Steve Jones’ Say: May 2017

No one will ever convince me it was right to consign Harvey World Travel to the scrap heap. Established, recognised and respected. It was a terrific brand, if one in need of modernising. But gone it has, dwelling on its passing a worthless, nostalgic exercise.

Yet deep in the recesses of the Helloworld vaults, something is stirring.

Four years after launch, Helloworld has admitted — for the first time — that its brand recognition is not all it should be.

Sure, the financial health of the company has improved markedly, and that’s a huge achievement. But chief executive Andrew Burnes has conceded Helloworld’s awareness is falling short. More than that, its legacy brands still resonate with a public confused at the disappearance of HWT and the emergence of this entity called Helloworld.

To reaffirm the nature of the business, something not obviously apparent to consumers according to Burnes, the company has added ‘travel’ to its name to create Helloworld Travel, an identity that will appear on brochures and point of sale collateral.

But more interesting is the decision to revive the Harvey World Travel tagline of The Travel Professionals, a move designed to “bring back some of the historical value from our legacy brands”.

That is tacit acknowledgment of the enduring appeal of a brand considered superfluous. It’s extremely unlikely, bordering on the fanciful, but how tempting must it be, I wonder, to resurrect the brand itself in some capacity?

While welcome, the return of the HWT tagline alone will clearly be insufficient for Helloworld.

What it needs is marketing cash, and lots of it. Since inception, Helloworld’s attempt to establish its presence through high profile campaigns has been fragmented. It has yet to build an identity or communicate what the brand stands for. That needs to change, and a return to The Travel Professionals is a start.

It has also been hampered by the relatively few fully branded stores in the network. A larger high street presence would provide more marketing funds, and of course, increase the brand’s exposure.

Andrew Burnes has not shied away from making significant decisions since taking over from Elizabeth Gaines, and he has now been forthright enough to publicly acknowledge there is an awareness problem. What he does next on the marketing front could go a long way to positioning Helloworld as a major travel retail presence, or one that sits on the fringes of public recognition.

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