The client for this marketing communication project is the AA Tours and Travel Company, which deals with a myriad of services in the tours industry by assisting clients to choose holidays destinations in the Middle East particularly in the United Arab Emirates, and cruise ship tours in the Pacific as well as religious tours. The company is medium size with not more than fifty employees dealing in the tours and in back-office services. It also offers hotel booking services and holiday packages.
The target market for this company is usually middle-aged people between the age of 35 and 50 years who are looking for destinations on holidays. The tours and travels industry has become very competitive recently due to reduced tours and holidays because of the global credit crunch. According to the director, the company has experienced a prolonged low season and it is imperative that the company formulate strategies of beating the competition to remain profitable. The major competitors of the company are the small and new entrants in the market who have low costs of operations.
The company is looking for ways of creating awareness as well as promoting its products all over the country in order to remain relevant. The company needs effective marketing communication strategies to get its customers back and to increase its market share in the tourism industry. The objective of marketing communication is to create a strong AA Tours and Travels brand, then use that brand for success in the field of tourism and cruise ship tours. The marketing communication must incorporate the marketing mix and the organization’s public relations for it to be cost-effective.
The Creative Brief
The concept of the project is to have a marketing communication strategy that would incorporate various marketing strategies to increase sales and place the company’s brand competitively in the tourism industry. The following are the business objectives of the clients as per the AIDA model. The first aspect of the brief is on how the tour agency intends to arouse interest from the buyers, as this is an important part of the product. The service must-have features that would get the attention of the potential buyers. In the case of AA Tours and Travels, the industry’s beauty and sceneries of the holiday destination would certainly elicit interest to the potential tourists. AA has nice photos of the destinations where they take their clients usually displayed on their website (Kerry, 2007).
As part of a creative brief having features would arouse interest, as it is easy to get into the mind of the prospective buyer but arousing their interest may be challenging. The company’s audiovisual recording of their destination may arouse the interest of the prospective clients. The food and the scenario of the destinations also arouse the interest of those interested in cruise ships and beaches (Gregory, 1997).
There are several ways of arousing desire such that those who see the advert clamor for the product. Scarcity or the feeling that one may not have something arouses the desire to have the product or service even more. The company is considering offering discounts during the summer to allow those interested to book their holiday positions as soon as possible (Gregory, 1997).
The other aspect of the creative brief looks at how the company acts to ensure that the prospective client takes action and buys the product. The need to create the necessary product is of interest to the buyer, creating a way in which the customer places an order would be of interest to AA Tours and Travels as this is the only way, which proves that the adverts on the marketing communication are effective when they result in increased sales volumes (Kerry, 2007).
User Value Proposition
The services offered by AA Tours and Travels have the following user benefits. The first user benefit is that the products as outlined by the client are accessible to the client at any time. The company is not seasonal and therefore it offers its tour and travel services at any time of the year. The second user benefit is that the services offered to suit the client’s interests. The services are not generalized which make it possible to offer a variety of tour services such as hotel bookings, cruise ship reservation, religious rite tours, wildlife tours and beach tourism (Balmer, 2003).
When offering products the pricing meets the clients’ needs such as air ticketing, hotel booking, visa processing, and work permit processing. The travel agency offers all these services in one package. All that the client has to do is wait to arrive at the destination. In other words, the company offers to hustle free traveling services. The other benefit accrued to the customers is the availability and ability to handle any issue arising during the destination. Due to the many services for the clients, the prices are low due to the increased economies of scale (Clow, 2003).
From the description provided by the clients, most of the clients are middle-aged persons who are aged 35-45 and most of their visits are work-oriented. This group of people would be an important audience for the company (Marder, 2007). The client wants to venture and acquire new markets and therefore having advertisements that are going to reach out to other demographics other than the existing audience may position the client to succeed in the market. The older ages of between 55-70 and above are also a target for the client as the AA tours and Travel believe that this group has more disposable income than the other groups and that they are positioned to go for an increased number of holidays compared with the middle-aged people (Kerry, 2007).
Research and Assumptions
Most of the people in America look forward to traveling outside the country with their families on holidays. They prefer recreational holidays to religious visits and travels. This information is imperative in formulating ways to appeal to these travelers. Most of the people who traveled in the year 2008 were aged above fifty and they traveled with their spouses or alone. Most of the people under the age of fifty traveled on official duties and they traveled alone.
