Magazine article Marketing

Breaking the Mould

Magazine article Marketing

Breaking the Mould

Article excerpt

Francesca Ecsery-Merrens, marketing and commercial director for Going Places, is remarkably calm, considering she has just launched the sort of initiative that makes or breaks a marketer's career.

She is hot-footing it around the country to a series of company meetings to ensure that the launch of the travel retailer's latest scheme, Break Time, which offers parents the chance to help equip their children's schools when they buy their holidays, goes without a hitch.

Break Time is the second part of Going Places' plan to build a brand identity that will put clear blue water between it and its rivals in the cut-throat travel industry. The retailer is determined to break the endless round of discounting which has blighted the package-tour industry in recent years. Instead, Going Places intends to build stronger ties with holiday-makers, in the same way that supermarkets have secured the loyalty of their shoppers.

Ecsery-Merrens's confidence in the initiative - she claims she does not get phased by any business challenge - is to some extent based on the success of the first part of the strategy which saw Going Places link up with Cilia Black's ever-popular game show Blind Date. The company is now pitched as 'The Holiday Matchmaker' and the second Going Places sponsored series of Blind Date started last week.

With over 700 outlets and 4500 employees, Going Places does not, at first glance, appear to be the most flexible of companies, but she says that its success in standing out from the crowd is in part down to its receptiveness to innovative ideas. "The capacity of this company to get mobilised and get going amazes me. Analysis of ideas has to be thorough but when you get going everybody is very full-on in getting things done. There is very little red tape."

The Break Time scheme took just four months from the initial idea to implementation and, though similar to spend-and-collect programmes such as Tesco's Computers For Schools and Sainsbury's School Bags schemes, it is the first major loyalty initiative to be launched in the retail travel market.

Anyone booking a holiday through Going Places will now be offered 'Bonds' worth either [pounds]10 for UK holidays or [pounds]20 for overseas holidays, which can be exchanged by local schools for sports or play equipment.

"My plan with Break Time was to try to find ways to differentiate ourselves from the competition in what is a very homogeneous market. …

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