Last November, Lansing, Mich.-based Craig Corey Travel Service was
ready for a name change to finalize its three-year transformation
from a traditional full-service agency to a retailer with an
emphasis on leisure.
Craig Corey Vacations -- the new name -- may seem a relatively
modest change, but the word "vacations" better describes the
services the $1.7 million agency had been increasingly providing to
It was time to make that identity change, said the 10-year-old
agency's president and owner, Craig Corey, "to reflect our growing
leisure sales." In particular, he said, the name reflects a
commitment to offer a wide variety of specialty vacation packages.
The transformation of the agency's focus had been three years in
the making. The conclusion of that project, along with the
renaming, also set the tone for the agency's Web site, launched in
May at www.CraigCoreyVacations.com.
The agency designed the site to reflect its philosophy of providing
the "best vacation-oriented products available" and emphasized its
owner's 27 years of industry experience.
"You have to let clients and prospective customers know who you
are and market yourself accordingly," Corey said.
He said that since the agency sharpened its image in November,
its cruise and tour sales have gone through the roof, while air has
Corey said his agency needed a Web site because "you've got to
On the other hand, he said, "there is a significant market out
there that still wants to do business with you in person or over
the phone. These are the people who buy the complicated, upscale
FITs to Europe and luxury cruises."
Considering his product line, it is no wonder that 40% of his
agency's clientele prefer to come in for personal consultations
with his staff of four agents. He said the agency does not try to
divert its walk-in or phone business to the Web.
The firm gets up to 10% of its clients from cities such as Chicago,
Detroit and New York. Despite its long-distance draw, Corey said
Craig Corey Vacations remains a locally owned business offering
genuine, personal service as well as attention to detail.
"I'm a real stickler about the appearance and image of our
agency," he said.
"I demand excellent service from our staff, who greet all
customers as they walk in and focus their entire energy on serving
After all, Corey added, he never wants to make customers work
hard to do business with him.
"As in any service industry, it's all about the client," Corey
-- Michele San Filippo
Clocking an image
As the final phase of Craig Corey Vacations' conversion from
traditional full-service agency to travel retailer, the Lansing,
Mich., firm launched a Web site to showcase the reasons consumers
would want to do business with it.
One reason could be that the agency is owned by 27-year industry
veteran president Craig Corey, who has a flair for attracting
In addition, his new site offers unusual and exotic travel
experiences. Touring the castles of Ireland, bicycling in France,
camel-riding in the Sahara and small-ship cruising in Alaska are a
few of the vacation packages available on the site.
CraigCoreyVacations.com also offers vacation facts and advice,
including tips on where to dine in New York, Paris, Chicago and
other major markets; Craig's Best of the Best Travel
Recommendations, and tips on what to take and how to pack.
The site emphasizes specialized, personal service.
"Our service and attention to detail make Craig Corey Vacations
work," said Corey. "It's what customers want and what keeps them
To market its new site, the agency began using in its
advertising an image of the time-zone clocks for Tokyo, New York
and Paris that hang on a wall inside the retail store and that,
over time, had become the agency's trademark.
In announcing the new Web site to customers, Corey created a
glossy, color postcard of the clocks to send to his mailing list of
more than 2,000 households.
The idea, he said, was to create a direct-mail piece that
clients would want to keep and, perhaps, show off.
Making your e-mail marketing work
Studies show that opt-in e-mail marketing (e-mail sent to
clients who actively opt to receive it) brings a higher return on
investment than unsolicited e-mailings, direct mail and
Here are 10 tips on using the Internet to obtain and retain
clients:Target e-mail messages. Provide special promotions to your
customers based on what is relevant to them. Research has found
that targeted e-mail works best.Deliver timely messages. Old news can make recipients think
your e-mail is not valuable. Also, send your message when you think
it is most likely to be read -- first thing in the morning for
corporate clients and late on Fridays for home e-mail
Make sure it is readable. Not everyone can read messages
created in HTML. Present a choice of HTML or text.Personalize your messages. Generic e-mails often go unnoticed.
Customize each message with the recipient's name and
interests.Keep messages short and concise so you can grab and keep the
reader's interest.Include a link. Make it easier for your recipients to respond
to your promotions. Include a hyperlink to your agency's site so
the recipient can learn more about your deals or make a
reservation.Do not send unsolicited e-mails. This is viewed as
telemarketing, which could result in negative feelings toward your
agency. Encourage registering on your site to receive
information.Make it easy to opt out. All e-mails should have an opt-out
option at the end of the message to enable recipients to change
their minds.Manage your e-mail responses. Appoint someone to monitor all
replies. Ensure that recipients who request to opt-out are removed
promptly from your mailing list. Also, remove e-mail addresses that
don't work.Track and measure results. By tracking results, agencies can
see which messages work, what recipients are reading and how to
design effective campaigns.
Matt McGill is director of business development for the
messageReach e-mail service division of Xpedite in Eatontown, N.J.
Xpedite is in multimedia information distribution. MessageReach
offers services such as tracking, security, personalization and
automated administration for high-volume e-mail distribution.
Contact McGill at [email protected].