New ideas can sometimes seem hard to come by. Whether you are looking for a new angle on marketing your travel practice, or a new product idea for a particular demographic, finding exactly the right approach can seem like swimming upstream. There are, however, a few well-known strategies for coaxing new ideas into existence. There are repositories of good ideas available to travel agents to research, try out and investigate. You just have to know where to look.
Here’s the good news – great ideas are everywhere you look. Most “new” ideas are really just a modification of an existing one. When TRO decided to give away destination guides to travel agents, the “new” aspect of the idea was not destination guides. There were already services providing destination guides to travel agents for an annual fee. The new aspect of the idea was to provide the destination guides to travel agents for free by giving suppliers the opportunity to sponsor them. Even that idea was borrowed from the GDS’s. Two borrowed ideas equaled one new one!
Suffice it to say that your competition is one of the best possible resources for new ideas. This is especially true of the large, online travel agencies. Periodically it is a worthwhile effort to de-construct their marketing and service offerings to see what aspects of their business model are deserving of replication for you in your own efforts.
Just to be clear, the emphasis here is on the marketing, services and products that are open and freely visible to all observers. We are not discussing infringement of copyright or trademark or anything nefarious. However, you can bet that the largest online agencies have spent what to you or I would be a small fortune on their own research. Those products they are currently offering on their sites are the result of excellent market research. The services they are offering are there because a study conducted by their staff indicates consumers want the service. Their website layout, the presentation, color scheme, naming conventions and every detail are well studied marketing efforts there for your edification.
Let’s take just a moment to look at Travelocity‘s website. No doubt your first instinct will be to point to the differences between your own practice and the impersonality of a large online agency. Rightly so, and that will be an important aspect of our series on competitive analysis. However, look also to see if there are ideas and concepts worth emulating. There is an emphasis on “Last Minute” packages. Highlighted are specials to particular destinations. Note you can follow Travelocity on Facebook and Twitter. How are they conducting their own social media efforts? They categorize their travel opportunities by “destinations” and “activities.” Why? One important point. They offer a “Travelocity Guarantee” – your booking will “be right” or they will work to “make it right.” I suspect Travelocity has been doing some idea borrowing – from you, the traditional travel agent.
Naturally, it is not only the large online agencies you will want to go to for inspiration. You have other competition. Take the time to look through Conde Nast and Travel+Leisure from a research perspective. What are tour operators and other large agencies promoting? How are the doing it? Those entities are facing the same economic and marketing issues as you – perhaps on a different scale but the same issues nevertheless. Borrowing a few ideas from their playbook is smart business.
Tomorrow – Your Clients and New Ideas