Tuesday, June 27, 2006

What to do with those brochures

We have a confession to make: in our brief existence we have unintentionally managed to ignore what is still one of the most widely used marketing tools in the travel industry.

Indeed, a trawl through the Blog archives and the Travolution website reveals just a smattering of references to holiday brochures.

[Read our recent story about Intellimag and their work with The Adventure Company and Holidays4u]

Why this cruel and snub?

Perhaps some operating in the so-called new media age would argue that a directory of products using as supposedly outdated medium as print in hardly progressive.

But that’s not the point. The brochure is a massively useful tool for travel companies looking to target consumers who, lets be frank here, haven’t got a clue where to go.

What the brochure has done so successfully is showcase destinations and then include the options available for staying there. Simple.

Consumers can order a brochure to be delivered, walk into a travel agent and pick one up – and they can look at one online.

Hmmm. This is where it gets a little tricky.

Let’s face it, PDF brochures are pretty unsatisfying. And even less so if, as a consumer, you spend time printing it out only to discover the printer at work is black and white only or the reproduction is clearly not as good as having the original glossy brochure in your hands.

There are few companies – such as Intellimag and EBXP - attempting to push bring the traditional brochure into the online world.

The results are pretty impressive, but it still feels like there is a long way to go before an online brochure has the same feel as its print counterpart.

[See Intellimag’s brochure for The Adventure Company or EBXP's one for Maison de la France]

It is an area we have been talking about recently with the industry – and feedback, admittedly, appears to be rather mixed: “the print brochure is dead” or “consumers still love to flick through the pages of a brochure”.

These comments are not, as some might suspect, exclusive to the new players in the market and traditional tour operator respectively.

What is clear is that nobody really knows what to do – if less people are perhaps picking up brochures (no figures available, sorry), how will travel companies attract the consumer that just wants to be wooed?

But, equally, how will websites recreate the look and feel of a glossy brochure?

Tricky one…

Kevin May, editor, Travolution

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