ADVANTAGE
Travel Centres is ploughing £250,000 into the launch of a year-round
advertising campaign to step up awareness of its brand nationally.

The
move comes as its main rival Worldchoice joins forces with the Travel Trust
Association to form a ‘super alliance’ and at a time of sluggish bookings.

It
represents a clear indication Advantage is steering a different course to
rivals, targeted at building its own image and links with suppliers.

Sales
and marketing director Colin O’Neill said: “We’re focused on Advantage members
and relationships with suppliers, not alliances with other agenices.”

The
campaign through 55-60 regional newspapers is based on focus group research on
the back of consumer surveys in 2002. He added: “We’re trying to establish what
we stand for.”

The
advertising introduces the strapline ‘Be Free To Choose’ to reflect consumer
demand to be treated individually. Advantage – also considering modernising its
logo – will fund the first three months’ advertising from January 31.

Initially
this will focus on increasing awareness of Advantage rather than individual
members, while promoting deals with ‘fun’ images. A telephone number will
direct consumers to their local agent.

Operators
have been approached to run joint year-round campaigns and agents will be
encouraged to take out their own advertisements in the same format.