When the economy began going south last year, the message was clear – now is the time to market hard. At long last, positive economic news is starting to slowly, cautiously creep forth. It is time to change tactics: now is the time to market even harder.
If the economy is on the mend, in a few months everyone will be marketing, advertising, trying to be noticed. However, the smart travel agencies that continued to market through the worst of the recession should now reap the benefit of that activity. They will now have the mindshare of the public. They were marketing when everyone else went dark. As a result, their message was easier to see.
But it isn’t over yet. The economy is showing signs of recovery, but we are a long way from whatever the new normal will look like. Now is the time to maintain and even increase your marketing expenditures of effort, energy and precious capital reserve. Time and again it has been shown that those companies that increased their marketing expenditures during a recession increased their sales – not during the recession but in the period afterwards. They emerged from the downturn ahead of their competition, and continued to grow in the years following.
Being creatures of immediate gratification, we fail to invest in marketing at the appropriate times. A travel agency cannot count on an immediate return for aggressively advertising during a downturn. But the mindshare they capture by doing so is taken from their competition and pays out over the long haul.
Now is the time to market – the consumer is starting to stir and the most timid of travel agents will not begin marketing until the coast is perfectly clear and they feel perfectly safe in doing so. Now is the time to go after the pent-up demand, to begin associating your name with travel in the mind of your target market. Now is the time to adjust your message, to ensure that you are perfectly clear in your marketing channels and that you are reaching out to the appropriate market.
Your clients want to travel. There is every indication that travel agents are enjoying a new popularity as the shortcomings of the large online agencies become more apparent. Let’s capitalize on these dual momentums – an improving economy and an improving image. Get out there. Your clients want to hear from you. Step up and get into the game in a big way. Forge stronger relationships with your current clients and form new relationships with that portion of your potential audience that doesn’t yet know you.
It’s still quiet out there. You can speak softly and still be heard. For a while. But now is the time to step up and get moving. If you don’t, it is a certainty your competition will.