THE INTERVIEW: HOW HAS BRANDING EFFECTED YOUR BUSINESS?
We talked with Christy Destremeau of France Off The Beaten Path Tours about how branding, and her decision to work with The Salty Olive has impacted her business over time. Christy is an exceptional client because she is one who is totally and utterly committed to her business and to pouring everything she’s got into upping her game, learning and staying relevant, and because of her hard work, she is one of the most highly rated tour operators in France! Her unique position as an ex-pat who lives and works with her family in France makes her the perfect bridge between american travelers and a truly unique and non-touristy France tour experience. It was, and is, an absolute please working with her!
France Off The Beaten Path Tours saw a huge boost in inquiries and bookings when we did her first redesign many years ago, and has since more than doubled her total business and done a second redesign with us! She has been featured in Condé Nast, Travel & Leisure, National Geographic and Forbes Traveler, along with many other prestigious national publications because of her stand-out service, stellar reputation and brand, and clients still constantly tell her that what attracted them to her tours vs. the competition, was her website!
WHAT’S YOUR BUSINESS, AND WHAT DO YOU DO?
France Off the Beaten Path is an American owned and operated tour company specializing in active, small group tours exclusively in France; specifically to Provence, Loire Valley, Bordeaux wine country, and Champagne.
WHAT IS YOUR BUSINESSES’ PARTICULAR BRAND OF MAGIC?
The company’s sole focus and specialty is tour travel in France. I’ve branded us as the France travel specialists. Since I live and work locally in France, I have personal relationships and unparalleled connections with French artisans, professionals, hotels, and chefs that I’ve developed and maintained during more than 2 decades of living as an American ex-pat in France. Through friendships and family, I’ve developed a very exclusive network. These very exclusive relationships serve as the foundation to create very personalized and authentic tour itineraries and experiences for travelers who want to discover the real and “non-touristy” side of France.
WHAT WAS IT THAT MADE YOU DECIDE TO WORK WITH ME?
I saw another website you had designed, and loved that it was very focused on the design and “artsy” presentation rather than a straight forward sales design. I really wanted a website that would illustrate the beauty of France and the tour experiences Off the Beaten Path designs and offers, but I didn’t want the website to look like “hey come buy this tour”. I really wanted visitors to my website to want to explore the offerings and feel the experiences offered as they read the tour itineraries. I wanted the design to be inviting and appealing — like an appreciated piece of art — that travelers would buy, because they could envision themselves enjoying the experiences they were reading about in the itineraries, and not just seeing a deal. And I wanted all of that conveyed in a design that would clearly make Off the Beaten Path stand out from others in my industry.
DO YOU FEEL THAT I HELPED TO CAPTURE AND REFLECT THAT PARTICULAR BRAND OF MAGIC?
Yes! From day 1 when I contacted you with so many written words, thoughts I had jotted down of what I wanted, and how I envisioned my new website. I was impressed beyond words when you returned the first comps to show me how you had translated my ideas and thoughts into a design that was both beautiful and functional. WOW!! When I saw the comps, my first thoughts were, “OMG, it’s like she’s literally taken a look in my head as I wrote my ideas down”. You really captured my words, and magically transformed them into the exact notions I wanted for my website.
WHAT EFFECT DO YOU FEEL THAT DECISION HAS HAD ON YOUR BUSINESS?
Working with you has had such a positive impact on my company. I often receive compliments from guests about my website. I especially love when guests, without prompt, tell me why they love the website, and how it was so appealing that once they visited the site the design was so beautiful they wanted to keep reading on and see more. The compliments I receive on the look and feel in combination with the content of my website is always extremely positive.
WHAT DO YOU FEEL THAT GOOD BRANDING & DESIGN HAS HELPED YOU TO DO MORE OF?
Branding has definitely served as the foundation to being recognized in my industry for the specific services France Off the Beaten Path offers. My current website is a modernization of the original one you designed. Meaning as technology has changed, I have had to make some necessary changes to keep the website artsy beautiful and appealing and technologically current. Sticking with the original brand and building on it through your services has aided in solidifying recognition of France Off the Beaten Path’s brand. My style from website design to all of the supporting marketing materials you’ve designed for France Off the Beaten Path has helped to establish our brand, make it stand out from other websites/brands in the touring industry, and grow the brand over the years since I’ve started working with you.
HOW DO YOU FEEL YOUR BRANDING & DESIGN HAS IMPACTED YOUR BUSINESS?
Branding and a unique design has had a great positive impact on France Off the Beaten Path. I’ve seen a significant increase in traffic on the website, interest and inquiries about my tours, and increased sales when the original website was launched, and another significant increase after this most recent round of updates, and again through the implementation of a mobile friendly version of the website.
WAS THERE ANYTHING AT ALL ABOUT WORKING WITH ME THAT YOU FOUND PARTICULARLY HELPFUL OR DIFFERENT THAN WORKING WITH OTHER DESIGNERS OR FIRMS?
Yes, I love that you really focus on the importance of the design and the message a website sends its visitors through good design. Your ability to transform words into images is a real talent, and that is conveyed in your design, edits, and final product. You’re open minded and very eager to listen to my ideas and my wishes when I intially approached you for the original website design, the subsequent updates, and marketing materials.
HOW IMPORTANT DO YOU NOW FEEL THAT BRAND DESIGN IS AS A PIECE OF THE BUSINESS INVESTMENTS PIE?
Branding is a huge piece of the investment pie. It’s the primary tool to help make France Off the Beaten Path stand out from others in the touring industry, and through good website design and marketing materials design, I really have effective and appealing tools to create the recognition desired in the tour industry.
WHAT, IF ANYTHING, WOULD YOU ADVISE TO BUSINESS OWNERS CONSIDERING REBRANDING THEMSELVES OR STARTING NEW?
The most important advice I could offer on this point of starting a brand or recreating one is to really narrow down the goals you want your brand to achieve. Select the design and colors for your website and supporting marketing materials carefully and with precision. And once you make your decision and move forward, stick to the brand, believe in it, and maintain it with vigor!
The power of great design in branding your business is that it not only excites and inspires your clients, but it excites and inspires you too! When you meet your genuine brand, all fleshed out before you, it re-invigorates and re-inspires YOU about it too, it brings your vision to life in a whole new way, and that inspiration goes right back into the business… equipping you with everything you need to meet your market head-on, and grow your business from a fresh and strong foundation. As a successful business owner you already know that whether you’re selling a product or a service, what you’re really selling is an EXPERIENCE, and the best way to sell an experience is to give your prospective customers a “taste”. Here at The Salty Olive we specialize in just that very thing, and we’ve been doing it for 16+ years: distilling it all down to the heart of your business, and designing all your marketing materials to do just that—give your clients a true “taste” and FEEL for YOUR UNIQUE BRAND EXPERIENCE. The fact is people connect on a tactile, and emotional level through words and imagery—it’s what moves them and ultimately inspires them to choose you—that’s why we design your brand as an answer to what your clients most want to feel and experience, because when you do that, you go from being A choice for them, to being THE choice for them.