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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Coming up in February 2019...

Social Media: Getting Personal

There Social media platforms have revolutionized the hotel industry. Popular sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube and Tumblr now account for 2.3 billion active users, and this phenomenon has forever transformed how businesses interact with consumers. Given that social media allows for two-way communication between businesses and consumers, the emphasis of any marketing strategy must be to positively and personally engage the customer, and there are innumerable ways to accomplish that goal. One popular strategy is to encourage hotel guests to create their own personal content - typically videos and photos -which can be shared via their personal social media networks, reaching a sizeable audience. In addition, geo-locational tags and brand hashtags can be embedded in such posts which allow them to be found via metadata searches, substantially enlarging their scope. Influencer marketing is another prevalent social media strategy. Some hotels are paying popular social media stars and bloggers to endorse their brand on social media platforms. These kinds of endorsements generally elicit a strong response because the influencers are perceived as being trustworthy by their followers, and because an influencer's followers are likely to share similar psychographic and demographic traits. Travel review sites have also become vitally important in reputation management. Travelers consistently use social media to express pleasure or frustration about their guest experiences, so it is essential that every review be attended to personally. Assuming the responsibility to address and correct customer service concerns quickly is a way to mitigate complaints and to build brand loyalty. Plus, whether reviews are favorable or unfavorable, they are a vital source of information to managers about a hotel's operational performance.  The February Hotel Business Review will document what some hotels are doing to effectively incorporate social media strategies into their businesses.