TRAVEL AGENCY CONSORTIA AND GROUPS SUCH AS American Express, Vacation.com and Ensemble have begun producing glossy brochures that their member agencies can send to clients, customized with the agency's contact information and, in some cases, a logo, as well as a personal letter with the agent's signature. They're an attractive tool, one that often garners oohs and aahs from agents seeing them for the first time. But since these items are available only to consortia members, what's an unaffiliated agent to do?
Check out Mailpound (www.mailpound.com), an online resource that offers similar marketing materials to agents for free. Mailpound's products consist of supplier brochures that are devoid of any mention of the supplier's web site or other information that may direct the consumer away from booking through an agent. Mailpound, a family-run company that's been around for about a decade, has made significant enhancements to its technology over the past two years and will continue to develop its product in 2008.
The main focus has been perfecting the company's homegrown page-turning format (PTF) technology for its e-brochures. Mailpound's PTF is very much like that of Nxtbook Media, which Travel Agent utilizes on its web site. "The reason we didn't go with something like Nxtbook is that we wanted something very easy for the travel agent to personalize," says Bob Maier, president of Mailpound. "Agents are able to include a cover letter and customize the content."
Another special feature is the ability to forward e-brochures, so consumers can distribute material that includes the agent's contact information to friends or family who also may be interested in a trip. Agents also have the capability to whittle down a brochure's content to just the few itineraries (or even one) of most interest to a client. "In some of the larger brochures, you can cut out 70 to 80 percent of the collection," says Maier. Mailpound uses a page-turning format (PTF) and lets agents easily customize content of supplier brochures
Targeting Your Market
Mailpound is adding targeted marketing features, so agents can insert images that may appeal to certain demographics. or customize a brochure to promote specific activities offered by a supplier, such as golfing for seniors. In the next year, Maier is looking to enhance the site further with video and other media content. "We're also going to be doing some booking capabilities that are offer-specific," he says.
About 25 suppliers showcase 42 brochures through Mailpound, and the company is excited about last month's addition of Carnival Corporation. "We are so ecstatic about Carnival because it brings more agents to the site more often," says Debbie Maier, Bob's daughter and vice president of sales and marketing for Mailpound, who says suppliers are added weekly. Currently, Mailpound has more than 162,000 agents registered in its system, with about 66,000 of them using the technology on a regular basis.