In addition, most people consider cruise ship recreations a luxury (Kotler, 2007). After conducting the market research, the company must then use the information derived to analyze the behaviors of the target market and look for ways of target marketing. Target marketing is a strategy where the messages sent out are not meant for all and sundry but for people with high disposable income. From the research information such as the kind of magazines the people in the target market read, the kind of sports they participate in and the television channels they watch is very important. This is because in advertising choosing the appropriate channel of communication for the target group is important to the consumer.
The Competitive Landscape
The major competitors are Teddy Tours and Travel mainly because they are located in the same state. There are other minor tour and travel industry mostly with three to five employees. They ensure that they have the right and probable form of advertising for the industry. The need to create possible outcomes is well suited in the use of magazines and other forms of target advertising. They also use online advertising through their websites and targeted online mailing lists and subscriptions (Kerry, 2007).
Problems Faced By the Brand
The brand faces a number of problems in the market. Currently, brand awareness is at its minimum as there are few people aware of AA tours and travels company. Few people know of its locations and its primary services. This is a major brand weakness and strategies to create brand awareness are vital otherwise, there would be few people in the United States aware of its work (Kerry, 2007).
The brand previously reckoned for international booking for the corporate is not among many of the travelers’ choice for holidays but for people who are going for the official duties abroad. The brand has to work or improve on this image especially due to the need of diversifying the markets and incorporate all services, as this would increase the revenues generated by the company. The brand faces the challenge of rebranding and positioning itself in the competitive market as a provider of services such as holiday tours and cruise ship holidays (Balmer, 2003).
The goal of the current MARCOM campaign is to position the brand as a provider of all tour and travel solutions, related either to work travels or recreational travels. The campaign must also increase the awareness of the brand throughout the country, as this activity would be important in positioning the brand in the mind of the consumers (Pickton, 2007). Most of the existing tours and travel brands focus on one area such as wildlife, or cruise ship but they do not combine their services so that the services are affordable and all-inclusive.
The aim of this marketing campaign is to position AA Tours and Travels as a one-stop-shop for all traveling solutions. This will be the aim of the marketing communication campaign. Previously the brand has been the provider of official travels but now will have the perception of the tour and travel solutions (Bendinger, 1999).
Relative Growth and Market Share
The market share of the AA tour and travels is mostly dominant in California and in Massachusetts where the company has its headquarters. The market share of the company may be less than two percent although the clients put it at five percent. The share is however dominant in California where it is the most dominant tours and travel agency receiving competition from only the smaller tour and travel companies. The need to increase the market share in other states is important in ensuring that the company experiences dominance and success in the industry.
The clients are usually the middle-aged persons usually the top and middle executives of a company who need processing of their travel documents to the overseas countries. Companies are also major clients of this company especially when they are processing travel documents for their staff in foreign countries (Lewis, 2006). They usually contact the company for any travel engagements. They contact the company to ensure they have the needed documents for travel.
The other demography of clients includes older customers who are above the age of sixty looking for holiday destinations on the cruise ship. However, these clients are occasional and most of the competitors focus on this group of customers. In addition, there are families holidays that usually happen in summer as many of the families look for recreational destinations in hotels and major beaches (Clow, 2007).
The perceived value of the company is that it offers high-quality services to its clients, which are characterized by personalized attention. The staff that works in the company’s call center is polite and interested in giving value to the customers. The existing customers regard these attributes as the reason why they are loyal to the company. The customers also perceive the brand to be official than social particularly because they are accustomed to it in their corporate travels and therefore they feel the brand as inappropriate for their personal and family travels. They find the brand more expensive compared to local tour operators (Hofstede, 2001).
However, they feel that when it comes to getting high quality the brand does not match its local competitors in California. The other major association with the brand is luxury destinations where customers regard its destinations and cruise ship links as great and hilarious. The brand is also not associated as a family brand but also as an official brand and many of the customers state other brands that would be their preferred choice when it comes to family travels. This information is imperative because many people wish to travel on holidays with their families and if the brand would be family-oriented then it would increase its market share (Clow, 2007).
The Positioning Statement
The position statement is the desired mental positioning of the brand in the mind of the consumer. From the previous discussion on how the public perceives the brand, it is imperative that the brand position as follows in order to have the maximum results in the market. The brand currently is associated with business tours and travels rather than family tours and travels. The first desired mental positioning is that of incorporating mental positioning as family tours and Travel Company. This is imperative in ensuring there is progress and that the brand promotes family tours and travel. The other desired mental positioning of the brand regards affordability of the brand to everyone unlike previously when it had high prices positioning in the market.
