4 Travel Deals Observations on Travel Marketing

Product, Place, Price and Promotion are the good old 4 “P’s” of marketing.  Many people may not be familiar with this “precept” from working with it in the field, but all are influenced by the strength in the truth it represents every time you purchase something.  Yes, there are a hell of a lot of smart people influencing your every decision by manipulating one or more of the “P’s”.  

An interesting exercise is always to try and understand the relationship between this basic concept and how you make your own purchase decisions.  Some of us are influenced by price, some by pretty ads, and others only by the features and benefits they receive, and still others who want to purchase at their utmost convenience.  That is why when things are eye level at supermarkets they generally are the biggest profit generators. It is also why beautiful ads get our attention and normally create an image of quality or some higher standard in our minds.  Some products and services are created and offered by some very smart marketers who can bring all these elements into clear focus for prospective consumers, wooing them with ads, convincing them on price with an ease of delivery that would engage anyone and everyone.  These guys normally win.  Guys like this in the travel world normally win.  We all are familiar with a few of these companies that have branded themselves so well that over the years we don’t even need to see the product, we can hear a song or a slogan and our minds instantly register who it is, what they do and the value proposition they represent. 

Some of these companies deliver on the promises they make in their marketing.  Disney might be the prime example at the top of the travel pyramid.  They are who they are because their product is unique, it is priced right because they basically can get almost any price they charge, and in the world of attraction venues they do it all right.  Few who spend their hard earned money on a Disney product walk away feeling like they didn’t get value for their travel dollar.  The same can’t be said for many other products that tend to over compensate for market trends by applying the 4 P’s in unequal and disproportionate amounts.  Low prices can offset weak products and slick, well placed advertising can offset disproportionately high prices.  In my experience many of the best represented mega brands tend to use their promotion to engineer price more than to simply inform and entice potential consumers.  I remember working for a very large British airline where the CEO told me, “If you tell them you are good long enough, they will believe it, if you tell them your cheap, that is all they will ever remember”.  That could potentially sum up the universal marketing strategy of about 85% of the travel industry.  Some feel they are good and worth more, and some are cheap and can deliver less.  They have convinced themselves that consumers are lemmings and won’t examine the value proposition beyond the information they provide in their marketing.  

My experience tells me that for the most part, they are right.  Travel consumers have convinced themselves that there is little relationship between their physiographic profile (personal passions and preferences) and obtaining value when purchasing travel.  People are giving up their ability to study and understand products beyond the glossy ads and glowing “objective” reviews they receive, and are simply equating that slick promotion with higher value.  Do you really need that private Jacuzzi?  Moreover, would you pay a lot more to have that private Jacuzzi and is the resort earning the money they charge by providing it?  People will spend hours picking out new pillows for their living room and for the most part, sacrifice material construction for cosmetics or fabric quality for lower pricing but when it comes to travel the logic seems completely different.  As travel consumers we want low prices for airline tickets and aren’t all that concerned about little things like, safety.  Seldom does anyone question the credentials of those who man the cockpits and they are almost never aware of the maintenance violations an airline might have unless it hits the six o’clock news.  Of course, we want safety but would you pay more to get it when you could buy the same transportation for less?  It is an interesting question I have often pondered.

It all leads me back to the topic of the 4 P’s and some reminders for would-be travel purchasers.  I recommend you know what you feel is important and purchase that which meets your needs, desires or wishes.  Don’t buy anything based on nice advertising.  The world is a beautiful place and there are some amazing photographers in it that can convince you that staying in a tent on the beach is worth huge sums of money.  Remember to directly equate value for the money you spend.  If you want a Jacuzzi in your room and it costs an extra $150 per night, make sure it is worth that much to you.  If you buy cheap products ensure your expectations are also cheap.  You are way more likely to get what you pay for when you don’t pay all that much than you are when you pay a lot more.  It is most important to remember that travel is an individual experience, like a meal, some would sacrifice anything to have a slice of bread to eat, while most of us would consider that experience mundane.  Above all don’t listen to strangers.  Whether they are the strangers that run big ad agencies or the invisible online authors who don’t know you or what you like or don’t like. 

Make up your own mind.

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