The damage normally occurs during my commute or while half-watching TV, I find myself clutching my iPhone or iPad and opening up those emails that came through earlier in the day. While I hadn’t been considering a new handbag, pair of shoes, theatre break etc, now that the seed has been planted it seems a very good idea. Before I know it my credit card details have been entered and the ‘confirm’ buttoned pushed. Despite being a marketer by profession, so fully aware that I am being sold to, I am constantly being seduced by ‘savings’, ‘limited numbers’ ‘exclusive’ etc much to the annoyance of my husband and also our poor postman who beats a path to our door delivering my latest ‘must-have’ purchase.
What surprises me though is that while I get emails from some tour operators and agents, these numbers are miniscule given the size of our industry. I sign up for any e-dm going so I know what the market is up to and also what is being promoted throughout the trade. I am a ‘seed’ on so many lists that I am anticipating being exhibited at Kew Gardens!
Given the amazing deals that there are available in the cruise market this year I would expect my inbox to be fit to bursting, but that’s not the case. I know agents are concerned about retaining integrity with their customers and are often worried that they become a nuisance, but one email a week I think is perfectly acceptable. The challenge is to start collecting email contacts as a matter of course and building a database. There is negligible cost in sending an email once you have created a template and to receive an email containing fantastic river trips is far more exciting than an e-dm from the local takeaway.
It is estimated that we check our smart phones 85 times a day so sending an e-dm that stands out and engages is a challenge. It shouldn’t just be filled with offers, it should be packed with ideas and it should also be relevant. India is popular at the moment following on from the series The Real Marigold Hotel set in Jaipur and the Channel 4 series Indian Summers (although this is actually filmed in Sri Lanka!). We have had great interest from e-dms where we have referenced the TV programmes with our Uniworld India itinerary. With the recent Ant & Dec Takeaway programme on P&O Cruises and the fly-on-the-wall series on Regal Princess there is a lot that is relevant at the moment.
While customers may not jump at the offers you send them, again that ‘seed’ is doing its work and over the coming months, and even year, it will germinate and grow and eventually blossom into a booking.
Kathryn Beadle is managing director at Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection