In Oscar Wilde’s famous play, ‘Lady Windermere’s Fan’, the character Lord Darlington utters the immortal words ‘A cynic is a man who knows the price of everything but the value of nothing’. No truer words were ever said as sometimes it feels as if everyone is a cynic with an unhealthy fixation on price without ever considering the more important issue of value. Indeed, it is one of the great disadvantages of the Internet in general and advertising in particular that most products or services have to be distilled down to the inescapable question of ‘how much does it cost?
This methodology invariably does a disservice not only to the product being sold but also to the consumer as some things simply cannot be defined by price alone. The issue of price is fine when one is talking about a product or service that is essentially a commodity but it is a crude tool when the item being promoted sits higher up the food chain and the reason why is simple economics! When ad space in newspapers is sold by the column inch and on radio and TV by the second, every word counts so advertisers often can’t enjoy the luxury of being able to wax lyrical about their product unless they’re one of the ‘big boys’ with money to burn. Advertisements tend to be short and to the pint and nothing gets to the point more quickly than displaying a price.
Each year around this time, we engage in extended marketing activity on behalf of our member agents located around the country. The reason is simple — there are economies of scale that allows us to do things en masse that would normally be beyond the reach of any single travel agent. For a couple of years, we ran full page ads in the travel supplement of the Sunday Times in conjunction with some of our supplier partners over a period of several months and last year, we put together an early booking campaign that included a prize fund of €6,000.
Whilst each campaign was effective in its own way, the realization dawned on me that every single advert was dominated and defined by a price which I felt should not be the starting point from which someone begins a conversation. A consumer doesn’t purchase a Mercedes or a Rolex simply because the price is right. The transactional process is much more complex and involves a lot more than simply the price point. Things like brand kudos, features v benefits, resale value, reliability etc all play a part, but price tends not to be the defining reason as to why something is purchased or not. It should work like that with travel as well but often doesn’t and that’s why this year, we’ve decided to do something a little bit different at Travelbug HQ.
For the first time ever, we’ve decided to create our own publication which will represent a fusion of brochure and magazine where consumers can learn a bit more about just some of the holiday experiences available through their nearest Travel Centres-affiliated agent. In addition to extolling the considerable benefits of using a travel agent in the first place, it will also explain in a little more detail, what certain holiday types are all about as so many preconceptions exist out there in consumer land that inadvertently cause people to discount travel experiences that would otherwise be suitable for consideration. Examples include the wonderfully diverse worlds of both cruising and adventure travel — both of which are quite different from what most people consider them to be about.
We hope that this new publication will represent a welcome addition to the range of services that we provide to travelers so that they can continue to make more informed decisions about their travel choices in the future.