As I’ve said many times, the only thing I want on my tombstone are the words: "She killed AVEs." And if the grandchildren of today’s PR professionals happen to wander past my grave and actually read those words, then it will be partly due to the efforts of three pioneering organizations in the travel and tourism space.
To call my recent experiences with these clients revolutionary is a serious understatement. Over the moon is more appropriate. So I am presenting them with an unprecedented second-time-in-the-month Measurement Maven award. (See the first Maven award, already this month.)
Due to client confidentialty agreements, I can’t divulge their names. Yet. But I can tell you that all three work in travel and tourism, essentially public-private partnerships that manage communications for their destinations. They also work closely with travel partners including airlines, hotels, and venues to promote travel to the specific geographies they represent.
For years, all three had relied upon ad value equivalency (AVE) as their key “ROI” metric. Someone up above realized that what they were showing every quarter had nothing to do with ROI. Because, of course, AVE doesn't actually demonstrate a return, and isn’t accurate at all in social media. So, all three of these clients asked around, and did a bit of professional networking and googling. They discovered the Barcelona Principles and the efforts underway to standardize PR and social media measurement.
Why travel and tourism has traditionally liked AVE
The travel and tourism industry is a lot like the nonprofit world. Deep down, it is exceptionally easy to measure because the goals are generally very clear. Ask anyone in the travel world what their ultimate goals are and they will probably say either “butts in seats,” “heads in beds,” or visitor revenue.
The problem is that the PR departments of many travel organizations have for years been confusing activity with results. Which is why they've relied upon AVEs for measurement. We’ve done measurement makeovers for many of them, including Strawbery Banke and New Hampshire Grand. I have also lauded the efforts of Alice De Souza, former head of travel and tourism for the State of New Hampshire, for bringing in econometricians to help put a more realistic value on her work. As a result, her budget was increased yearly by the notoriously stingy New Hampshire legislature.
Getting from here to there
In essence what our three new Mavens are doing is bringing in marketing analysts to determine the impact of advertising and promotion on travel revenue and/or heads in beds. The problem used to be that all the revenue was attributed to paid marketing efforts. PR, social, and other earned media were never included in the model because PR never had the right data. So there was no way to connect the dots between what PR was measuring, (impressions and AVE), and actual tourist revenue or action.
Working closely with the marketing teams in each organization, this month's mavens have defined and are now tracking those elements that are most likely to move a person up the engagement ladder from exposure to actually visiting or advocating a visit.
We applaud them for their initiative: Congratulations to our Measurement Mavens of the Month!
(Thanks to TravelOnly for the image.)
Katie Delahaye Paine is Chairman, KDPaine & Partners, (a Salience Insight company), and Chief Marketing Officer of News Group International. KDP&P delivers custom research to measure brand image, public relationships, and engagement. Katie Paine is a dynamic and experienced speaker on public relations and social media measurement. Click here for the schedule of Katie’s upcoming speaking engagements. Katie and Beth Kanter are authors of the book “Measuring the Networked Nonprofit,” published last year by Wiley.
The Measurement Standard is a publication of News Group International.