The other mental positioning necessary to promote the brand is that the brand must take its place as a brand, which is concerned with the customers. It’s positioning in the market is for the organizations to ensure that they have all the best in the market. The brand must take a position as a choice brand for the older people looking for recreational activities on beaches and on the cruise ship. This desired mental positioning would help to position the brand as a success in the market. The brand must position the company as one, which has excellent customer service to its clients.
The Brand Identity
The brand identity is on how the existing customers and potential customers would identify AA Tours and Travels. This has two aspects where the first aspect is the brand identity and the second is the brand promise. To create a brand promise, the brand identity described in the positioning statement is important in achieving the objectives that would make the brand a success. In branding the product, it is imperative to ensure that the brand promise has an attachment with the emotional appeal.
The emotional appeal ensures that the brand attracts the attention of the potential buyers and positions the brand in the mind of the customers. In the case of AA Tours and Travels, the current positioning and identity are that it is a business tour and travel company, which processes business travel documents. The desired and the promised brand is a service that also caters to the traveling needs of family and older people.
The brand will promise to give families the peace that they need and the desired family holidays of their choice. This is because as earlier derived from secondary research most Americans would wish to go on holidays together with their families. Reunion of families and rejuvenating love in the family will be the positioning of the brand such that tours and travel will not only attract the businesses but also families interested in traveling. The other brand’s promise is that of hustle-free traveling, where all the entire clients have to do is make a decision on where they want to travel, and then the company would cater for the rest. For activities such as ticket booking, hotel booking, and visa processing the company will take care of them (Chris, 2001).
The Selling Story
To position the product in the market it is necessary to dramatize the brand effectively in the mind of the consumers. The story will be a thirty-second commercial advert where a family enjoys itself on a beach and on the other side of the beach a cruise ship approaching with old people sunbathing inside the ship. Then the man will ask the wife”what will we be doing when we grow together”? The scene has to be romantic to ensure that it is catchy and it has to be depicted in a way, which would attract the attention of everyone who would watch.
The storyline would be clear on its intended meaning. This avoids phrases or scenarios that deviate from the intended meaning with a different form of connotations. The story of the family playing together on a beach would certainly identify with most of the people who would wish to see it happening for their families.
The family image is still a value that most people identify with. However, there have been increased cases of divorce and separation. Bringing a family together is an ideal experience that many people aspire to have. The need to have a successful family life is still prevalent in society as people look for ways that would make their family lives successful (Nicholas, 2007). The need to create a possible image of family relations is a major factor with most Americans.
Appealing to people using this image would have the necessary impact. A picture of successful families on holidays would make it possible for other families which would want to remain together to look for holiday destinations. Using this cultural appeal to attract people for the brand would most likely work for AA tours and Travel. The other strategy that would work well is appealing to the older members of the society through images that evoke nostalgia on their days when they were younger and more romantic.
The tourism industry also uses the appeal of serenity and relaxation as a way to appeal to most people in America. This is because with most of the people having a very busy lifestyle taking some weeks off for a holiday to relax in a cruise ship would certainly work for many of them. The need to relax and enjoy with close friends would be appealing to most people (Clow, 2007).
This cultural trend of people going for relaxation in a far place is depicted in most of the novels such as that of John Gresham, King of Tort and almost in all American novels, there is a scene of someone leaving for a foreign country on holidays. The positioning of holidays as a perfect place for relaxation still exists in most of the movies, which are in the society. They depict beach holiday as a perfect vacation together with the family members (Balmer, 2003).
Long-Term Brand Building Communication
In order to build the promised brand, it is imperative that the organization engages in long-term brand building activities that would position the brand effectively and possibly promote the effective use of the relevant brands in the market. Creating a brand would need long-term and short-term strategies.
The first integrated marketing communication strategy is that of advertising. However, before engaging in advertising it is imperative to determine the media in which the organization is prominent in the area of marketing. Making a decision on the media to use to reach out to the target market is important in ensuring that the messages sent out result in the desired impact (Nicholas, 2007).
Advertising in a tour and travel magazine would certainly be imperative in reaching out to individuals who are interested in tours and travel. This would assist in positioning the company for tours and travel. Apart from advertising in tours and travels magazines advertising in family magazines especially magazines intended to discuss family issues would be a good start in branding as a family-oriented tour and travel company (Drucker, 1974).
Use of family image on a holiday setting or a family on a cruise ship would go a long way in emotionally appealing to the target market. The need to explore and reach out to new destinations is still prevalent in most people. Using images of new destinations would have an impact on most of the people compared to the new messages. The need to create an internal magazine or newsletter to advertise the magazine to the existing clients is a milestone promotional activity. The awareness creates popularity of the brand name and it makes the brand popular especially if the brand was not prominent previously. To create a brand that is strong and renowned, advertising through television is even more effective especially during summer when most of the people look forward to having their holidays (Clow, 2007).
