Most Aito members still find them relevent for their businesses, says Gemma Antrobus, chairman of Aito specialist travel agents
I’ve never worked in a travel agency that racks brochures. I joined Haslemere Travel 10 years ago, by which point they had already been working, very successfully, without brochures on display for four years.
Haslemere Travel was probably one of the first to take this rather revolutionary step, but it’s one that I assumed many agencies had followed over the years – until I did a straw poll among Aito Specialist Travel Agents this week.
To my great surprise, the vast majority (87%) said they still displayed brochures in their agencies, and found them very relevant for their businesses.
A few had opted for brochure front covers displayed in frames, and only three said they had removed brochures entirely.
This result really amazed me. But, of course, as independent travel businesses, it’s entirely our choice about how we run them and what we feel fits our client base; that’s the beauty of being independent.
This leads me to the subject of operators that no longer print brochures or plan to discontinue them in favour of online content.
While it’s one thing for an independent agency to make a business decision to choose an alternative method of presenting a destination or product, it’s quite another for a supplier to remove this sales tool entirely. I wonder who the operators polled before making this decision?
Many Aito Agents have told me that it is their older clients who still love to leaf through a brochure, and it’s quite possible that it is this demographic that is not as computer-proficient as others.
Will this mean a total loss of their business because their needs are not met? Will there be a wave of switch‑selling by agents shifting bookings to operators that still produce brochures?
While I’m personally not a fan of brochures, as chairman of Aito Specialist Travel Agents it’s vital I listen to our members – and, as the statistic above shows, most of them still use brochures.
So it intrigues me why some operators are moving away from them. I understand the financial implications; we all appreciate that brochures are a massive investment.
However, if not printing brochures means the majority of your agents won’t sell your trips, then is that really a smart commercial decision?
Then there is the new wave of ‘print on demand’ brochures. These can work when you have clients making a considered travel purchase and spending significant time in the planning stages.
But what about clients who want to book their holiday on the day they walk in? Having something glossy sent in the post three days later doesn’t quite fit the bill.
So, is there a happy medium, or do we need to come up with something different?
I personally think that what really needs to happen is for operators and agents to talk more openly about what they require to close a sale or help promote a product. That way, we’d all be on the same page.
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