As a speaker, I end up on a lot of agency mailing lists. From email blasts and Twitter bursts to fax frenzies and snail mail flyers, I get it all. It’s a great opportunity to stay on top of agency marketing efforts. It’s also a reminder of what so many are doing so wrong!
Allow me to vent for a moment about some of my pet peeves in the realm of mass marketing. I should first point out that most of these things are NOT coming from giant mega-monolithic-impersonal-transaction-factories. Instead, I seem to get the most impersonal irritation makers from small agencies that should know better.
#1: Valued Clients?
Starting any email, fax or letter with “Dear Valued Client” instantly conveys the opposite message. You’d be better off omitting a greeting altogether if you can’t use my actual name. My goodness, even Expedia markets at me with my first name (and not in ALL-CAPS).
Luckily, TRAMS, Clientbase and even Microsoft Word all have a simple little feature called “Mail Merge” that can fix this relationship killer.
#2: Off-Target Marketing?
I travel a lot. Some places I’ve loved while there are others I would love to never see again. Every time I get a flyer or email promoting one of those places, it’s a bit like smelling a dish that gave me food poisoning over and over. Hopefully, smart and “personal” travel agents are asking their clients if they liked or didn’t like every single hotel, cruise, resort and destination to which they have sent them.
Keeping track of the information is one thing. Using it is another! Databases and Mail Merge can keep you from adding insult to injury. Learn about queries and filters! Nothing says “I don’t know you” more than sending the wrong promotions to the wrong clients.
One more thing on this one: I don’t have kids, I don’t golf, and contrary to my chronological age, I’m not the least bit interested in “Getaways for Seniors Like You!” Guess what kinds of promotions dominate the daily deluge? That’s right! Family adventures, golfing extravaganzas and “slower paced escorted tours for those in their golden years” (a direct quote).
#3: Specialists in Specializing?
This one bugs me the most, and I see it more often than any other travel agency marketing misstep. I recently read the following in a travel agency brochure:
We specialize in corporate travel, leisure travel, luxury cruises, student travel, trips for seniors, coach tours, scuba diving packages, adventure and eco-travel, European holidays, Hawaiian Islands, river cruises, African safaris, discount and last-minute cruise bargains, corporate and group incentives, and personalized packages for Bulgaria.
I stopped thinking “specialist” by the third category. While it’s true that specializing and niche marketing is a terrific strategy, it only works if you actually HAVE a niche and you specialize! It is impossible to specialize in everything. If you are a specialist – a real specialist – go for it. If you’re still a good old-fashioned “full-service” agency; make the most of it, but don’t say one thing and do another.
Thanks for allow me to let off a little steam. I feel much better. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have about a thousand tweets, spam messages, and Facebook fan page suggestions to sift through!
Are you guilty? Do you know someone who is? Leave a comment!
Nolan Burris is an author, former travel agent, failed musician and self-professed techno-geek. He’s also a popular international speaker both inside and outside of the travel industry. He is the founder and chief Visioneer of Future Proof Travel Solutions (futureprooftravel.com) based in Vancouver, Canada. Nolan’s believes that if can change the way business works, you’ll change the world. His goal is to spread the message of integrity and ethics in a techno-driven world.