Distributing your product content gives your brand room to express itself. Is it reliable, generous and tech savvy, or stuck gathering dust in a paper pile? Does it make focusing on the business of selling easier or harder? From the travel trade perspective, it affects how they build their products and support preferred suppliers. From a traveller perspective, it’s about servicing them with content that helps them make the right decisions.
Going the way of paper
I won’t pretend I don’t remember the occasional glossy brochure winking at me from a travel lounge coffee table making me want to page through, stroke its embossed sheets and admire its photographic artworks.. I’d take it home for future use, just in case.
Months or even years later (because I’m a terrible hoarder), I’d do a purge and rediscover the now fading beauty, still love the pictures but then notice the date on its cover. Next stop: dustbin.
From there, paper in the afterlife can only hope to be recycled. With each new brochure printed, the cycle is repeated, its content going little further than shelves and drawers.
Brochure production takes love, care and passion for product; yet I had no trouble dumping that brochure (along with maps and specials leaflets snatched off a travel agent’s shelf or hotel concierge desk, intended to help plan the next trip). The trade has a debt to pay the environment for the stacks of brochures, catalogues, info sheets, flyers and pamphlets that age in their offices year after year..
Don’t get me started on my pet peeve: a printed brochure with contact details that no longer work. If that frustrates me, imagine the poor travel brand whose details change and must now re-print all their materials and send change notifications everywhere. Sad waste of time..
The true purpose of trees (clue: it’s not paper)
Why distribution and reach are worth a fight
To compete effectively, travel content needs to go anywhere potential clients may be looking for suitable accommodation, activities, restaurants or day tours. Easy access to securely curated content is the best start.
Content truly wins when it’s first, fast, ubiquitous and great quality.
It needs to cross time zones in different languages. For fear of missing out and in the interest of instant gratification, its freshest, most up-to-date version must be ready to view and use. This match is fought and won in 8 rounds:🥊
How far? Paper takes content by hand and delivers it only where sent by post, exchanged at meetings or trade shows, or printed off an email. The cloud exists in the global space and reaches everywhere at once.
How accessible? Paper keeps content in printed format in folders, on desks, on shelves, accessed only when requested and manually distributed. The cloud makes content available anywhere 24/7 via Internet connection, to anyone advised where to find it or provided with a link.
How fast? Paper puts content away until it’s needed or remembered and taken out; used if it’s legible. Changes to content happen at the pace of designing, sourcing, printing and delivery. The cloud makes content instantly visible, ready to use or send with a simple mouse click.
How old? Paper hosts content once, then it’s done until the next issue. It keeps expired, outdated info in folders, on desks and shelves. The cloud helps keep content current and up-to-date, like having a ‘living, breathing sales person for your property’, in the wise words of Nightsbridge.
How complicated? Paper in small volumes isn’t hard to carry – the bulkier and heavier the publication, the more problematic. Production and delivery are mostly outsourced, and external consultation is laborious to execute. The cloud makes content easy to collaborate on internally or externally, and simple to share.
How safe? Paper keeps content intact depending on where it is kept, but always at risk of damage, getting lost, being discarded and even destroyed. Once it’s gone, it stays gone. The cloud offers safe storage and data recovery, with no risk of damage to content and no need to invade a colleague’s work station.
How much? Paper can host a small number of pictures and descriptions covering the basics. A booklet can display more but still limit content to static photos and text, presented at a squeeze in more than one language. The cloud has room for much more: multiple pics; videos; virtual tours; detailed info; multilingual text; downloadable docs.
How green? Paper clutters the work space, from single language content to multiple language editions. If not recycled, it ends up as litter, in landfills, or stuck in a hoarder’s closet, putting more trees into paper production. The cloud reduces the amount of paper in circulation and allows staff to organise what they need for better focus.
How cost is the ultimate winner
Everything costs money but consider value for money by pitting resource-intensive paper against cost-effective cloud:
|💰💰💰MULTIPLE COSTS to..||💰SINGLE COST to..|
Something as valuable as travel content is wasted if it doesn’t inform, inspire and sell. Whether it’s paper-based distribution or from the cloud, you want the entire world, not just pockets of people, to know your brand and have it depicted accurately at all times. To me the message is clear, but decide for yourself: is content on paper worth a long-term bet? Or would you rather risk the future of your business in the cloud?