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Bentley University research: Tourists still value print brochures
05 December 2016 (Edited )
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The Bentley University Center for Marketing Technology has published the results of research commissioned by the International Association of Visitor Information Providers (aka International Association of Professional Brochure Distributors) that it conducted in the summer of 2016.

Stated objective of the study was to understand the effectiveness of tourism brochures in June and July 2016.

Survey population consisted of 1732 respondents - "the majority [traveling] as tourists" - to face-to-face surveys conducted at 17 locations in North America, Europe and South Africa.

Key findings:

  • The Internet was the #1 source of information for pre-trip planning, cited by 79% of respondents; 53% also used printed brochures.
  • Print brochures were cited as most influential at the destination (cited by 69% vs. Web sites 68%).
  • Ways in which respondents said brochures positively impacted them during trip:
    • 95% said brochure influenced travel plans at destination.
    • 83% planned to visit an attraction or business as a result of brochure.
    • 78% would consider altering plans because of brochure.
    • 65% planned to purchase tickets or merchandise from a business learned about from brochure.
    • 68% valued brochure information about exhibits, events and attractions.
    • 60% found brochures easy to use.
    • 59% believe brochures are trustworthy.
    • 53% appreciate that brochures are convenient and always available.
    • 51% value discounts and coupons in brochures.
    • 44% find brochures easy to share with friends and family.
  • Because of sharing, the reach of each print brochure is in many cases 2-4 persons, sometimes as many as 8.
  • Advantages of brochures to tourism businesses:
    • 95% of respondents (tourists) said brochures increase awareness of local services and attractions.
    • 83% said brochures caused them to visit more attractions of which they might not previously have been aware.
    • 65% planned to buy merchandise or tickets from businesses learned about from brochure.

Quoting from the report:

"The longitudinal insights from Visitor International surveys over the past 10 years show
that visitors have an increasing array of media and information choices to help them
plan trips and influence their activities in market. We have seen the increasing use of
the internet to access general and specific websites, largely fueled by the explosive
growth in Smartphone use and improved high speed Wi-Fi in the USA. This has led to an
increased use of Apps for Android and IOS devices as marketers have realized the easy
to use, always available benefit of Apps on a screen in the visitors’ hand."

"However, we have not seen the disappearance of traditional media as an influencer of
visitor behavior. What is clear is that there are many marketing touch points that
influence the visitor during their buyers’ journey and there is a complex interaction
between thought and action for every visitor. What is not clear yet in this customer
journey is how each element of the marketing media mix is affecting decision making in
the moment of planning a trip and deciding on a course of action during the trip. What
is clear is that in an increasingly digital world printed brochures have a very significant
effect on visitors plans and actions, particularly in the moment, on location."

Although assigning significance to some of these findings seems to be a bit of a stretch - and people often don't actually do what they say they do or might do - and an organization of brochure-distributors paid for this research - it's useful to see some quantification of trends and opinions concerning print brochures. It's worrisome that only 59% of respondents said they find brochures to be "trustworthy" - would have been useful to see comparable figures for digital media and WOM.

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