Here is your opportunity to help
define the industry: Come up with the best new catchphrases for
out-of-date industry definitions, and I will send you something
that I cannot define.
Though I may not be
able to define it, I can describe it: It is from east Asia, it has
two colorful, wooden feet spring-mounted on a board, and each foot
is covered with small, raised, wooden nodules. To hazard a guess, I
would say it is a foot massager of some kind, but I really couldnt
To obtain one of
these items, you must help update industry jargon that has fallen
behind the times. If I think your submission is better than the
current terminology in usage, Ill send you one of these
Youre welcome to
come up with your own categories, but Ill start you out with three
that I think are overdue for renaming.
First: How should
one describe a travel agency that has a physical and public retail
location? Brick-and-mortar is in common usage, but its incomplete
-- most of these agencies have an online presence that accounts for
an increasing percentage of sales each year.
traditional travel agency doesnt work well for this group, for much
the same reason. Anyone who truly works like a traditional travel
agent could be more appropriately be described as a former travel
And, given the way
airlines are labeled, I dont know of any agencies with a physical
retail location that would embrace the term legacy travel
I should note that
Ive tried in vain to come up with a good descriptive phrase. My
first inclination was to turn to the art world, which must reinvent
and relabel itself every few years. Looking at that model, for
instance, one could say that GDS green screens, at the time,
brought travel agents into what was then the modern world. Are
current agents, with graphic interfaces on their desktops,
post-modern? Or, to look at their business models, post-cap? These
might be accurate labels but lack, shall we say, sizzle.
The corollary to
the search for an accurate descriptor for agents with a public,
retail, physical location is to try to define a travel seller whose
primary marketing is through the Internet. These are generally
called online agencies, but many -- Expedia, Travelocity and Orbitz come
quickly to mind -- also book a surprisingly large percentage of
their business over the phone, through call centers staffed by
And just to
complicate matters, Expedia and Travelocity also have physical,
public retail locations in major tourist areas (Las Vegas for
Travelocity and Hawaii for Expedia), with more locations likely to
How could this
group be better described?
A third category
has an accurate label, but I think, from a marketing perspective,
it stinks. Home agents need a new moniker. The phrase is certainly
better than cottage agents, but not by much -home anything requires
one to first separate oneself from cottage industries, Avon ladies,
Tupperware party hosts and Amway distributors. Not to mention card
mill graduates who are more than happy to elevate themselves by
saying they are home agents.
Home agents may be
well served to sacrifice a bit of technical correctness for a
better marketing position. Used cars were accurately named, but the
description was perhaps too literal. The auto industry seems to
believe that even a nonsense phase -- pre-owned cars -- is better
than a literal, but dull, label.
In each category
above, extra points will be given for creative compounds that are
instructive, accurate and bring a smile. My favorite new piece of
jargon to enter the industry in recent years is wholetailing, to
define retailers who package and sell wholesale products. In other
words, extra points for anything that smacks of
As it turns out, now that I check my
inventory, I have only two whatchamacallits to give away. (I have a
third, but it is pre-owned.) So the third winner will instead get
something else undefineable thats manufactured by the same company.
On this one, instead of having feet, its nodules are planted
alongside a representation of a spine.
And Im pretty sure
I can get more of those in case anyone feels the urge to rename
some other industry descriptor in need of updating.
TW readers, this is
your defining moment.