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They’ve been a regular feature in travel agencies for decades but now the humble travel brochure is under threat.
As more and more companies go paperless in a bid to help save the environment, does the travel brochure have a future? We asked two industry leaders for their thoughts.

Andy Kirkman,
Trade Relations Manager, Bench Africa

Q: You have just launched your new 2023/2024 Africa Travel Brochure. Was any thought given to alternative information delivery channels?

A: Absolutely. While producing a digital-only copy and distributing through online channels was the obvious solution to minimise our environmental impact, as well as trim the budget, we also needed to take into account the needs of our trade partners and consumers.

Despite the trend towards digital information, we consistently hear from trade that they still value having a physical brochure as a sales tool.

Q: Have you used recycled paper or any other environmentally friendly features in your brochure?

A: As a brand committed to conservation and sustainability, printing a physical brochure wasn’t an easy decision. Instead, we took several measures to reduce our environmental footprint.

This includes producing only one-third of our previous 2019 print run, using PEFC certified paper stocks, process-less plate printing to minimise the use of chemicals and water, and introducing QR codes to allow for updates and longer shelf life of the brochure.

Q: What response have you had from the travel trade to your new brochure?

A: It’s been three long years since we’ve released a brochure, so the response has been unbelievable, as we had hoped!

Pre-release orders were astonishing and it became immediately apparent that travel agent and client demand for a printed brochure was alive and well.

The ‘dreaming stage’ – particularly with a destination like Africa – just isn’t the same hopping page to page of a website or a digital brochure. Scribbled notes and the dog-eared corners of a brochure page that has found its way onto the wish list are all vital and tangible elements of holiday planning.

And now that agents have a physical copy in-hand and in store it’s been fantastic to see the immediate uptick in enquiries – and it’s only been out there for a few weeks!

Everyone understands QR codes now and trade are appreciating they can check tour departure dates quickly online.

Q: So, you think printed, paper brochures are still relevant?

A: It’s a resounding “yes” based on our recent experience and brochure requests.

Considering we’ve witnessed a reduction in agencies over the past few years, it’s quite staggering that we’ve actually seen a 50 per cent jump in brochure orders when comparing this brochure release month, to our last in 2019.

As I’ve spent time with agents and our new brochure, consultants have offloaded their challenges from not having supplier brochures, so I would say there is still a strong relevance to brochures in the market.

Q: Do you think distributing a printed brochure may change down the track?

A: As with any costly marketing asset, we constantly review and reassess our approach to ensure we are providing the best experience for our clients while minimising our environmental impact.

While we will continue to provide printed brochures if there is demand for them, we will also explore ways to become more hybrid in our approach and reduce our reliance on physical materials.

Ultimately, our goal is to provide our clients with the information and experience they want, while always being responsible guardians of the environment.

Angus Crichton, Director – Sales, Marketing & Product, Australia & New Zealand, Emerald Cruises

Q: Do you still have paper brochures available for the travel trade?

A: Yes, we do but the amount passed onto the trade will be much smaller than pre-COVID. I think travel partners are very conscious of global sustainability and also that the travel agent “shop” has changed dramatically.

Whether home based or shop front there’s less overall consumer demand and no storage!

Q: Writing, printing and distributing brochures is an expensive business. Does the reward justify the cost?

A: All travel partners have found ways to produce brochures more efficiently over the past five years. While its expensive compared to digital brochures, the demand still justifies the cost. You just need to be choiceful.

Q: All your brochures are available online. Do you think this is the future of information delivery?

A: Online information delivery is here now and will only get more powerful in the future, to the detriment of human-to-human contact and let alone a person buying a service from a person!

Q: What kind of feedback are you getting from the travel industry and consumers about printed brochures?

A: Both the travel industry and consumers are requesting printed brochures. For the consumer, while digital travel information is convenient, it’s on that device that they use every minute of the day including for work.

A coloured, printed brochure is a dream book, something to take the time to go through, go back to and ponder travel… it’s the start of the journey not a transactional tool.

Q: How do you keep on top of all the channels currently available to deliver your marketing and promotional messages?

A: It’s a real battle and tough to do. Every day you are presented with new channels. Do you miss out by not being a first adopter or do the old consistent channels work?

The secret is to take a breath and try and be your customer or… just open a brochure and dream about your next holiday.