n May 1, $40 million Carlson Wagonlit
Travel Village Traveler of Youngstown, Ohio, hosted a marketing
event at its Poland, Ohio, office that was so big it got the
attention of Gov. Bob Taft, who honored the agency for hosting the
first event of its kind in the state.
In addition, Youngstown Mayor George McKelvey, Poland Mayor Ruth
Wilkes and the Mahoning County Commissioners proclaimed May 1
"Travel & Tourism Day."
Here's how the idea came about, according to Julie Costas, the
agency's marketing director. "While visiting Westlake Village,
Calif., over Christmas, I met with Pleasant Hawaiian Holidays. I
happened to see a picture of a huge bus and asked about it. The
Hogan Family Foundation, which owns Pleasant, operates a bus [that
promotes travel and tourism]. I asked to schedule a visit to our
office May 1 to coincide with our Pleasant Hawaiian open
The agency sent out 1,000 direct-mail pieces to past customers
telling them about the event, which was being co-sponsored by local
television station WKBN-TV and Y-103 radio.
Costas was interviewed on both stations prior to the event, and
several stories ran in the local newspaper.
The agency set up the event not only as a way to sell Hawaii,
but also as a vehicle to provide an educational opportunity to the
Costas contacted all local schools, and on the day of the event,
350 third, fourth and fifth graders visited the bus.
"The children and teachers were delighted with the
travel-promoting bus that teaches about the travel industry and
geography," she said. Plus a few hundred people, 70 of whom were
past clients, attended the Pleasant Hawaii open house from 10 a.m.
to 7 p.m.
"Some of the people at our open house had seen or heard our
broadcasts, were potential customers or wanted to get into the
travel industry," said Costas.
"This is a great vehicle for agencies to use to tell people about
the employment opportunities our industry offers." According to
Costas, the folks who run the bus were even able to dispel the idea
that the Internet is putting agents out of business.
The agency has been advertising specials to Hawaii for Pleasant
Hawaiian Holidays in conjunction with Carlson's two-month-long
promotion for the supplier. "We have gotten a lot of awareness
because we were on the radio, television and in newspapers a long
time prior to the event," said Costas.
Agency president Dino Theofilos added, "We made 20 bookings that
day with potential for a lot more because we're offering clients an
extra $100 off if they book a trip to Hawaii before the end of
May." He said the agency has seen a big increase in calls since May
He added, "As a result of the open house, agents are more
focused on selling Hawaii and the community now sees it as an
-- Michelle SanFilippo
Alert and involved
arlson Wagonlit Travel Village
Traveler in Youngstown, Ohio, which has leisure offices in Poland,
Ohio, and Greenville and Hermitage, Pa., and a second corporate
location in Akron, Ohio, is known for getting involved in unusual
marketing ventures and community service.
Agency marketing director Julie Costas also does public
relations for the Angels of the Easter Seals, which has helped the
Youngstown chapter of Easter Seals raise $1.5 million.
Some of the charities the agency has helped include the Make a Wish
Foundation, the Cancer Society, the American Heart Association and
Tod Children's Hospital.
The agency even has brought in celebrity dogs Lassie and
Beethoven from Universal Studios to local hospitals, the local mall
and Barnes & Noble.
In June, the agency is doing a fashion show with agents at Stein
Mart, an upscale brand-name department store. The event will be
held at the store on a Saturday, and attendees will receive coupons
for discounts on travel at the agency.
The agency once brought in Alaskan folk singers for a Holland
America promotion in 1999. "Plus, once a month from September
through May for the last four years, we have gotten each of our
preferred suppliers to get involved and talk about a different
featured destination," she said. The first year the event took
place at Barnes & Noble, but was then moved to the local Simon
"My philosophy is that if there is a promotion going on between
Carlson and a supplier, I immediately contact that supplier to put
our own little spin or incentive on the offer. We also get local
partners involved and do lots of co-marketing," she added. "If
there's an event in the area, we find out about it and try to take
part in it."
y inventory of travel oddities
and mysteries continues to grow. So here we go again. See if any of
these items has crossed your mind:Is the "close door" button in hotel elevators there just to
humor us?Do the whistles on the wands used by airport security personnel
really mean anything?Am I just confused, or are inclusives starting to become
"all-inclusive, except for this, and that and that?"How can hotels with small, stuffy exercise rooms with one
Lifecycle and one Universal machine call their facilities health
Why aren't seat belts required on transfer vans, considering
these vehicles often go full speed on regular roads? Are car
renters and hotel guests expected to defy gravity in an accident?
(While sitting sideways, no less.)Are hotel pillows getting thinner, or what?How many times have you seen tour takers save their seats when
exiting temporarily from a motorcoach by building "virtual selves"
out of their coats, sweaters, purses and gift bags?Why is it that films projected onto screens in aircraft cabins
are often so out of focus that they look like bad 3-D movies?Why do super-budget hotels put plastic-wrap covers on glasses
and "sanitized for your protection" paper strips on toilets, but
more expensive hotels don't?Why have folded, pointed ends on the end of toilet paper become
the mark of a good hotel? Why don't we do the same at our
house?Ask your clients who fly first class if the "priority tags" put
on their luggage means anything at all.Why is the distance between gates inversely proportional to the
connecting time?Why are seatbelts in taxis buried in the space between the
backseat cushions, in some sticky place where your hand should
never go?Finally and frustratingly, why does the carousel luggage
conveyor belt always move in the opposite direction to the one you
Marc Mancini is a professor of travel at West Los Angeles