See ATTA's COVID-19 Guide for the Adventure Travel Industry

Travel Marketing Strategies for Today’s Economy

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On Thursday, January 22nd, Brand Launcher marketing expert Rafael Mael (see bio) will share surprising case studies with practical takeaway action steps and innovative, real-world strategies during the first ATTA Members Tune In Webinar of 2009. During this 60-minute Webinar ATTA Members will learn:

• Common marketing mistakes most travel business make
• How to leverage your promotional budget through targeted offers
• The art of crafting a successful offer in a down market
• The single most powerful word to use in marketing – not ‘free’ or ‘you’
• How to use premiums, freemiums, and unusual mailers to boost response rates
• “Next stepping” – how to implement successful relationship marketing

In preparation for this Webinar, the ATTA encourages you to read the following article written by the Webinar’s presenter.

If you would like to take part in this Webinar, a free opportunity for ATTA Members, please send an email to [email protected].


How to Keep Your Head Above Water in a Recession 
by Rafael Mael, Marketing Strategist, Brand Launcher

“Travel is a huge part of who I am, but… not this year.” As the global economic situation has spiraled downward, consumer spending has dried up faster than a puddle in the Sahara. It’s a scary time to be selling “discretionary” services like adventure travel. But if you think you’ll just tighten your belt, slash costs, and ride out this recession – think again. 

The fundamentals of business apply now more than ever. Without marketing, your sales will wither. And without sales, your travel business is finished. Slashing marketing expenditures in tough times could be a costly – and potentially fatal – move. 

Focused Firepower
Instead of cutting your promotional spending, focus your marketing firepower where it matters most: on your current customers. Studies by the research firm TARP have shown that it costs as much as twenty times as much to acquire a new customer than it does to keep an old one. So brush off your customer list and start marketing like you mean it. 

Here are four cost-effective marketing ideas to implement now:

  • Co-market with other businesses. Reach out to other small business owners in your community who target the same demographic, but don’t compete with you. Combine your lists and market together – you can both profit from the energy of a joint venture.
  • Be persistent. A study by SMEI showed that 81% of sales are made after the fifth contact. That means that you need to choose your target and hit it again and again. Instead of a single mass campaign to a “cold” list, send a multi-step series to the same list. Keep building trust and awareness, and when they are ready to take that trip, you’ll get the sale.
  • Build online content. Your website must have real value; an “online brochure” is not enough. Provide travel news and links to resources they’ll want to use. Forget about the impersonal, pompous “our level of service is unmatched…” fluff. Create a connection by putting your picture on your website, talking about why you got into the adventure travel business, and making it easy to contact you. Start blogging. Add video. Be creative!
  • Say thank you. Your clients know that there are other adventure tour operators out there. So let them know that you appreciate their loyalty. Mail a fun gift when they sign on for a trip. Send a personal thank-you card upon their return. Remember, it’s all about the relationship.

A Lesson From the Stock Market
It’s tempting for tour operators to cut marketing in difficult economic times. But it’s worth learning a lesson from the stock market and the world of behavioral economics. Many investors jump in when the market is flying high and pull out when the market drops. But frenzied buying in a stock bubble and frantic selling in a crash guarantees that you buy high and sell low—not exactly a smart growth strategy. Smart investors invest where they see real value—and pull in serious returns when things turn back up again.

What’s true in the stock market is true for adventure travel. Travelers who have done business with you in the past are your meal ticket for the future. There is real value in those connections, and you can’t afford not to invest in them. The time to build those relationships is now. 

The Silver Lining
Here’s the good news: adventure travelers are fanatically devoted to the adventure life. Trekking, surfing, or kayaking is who they are, and their plans are never canceled – only postponed. The question is, when they decide to make the next move, who will they think of first? If you market fearlessly, you’ll be positioned right where you want to be – at the top-of-the-mind for your customers.

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