Economic Impact Analysis - Specific Issues - Conversion Studies
Methodology  -  Lake State Examples - Other Examples         
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Methodology:

Zhou, Z. 2000. "The Impact of Memory on Expenditures Recall in Tourism Conversion Studies." Journal of Travel Research 38(February):304-307.

One concern with conversion studies involves visitor recall of expenditures to assess the economic impact of marketing efforts. This study evaluates the effect of lapsed time between the visits and when respondents were asked to recall trip expenditures on the accuracy and direction of the reported data. The findings suggest that, contrary to past findings in the literature, the longer the lapsed time between the visit and the recall of trip spending, the more likely the respondents will overestimate trip expenditures. This finding suggests that the most common criticisms regarding underreporting of expenditures by respondents are not necessarily true and should be examined on a case-by-case basis.

McWilliams, E. G. and J. L. Crompton. 1997. "An Expanded Framework for Measuring the Effectiveness of Destination Advertising." Tourism Management 18(3):127-137.

This paper presents an improved framework for measuring the impact of advertising on low involvement decisions to be measured. Destination advertising campaigns are typically evaluated by conversion studies or by advertising tracking studies. A major limitation of these evaluations is that they assume receivers of the advertising message follow a highly involved decision process when making leisure travel decisions. These framework fail to consider how destination advertising influences low involvement decisions which are likely to characterize repeat visitation, or trips deemed to be of low risk or low importance. In these decisions, people are less likely to gather much information on their trip and are more likely to use simple non-comprehensive decision-making processes.

Smith, S. L. J. 1995. Impact and Evaluation Methods. In Tourism Analysis: A Handbook. Essex, Longman Group Limited. Second Edition: 273-302.

This chapter reviews various impact and evaluation methods available for analyzing tourism. This summary will focus on two particular methods: conversion studies and cost-benefit analysis. Conversion studies look to measure the effectiveness of tourism advertising by basically answering the question of how many tourists did a specific advertisement (or advertisement campaign) bring to the destination. Conversion studies rely exclusively on surveys of people who may have seen the advertisement. However, these studies are fraught with challenges and often conducted with shoddy, self-serving research techniques. Problems include: failure to consider full range of factors in traveling decision; small sample size; non-response bias; poor sample distribution; failure to include all advertising costs; over-reliance on expenditure recall by memory; and failure to inquire why someone is requesting information. A cost-benefit analysis is a hypothetical experiment which asks whether society will be better off after the implementation of the proposed project. Cost-benefit analysis is used in four different context to determine: whether a project is feasible; the appropriate size of a project; which of several competing projects is most appropriate; and setting the development schedule of a set of projects.

Siegal, W. and W. Ziff-Levine. 1994. Evaluating Tourism Advertising Campaigns: Conversion vs. Advertising Tracking Studies. Travel, Tourism, and Hospitality Research: A Handbook for Managers and Researchers. J. R. Brent Ritchie and Charles R. Goeldner (ed.), New York, John Wiley and Sons Ltd., Second Edition: 559-571.

This book chapter compares the methodology of conversion studies and advertising tracking studies. It advocates for the use of advertising tracking studies rather than conversion studies as the appropriate method for determining the effectiveness of a tourism advertising campaign. The advertising tracking study does not assume a linear process that leads from the advertising campaign through a request for literature and then to a visit to the destination. Instead the advertising tracking study recognizes that some advertisement viewers will not request literature, but still make a choice to visit the destination. The principle method of a advertising impact study is to a pre and post advertisement survey of the target audience.

Woodside, A. G. and I. A. Ronkainen. 1994. Improving Advertising Conversion Studies. Travel, Tourism, and Hospitality Research: A Handbook for Managers and Researchers. J. R. Brent Ritchie and Charles R. Goeldner (ed.), New York, John Wiley and Sons Ltd., Second Edition: 545-557.

Conversion research studies are conducted to the questions of how many inquirers from travel ads convert to visitors and what are the convertors' demographic and travel-behavior characteristics, including length of stay, travel-party size, destination activities and expenditures. The authors contend that typical conversion studies are typically poorly conducted and promote the use of a more scientific method - control group studies. For example, by using a split run in a magazine, where half the households receive the ad and half the households do not. A random sample of both groups will yield the influence of the advertisement. The authors go on to discuss the specifics of conversion studies including sampling and sample size, response rates, expenditure surveys, assessing multiple trips and ultimately, data analysis. They conclude with an eight point list on the way conversion studies could and should be improved.

Lake States Examples:

Sumathi, N. R. and R. Orton. 1992. Advertising Conversion Study: An Informational and Economic Analysis of Oneida County Visitors. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin-Extension.

Because tourism promotion is a common way to promote a destination, organizations need to know whether their dollars spent on promotion are effective. For this report, a mail survey was sent to inquirers of the Oneida County Visitors Bureau. Respondents were asked about the effectiveness of advertising, their information sources about Onieda County, their home county or state, their destination in Oneida County, their party size, average party expenditures, their favorite recreational activities, and their attitudes related to eco-tourism, cultural heritage, and historical attractions. Average party expenditures totaled $638 with Illinois residents outspending Wisconsin residents by about $200. The results indicated that for every advertising dollar, the increase in sales was $2.06 in the form of visitor expenditures in Oneida County.

Gray, J. 1991. 1990 Wisconsin Dells Conversion Study. Madison, WI: Recreation Resources Center, University of Wisconsin-Extension.

This study looked at the cost effectiveness of magazine advertising for the Wisconsin Dells area. It looked at expenditures of visitors, a visitor profile, and cost effectiveness of advertising. This study concluded that magazines were the best way to get first time visitors to the Dells.

Hamilton, S., J. Bauer, L. Larson and L. Pagliaro. 1991. 1991 Wisconsin Dells Television Advertising Conversion Study. Madison, WI: Recreation Resources Center, University of Wisconsin-Extension.

This authors of this study sent a survey to people who called the Dells visitors and Convention Bureau in response to television advertising. The survey measured the effectiveness of television advertising in attracting responses and visitors to the Dells area. On average, the return on investment was $29 and represented 3.4 % of estimated gross sales, which is lower than the national average.

Gray, J. and S. Hamilton. 1990. Converting Advertising Into Dollars. Madison, WI: Recreation Resources Center, University of Wisconsin-Extension.

This report assessed how advertising dollars were used and attempted to measure the return on the advertising investment based on visitor interviews. The report provides a visitor profile as well. The study found that the return on investment amounted to $40.83. Newspaper ads were the most cost-effective with a return of $140.28 for every dollar invested.

Geiger, T. and A. Kempen. 1988. Lincoln County Winter Marketing Study. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin-Extension.

The purpose of this conversion study was to find out the effectiveness of advertising in the Milwaukee Journal Wisconsin Magazine. A sample of people requesting the Lincoln County winter brochure were surveyed. In addition to determining if people who requested the brochure visited Lincoln County, the survey asked about winter activity preferences, length of stay, frequency and money spent on these trips, and the types of media visitors used to obtain vacation information.

Gray, J., M. Mistele and S. Hamilton. 1988. Dells Area Inquiry Analysis. Madison, WI: Recreation Resources Center, University of Wisconsin-Extension.

This study surveyed individuals who had requested visitor information from the Wisconsin Dells Visitor Bureau. The surveys show how many of those people actually visited the Dells and analyzed the cost of advertising for the dollars spent in the Dells by visitors. The survey showed a $75 return for every $1 of advertising spent.

Gray, J., S. Hamilton, K. Mueller and D. Monson. 1985. Dells Area Inquiry Analysis. Madison, WI: Recreation Resources Center, University of Wisconsin-Extension.

This study surveyed individuals who had requested visitor information from the Wisconsin Dells Visitor Bureau. The surveys showed how many of those people actually visited the Dells and analyzed the cost of advertising for the dollars spent in the Dells by visitors. The study found that the visitors who responded to advertising spent about $32.6 million. The return on investment was estimated at $76.73.

Other Examples:

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