The other integrated marketing communication strategy that is important for the company is direct marketing. It involves going to potential customers directly and giving messages about the brand. Direct marketing involves ensuring having brochures and mailing lists for different people who are likely to be prospective clients of tour services. Direct marketing is even more appropriate considering the fact that the organization requires to reach out to the people directly especially in situations where the competition is aggressive.
Direct marketing would involve a team of marketers distributing flyers and t-shirts bearing the company’s mails and logos. In addition, considering the fact that the market has new entrants and the company’s major market is in California reaching out to another market would require direct marketing. The use of billboards is also considered a viable approach in direct marketing as well as using vehicle branding to market the company. Direct marketing involves going out to the prospective clients giving flyers and to everyone who comes into the office of AA Tours and travel company (Drucker, 1974).
Public relations are a major part of integrated marketing communications. Public relations incorporate a number of activities that provide a marketing platform for the company’s brand. The first public relations activity that AA Tours and Travels must engage in regards to social responsibilities. The responsibilities such as promoting a certain course would be an important branding on creating a positive image of the company.
The image of the company is usually based on the manner in which the organization promotes development in society. The need to create this image would call for the company to sponsor family events such as family get-together and reunions in schools.
This may help in creating a platform for the company to advertise itself as a promoter of family values in American society. Public relations involve finding avenues of creating publicity for the brand in order to position the brand in the market. Reaching out and sponsoring activities or sports such as beach racing and cruise ship events may assist the company in getting the necessary publicity required in promoting activities in the organization (Dorfman, Hanges, House, Javidan, and Gupta, 2004).
Online marketing and the use of social media as a platform for marketing communication are imperative. With most of the people interconnected through social networks, it is crucial that the company seeks publicity for its events through social media. Social media is less costly compared with other forms of media and using it to publicize the brand would result in positive publicity. It also ensures that the market has information on any new development (Stroke, 2010).
There is a need to keep on communicating as part of branding strategies as a way of reaching the mind of the audience through social media. In the case of AA Tours and Travel, the company would use facebook pages to promote its brand. It would have pay per click advertising targeted to the people who are newly married depicting images of happy families enjoying their time on the beach. This would connect the company with people who are directly interested in the beach and taking their families for tours (Balmer, 2003).
The long-term strategy must incorporate the use of television and radio as part of advertising and in promoting its activities (Schultz, 2000). This is in consideration of the fact that one of the objectives of the marketing communication activities is to create awareness of the brand by publicizing it. The mainstream televisions are particularly the best place to create publicity for the company. However, because modern audiences are usually bombarded with many messages they usually filter these messages making it harder for them to have the impact they were intended.
The use of well-thought visuals to depict the company and to pass the message is important. Using catchy and sentimental music would be particularly effective in the case of the radio being used. Combining the music with a good sentimental drama would go a long way in positioning the product in the mind of the potential customers. Television scripting is also vital in creating awareness about the product (Clow, 2007).
The company must think of holding joint fairs with the tour service providers such as the tours and travels. Regarding a long-term strategy working together with some of the movie producers to feature AA Tours and Travel as one of the service providers in the tours, the industry would also market the company (Clow, 2007).
The other major part of the long term branding has to do with the colors and logo. Having a well-designed logo of the company is a major step towards marketing the company appropriately. The logo is the identity of the organization. It would be imperative to position the company in a way that would appeal to the older generations by having a commercial advert on the television that focuses on tours and travels on issues, which concern the older people (Drucker, 1974).
As part of MARCOM, having a customer service strategic plan is imperative. It ensures that the data provided by the customers is of relevance and that they are well-positioned to succeed in the issues of customer care management. The plan enables the company to set its priorities right in providing quality services by ensuring that the critical services are given first priority and they have the necessary funding to keep the company going. This is important in ensuring that there are proper mechanisms for the company to utilize its services and facilities in its management plans (Balmer, 2003). The adornment of the staff uniform makes it easy for the clients to request assistance.
This has to apply to all the departments of AA Tours and Travels to ensure that the attendants are identifiable making it easy for the customers to request their help. The cleanliness of the AA tours and travel offices is preferable and it is, therefore, necessary to ensure that proper mechanisms are put in place to keep the offices organized and in good appearance to appeal to the clients (McDonald, 2007).
