TRO is spending this week exploring the possibilities of well-crafted travel agency newsletters. There are a number of tips that experienced newsletter publishers will tell you work to keep a publication lively and strong. In addition to the ones we have already covered, here are a few more that will add to the overall content strength of your travel agency newsletter.
Adopt a publishing schedule that is comfortable for you to meet. Beginning with an overly ambitious program, for example weekly, can cause both your readership and your editorial staff to burn out. Think of your newsletter as a long-term communications tool and don’t feel compelled to over-expose it. On the other hand, if you publish too infrequently, clients will not develop the attachment to the newsletter you want to foster. For most consumer newsletters, a schedule that runs between bi-weekly to bi-monthly seems to work.
Be regular and consistent in your editorial oversight. Set a schedule and stick to it for collecting article ideas, editing and formatting your newsletter. Begin planning the next newsletter as soon as the last one is out the door. You will be more closely attuned to your topics and the rhythm of the newsletter’s voice. Try to be consistent with the day of the week or month and even the time of day you send the newsletter. Clients will respond to the consistency.
Pay close attention to the articles your readers respond to most, and then find similar topics for future editions. If your newsletter is electronic, track the hits against each story to measure popularity. If cruise stories rank high, for example, you have an excellent monitor for future editions. While allowing some variance for improvement, stay consistent with your layout once you have a good look and feel. Your readers will develop a familiarity with where to look for particular topics or specials and you don’t want to require them to hunt for important information.
Keep a notebook or a file for good ideas and information to include in future issues. Read as much as possible from consumer magazines, newspapers and other newsletter for ideas and concepts that you can borrow for your own publication. Print or tear out articles from other sources and place them in your ideas file. TRO’s Travelgram provides daily a list of consumer articles for your consideration and use. Watch consumer oriented travel communities online for ideas and to determine what topics matter the most to travelers like your readership. You can also use many of TRO’s articles in your own newsletters.
Travel is a topic often targeted by spam filters. Keep a few free test accounts at services like AOL, Yahoo and Gmail to test each newsletter. If the spam filters in those accounts catch your newsletters, try to determine what words in your copy are triggering the spam response and re-word the articles or headlines.
If at all possible, let your newsletter sit for a day or two after it is finished and before you publish it. Step away from it and then return with a fresh mind. Look at your stories and articles, your headlines, to determine if you are still happy with them. You may save yourself some problems by a good review prior to sending your newsletter ambassador out the door.