When creating a newsletter for your company, why stop at one?
Such is the logic of Daniel Minter, owner of Travel Pro in
Weston, Wis., who distributes four customized newsletters to his
four top special-interest markets.
Minter's 8-year-old firm specializes in educational tours as
well as travel to Germany, Switzerland and Holland.
"I realized almost from the beginning that we would need a
newsletter," said Minter, a former high school German teacher.
original plan was to go after his former colleagues by attending
first state, then regional and eventually national conferences for
foreign language teachers.
Tired of lugging brochures to and from conferences, Minter
realized a newsletter would offer condensed information in a format
that teachers might be likely to save.
"I wanted something lightweight that they could stick in a file
and would be different from standard materials," he said.
As to content, Minter started with an introduction to his firm,
which he said was particularly important in the climate of the
"I [went] into the education market in 1993, right after a
couple of big educational tour operators went out of business,
leaving people stranded," he said.
Minter crafted an introductory piece that spelled out what he
could do for teachers beyond what they could get from tour
One strategy was to focus on study in Germany, he said, noting
that this group was far less represented than, say, Spain or
Another was to offer his services to individuals and to groups
smaller than tour operators normally are set up to handle.
In addition, Minter became a DER representative so that he could
sell rail tickets to clients.
Once his first newsletter was under way, Minter decided to spin
off several other versions for his other markets.
A graduate of certified specialist programs offered by the
Switzerland, Holland, Austria and Scandinavia tourist offices --
with Great Britain soon to follow -- he simply adapted his original
format to those markets.
Rather than focusing on destination information, Minter
summarizes details of tours that might interest his target groups
and includes this in the newsletter along with contact
Tips for creating custom newsletters
Dan Minter, owner of Weston, Wis.-based Travel Pro, offered some
advice on creating a customized newsletter.Get focused. "You have to be very specific to give people a
reason to want to read it," Minter said.Keep it simple. "Your newsletter does not have to be fancy, and
it doesn't have to be four color," he said.
It's OK to be cheap. If you are planning a cruise night, for
example, consider using the company's brochure as art for the
newsletter. Minter acquires other graphics from clip art books and
software programs.Go desktop. "Computer publishing software is easy to use, and
once you have a basic format, it is just a matter of tweaking and
adjusting it," Minter said.Think small. "I used to print 300 or 400 newsletters and keep
them around for six months," Minter said. "Now I do 25 or 50 at a
time, which means I can change them more frequently, and I don't
have to store them."Be a borrower. Minter worked hardest on his first newsletter,
geared toward educational travel and simply adapted others to that
template by replacing key passages as appropriate.Target mailings. In addition to passing out newsletters at
shows, Minter uses them to respond to referrals from tourist
offices and to responses from ads he places in foreign-language
Go on line. Portions of Minter's newsletters are on his Web site
at www.vacationcenter.com.To incorporate or not?
Q: My attorney recommends becoming a
corporation. What are the benefits?
A: There are several benefits for a travel
agency that is set up as a sole proprietor or a partnership
becoming a corporation.
The first is limited liability, which is probably why your
attorney recommends it. This protects your personal assets in the
event of a lawsuit.
example, if you are found responsible for a person falling in your
office, your insurance might not cover the entire claim.
As a sole proprietor, your personal assets can be confiscated to
help pay a claim; if you are incorporated, the corporation (not
you) is held responsible.
A second benefit to incorporating is that you have less risk of
According to IRS audit records, a sole proprietor is four times
as likely to be audited as an S corporation.
You can become a C corporation or an S corporation. For most
agencies, the S form (also called a sub-S) offers the best tax
The drawbacks of incorporating are cost (usually $300 to $500
initially and the annual cost to file a corporate tax return) and
the requirement to maintain additional records.
But for most travel agencies, the benefits outweigh the
• • •
Q: A friend bought a computer system on Dec.
31, 1999, and deducted it for that tax year. Is this legal?
A: You can deduct up to $19,000 of the cost of
equipment per year as long as you place the equipment in operation
by the last day of the year.
So, if the computer system was set up and running that day, then
she had a valid deduction for 1999.
The IRS code says that deductions on equipment must be made in
the year usage began, not in the purchase year, so if the system
wasn't used until Jan. 1, she would lose the deduction in 1999.
Former agency owner Dan McManus is the publisher of the
newsletter the Successful Worldspan Agent. Contact him at [email protected].