Monday, October 15, 2007

Advertising a Travel Agency II

You may remember that back in early September, we tackled Baumann Travel in a case study. This week we decided to take on another travel agency because the situation and the lessons are much different.

Case Study: Diane Fazio's Dream Travel in Lawrence, Massachusetts.

Idea Wanted: Advertising ideas to get more business

Challenge: The travel agency business has changed dramatically in the last 10 years as consumers turned to the Internet and largely book trips themselves online. Diane's challenge is to take her local travel agency, with a small marketing budget, and compete against the big online travel sites for customers and profits.

The Background: Diane operates Dream Travel out of her home in Lawrence. She specializes in honeymoon travel and Caribbean destinations. She started the business four years ago and said that she just loves it too much to not do it. Her business is OK, but she says she can handle a lot more.

Diane has earned several certifications including Sandals Certified Specialist. She loves travel herself and says that she has been to almost every major Caribbean destination.

Advice: You can waste a lot of money advertising your business. As a whole we believe that advertising is mostly ineffective when isolated as a marketing tool. In this case, Diane's keys to increasing Dream Travel's return on her advertising investment are: the way she positions her company, the media she uses for her message, and the message itself. Our ideas will revolve around those three areas, and then we recommend a website upgrade to give Dream Travel's advertising credibility.

Our Ideas:

  1. Let's start with positioning, or building an image in the mind of the consumer. It's tempting to stand for a lot of different things and try to get business from several different segments of the market. However, people would rather deal with a specialist than a generalist. Dream Travel should be positioned in all it's advertising as the Wedding and Honeymoon specialists. Diane has a passion for this segment of the business and can genuinely position herself as a honeymoon travel expert. It doesn't mean that Dream Travel cannot book cruises, family vacations or group travel. It just means that she doesn't use her advertising to try to attract that business.
  2. Now that we have our position, let's choose our media. We put Dream Travel’s criteria into our MediaSpotter tool and found that local community publications are Diane’s best choice. She is currently using the Perfect Wedding Guide in the Lawrence area as well as a sports display (a display case with advertising) at a local supermarket. We recommend that she not renew her ad in the sports display and begin placing ads for Dream Travel in wedding guides outside her own market (after she implements a couple of our other ideas below). There is no need to limit potential customers to her immediate geographic location. Diane has the ability to plan honeymoons for anyone anywhere. Theoretically, Dream Travel could be advertised in any wedding guide in any part of the country.
  3. We know where we want to advertise, what we want our business to look like, now let's do makeover of the ad itself and fine-tune the message. Resist the temptation to put too much copy into your ads. Think of advertising as courtship; you are trying to court the prospective customer to taking the next step in their relationship with you. Rather than listing all the reasons customers should buy from you, use a pick-up line in your advertising. For Dream Travel, we recommend a very simple, colorful ad. Use a tropical island picture (which Diane currently does), put the name of the business at the top of the ad and directly underneath but the pick-up line: "It's like getting a free upgrade." Then in for the copy put: (headline) Dream Travel, The Honeymoon and Wedding Travel Specialists. (copy) Leave nothing to chance on the most important vacation you'll ever take. We plan honeymoons every day and we know how to upgrade your honeymoon without upping your budget. To see your honeymoon destination, simply visit our website:, or call 555-555-5555.
  4. When visitors arrive at your website, they need to see the fulfillment of your advertisement. Dream Travel's website does not currently do this. We recommend a website redesign starting with a unique domain name. We believe Dream Travel needs to stop using the free service and invest in a professionally designed website that communicates her new position. We realize this is a tough step, but a necessary one. First, using the free service makes the web domain name too long and the 4mydeals part of the domain name detracts from the specialist image we are trying to craft. Also, the free service allows few options for customization. You have to invest some money and use a professional web designer, but you probably don't have to invest as much as you think. We believe that the website we envision for Dream Travel can be done for around a thousand dollars. However, there will be a significant time investment up front, and then few hours every couple of weeks to to keep it fresh and useful.
  5. No, blogging is not passé yet (at least I hope not). We recommend that Diane blog on the website to establish Dream Travel as the honeymoon and wedding travel experts. She has been to almost all of the major Caribbean resorts and can offer first hand advice in her blogs. She can also give honeymoon travel tips. In her blog posts she should use keywords that will help her site show up well in web searches. Use Google Adwords Keyword Tool to find good keyword topics. We have emailed a list of potential keywords to Diane.

  6. Here are some of our ideas for the new Dream Travel website: Post pictures and testimonials from past clients to ad credibility. Put Diane's picture prominently on the splash page and the blog to add a feeling of personalization. Include a photo album of all the resorts to which Diane has traveled and include tips for each to establish expertise. Put a "request a quote" form on the website to make it non-threatening and easy for people to do business with Dream Travel. Add a "Honeymoon Travel Secrets" section to make the site interesting.

The Lesson: Advertising is not magic, it does not work alone. Several factors are involved in getting business through advertising. Your ad must communicate your position in the marketplace (based on your brand), you must place your advertising where it has the best chance to succeed (think context), then your message must draw the customer in to wanting a relationship with you (courtship). Once you get them to go out on a date with you, you need a place to do business that is congruent with message you've been communicating ( Dream Travel's website).

So what do you think of our ideas? Do you have any others?

For small business marketing advice and lessons, see our other blog: The Marketing Spot.
For more about our company, see our website:

1 comment:

Jaina said...

Very useful and accurate! Thanks.