The powerful lure of nostalgia in tourism marketing

A - nostalgia

Sometimes it pays to look backwards and think about the past, to use old ideas to create new opportunities and new markets. Nostalgia is a powerful motivator, and particularly effective in tourism marketing.

After the past difficult year it's perhaps not surprising that nostalgia has become so important. It's been found to help counteract loneliness and anxiety, conjuring up positive emotions. A glimpse of happy times from the past can help people cope with stressful times in the present.

Using an emotional appeal is always a worthwhile marketing tactic: nostalgia is a useful trigger to attract visitors or encourage them to do something. 

You could use nostalgia by showcasing old adverts, or talking about how something used to be. You could ask your visitors to share their memories or photos from the past (recent or long ago). Or you could simply recreate a sense of nostalgia through small touches such as using an old recipe, or decorating in a nostalgic style. 

Help people to remember what they used to love. What might capture your visitors' attention? Would it be drinking old-fashioned beverages like dandelion and burdock? Or thinking about how men used to sit on beaches fully dressed in their Sunday best (my dad did that!)? Perhaps it's remembering certain music, or advertising images? Or old ways of doing something? 

Nostalgia can help people feel more secure. If you can bring back happy memories, it can help people feel you're in touch with what they want today. There's also a sense that creating opportunities for happy times now will make memories for the future. 

It's interesting that nostalgia marketing can appeal to older and younger visitors equally. Older visitors recognise the references, whereas younger people find them curious, quirky and instagrammable. It's part of the reason that 'vintage' sells. Our lives have become so fast and complex, we all enjoy a glimpse into a simpler way of living and being. 

1 comment

George Buchanan

We’re exploring the idea of a virtual high street from 1920s Worksop. Nostalgia always gets people engaging, especially on Facebook Groups I’ve noticed. ‘This is what we could be like again so let’s put our minds to it as a community.’

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