty journal. Thus far, the hospitality and tourism literature has generally built

off the findings from these other disciplines and, to greatly simplify things, the main thrust has been to understand advertising’s potential to drive tourism/hospitality choice and the role advertising plays with experiential consumption overall. As mentioned, PR has mainly been discussed in terms of crisis resolution. The hospitality and tourism literature therefore has not generally been designed to offer insights into how advertising and PR ‘work,’ but rather to more specifically address issues related to applied problems within their domain of interest. Therefore, the goal of this chapter is to introduce the major issues found in advertising and PR research and highlight the top hospitality research which addresses the more specific concerns. When appropriate, industry examples and academic research from hospitality and tourism are cited. The intent of this chapter is to review and put into context the 60-or-

so-year old body of research on how advertising works. Some of the terms used throughout this chapter appear in Box 6.1. The traditional model of how advertising or communication was thought to work (AIDA – i.e., awareness, interest, desire, and action) and some newer ways of thinking about communications’ influence on the customers’ experience at a more subconscious level are discussed. An alternative model – Experience Framing – is introduced, which might be more appropriate for considering the impact of advertising on experience.