Esprit De Corps – Creating a Travel Agency Newsletter (I of III)

A newsletter is an effective means of communicating with your clients. When circulated widely, it can extend your client base and potentially add to your profits. As a product of the agency, the newsletter helps to establish your identity as a substantive organization. Directed to specific market segments, it can help improve your product mix. Ten factors should be addressed in making your newsletter an effective marketing tool.1. Audience: Carefully decide who the target audience is. Basically, there are two choices: corporate and leisure travelers. Before deciding which type of newsletter to produce, define which business is most profitable and desirable to obtain. Direct your newsletter to this business. Some agencies may wish to produce separate newsletters for their corporate and leisure clients. Corporate travel agencies may also wish to create a separate newsletter for leisure travel in order to increase personal travel spin-off.2. Goals and Objectives: Have a purpose in writing the newsletter: to extend your client base, create client awareness of your services, or promote new travel bargains. Inherent in everything you do, of course, is your overall goal: to increase sales. Be sure that your newsletter accomplishes these goals. Define specific objectives for reaching each goal. A sample goal might be to increase leisure travel business. One objective then would be to distribute the newsletter regularly and in a timely fashion, e.g., by the first of each month. Your readers will look forward to regularly receiving your newsletter.3. Readership: “Quality” names including e.mail addresses are those that bring profitable business to your agency. Collecting these e.mail addresses should be a continuous task in your agency. Non-beneficial names create extra work, bring no business, or add unprofitable business. A little market research can yield substantial results. This requires deciding on which business you are after and how to reach the audience that fits into your business plan.One method of obtaining names is by “computer prospecting” – sort the travelers using your agency by destination, class of service or amount of business during the previous year. A pattern will develop and you will be able to quickly identify key people for your mailing list. The ability to sort names is important since some newsletters may only apply to a limited market.Your most valued clients should be included on the mailing list: the frequent traveler, key decision makers with corporate accounts, corporate officers, travel arrangers and others who make your agency successful. This will keep them apprised of your agency’s activities and thwart the marketing efforts of your competition.Other sources which can generate readers for your newsletter include:o Suggestions from your employees
o Referrals from your valued clients
o Input from corporate contacts
o Your sales department’s target contact list
o Suggestions from vendors
o Outside qualified mailing lists (e.g., cruise company trade magazines)
o Prospective clients in your area.Names can be entered via most travel agency accounting systems. These names can be coded to indicate numerous bits of information. This is especially helpful if your agency does a specialty mailing other than the newsletter. Basic codes include type of traveler (corporate, leisure, group) and status (traveler, arranger, VIP, contact, etc.). A reference list of these codes should be kept by at least two employees to prevent misplacing them.An ambitious goal is to develop a mailing list by customer habits. It can yield a much higher return than normal mailing lists. This mailing list is coded by buying habits and patterns. Sample categories can include cruise clients, single travelers, adventure travelers, special interests, non-smokers, sports enthusiasts, etc. This list enables your agency to better market specific items and reach these individuals.Updating the mailing list is an important and continuous task. Contacts change, retire, relocate, etc. A corporate mailing list should be checked at least every six months to ensure that the names are accurate. Returned newsletters should be processed to delete and/or replace names. A folder where employees can leave corrections to the mailing list is helpful. For leisure lists, it is important to delete returned envelopes.Your first readers should always be your agency employees. They will then be better able to handle client calls and close sales resulting from the newsletter.Coming up next – Newsworthiness, Relevance and Regularity