Attracting Attention

Promotion and Marketing for Tourism Attractions

by Andi Stein (Author)
©2015 Textbook X, 198 Pages


From theme parks and museums to zoos and aquariums, attractions draw millions of visitors each year. Regardless of type, they all share one common denominator – they are intended to provide visitors with memorable experiences. This book offers information about how to promote and market tourism attractions for maximum results. It looks at different approaches, strategies, tools, and techniques marketers can use when promoting their organizations to the public. Topics include advertising and marketing; media relations; social media marketing; sales promotion and merchandising; special events; guest relations and customer service; employee relations; crisis communications; and social responsibility and sustainability. In addition, it includes a variety of examples from attractions that have implemented successful promotion and marketing activities.
Whether in the form of a news story, television commercial, brochure, website, Facebook posting, or special event, promotion and marketing have the potential to show customers the possibilities that await them. This book addresses the many different ways to reach this potential. It explains how to make the most of promotion and marketing to bring people into an attraction and keep them coming back for more. Attracting Attention offers valuable information for practitioners and for students enrolled in tourism, hospitality management, marketing, and communications programs. It is a handy resource for those working for attractions and tourism-related organizations.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Contents
  • Acknowledgments
  • Chapter One: Introduction
  • Chapter Two: Types of Attractions
  • Chapter Three: Attraction Development
  • Chapter Four: Promotion, Advertising, and Marketing
  • Chapter Five: Media Relations
  • Chapter Six: Social Media Marketing
  • Chapter Seven: Sales Promotions and Merchandising
  • Chapter Eight: Special Events
  • Chapter Nine: Guest Relations and Customer Service
  • Chapter Ten: Employee Relations
  • Chapter Eleven: Crisis Communications
  • Chapter Twelve: Social Responsibility and Sustainability
  • Suggested Readings
  • Attraction Fun Fact Sources
  • Index


This book was inspired by a Marketing/Communications roundtable session I attended at the IAAPA Attractions Expo in 2012. Thanks to those who shared their stories and experiences and highlighted the valuable contributions they make to the promotion and marketing of tourism attractions.

I am especially appreciative to the following individuals for their insightful observations and comments about the attactions industry: Kathy Burrows, Hershey Entertainment & Resorts; Tina Hatcher, 3i Advertising/Public Relations; and Matt Heller, Performance Optimist Consulting.

Many thanks to Jeff Filicko and Kennywood Amusement Park for the fabulous cover photo and additional pix.

Thanks also to Katie Frassinelli, National Corvette Museum, and Mark Hoewing, Give Kids the World, for the photos they contributed.

A big thank-you goes to Bernadette Shade, director of production, Peter Lang Publishing, for all her work on the book’s production.

Finally, I offer my heartfelt thanks to Mary Savigar, senior acquisitions editor, Peter Lang Publishing, who has been so supportive of my work and who has steadfastly encouraged me to keep writing books. ← ix | x →

← x | 1 → CHAPTER ONE


When the Wizarding World of Harry Potter—Diagon Alley opened at the Universal Orlando Resort in the summer of 2014, members of the media could barely contain their excitement. Television and newspaper reporters heralded the opening of the resort’s latest addition. Industry magazine writers marveled at its ingenious design. Bloggers lavished readers with tips on how to make the most of their visits.1

The much-anticipated attraction was the sequel to the wildly popular Wizarding World of Harry Potter—Hogsmeade, which had opened at the resort to similar fanfare just four years earlier. Both brought to life the scenes, characters, and stories from the acclaimed Harry Potter franchise inspired by the books of author J.K. Rowling. The successful launch of Universal Orlando’s Diagon Alley was a picture-perfect scenario for attraction promoters and marketers. It was a prime example of what can happen when years of planning, development, marketing, and promotion come together, resulting in a perfect blend of over-the-top media coverage, customer enthusiasm, and, ultimately, increased ticket sales.


← 1 | 2 → Figure 1.1: Roller coasters and other thrill rides add to the excitement of the attraction experience.
(Photo Credit: Photo courtesy of Kennywood Amusement Park)

Creating Memorable Experiences

Attractions comprise a major segment of the tourism industry. Author John Swarbrooke describes them as the “main motivators for tourist trips” and “the core of the tourism product.”2 Theme parks, zoos, museums, aquariums, national parks, casinos, and iconic attractions such as the Eiffel Tower and Las Vegas Strip are only some of the many different types of attractions that draw millions of visitors each year. In addition, “attractions generate a ripple effect of economic activity,” that impacts hotels, retailers, and restaurants, according to a study from Oxford Economics.3 In 2011, for example, “the U.S. attractions industry generated a total economic impact of nearly $219 billion.”4

Regardless of type, attractions share one common denominator—they are intended to provide visitors with memorable experiences. “Every single day millions of people visit attractions across the globe. These visits break down into hundreds of moments that inform our personal experience,” explain authors Christian Lachel and Rich Procter. “Certain moments are so powerful that they become part of our emotional DNA. We not only remember them, we crave to experience them again and again.”5

Attraction experiences can include the sense of wonder inspired by a theme park show or the thrill and excitement generated by an amusement park roller coaster ride. They can be culturally enriching, as with a visit to an art museum, or peacefully gratifying, as with a stroll through a national park. “The range of experiences provided by attractions is very wide and in each case ← 2 | 3 → reflects the resource that the site provides and its interaction with the interests and personality of each visitor,” explain authors Victor Middleton et al.6

Showcasing Attractions

With so many available options for travelers and tourists, promoters and marketers work diligently to make their attraction experiences stand out from the crowd. Their goal is to showcase what their attractions have to offer in order to convince customers to make them part of their vacation destinations or weekend leisure activities.

