I was on a mission recently. It was time for lunch and I was taking my daughter to a fast food place. We were hungry and I was choosing to be unhealthy by taking the easy way out. We were sitting in traffic and out of the corner of my eye I saw a man in a sombrero wearing a sandwich board. He was advertising the newly opened Mexican restaurant by promoting a $4.99 lunch special with a free soft drink.
Mexican lunch specials and free soft drinks had until that very moment been non existent in my mind. I made a split second decision and turned into the driveway. Ten minutes later, my daughter was enjoying a kid’s quesadilla and I was eating a giant taco and sipping on my free soft drink. The restaurant was about half full. I saw the store manager and motioned him to my table to let him know his advertising campaign had worked on me and to ask him some questions.
He pays a busboy his regular salary plus an extra split of tips to stand by the side of the road during the lunch hour in the sweltering Georgia heat. He told me that on the days someone is out there, the restaurant sees a 30% jump in lunch traffic. He considers this to be good since in this new shopping center, there are six new eating establishments that have opened since the end of March. Many people will ultimately spend more for lunch as the “special” may not appeal to them; but they are already in the door and not likely to leave.
While eating I was thinking just how this could be applied to the travel agent community. In my community, a Google search will bring up eight competitors.. I am sure you might find something similar if you typed in your travel niche and your own community. Do you know who they all are? I only know two of the eight because they are the only two who are marketing themselves to the community. Of the 1300 members of my chamber of commerce, there is only one other travel agent.
Everyone is cutting back on their marketing because money is tight, co-op dollars are scarce and the “sky is falling” according to the nightly news. It is not just in our industry either. Have you noticed how thin some of your weekly and monthly magazines have become? Picked up a local paper lately? This is so counter-intuitive to what we should be doing right now in this “new” normal we find ourselves.
When you think money is just not available to get your message out there. Consider the cost of a sandwich board and your time to stand on a busy street. Lots of people will drive by and ignore you; but sell just one or two travel packages and you will find it was time and money well spent! What will your sandwich board say and just where will you be standing?
Chuck Flagg is an independent owner/operator of Cruise Holidays in Canton, GA. For information contact Chuck at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 770-355-9569.