Cottage owners on the other hand advertise with SCH based on the brand image of the agent, trust and comfort levels they enjoy with the company. The agency requires that marketing and communication strategies be employed keeping the following criteria in view.
Short term communication objectives
•The target segment of SCH is in various stages of hierarchical responses. Communication strategy must be employed to first create and increase awareness about cottage holidays rather than general holidays and brand awareness on the SCH package. This must be done through attractive advertising strategy, good media planning and promotional exercises. Differentiation between SCH and its competitors must be clearly specified.
•Next the agency must focus on providing more information on SCH to the customer. The ‘comprehension’ phase should allow development of website, direct mailers etc that provides information about the holiday packages.
•Endorsements by experts or feedback photos and comments from satisfied SCH customers are other tools that the agency can explore to convince customers. Conviction must be the third important stage of the exercise.
•Desire to purchase must be generated through a strong promotional mix that includes good publicity and irresistible offers for the target segment.
•Finally the campaign must motivate customers into action which can be measured by number of phone calls/ emails querying about the packages. Feedback forms and lucky coupons are other options.
The market and competition
The market for independent family holidays in cottages is fast growing, as many prefer 'their space' rather than being part of a group. A growing 58% people prefer the getaway to the countryside for relaxing weekends and planned vacations. The competition can be classified as,
Local specialists: Most cottage agents are local specialists who focus on tourists coming to specific parts of UK. For example, the Wales cottage holidays agency in Wales has a comprehensive listing of holiday cottages in all parts of Wales. Its website and brochure are its main advertising arsenal. Other such area specific cottage agents include Cumbria cottages (the Lake district), Classic Cottages (for Devon and Cornwall), Mann's Holidays (North West Wales), Nefyn Holidays (Lleyn Peninsula and Snowdonia National Park), Marsdens Cottage Holidays (North Devon) and Holiday Homes & Cottages (South West). Their main medium is a coloured brochure which is often mailed to customers.
General specialists: A small segment of general specialists offer holidays across UK. For example, Recommended cottage holidays agency offers a range of cottages across UK. It has a colored brochure that lists the various cottages and a website that allows customers to check availability and make reservations. Its main target market is large families and focuses on family/corporate reunions. It promotes itself as an economical holiday provider that offers a good range. Other UK cottage holiday providers include names of Hoseasons Holidays (well established and offers a great range) and Sykes cottages.
The target market: customers
Instead of opting for mass marketing, the company must undertake target marketing and must form one or more market segments relevant to buying behaviour. The sub groups or niche markets within its identified target segments can be identified as under.
Geographic and Demographic segmentation: Customers are usually couples aged 25 onwards