Three Cheers for Brochures

Wednesday 4th April 2012

The perennial prediction that the ‘brochure is dead’ has often been voiced but demand at distributor BP Travel Marketing Services is proving the opposite. Brochure orders from travel agents, 65% of the brochure packs delivered, are so far this year on par with 2011. 

TUI and Thomas Cook bosses have added to the debate by revealing that brochures collected from their shops are driving web bookings and that information viewed on websites is resulting in face to face bookings in shops, often with a brochure involved in the transaction.

BP’s Managing Director, Paul Markland said, “Print clearly retains a place in the multi-media world. Travel shops and brochures go hand in hand; brochures are an integral part of most high street holiday and cruise sales and, interestingly, also seem to be driving online bookings”.

Ian Ailles, Joint Chief Executive of Thomas Cook UK & Ireland, recently unveiled data that showed how customers switch between online and traditional channels during the booking process. Of those who start on the internet 18% end up booking via a call centre and, perhaps surprisingly, 16% booked in one of the retailer’s stores. When a store is the first port of call 5% book through the call centre and 25% end up online.

Nick Longman, distribution and online director at TUI UK & Ireland, commented; “From our research we know that there will always be customers who want to purchase, what is perhaps their biggest expenditure of the year, face-to-face, which is why we offer customers multi-faceted booking channels.”

“A trend we’ve noticed is that customers are using our channels interchangeably. Customers might research their holidays on our website and on review sites like TripAdvisor, but then come into the shop to actually book their holidays, while others will pick up brochures in-store and then book at home online.”

He added: “I think there will always be customers who want the expertise, knowledge, assurance and the personal experience they can receive in one of our retail shops. Our online sales would also be lower if it wasn’t for a retail presence as our data shows that 20% of customers who visited one of our retail shops ended up booking with us on the web.”

Longman claimed that independent figures show that for summer 2012 more than 67% of holidays are still being sold through travel shops, with the remaining 33% being sold direct online or via the telephone.

Rik Haslam of Direct Marketing Agency RAPP said, It’s one of the problems print faces.  People make the decision from print but online gets the credit as it takes the last click.”

BP’s Paul Markland added; “Consumers utilise many more information sources nowadays before making their purchase decisions. A multi-media approach is essential and travel marketers should recognise this. If consumers want printed brochures, despite them not being seen as ‘sexy’ any more, then they should provide them - or your competitors will.”

Even with huge websites full of content, print still captures the imagination. It’s persuasive, reassuring, unpressured and helps people make that final decision on what to buy. Brochures are also part of the post-booking holiday anticipation process.”

He also speculated about the link to the steady decline in the numbers of travel shops. “Are similar numbers of consumers picking up their brochures from a lesser number of locations?  Interestingly we are seeing new company-specific high street outlets being established by Kuoni and Virgin”.

Further information from: Steve Martin on 01233 211211 or steve.martin@bptms.co.uk

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