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Have you seen a hotel billboard lately?

About 20 years ago legendary travel and hospitality ad man Peter Warren told me the Internet was the billboard of the information superhighway. Since then the Internet has evolved into much more, and “the information superhighway” is an archaic expression of those early Internet years. But not only was Peter — an award-winning former chairman of HSMAI and proud NYU alum — right, but the analogy was apropos at the time. Billboards were — and still are — a popular and often effective advertising tactic.

While it is important to be current, relevant and innovative in teaching hospitality today and address the digital marketing challenges and customer online search and shopping behavior, it is also important that we don’t forget the relevance of “old school” strategies such as outdoor advertising. For instance, the award-winning PBS-shown Independent Eye film by Doug Pray, “Art & Copy,” features the enduring job of the billboard hanger to discuss the history of U.S. advertising in the past 50 years. It features successful ads of billboard art from the introduction of the Volkswagen Bug to Apple’s iPod.

Whether the ad is like the Hampton Inn billboard seen on a major U.S. Interstate or the local motel billboard I found on a mountain back road, outdoor advertising has its place in the overall hotel marketing strategy. Outdoor advertising campaigns are not just about the drive market. Several years ago in bus stops in Europe NYC& Company employed a successful outdoor advertising campaign.

When was the last time you saw a memorable billboard for a hotel or tourism attraction? What made it successful?

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