ANALYSIS: Why Going Places wooed Blind Date

Going Places has jumped into bed with Blind Date. Harriet Marsh takes a look at the happy couple

Going Places has jumped into bed with Blind Date. Harriet Marsh takes a

look at the happy couple

Going Places is in a matchmaking mood - not to find you the man or woman

of your dreams but the perfect holiday.

Last week, Going Places was revealed as the successful suitor for the

sponsorship of ITV game show Blind Date. The 18-month sponsorship deal

will kick off on December 28 and will form the basis for Going Places’

new positioning - as the company that will pair you up with your perfect


The new strategy comes a year after former Thomas Cook marketer Tony

Bennett took over as managing director of Going Places and brought in

Francesca Ecsery-Merrens as marketing director.

‘It is Going Places’ first distinct marketing strategy,’ said Bennett.

‘The firm had focused on increasing outlets and on pricing rather than a

customer-led strategy.’

A charismatic leader, Bennett is a hands-on manager who reportedly turns

in virtuoso performances for the shop managers and has inspired

grassroots motivation.

‘The new strategy is going down very well with shop staff,’ says a

source. ‘Put Cilla Black and Tony Bennett together and you have one

winning combination.’

Staff motivation and commitment will be vital to the success of the new

marketing strategy that ultimately depends on the service provided at

the point of sale.

The new strategy comes three years after the Airtours group launched

Going Places. The brand was developed after Airtours bought Pickfords in

September 1992 and the retail division of Hogg Robinson in July 1993.

Since then the company has grown from 550 shops to 715 to date.

The Blind Date deal is seen as the precursor to the introduction of

more sophisticated marketing techniques at the travel agent. The firm is

believed to be developing a sophisticated customer database. It is also

revising its agency relationships and has taken on customer-loyalty

specialist Black Cat to work alongside ad agency CDP.

Last year, the company spent pounds 5.8m on advertising (Register-MEAL

in the year to September).

Bennett admits that budgets will be increased to support developments

around the sponsorship.

‘We don’t see this as transferring money from one sort of activity to

another,’ he says. ‘We see this as an important stage in the evolution

of Going Places.’


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