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Brainstorming for Travel Agencies – Pop Culture as a Resource

Travel agents do well to bring popular culture into your brainstorming sessions.  Remember, however, brainstorming is not daydreaming. Rather it is an active attempt to disrupt stale patterns of thinking, to break up and re-arrange your established notions. Anytime you need to develop new ideas or opportunities, when you want to improve the services you offer by some radical degree, brainstorming is the place to turn. Yesterday we discussed brainstorming with your office team and your existing customers, bringing their experience of your travel agency’s services into the discussion. Today, we want to look at popular culture as an resource for creative ideas for your brainstorming efforts.

Whether we identify with popular culture personally or not, the vast majority of North Americans are quite taken with it. Marketing pro-actively means anticipating the conversation that popular culture is undertaking at the moment. Drawing popular culture into your brainstorming sessions with staff and associates about travel activates the archetypes and emotions that are working in other forms of entertainment and marketing. There is more to pop culture than pop. The characters in films and movies involve a powerful, even unconscious, combination of archetype and romance. When you find a way into the psyche of your clients, you appeal to the emotional reasons for the decision to travel. Travel validates our existence, much as good movies, celebrity or literature does. It appeals to our most basic identification with exploration and discovery. When we tap into those emotions, travel agents move clients to take the leap, to act instead of watch, to be a participant in a wider world.


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Popular culture includes movies, music, magazines, television, art and just about every form of entertainment. Google the phrase “movies and travel” and you will see just how important pop culture is to the travel industry. Think about all the trips to London inspired by Harry Potter or how many people visited the Louvre because of The Da Vinci Code. IMDB now has a link in many of their movie reviews that shows not only the film location of the movie but also other movies filmed in the same geographical setting. The movies inspire us in many ways, but there is no doubt that they inspire travel.  Novels and festivals, holidays, sporting events and art exhibits all inspire travel. Some tour operatorsdevelop entire sets of itineraries around such events.

Consider asking your staff to keep notebooks of ideas to bring to brainstorming sessions. Clippings from magazines, articles and photographs can all be inspirational. Each morning TRO brings you the Travelgram to make you aware of what your clients are reading – act on the information. A big part of being a good marketer is being a good psychologist. Getting ahead of your clients means knowing what motivates them to act.

Be a part of the conversation of popular culture and you will almost certainly be better attuned to a marketing mindset.

Tomorrow – Other markets, Peer Groups and Trade Shows

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