Promotion and marketing are essential components of attraction management. They serve as a means of telling an attraction’s story through words, images, and events. When a new ride, exhibit, or feature such as Diagon Alley is introduced, for example, marketers and promoters begin preparing for its debut many months and even years before the attraction opens. They generate buzz with the media that will ideally result in advance press coverage about the attraction. This will in turn capture the interest of customers who will want to come see what the fuss is all about—and who will tell their friends about it using social media.

Attraction Fun Fact

There are approximately 400 amusement and theme parks in the United States.

Maintaining Customer Interest

Even without something new to promote, marketers need to keep their attractions fresh in the minds of their audiences. They accomplish this through strategically placed advertisements, blog postings highlighting daily attraction activities, or contests promoted through social media and designed to direct traffic to their websites.

Attraction marketers also rely on special events and festivals to bring people through their turnstiles. Holiday events such as Hong Kong-based Ocean Park’s Halloween Fest and the annual Holiday Lights Show held each December at the Kennywood amusement park in Pittsburgh, Pa., have become increasingly popular with attraction visitors, for example. Haunted houses, light displays, specialty shows, and holiday music are staples of these kinds of crowd-pleasing events.

Events with unusual themes also work well to attract customers. The Maritime Aquarium in Norwalk, Conn., for instance, sponsors an annual Chocolate World Expo that attracts more than 6,500 visitors. The event features tastings, cooking demonstrations, and sales of fine chocolates and specialty foods.7

Promotional incentives are another way of reaching customers. These include discounts or coupons intended to boost business during an attraction’s off-season. Likewise, logo-bearing merchandise can help customers recall the good times they had at an attraction and subtly remind them to make a return visit.

← 3 | 4 → Providing Added Services

Part of effective promotion involves making the visitor experience memorable by providing outstanding customer service that leaves a lasting impression with guests. The development of the Walt Disney World Resort’s MyMagic+ system, for example, redefined the customer experience when it debuted in 2014. According to reporter Jeremy Schoolfield, MyMagic+ enables resort guests to make restaurant reservations, reserve Fast Passes to avoid ride wait times, receive alerts for show start times, and synchronize their own itineraries with those of friends or family members by using a digital platform that included a website and mobile app.8

The debut of MyMagic+ resulted in a vast amount of positive media coverage for the Walt Disney World Resort in both popular and trade press because of the multi-faceted capabilities of the technology behind it. This essentially transformed what started as a state-of-the-art guest service into an important promotional tool for the attraction.

Technology has prompted many innovations and changes that have affected the attractions industry. Digital media, Internet marketing, and social media have all become commonplace terms in the attraction marketing vocabulary. The increased reliance on electronic media has led to the development of new communication strategies and tactics. Today’s attraction promoters are constantly experimenting with a variety of communication channels and social media platforms as they try to determine the best way to reach their audiences.9

Promotion and marketing extend far beyond simply bringing customers to an attraction’s gates. Keeping employees informed about day-to-day happenings is an important part of an attraction’s activities. Knowing how to communicate during a crisis is crucial in an industry where one small misstep or malfunction can potentially affect hundreds of people. In today’s globally conscious society, many attractions are also making corporate social responsibility and sustainability a routine part of their business. Consequently, communicating these activities to the public has become part of the promotion and marketing mix.

Overview of the Book

This book offers information about how to promote and market tourism attractions for maximum results. It looks at different approaches, strategies, tools, and techniques attraction marketers can use when promoting their organizations to the public. In addition, it includes a variety of examples from attractions that have implemented successful promotion and marketing activities.

The book is intended as a resource for those working in marketing, public relations, advertising, guest relations, and other communication positions for attractions and tourism-related organizations. It also offers valuable information for students enrolled in tourism, hospitality management, and communications programs who are interested in learning about the promotion and marketing practices of the attractions industry. Following is a description of the topics addressed in each chapter.

← 4 | 5 → Types of Attractions

Within the tourism industry, there are many types of attractions that appeal to a wide range of audiences. Among these are cultural and educational organizations, heritage sites, sports venues, and commercial entertainment attractions such as amusement and theme parks. Chapter 2 offers an overview of different types of tourism attractions and looks at some of the promotion and marketing strategies that work well to bring customers into these venues.

← 5 | 6 → Attraction Development

Effective attraction promotion begins with a good idea. Chapter 3 provides information about the steps needed to create and develop a successful tourism attraction. It includes details about how to evaluate the potential for a viable attraction, identify target markets, assess financing needs, and determine management responsibilities. The chapter also includes approaches to establishing different kinds of attractions, which can then be effectively promoted to the public.


X, 198
ISBN (Hardcover)
ISBN (Softcover)
Publication date
2015 (July)
multiplicator marketing attractions promotion fun fact
New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, Oxford, Wien, 2015. X, 198 pp., num. ill.

Biographical notes

Andi Stein (Author)

Andi Stein (PhD, University of Oregon) is Professor in the Department of Communications at California State University, Fullerton. She worked as a journalist and public relations practitioner for 16 years prior to becoming a professor. She is the author of Why we Love Disney: The Power of the Disney Brand (Peter Lang, 2011), and co-author of An Introduction to the Entertainment Industry (Peter Lang, 2009) and News Writing in a Multimedia World (2004).


Title: Attracting Attention