The Boogeyman and the Media

Don't let the fear factor affect the way you market your business

By: Steve Cosgrove

I am becoming more and more convinced that the war is not what is holding up the economy and our travel industry. It is the fear of a terrorist attack, in retaliation. In reality, a terrorist strike can happen, war or no war. Once the threat of a biological or nuclear retaliatory strike subsides, however, then there will be a rush to buy travel again.

But, it is the media buildup of what I call the boogeyman, that has everyone frozen in fear. When will the boogeyman strike? What will the boogeyman do when he strikes? We cannot let fear of the boogeyman keep this country and our businesses frozen in time. That is what he wants. Our imagination and fear do more to cause us economic harm that anything that has happened since Sept. 11. Agents and people in the travel industry need to quit listening to everything the darn consumer media says. I am sorry they are not always right. They find the sound bites that reinforce their story and run with those. If you were to believe the media, every hotel, every ship and every airplane would be near-empty. If you “buy” into their stories, then no one is going to travel farther than their local Home Depot. Yet people are going on cruises, hotels are filling up and airplanes are running full.

Our business in 2002 was up. Our business so far in 2003 is up. How do we do it? We continued marketing right after Sept. 11. We are still in the local newspaper, we still do broadcast e-mails, we do consumer shows, we still do direct mail, and we are still busy selling travel.

Finally, a word to all travel agency owners: Times have never been so good, as now, to cut deals. In the last couple of months, I have been approached by professional sports teams, the Yellow Pages, online sites, tanning salons and other businesses all looking for marketing partners. Many times, the deals they at first offer are the same old tired ones, which I quickly reject. Then I start asking what else can we do to work together.

If you are hunkered down, hiding and not marketing, I know your phones are not ringing and it is becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy. Raise your head up, advertise, do a direct-mail piece (although, maybe not for a Holy Land trip), promote, advertise, think outside the box people are still traveling and they are looking to you for ideas.