The Rise of European Tourism

The Normalization of Terrorism

By Leora Halpern Lanz President, LHL Communications | July 30, 2017

Co-authored by Eli Karakachian, Marketing Co-ordinator, LHL Communications

Have we become immune to the terrorism around us? Travel. It is a privilege for all of us. Some may say it is a right for all of us as human beings. Travel is the way to connect and learn from each other -- the manner to promote tolerance and understanding. The activity from which we all grow and evolve as citizens of the world. And yet, the last 16 years of world terror have shaped and quite literally directed how many of us travel.

A 21st Century of Terror in Travel

September 11, 2001 - the date which most significantly affected the travel and hospitality sectors in the 21st century and which changed the game for how travel is conducted, managed and impacted globally. "911" ignited a magnitude of shock and panic permeated not only in the United States but also around the world. With an initial sharp decrease in travelers, specifically to New York City and Washington DC, the World Tourism Organization (WTO) noted that the last four months of 2001 experienced an 11% drop of travelers worldwide (Hospitality-On 11/2015). This plunge was particularly strong in the Americas (-24%) and the Middle East (-30%). New industry cycles for U.S. hotel occupancies and average rates were launched in 2001, taking years for revenues to stabilize back to pre-911 levels.

Just a short year after 911, the tourist district of Kuta on the Indonesian island of Bali was struck by three terrorist bombs, two hitting popular nightclubs and one detonating outside the United States consulate. Evidence indicated that the attack was retaliation from Osama bin Laden for the United States' 'War on Terror' and Australia's part in the liberation of East Timor. Once again, these bombings affected the travel, tourism and hospitality sectors with a 31% decline in travelers to Indonesia and a near 50% drop for tourism in Bali during the month of the attack, as later reported in The Guardian (December 2005).

Terror struck Madrid in 2004. Three days before Spain's general elections, an Al-Qaeda inspired terrorist group bombed four trains in Madrid, ultimately killing 192 and injuring more than 2,000 people. These bombings were considered the deadliest terror attack in the country's history, and in Europe since the Lockerbie bombing of 1988 (Washington Post 12/2016). This time, however, unlike the incidents in the United States and Indonesia, the tourism industry barely felt negative repercussions or drops in tourist travel to Spain or in Europe.

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Sales & Marketing: Selling Experiences

There are innumerable strategies that Hotel Sales and Marketing Directors employ to find, engage and entice guests to their property, and those strategies are constantly evolving. A breakthrough technology, pioneering platform, or even a simple algorithm update can cause new trends to emerge and upend the best laid plans. Sales and marketing departments must remain agile so they can adapt to the ever changing digital landscape. As an example, the popularity of virtual reality is on the rise, as 360 interactive technologies become more mainstream. Chatbots and artificial intelligence are also poised to become the next big things, as they take guest personalization to a whole new level. But one sales and marketing trend that is currently resulting in major benefits for hotels is experiential marketing - the effort to deliver an experience to potential guests. Mainly this is accomplished through the creative use of video and images, and by utilizing what has become known as User Generated Content. By sharing actual personal content (videos and pictures) from satisfied guests who have experienced the delights of a property, prospective guests can more easily imagine themselves having the same experience. Similarly, Hotel Generated Content is equally important. Hotels are more than beds and effective video presentations can tell a compelling story - a story about what makes the hotel appealing and unique. A video walk-through of rooms is essential, as are video tours in different areas of a hotel. The goal is to highlight what makes the property exceptional, but also to show real people having real fun - an experience that prospective guests can have too. The June Hotel Business Review will report on some of these issues and strategies, and examine how some sales and marketing professionals are integrating them into their operations.