#BANTHEBROCHURE: Is it time to rethink how we use brochures?

Plastic bags, straws & coffee cups are just some of the items that have until recently been ‘the norm’ for our happy consumption, only to end up in a landfill – or worse, the ocean.

Plastic bags, straws & coffee cups are just some of the items that have until recently been ‘the norm’ for our happy consumption, only to end up in a landfill – or worse, the ocean.

Humanity has finally started to take notice of the hugely negative impact that our throwaway nature is having on our planet by getting behind initiatives that ask our society to think twice about our daily wastage.

If an alternative exists, why not use it instead?

After seeing a recent trend of tour companies asking their punters to forgo printed travel documents and instead receive them via email – which was great, this made me think, surely, we can do more than that?


The massive waste of travel brochures that I’ve witnessed over my ten years as a retail Travel Advisor would bring a tear to the eye of any card-carrying Greenpeace member or keyboard warrior alike.

One of the dreaded monthly jobs of our five-person team was filling a minimum of one shopping trolley with out of date or excess brochures and pushing them to the shopping centre’s rubbish area. During rollout season (August – October) this could inflate to three or four trolleys – PER MONTH!

Now, multiply that number by the number of retail Travel Agencies in Australia (over 3,500 retail locations, according to AFTA). That’s a staggering 42,000 shopping trolleys worth of trees going to the tip every year.

There is the argument that most of these will end up in the yellow bin, ready to be recycled into more brochures.

Yes, making sure that we recycle as much as we can is great – however, getting rid of an item that we don’t need full stop will reduce the carbon footprint that is left from the industry needed to transport and churn that unopened brochure back into a fresh new one for next season – which probably won’t be opened either.

I hear you shouting already… Calm down Matt and get another coffee (hopefully in a Keep Cup).


But my clients love brochures, what will I use to sell tours now?


We live in a digital world, full of options that are far better than a dusty, outdated brochure that gets printed once per year.

Websites have far more details and pictures than a brochure – plus a heap more selling tools like videos, live pricing and availability, customer reviews and more.

Slip a store iPad into your customer’s hands and bring them into the future already.


What about customer retention you ask?


I’m sure that the tried and tested method of stapling a business card to a brochure has been working wonders for conversion, right? Insert sarcastic face here.

If a potential customer would like more information on a tour or company and there aren’t any brochures to hand out and hope they come back to you, what do you do?

How about offering to email them a link to an “online brochure” (website) or a PDF version and boom! You now have their contact details to follow up!


Did I just blow your mind?

Good, it’s time to step into the future and bring our customers with us.

Change is hard, to begin with, but a few years down the track we’ll look back on travel brochures like we now look back on paper tickets and fax machines.

That brings me to the cost saving.

Oh my, I can’t even start to think what could be done with the cash saved on designing, printing and couriering of millions of brochures per year. It could be used to bolster charity projects that are already in place or training programs for Travel Agents on how to sell products, anything really.


To conclude…


Pic: Greenpeace

If you’re still unsure if you can survive without a shop full of colourful travel brochures behind you, think about the recent mass migration of retail to home-based agents (myself included).

I left retail twelve months ago to start my own home-based agency, Curated Travel. During that time, I have sent exactly zero brochures to my customers – and the bookings continue to roll in.

My customers love it when I send them tailored recommendations and links to specific tours. This saves me and my clients time and makes their decision to book easier.

Not everyone will agree with me.

I’m aiming to start a conversation about how we can #traveltochangetheworld for the better. If you’re in doubt, think about how Coles & Woolworths dealt with the wrath of the baby boomers when they stopped providing free single-use plastic bags recently.

It was a big thing for about five minutes, then we all moved on and the world didn’t stop spinning.


Who’s with me? #banthebrochure or #notreadytochangetheworld?