CATO View – April 2011

Travel foreplay: direct selling optional, direct marketing essential

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Peter BaileyTravel foreplay: direct selling optional, direct marketing essential

THE recent CATO meeting held in Perth was a great success with guest speaker Andrew Thompson from Travel Brochures giving a most interesting presentation on developments in the marketing of travel from a wholesaler’s perspective.

His theme was “The Foreplay of Travel: Direct Selling is Optional – Direct Marketing is Essential”. Winning a share of the market starts with winning a share of the mind. Consumers need to be courted if you are to win their business.

As an industry, our understandable focus on bookings can blind us to the five discernible stages people go through when selecting leisure travel: dream-research-plan-shop-book.

Andrew suggests that if we wait until the consumer is ready to book, we end up in a bidding war. Only by getting in early and selling the value in what we offer, can we restore the premiums in our pricing, the value in our brand and the profits to our business.

The five stages split into two phases: receptive and bargaining. The receptive phase, almost invariably carried out on the internet, is “the foreplay of travel” when prospects are eager for information. And this is the time to market to them.

The forpelay includes five stages from the “pick-up” to a “relationship”. Listening is twice as important as telling and social networking allows us to not only listen, but also to engage and understand.

Facebook has 600 million users – eight million in Australia – and, according to Andrew, the fastest-growing age demographic on Facebook is 55 plus. Australians spend more time on social media sites than any other nationality.

Andrew said sales is the engine that drives your business. Marketing is the engine that grows your business. You need to tend to both.

THE addition of “Travel Partners” to the mobile/home sector of the travel industry, serves to highlight the rapid expansion of this type of agent. Jeff Hakim, a previous member and long-time supporter of CATO, heads up Travel Partners, and we wish him well.

From a CATO perspective we must be aware of the increasing importance of mobile/home based agents.
Unlike the high street travel agent working standard hours as part of a team and from a fully equipped office these new-age agents will work flexible hours from their home.

They will communicate with a head office via computer and generally they will lack the “hard copy” collateral available to the high street agent. However most will be very experienced and highly motivated which should make them extremely productive.

CATO is pleased to see that the recent PricewaterhouseCoopers report on the review of consumer protection in the travel industry supports a number of recommendations made by members. We congratulate AFTA, and in particular Jayson Westbury.

The next meeting of CATO will be the annual general meeting followed by a dinner in Sydney on June 15. For bookings contact [email protected]


Peter Baily’s CATO View column appears quarterly.






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