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The Group Travel Leader Small Market Meetings Going on Faith

Good Processes Yield Great Travel Products

When you walk into a Target store, you expect a certain type of service and product. The brand is known for its chic, budget-friendly products and comfortable shopping environment.

This message comes through not just through the products themselves but by the store’s intentional branding, which pervades everything it does: website, flyers, decor and other advertisements. Even the shopping experience at Target reinforces the company’s brand image.

For your loyalty group travel program, successfully selling your image and then following through on its promise means everything.

“Physical elements” and “process” are the final two concepts covered in the Seven Ps of Marketing theory. Already, we’ve covered product, place, price, promotion and people. The last two marketing ideas cover the nuts and bolts of selling a trip.

Consider these last two marketing concepts to ensure your final tour product retains its quality from a customer’s first encounter through the end of the tour.

Physical Evidence

In some ways, selling a car is more straightforward than selling travel. Potential customers can examine the car up close and take a test drive.

With travel, there isn’t a physical item to sell, so the marketing materials must help a potential traveler imagine the trip. The physical elements marketing concept encourages sellers to see all marketing materials through a critical lens.

For many group leaders, their travel brochure —online, in print or both — is the organization’s main marketing material. Try to craft this item to perfectly reflect your travel program with gorgeous photos, useful information and testimonials.

In the absence of a physical product to sell, photos convey the sense of the tour. A photo can attract someone’s initial attention, so make sure each of your photos makes potential travelers think “I want to go there.”

Gather these high-resolution images from local tourism sites, tour operators or other professional photography websites for a marketing piece that will catch and keep readers’ attention.

To decide what information to include, sometimes tour operators can help write copy. Always look through the copy to make sure it reflects your brand, such as highlighting the luxury items for a high-end travel program. Detailed testimonials gathered from past travelers can also help create a sense of your group’s travel style.

If you can’t fit much information on a physical flyer, include even more online, where there are no space limitations. Make it easy for travelers to contact you with questions. The harder the customer must work to gather information, the quicker they will turn to another tour company for answers.

Highlight the unique value of your tours. You want to focus on the extras that make the tour cost more, such as a private meal inside a local’s home. Some surprises are always welcome on a tour, but the bigger priority is convincing a potential traveler of the value of the tour before they scoff at the price.

Consider the design and layout a priority. Purchase a professionally designed template or hire someone for a top-notch look and feel. No matter your process, make sure your marketing pieces look professional both online and in print. Your tour program will often be judged by the quality of these pieces.

Beyond the Brochure

“Physical elements” go beyond an organization’s main marketing piece. They also include rethinking a company’s packing, website, paperwork, signage, employee dress, business cards and logos. So you should think about all physical elements at play before, during and after a tour.

Make sure you don’t miss a chance to reinforce your program’s branding. Even an invoice can keep a professional look that reflects your tour company through its design, fonts and logo. These little details matter when all added up.

Event venues also fall into this marketing concept. Many group leaders plan pre- or post-trip events with their travelers. Think about how the event will extend your travel brand. A fun-focused, laid-back travel group’s pre-trip party will differ in its appearance from that of a more educationally focused group.

Even the tour itself is part of the marketing concept. Obviously, you can’t control every room a group enters during a tour. However, it does help to curate the experience as much as possible. Work with your tour operator or do your own research to make sure everything reflects your program’s brand, from hotels and restaurants to custom experiences.

For groups that offer vastly different types of tours, such as alumni programs that separate tours into those for recent alums and retired alums, make sure the marketing styles differ somewhat for each style of travel. You might want to use separate brochures to target different audiences.

Sell and Repeat

Once you capture the attention of a potential traveler, the process marketing concept becomes vital.

Companies like McDonalds have refined their processes. The same cooking method, kitchen layouts and delivery time exist for all McDonalds worldwide.

This well-thought-out product execution should be an inspiration for how you sell your tours. Select a standardized process that follows a traveler from the moment they agree to travel until the end of the trip.

For example, make sure your trip-purchasing software is easy to use and functions well. Right after someone books a tour, send out an automated email that connects with them and gives them the advance information necessary.

Group leaders often send out a trip-planning package before a trip with maps, lodging information, quality souvenir suggestions and other information meant to inspire travelers and build anticipation. Ensure that this process is the same from one tour to another for consistency.

Post-trip emails with photos and travelers’ contact information should also be sent in a predetermined amount of time after a trip.

Any other extras, like trip procedures meant to enhance travelers’ experiences, should become a well-tailored process that you can duplicate time and again.

After brainstorming each of these travel concerns, your group travel loyalty program will impress travelers, not just with the quality of the destination but also with the seamlessness of the entire operation.