Magazine article Marketing

Hard Sell Holidays: Will 1990 Prove to Be the Year of Travel Promotion?

Magazine article Marketing

Hard Sell Holidays: Will 1990 Prove to Be the Year of Travel Promotion?

Article excerpt

HARD SELL HOLIDAYS

Sex, travel, money, cars. Few incentives are so alluring. One is set to become the motivator of 1990 - that is, if you believe Nick Redfern, chairman of Protravel, a company selling travel direct to sales promotion agencies.

Redfern rests his claims on a simple equation. High interest rates plus a slump in the holiday industry equals a bumper year for travel promotions. "In its current state the travel industry enables companies like mine, using travel as a promotional tool, to devise even stronger promotional offers," he says. But, as Mandy Rice-Davies put it, in another context, "he would say that, wouldn't he?"

Stephen Penny, director of sales promotion firm CBH, has less of an axe to grind but just as much optimism. He sees a market in which there is increasing pressure on people to take more than one annual holiday, with leisure pursuits like skiing a popular but expensive choice. "Promotional activity that provides a chance to alleviate the burden will have immense appeal," he claims. "Any promotion offering travel is likely to do well."

Both Redfern and Penny cite case studies which look attractive. Take Protravel's Nikon promotion, designed by KLP Bristol and launched in November. Anyone who bought a Nikon camera in a 100 [pounds] to 300 [pounds] price range during the run up to Christmas got vouchers for 75 [pounds] discounts on short-haul package holidays, or 100 [pounds] on long-haul, for each of the next three years. Protravel, as a registered travel agent, gets the normal agent's margin from the tour operator. But that wouldn't be enough to fund an attractive discount. And it negotiates a fee - based, in Nikon's case, on estimates of camera sales during the promotion, and redemption rates, which are unlikely to exceed 10% of sales.

But is this the kind of promotion to alleviate the burden of buying a holiday? It is hard to say. Nobody is giving holidays away, and a quick flick through the up-market, long-haul Kuoni brochure will be enough to convince a lot of punters that even a [Pounds]100 discount leaves them well short of the asking price.

A Tricity Bendix promotion, which ran from August to December last year, came up against similar criticism. Two free flights to America for any customer who spent more than [Pounds]100 on an appliance must, at the time, have looked like pennies from heaven to consumers who didn't know that spending 14 nights in a Hyatt hotel (the other part of the deal) could actually cost them the earth.

So, cautious point number one: don't give customers an offer which could leave them out of pocket and you out of favour.

Keith Mills, managing director of Air Miles, is another man who wants to alleviate consumers' burdens. "Bookings so far this year show that there's a lot less money around. Those companies which provide consumers with promotional holidays will be very well placed," he says. Fuji's Air Miles promotion would seem to support his case.

Fuji's Half Million Air Miles Shareout designed by Saatchi and Saatchi subsidiary Equator, was a two-tier promotion aimed at consumers who have their films developed and printed by some 1300 dealers, and the dealers themselves, all of whom used Fuji paper. Anyone who took a film into one of these outlets between July and October 1989 received a voucher. With two vouchers they were entitled to enter the monthly Air Miles shareout. In addition they were entered into a grand draw at the end of the promotion, with a chance to win one of 25 prizes of 1000 Air Miles. Finally, 500,000 low-cost free gift added colour at the point of sale.

Dealers stood to gain 450 Air Miles (worth a trip to Paris) if Fuji's mystery shoppers deemed them to be handling the promotion well. The promotion gained a 4.6% response rate from consumers.

But despite the scheme's success, David Honey, Fuji marketing services manager, is by no means an Air Miles fanatic. …

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