Nuffield Place – the epitome of understatement

Nuffield Place is typical of the Chilterns: modest, intriguing and tucked away in a beautiful place you have probably near heard of. The William Morris of the British Arts and Crafts Movement-fame casts a huge shadow on this William Morris who brought affordable motoring to Britain, and this is his story. Born in 1877 in Worcester, … Continue reading Nuffield Place – the epitome of understatement

A road trip in the Free State and neighbouring Lesotho

This short travelogue follows the discovery of a set of images taken during a trip a relative took whilst on holiday in South Africa in 1957. His handwriting was even worse than mine, so I am unfortunately not able to identify specific locations or people. He traveled from Germany by boat, calling in at Cape Town, … Continue reading A road trip in the Free State and neighbouring Lesotho

Isn’t it time small #tourism businesses looked beyond the DMO membership fee?

It’s time to look beyond the membership fee for new opportunities in the travel and leisure industry. It's time for tourism businesses to really engage and start promoting their destination first, their product second. Why then, should DMO’s now support the businesses who supply into their destination offer? We are all so inter-connected these days … Continue reading Isn’t it time small #tourism businesses looked beyond the DMO membership fee?

Fewer platitudes would reassure potential visitors about the safety of your destination

Another week, another World Travel Market and each year I can’t fail to notice the footprints of some geographical areas continue to shrink, and the quality of stands gives off a tired and ‘must-we-be-here’ vibe. But there are still lots of growing footprints with big-ticket stands, some with intimidating fortress-like walls into which only the … Continue reading Fewer platitudes would reassure potential visitors about the safety of your destination

Brand Building. By Stealth

To come in under the radar, you have to harness the energy, insights and influence of your local businesses to build the brand with you. You are the enabler, not the controller. For a brand to have an identity that consumers use and trust is the holy grail. But you need to have marketing muscle … Continue reading Brand Building. By Stealth

Cotton sheets, or sleeping bag? Has glamping really become a leisure habit, or is it a trend heading south?

Origin: early 21st century: blend of glamorous and camping = glamping.How fickle is the camping consumer? Has glamping really become a leisure habit, or is it a trend heading south?I have done my fair share of mainly conventional camping in the UK and abroad, the sight of a tent peg doesn’t turn me cold, but strangely when … Continue reading Cotton sheets, or sleeping bag? Has glamping really become a leisure habit, or is it a trend heading south?

Just because the lady loves flowers.

The High Commission of South Africa in London is the diplomatic and public face of South Africa in the UK and has one of the best addresses in town - right on Trafalgar Square. I have visited many times, and it certainly feels like stepping into a time capsule that takes me back to a … Continue reading Just because the lady loves flowers.

Marooned beside London’s ugliest roundabout, sits a handsome 18th century house

I have long wanted to return to Hogarth’s House and the lovely spring weather drew me westwards, along the river path from Hammersmith towards the pretty village of Chiswick, a mere six miles from Charing Cross.London in the springtime; coats left at home, pink cherry blossom, LBJ’s (little brown job’s) busy in the warm sunshine, … Continue reading Marooned beside London’s ugliest roundabout, sits a handsome 18th century house

It’s all about location location location.

I sometimes wonder if visitors who are in east London think they are there by accident, or have been mistakenly sent there by their friends or hotel concierge who are playing some sort of cruel joke. I tend to find myself on a busmans holiday whenever I set off on a day trip and this … Continue reading It’s all about location location location.

Just what is the point of Travel Trade Shows?

Ever since I started in the tourism business, trade shows have been an integral, if misunderstood part of the communications landscape. On the one hand you were excited because it meant getting out of the office for a few days with the occasional bonus of not having to travel to Birmingham – and on the other hand, you dreaded them because you would have to speak to people, often concerning things you knew next to nothing about.

This weeks ITB Berlin should be particularly interesting trade show, and like so many things in life, interesting for unexpected reasons. A very popular show, second only to World Travel Market, delegate numbers have increased from 3,000 in 2004 to 17,000 this year. Technology has made doing international business easier and cheaper, but we are social animals, and the benefits of relationship building, re-affirming existing relationships and building even more business is better done person-to-person, in my experience. This means that a great effort has to be put into the planning and execution, you can’t just turn up and sit around hoping someone will speak to you.

What is most striking, is how the traditional communication models are being torn up, re-invented or are still evolving. I have lost count of the number of conversations I had with travel trade struggling to get to grips with these changes, not least of all in how the consumer is researching then buying their holiday. Direct in some cases, by-passing the trade altogether. Some are frankly bewildered by what’s going on, and are genuinely struggling to adapt. They cling like barnacles to their business model, hoping they can ride it out and it will all magically go away. It won’t and whilst I profess to be no expert on social media and it’s impact, I recognise that it is the future. Enjoy the ride!

Of great interest to many tourism organisations is the ROI of social media with the jury still out on how best to measure this. Bare in mind that the way we measure much of our marketing and communication success or failure is not a scientific process either. We still use the dubious method of equating press editorial with advertising costs for example. They bare no relation as they are viewed in a completely different way by the consumer and are always calculated on rack rates. Who pays those?

Yet there are also travel trade companies who are enjoying growth in existing markets or expanding to bring their brand and business model into new markets. What stuck me is that these businesses are run by people who are passionate and knowledgeable about what they do, they really treat their customers well, don’t quibble with refunds or complaints and don’t take themselves too seriously! They differentiate themselves by offering the consumer peace of mind, seamless service and an insider knowledge of what they sell that is worth gold dust. There is a market for this, especially in light of the many airline and tour operator failures that have left consumers out of pocket and sometimes unable to get home. In spite of the social media maelstrom, they seem to have stuck to the tried and tested model of offering exceptional service. Rocket science? Hardly.

To conclude; think carefully about the type and information content you develop. There is so much online noise, how are you standing out and reaching out to potential consumers? Does your business model stand out for the wrong reasons? What are your customers saying about you?

My final thoughts will rest with those companies who persist with exhibition spam in their attempts to sell you stuff you don’t need with a cold call…don’t get nasty when I tell you to (politely) piss off the stand that has cost my client thousands of pounds. Remember, we are here to sell our ‘stuff’, not buy yours!

Mary Tebje

What is the point of trade shows?

Ever since I started in the tourism business, trade shows have been an integral, if misunderstood part of the communications landscape. On the one hand you were excited because it meant getting out of the office for a few days with the occasional bonus of not having to travel to Birmingham – and on the other hand, you dreaded them because you would have to speak to people, often concerning things you knew next to nothing about.

This weeks World Travel Market has been a particularly interesting trade show, and like so many things in life, interesting for unexpected reasons. Long seen as an excuse for delegates to enjoy the retail offer of the host city, if you get past that, it still has a role.

Technology has made doing international business easier and cheaper, but we are social animals, and the benefits…

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