In a time when competition for clients has intensified providing great customer service is a way of beating the competition without trouble. The modern customers are no longer concerned with the price alone but they are looking for services, which offer value for their money through greater customer experience. The need to improve and harness those services makes it imperative for any company to provide quality services. The use of assessment strategies that would assess the services offered by the company is a great strategy in ensuring the assessment is customer-oriented unlike in scenarios where managers carry out the assessment creating a tensed atmosphere among the employees.
When good customer service mechanisms are in place in AA Tours and Travels, maintaining customer loyalty is manageable, and attracting potential customers to become easier without even advertising as the word of mouth spreads faster than the adverts. This makes customer service an integral part of the marketing strategy for AA Tours. As a marketing communication agency, the objective is to ensure that the clients benefit from the promotion activities by assisting and conducting follow up (Balmer, 2003).
These strategies would help to position the brand in the market for the next few years now. The strategy must consider that the brand is currently a favorite for the Tour and Travel Company and that it is suitable for middle-aged persons. Due to the decreased amount of spending from the corporations on travels and tours, the company decided to focus on the social aspect particularly family tours and travels. The company as family tours and travels requires having images of a perfect couple and a perfect family enjoying their holidays in a serene beach where there are no interruptions (Morgan, 2006).
After gathering the images that would appeal to the target market the next step in the formulation of short-term strategies is engaging in direct marketing activities. Direct marketing activities are focused on reaching out to customers directly. Use of promotional materials such as coupons and direct mails would apply in this case. Direct marketing would involve the company producing a subscription magazine in which the company will discuss the different destinations where families and corporate may tour. Placing these magazines in the reception of different offices will provide publicity to the organization (Drucker, 1974).
Using targeted magazines to reach the target audience will be an important strategy, which is cheap and effective. This involves preparing and advertising for tours and travel magazines. The advertising will focus on family tours, travels, and destinations that suit various families. To reach out to the new market and position it as a provider of family services the company must have an offer to the customers. The company must have a family package service that is affordable. Preferably, the services offered to the family should be cheaper than what the competitors offer (Chris, 2001).
As part of the short-term strategy, the company needs to advertise in some targeted magazine subscriptions. The targeted magazine subscriptions are magazines, which have a defined target market where the members subscribed to them pay attention or have an interest in the information contained therein. The interest of the information is particularly important in the sense that there is a way in which the company aims for excellence (Bradley, 2010).
Advertising on social media directed to people who are married and working may be a good strategy for reaching out to the target market. This is because most of the social media sites provide adverts as per the demographics that one wants to reach out to. The demography of this advertising is interesting as it reaches out to a huge number of people wherever they are. The targeted advertising also creates awareness for the clients who are previously ignorant of the services and they have an interest in them.
The social media incorporates sending out videos via facebook depicting the services offered to the clients as they wait to go on their holidays. Other than the use of social media, advertising in other websites such as the tours and travels directories will certainly increase the company’s prospects of having more clients (Chris, 2001).
The other strategy in relation to short term planning is that of sponsoring family events where the company may display its products. Engaging in charity work will also boost the company’s image especially sponsoring counseling services on marital affairs and sponsoring family seminars. This will position the company as one that values the families. It would place itself in the mind of the public as a family-centered company that is for the welfare of the families.
This will capture the attention of the huge market that has a desire in spending holidays somewhere away together with their families. Images of resorts and beaches with a perfect family relaxing there would appeal to the clients. The use of romance as an appeal is also crucial although the appeal should be sentimental rather than sexual. These emotions will be vital in the promotion of the company’s services (Chris, 2001). The short-term strategy must cater to ways of maintaining customer loyalty especially when the competition is high as loyal customers are the major source of income. AA tours and travels will have discounted prices for loyal customers.
Introducing a reward program based on the number of vacations and travel using the agency will be a good strategy in maintaining the customers. Good customer service is imperative both for the long-term and short-term promotions of the company. The loyalty program will give loyal customers free services at a given time of the year. In marketing use of referral and testimonials would be a good marketing strategy for the company as the customers would earn rewards for recommending clients to the agency. Testimonials from the loyal customers describing their experience are important in bringing in new customers.
The marketing communication strategies are important in placing the company as a success in the industry in which it is operating. Using integrated marketing is important for any company as it ensures appropriate time for the company to address its marketing strategies as well as increase its sales. Integrated marketing communication enables the company to reach out to its potential customers through cost effective methods. It also brings together all the departments as all aspects of the company play a role in marketing and in communication with the buyers.
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