PREPARING HANDBOOKS FOR COACH TOURS.
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How to Tell the Story of Motor Coaching in the Most Effective and Ecomothical Manner.
REMILARLY every spring the most enterprising of motor coach owners pay early attention to the compilation and distribution of an acceptable tours handbook, in which is summarized all that the respective, owners wish to tell the public about their passenger transport services—and often a good deal more. Many of these booklets contain 100 or more pages, and, being illustrated with maps and artistically produced photographic views, as well as lucid descriptive matter, they become valuable guides to passengers and others who may be more .or less unfamiliar with the districts dealt with.
Now at this stage it should he stated that the publication of a useful and business-getting motor-coaching handbook need not he an unduly expensive matter for the coach owner, providing he is prepared to work diligently, not only in the compilation of :a booklet which is worthy of retention as a souvenir, .but also in an endeavour to :secure sufficient advertising revenue, which can be done by ensuring a circulation which is sufficiently comprehensive as to promote the desire
of boatel-keepers and shop-owners to give advertisements. .
In the, first place lie must look upon his publication in much the same manner as the merchant regards his stock catalogue—an inventory of all that he has to offer to the public. He must be impressed with its value, first. to himself, then to the public, and then to the advertiser. Possibly some readers may be inclined to quarrel with the order in which these relative values are set forth; but we are assuming that the coach owner will consider the project from a commercial paint of view, and aim to make his venture as self-supporting as possible. The motive of self-interest will impose upon him the obligation to make his booklet interesting and readable to the public, and if he succeeds in this direction there is no doubt that he may approach potential advertisers with the conviction that he is offering space well worth the money asked for it.
The writer has before him eight guide books, issued by different coach owners, each of them being of octavo size and having an attractive cover. Four of these handbooks were compiled and issued by a firm of printers specializing in this class of work, and the other four by the coaehowners themselves.. Before dealing with their contents, it seems that some -useful purpose might he served by -showing the proportion of advertising pages 'to the total number of pages in each of these books.
It will be seen, therefore, that, en the average of the foregoing figures, 40 per cent, of the available space in the eight beoklets (and they are merely a haphazard collection) Con SiStS of revnue-yielding advertisements. Reckoning the cost of space at 20s. or 25s. A page, it is obvious that a substantial contribution toward the cost of the booklets is immediately available.
The initial step that should be taken in the preparation of a tours handbook is to prepare a plan, in the farm of a " dummy copy," in which the blank pages can be marked off according to the use to which it is intended to put them. This embryo copy can be enclosed in a .suitable design of cover to show to prospective advertisers. The dummy copy is the rough plan of the projected booklet. It is the raw material which has to be hewn into shape and prepared. in a manner that will grip the attention of prospective passengers and be preserved by those who have enjoyed any of the tours referred to amongst its contents.
U the ceach owner has in mind a 50-page booklet, his dummy copy will consist of as many blank pageS; he may mark off the central .30 pages for descriptive matter and illustrations, and leave the remaining 20 pages fox' advertisements. Some owners favour the plan of concentrating the advertising pages at the front or at the back of the book, whereas others, knowing that ehopkeepere, hotel proprietors and ethers favour positions which lace reading matter, compromise by arranging for advertising and "news" pages to sun through the hook alternately. For positions of this description higher rates can usually he asked.
The coact owner's guide book should provide an answer to every question the coach passenger is likely to ask and volunteer information on !subjects of general or particular -interest. For instance, one guide book which we have examined. explains to visitors to North Wales how different' and seemingly impronouncable coaching destinations should be expressed.
(leach owners in Llandudno, Colwyn Bay, Rhyl, etc., advertise tours to Dwygyfylchi; but how is anyone but a native to give an intelligible expression of his desire to visit such place unless there is someone to help him? And who should be more ready to lend assistance in the matter than the company that wants to take him there? After ell, according to an interesting little booklet circulated by Messrs. Brooke Bros., of Rhyl, pronunciation of such a word is quite simple. This geide•gives about '30 different phonetic equivalents to Welsh tongue-twisters; the heights of the principal mountains in Wales; and a aeries of verses by an editor of Punch after "a trip through some of the districts which are described in this guide."
A map of the company's motor coach 'routes is always a useful feature of a guide hook. Some owners favour the use of the two centre pages for this featore, indicating the routes usually followed by a red overprint. The position for the map should be se chosen that it is not likely to be overlooked by the coach passenger.
The mileages of distinct tours are always interesting, but they are net always set forth in a lucid manlier. Some coach owners prefer to give the mileages at the head of each description of a tour, others give a tabular statement of the mileages of each tour; whilst a third section prefers to emit any reference to mileages, presumably because it en
ables a passenger to ascertain at a glance bow much a rnile he is paying for his travel.
So far as the descriptions of tours are concerned, there need be no difficulty in securing suitable matter, Printers who specialize in the preparation of these guides sometimes have them in " stock"; that is why it is sometimes that identical descriptions of tours appear, with slight modifications in the booklets issued by different companies. Local newspaper correspondents are often prepared to undertake the preparation of a series of descriptions:of tours.
Dealing with the essential photographs, a local photographer can generally provide a series of useful prints suitable for reproduction, but those which ,shouid he most acceptable are not merely what might be termed the "picture postcard subjects," but those which show the company's motor coaches in the meet attractive settings. After ell, it is a coach owner's booklet, and the opportunity should be taken to boom coaches all the time, by depicting them in the prettiest and me-A seductive surroundings. Many l'e.f the photographs which appear in coachguides whilst being pretty views, are deplorably commonplace, and can he seen an any local guide book, or .be bought at any picture postcard stall. Although more costly, art pictures showing coaches in the subjeot of the illustration haves decided pulling power. In none of the coach .guides before us are charges for tours quoted for reasons that are obvious to those with a knowledge of coaching conditions ati. the present time. When approaching advertisers, it is advisable to state how many copies of the guide will be printed and distributed. Distribution should not be indiscriminate, but be confined to those who are likely to make best 'use of it, such as those who conduct hotels, hoarding-houses, cafes, organizers of parties, etc., -whilst copies should be available at public meeting places, and at the headquarters .of prominent local essociations.