5 Ways to Reduce Travel Marketing Costs Robert Elding Marketing Director YUDU Media
5 Ways to Reduce Travel Marketing Costs Introduction The travel industry operates to wafer thin margins making it a high risk industry at the best of times. Thomas Cook, one of Europeâ€™s leading travel companies recently described its margin figures of 4.2% as â€˜industry leadingâ€™ giving some perspective on the ongoing pressures facing the sector.
With such small room for error it’s no surprise that the recent economic downturn has seen so many travel industry casualties. These include the UK’s third largest tour operator XL Leisure group in September 2008 as well as cruise specialists Gillett Travel, Scottravel, Holiday Options, Libra Holidays and more recently golf holiday experts Inta Group. It’s not just the tour operators who are feeling the pinch either. Japan Airlines filed for bankruptcy in early 2010 whilst British Airways is currently losing £1.6 million a day squeezed by falling demand and rising oil prices. IATA (International Air Transport Association) estimates that the airline industry will see a post-tax loss of £3.5 billion across the board in 2010. It’s therefore clear why tour operators, travel agents and airlines are looking to make substantial cuts without affecting the quality of the services they provide. One solution that the travel industry has neglected is digital publishing (also called e-publishing) which allows companies to not only save £millions but also make money on its marketing material. This whitepaper outlines five key ways in which travel companies and airlines can use digital publishing to slash costs and enhance business performance.
Use digital publishing to create eBrochures.
Travel brochures typically cost £1.50 - £2.50 to print and distribute (depending on size and quality), a price that has been steadily increasing due to a variety of destabilising factors such as increase in printing costs, raw pulp inflation (up 24% in two years), coated magazine paper inflation (up 8% or more since 2008), ink prices rises (up to 40% inflation depending on the ink mix) and increased transport costs due to oil price fluctuations. These cost rises will soon be added to by Royal Mail which will increase first class mail prices by 5.2% April 2010. Not only are brochure costs high and rising, their effectiveness has been declining. The BPIF (British Printing Industries Federation) recently said:
“Travel brochures have suffered a dramatic decline in value in a short time, the printing of travel brochures still takes place and it still forms an important part of marketing campaigns from operators, agents and tourism agencies, but it is now very much on a targeted basis for direct marketing rather than mass produced for dispersal at travel agents.”
With these factors in mind, a key solution is for printed brochures to be turned into digital editions and the URL link sent by email to interested prospects and customers. The process couldnâ€™t be easier. Marketers simply need to upload their Adobe Acrobat PDF file onto a digital publishing platform and then send the link via email to interested parties. Prospects simply click on the link and the digital brochure opens out into a pageturning online version of the printed copy. The costs savings are huge. Stripped of paper, ink, printing, envelope and postage costs, savings are normally in the order of 75% or more. Furthermore, customers can receive the eBrochure in minutes and not have to wait days for the printed version to land on their doorsteps. And finally, if an interested party needs a hard copy of the brochure, they can print out full copies or pages in the comfort of their own home with a single click.
Case Study Virgin Holidays appointed YUDU Media as its digital publishing platform for a number of the companyâ€™s eBrochures including its Caribbean, African, Middle East, Indian and North American brochures. Over a period of four months, the company attracted over 57,000 visits to its eBrochures with the average visitor spending more than 3 minutes perusing selected holidays. It is estimated that it has resulted in a saving approaching 10% of brochure marketing costs for Virgin Holidays.
View the Virgin Holidays Caribbean brochure
Use eBrochures to build a prospect database.
eBrochures will allow marketers to collect email addresses as a condition of prospects being allowed to view them. Whilst not a mandatory requirement, most marketers select this facility because it allows travel companies to collect email addresses and build a prospect database. One added key advantage is that because travel companies know what eBrochures have been viewed, they can selectively target customers using special offers promoting the holidays and routes prospects have already expressed an interest in. Using the Virgin Holidays case study earlier, the company harvested 22,000 email addresses over a four month period and they expect this to grow to 100,000 over a full year - a phenomenal resource for future marketing activity.
Utilize cross-platform eBrochure technology. eBrochures are not just for viewing solely on personal computers. As digital technology is developing, more and more platforms are becoming available for users to read material on.
The recent launch of Apple’s iPad is a case in point and as people become more attuned to digital publishing, the widespread general acceptance of eBrochures and eBooks will become the norm. As a case in point, the US Book Industry Study Group found that in 2009 one in five books purchased in the US was bought as a digital eBook. A few ePublishing specialists are currently developing and trialing applications that will allow eBrochures to be viewed cross-platform in a single application and at no extra cost. This will save travel marketers many £1,000’s as it does away with the need for a separate digital brochure solution for each platform. ‘One size fits all’ online brochure technology will become a key way to broaden reach whilst simultaneously saving money.
Use eBrochures for Search Engine Optimisation. (SEO)
The vast majority of people begin their search for a holiday or flight on the internet. For that reason, it is vital for travel companies to be highly ranked on internet search engines such as Google, Yahoo, MSN and other related resources. eBrochures such as those provided by YUDU Mediaâ€™s technology platform allow companies to not only digitally publish brochures but to also allow the content to be search optimised. This lets consumers find your eBrochures directly over the internet as well as helping send more and more traffic straight to your companyâ€™s website - via links - for free. Reciprocal web links from an eBrochure to your main company website will help your SEO ranking.
Bring your travel company to life with eBrochures.
Rich media such as embedded videos, audio files and podcasts bring a travel destination to life. Why settle for static photos when at the click of a mouse a prospective customer can view video footage of a holiday, hotel or the destination itself? eBrochures allow travel companies to increase the impact of their message, increase engagement and bring their travel brand to life. This in turn helps drive sales and maximises booking conversions.
Conclusion With margins squeezed and consumer discretionary spending badly hit by the recession, travel companies will need to rapidly embrace new technology such as eBrochures in a bid to cut costs. However, Digital Brochures not only help travel companies cut costs, they also offer a host of other advantages such as building prospect databases, increasing traffic via SEO as well as generating revenue itself. Combined with the fact that no additional technology or resource is needed to create an eBrochure - all that is needed is a PDF – the question to ask is ‘are you using eBrochures for your travel company?’.
If not, why not? To try YUDU Pro technology for free, request a free preview or click here to request a pricing brochure.
Robert Elding Marketing Director YUDU Media www.yudupro.com email: firstname.lastname@example.org UK Tel: (+44) 870 760 9258 US Tel: 1-888-FOR-YUDU (367-9838)