Richard SiddleSome windows of opportunity

Trading Standards may well be imposing a sustained clampdown on the use of window cards.

But it is high time the sector took a serious look at the whole practice of cramming shop displays with holiday offers and last-minute deals.

Clearly, price is an essential part of anyone’s holiday purchasing decision and high-street agents need to reflect some level of promotion in how they market themselves to the passing public.

However, with such a vast difference in the cost of holidays and flights, is there any value in putting up a low-cost deal when it may not be the cheapest available in the market in any case?

A quick survey of how different travel agents – be they multiple chains, miniples or independents – advertise offers in shop windows reveals a varied approach.

The traditional window card, however, is not as widespread as we might think. While Thomas Cook remains committed to them, its multiple rivals are looking at more innovative media such as televisions and interactive screens.

What you put in your shop window is down to you, but a quick walk down the local high street shows that price is not the only message other retail sectors use to entice customers inside.

Clear, open displays that allow you to see inside the shop are the norm for many, as are aspirational consumer messages that are about brand values rather than price.

The only high-street store using handwritten cards is the local newsagent, and good independent retailers are putting them out of business with increasingly professional service-driven displays.

If you are to change people’s perceptions so they understand you can sell a specialised holiday to match their dreams, and not just a last-minute holiday deal they can get online, the way to do it is start putting out that message in shop windows.

Hit or miss

It seemed a good idea at the time to put a picture on our front page of England’s Euro 2004 quarter-final penalty shoot-out against Portugal as a teaser for last weekend’s World Cup equivalent.

It was impossible the same thing could happen again – wasn’t it!?

Feel free to confine last week’s front page to history.