A Trip to Remember
The travel industry is no stranger to hard times. Memories of a recession and "staycations" are still fresh in the minds of every travel, hotel and resort professional, not to mention those looking to sell promotional items to the travel market. On the bright side, things are picking up. In fact, the travel industry is expected to outpace the growth of the economy, a claim backed by encouraging statistics.
"Despite the disruptions caused by the government shutdown, the travel industry added 16,000 jobs in October and contributed to more than 6 percent of October's total non-farm employment gains," stated David Huether, senior vice president for research and economics at the U.S. Travel Association, in a recent release. He went on to say the travel industry now has recovered 95 percent of the jobs lost during the recession. Compare that to the rest of the economy, which only recovered 82 percent of lost jobs to date.
And exactly how much has travel spending recovered since the widespread collapse hit? Try more than $100 billion.
The U.S. Travel Association reported direct spending on leisure travel by domestic and international travelers reached $597 billion in 2012 (up $107.3 billion from 2009). Numbers on the business travel side, including expenditures on meetings, events and incentive programs, totaled $259 billion in 2012 (up $44.3 billion from 2009).
There's no time like the present for distributors to get back in the game. From luggage tags and plastic key cards to spa gifts and edible treats, the options are endless. For those feeling overwhelmed, we asked a few suppliers to break down their favorite travel products. Read on for inspiration to take your clients to their chosen destination.
How they work: Table Shapes can be created to the shape of a client's logo, design, building, vehicle or any other featured design. They are often displayed on tables, bars, desks or countertops. (Courtesy of Ron Rosencrans, CAS, president, ProRose Inc., Stamford, Conn.)
Why are they effective: Table Shapes are great conversation starters. Rosencrans explained that their unique design, coupled with dynamic graphics, attract attention at the point of sale. Inserts can be changed to reflect relevant messages and timely specials.
Free sales tip: "A custom shape display featuring a cruise line, a city skyline, a place of interest or a resorts theme would be a great promotion to distribute to travel agents and vacation planners," Rosencrans recommended. "Think how many times a travel advisor will mention the property or location [when] they are staring at a Table Shapes in full color on their desk or in their office."
LAMINATED PAPER EVENT TAGS
How they work: Event tags can be distributed in two ways: Add them to a welcome kit that is sent out to participants before they leave the event or give them to participants as they check in to the event in the registration area. The front of the tags can be personalized; the backside is used for maps, schedules or other important information. (Courtesy of Eric Johnson, MAS, vice president of sales and development,Halls & Company, Brooklyn Park, Minn.)
Why are they effective: Many travelers like to have a keepsake of their trip—whether it's to remember good times or simply where they've been. "Think of it as 'bragging rights,'" said Johnson.
Free sales tip: According to Johnson, many hotels and travel arrangers use the tags to sort luggage to various parts of a resort set to host an event. He listed color coordination and personalization as key selling points. "The different designs or colors will make each piece easily recognizable and sortable," he said. "And when you add the personalization to the tag, they have all the information they need right on the luggage."
WORLD SCENIC CALENDARS
How they work: The 13-month World Scenic Calendar features hot spots from countries around the world. Spiral or stapled binding is available. (Courtesy of Shelly Fisher, marketing coordinator, Beacon Promotions Inc., New Ulm, Minn.)
Why are they effective: Fisher pointed out that calendars keep travel destinations, along with an advertiser's logo, in front of customers year-round. An added bonus? Calendars often lead to repeat orders, she said.
Free sales tip: Fisher suggested targeting travel agencies. "Travel agencies are using them as a gift. When [customers] book a winter giveaway, they receive a free calendar in the fall of the year—an incentive for them to book early," she said.
HAWAIIAN CAMP SHIRTS
How they work: Hawaiian Camp Shirts bring vibrant colors and prints to the traditional camp shirt. They are machine-washable and available in unisex sizes XS through 6XL. (Courtesy of Taraynn Lloyd, marketing director, Edwards Garment, Kalamazoo, Mich.)
Why are they effective: Hotel staff no longer have to be outfitted in drab colors. Bold, colorful imprints brighten up the atmosphere while maintaining a clean, uniformed look.
Free sales tip: Camp shirts aren't limited to staff members. They can also be used as giveaways for resort guests. Lloyd gave an example. "One of our distributors who sells to resorts was approached by the resort to supply Hawaiian camp shirts for a wine tasting event they were hosting for guests," she recalled. "Each guest who pre-registered for the event received their Hawaiian camp shirt upon registration and was requested to wear it to the event." Lloyd mentioned that a portion of the proceeds from the event went to charity.
K-CUP AND CUSTOM COOKIE GIFT PACKS
How they work: Each K-Cup and custom cookie gift pack is assembled with a full-color, custom printed sleeve to complement a custom cookie. (Courtesy of Rhonda Delaney sales manager, Chocolate Chocolate, Blaine, Wash.)
Why are they effective: Corporate offices, hotels and convention centers appreciate the Keurig Coffee system's simple mechanics and no-coffee ground mess. And, as Delaney put it: "Who doesn't like a little something sweet with their afternoon coffee?"
Free sales tip: "Room drops for large conventions, sales meetings or guest thank-yous are a few of the ways to use this product," Delaney said. "The beauty of this product is that the belly band can be changed every time the product is ordered. You can customize the band to the season, date or event while leaving the chocolate art generic so only one mold fee."