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on the record â?–

On The Record Online Tools: Key to Marketing FOLLOWING ARE ANSWERS from Leisure Group Travel readers who responded to this question about online marketing: How are you using online tools—websites, email, social networking—to grow your business? Collette is concentrating on the “social� aspect of social media. Through our corporate blog (Traveling Well) and various Twitter accounts we are participating in the vast online travel community. Rather than focus on selfpromotion and “advertising,� we participate in discussions and point out interesting travel stories, while posting our own useful travel content. That can include everything from travel

Chocolate Tours

DeBrand Chocolatier oers tours of their kitchens as well as an elegant chocolate shoppe with gourmet desserts and specialty drinks. Call the Corporate OďŹƒce to reserve your tour today!

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photo and packing tips to timely information on new escorted tours. Via this strategy, which includes a lot of listening as well as content creation, we are learning more about our clients and their needs. This will organically grow our business simply by making us a more informed organization while at the same time providing potential customers with something of value. John Geysen, Copywriter Collette Vacations Pawtucket, RI Here is how we use online tools for the AQS Quilt Shows – we produce four of the largest quilt shows in the country, with attendance ranging from 17,000 to 30,000: • Website: Hosts our show information and online registration • Email: We use email to send out our weekly OnPoint newsletter that covers a variety of topics – our quilt show, new books released, membership opportunity, magazine subscription links, free quilt patterns and quilt puzzles. • Blog: Our communication link where quilters can learn more about our shows, magazines, tips and tricks, etc. • Facebook and Twitter: Communication links back to our website and blog We have one staff member whose job it is to monitor Facebook and Twitter.


Five staff members contribute to providing content for our website and blogs. It is a continual challenge to keep people up-to-date with information in this fast-paced technological world today. We are continually looking for new avenues to provide information to our consumers. Recently we just added webcasting of lectures and some special events from our events – people could subscribe to watch them live or “on demand� up to 90 days following the event. Bonnie Browning, Executive Show Director American Quilter’s Society Paducah KY Over the years, some 20 to be exact, as a small business owner I have always looked for the easiest and least expensive way to promote my business. When it was Coastal Tours a quarterly newsletter was printed and mailed to a list of about 800 tour operators and travel agents. Yes, it was expensive, but it helped sell tours. In 2006 I partnered with a number of my suppliers and we did co-op ads. The business rolled in. Just about a month ago a tour operator called and wanted to talk about one of the tours that was featured in a magazine. The magazine did have a shelf life as that was five years ago. June 2011 103

on the record ❖ Moving forward….I’ve had a website ever since the first ones were launched. We had no idea what we were doing, how it would drive business or what to really expect from it. It was not cheap, but it was what I felt we had to do to stay ahead of the market. It worked! We booked business and the traffic picked up, phones rang and business increased. Amazing!  Now I have moved into the social media arena along with e-mailing a monthly newsletter to 1,500 tour operators. I Tweet, post to Facebook, blog and am continually updating my website. I have nearly 2,000 followers on Facebook and nearly 200 on Twitter.  I write about what is going on in the areas that I offer tours and anything that would help my customers be more successful. I have discovered that these 2,200 people that follow me really are reading what I am writing. I had a tour operator tell me just yesterday that she

can’t wait to see what I am writing from day to day and what I am doing. Many times I’m out searching out new and different things to add to my tours to enhance or change my itineraries. I’m known throughout the industry for doing different things from everyone else. Is all the social media worth the time and effort? Who knows, but all it costs me is some time. Will it help grow my business? It already has! I just sent my e-mail newsletter out this morning, Tweeted it, posted on Facebook and have had calls from people who have seen it on all the different media.  Worth it? Yes! Time is money and I’m looking for an even better year next year than this one has been. I have had no tours cancel this year!  Ginny Howell Ginny Howell Tours Jekyll Island,  GA 

Please Go Away™ Vacations uses many online tools to educate, promote and close sales. Among them are: 1. A quarterly electronic newsletter. This is distributed to our entire email address database and is an overall information piece about upcoming travel opportunities and short articles of general travel interest. 2. A monthly electronic magazine. Content is more specific. It is written and distributed each of the two months occurring between the quarterly electronic newsletter distribution. 3. Specifically targeted E-blasts. These are done as often as needed by closely monitoring deadlines and limited remaining space availability. Each employs a rifle shot approach of creating urgency and closing of sales on travel opportunities within the targeted area of interest. Our database is highly refined as to group affinity and specific travel interests. 4. Online travelogues. Time of pres-

entation ranges from 27 minutes to 44 minutes, and consists of commentary and photos about a specific group departure (either our own or a private label custom group). Interactivity between presenters and attendees occurs through online chats and two-way verbal communications. Sole purpose is to make a sale. Verbal closing tactics are used. Highly effective, especially when considering there are no geographical or distance limitations, only an online connection being required. 5. A highly personalized website. Emphasis is on recognizing our past travelers (we have a 94+% repeat factor) as we provide them with recognition for their travel achievements; coupled with promotion of our own specific group departure programs, as well as those of the custom groups. 6. Facebook and blogs. These are our newest efforts and are just now beginning to produce results. 7. Electronic greeting cards. Clients celebrating wedding anniversaries,

birthdays and other notable occasions receive a greeting combining visual effects and appropriate sounds. Larry L. Kopke Please Go Away™ Vacations Great Bend, KS

IN THE AUGUST ISSUE of Leisure Group Travel, our On the Record column will look at experiential travel. Please send us your response to this question: In light of the trend toward experiential travel, what kind of hands-on or behind-the-scenes elements have you used to make an ordinary trip a special one? Along with your comments, please include your name, company name and location. Also for publication, send a high-resolution photo of yourself. A selection of responses will be printed in the August 2011 issue. Thanks in advance for your valuable opinions. Send to: Randy Mink,

Garvan Woodland Gardens, Hot Springs

New penguin exhibit at Little Rock Zoo

Safari by bus.

Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge, Eureka Springs

Take a trip to the wild side – from exciting zoological exhibits to wildlife refuges and magical botanical gardens. Find out more by visiting our website or calling the tollfree number for itinerary ideas. Get more information at or by calling 1-800-872-1259

See video on phone with QR reader.

On The Record  
On The Record June 2011 103 photo and packing tips to timely infor- mation on new escorted tours. Via this strategy, which includes...