Are you bending over backward as a travel agent and feel as though you’re moving at a snail’s pace? Are you constantly looking for ways to maximize leads, but somehow the results remain insignificant? Let’s face it, it’s a tough industry to be in, especially these days where people heavily rely on the internet and have become more independent in all aspects of life. Travel is no exception. So you’re struggling to see the light at the end of your tunnel and it appears as though you’re taking one step forward, yet moving two paces back. What if I told you this doesn’t have to be your reality? There are some trade secrets that you can implement on a regular basis and turn this all around. Soon enough you will be generating new customer leads with no hassle at all. Follow these tips to conquer those hurdles and transform yourself into a force to be reckoned with in the travel industry:
Spread the Word, Be Heard!
This is the oldest and most effective trick in the book. Marketing via positive feedback will generate more business leads than any other form of marketing can. In fact, many companies have taken this concept and used it in combination with other methods to succeed in their fields. One of the biggest textile companies in the world, Inditex, uses this as one of its main tactics to boost sales. They are distinguished in their ability to appeal to their target audience using their ethical and personable marketing practices, in which they make it a point to “know” their customers. This has been proven to be so successful that Inditex does not use any advertising to promote their brand.
The best part? It’s FREE! Please, let’s take a moment to recall the last time you got something for free. Didn’t think so. Needless to say, the owner of the company is amongst the top three richest people in the world.
In the field of travel, customers will often rely on your services as a onetime affair. As bleak as that may seem, you must take that single opportunity and go the extra mile. Something seemingly insignificant to you, taking up a minimal amount of your time, might mean all the difference in the world to that customer. Leave a good impression because, in an instant, you may have earned yourself three more clients. Communication is the key to success. Your client may spread the word amongst family, friends and basically everyone around them.
Your Website Is Your Lifeline
This is your channel to the rest of the globe. Technology has enabled us with the ability to reach billions of people around the world with a single click of a button. Use it to your advantage in order to maximize your marketing benefits. According to recent research, the average person spends approximately 23 hours online every week. Basically, if you don’t have a website up and running, your business doesn’t exist. Harsh? Maybe, but it’s true.
People use the internet to instantly get suggestions to help solve any and all questions they come across on a daily basis. Your website reflects your business and how you run it. Put yourself in your customer’s shoes and think about what they would want to see when visiting your page. Be creative, spice things up to help your business stand out from the crowd. Regardless of the online marketing channel you are working with, make sure to KEEP IT SIMPLE.
Whether we’re talking about your website, email or social media, it cannot be stressed enough that key details should be easily accessible. Most importantly, contact information should be effortlessly detectable by your customer, preferably situated on the home page. Never make your target audience dig for contact information. I guarantee that users will quickly lose patience and simply go on to find another travel agent if they find your website to be cumbersome.
Make Your Keywords Count
If you’re planning on throwing all of your eggs in one basket, this should be it. Keyword optimization is probably the most important weapon in your arsenal. Making yourself discoverable online is crucial in generating maximum leads. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) helps customers pinpoint exactly what they are looking for. If you are an SEO mastermind, use your skills and make your website one of the primary links to appear in an online search. If you’re not familiar or don’t understand the basics of SEO, it is essential to hire a professional. If done correctly, this could mean the difference between average results and an exceptional outcome. When a possible customer enters “find a travel agent in New York” and your distinctive website is one of the primary results, you, my friend, have hit the jackpot.
Email Marketing Is Still a Thing
Despite the common misconception that email is an outdated source of marketing, let me assure you this is simply untrue. Since its establishment, communication via email has been used as a marketing tool. If you have overlooked this gem, be sure to log in and get cracking ASAP and make this part of a regular routine. Make things easier for yourself by creating a list to forward the latest details including newsletters, tips for traveling and your top deals. Get your message across by keeping it short and sweet but, at the same time, informative. Keep the tone personal so the customer feels as though they are communicating directly with you when reading. Do not hesitate to use a little humor in the text, it will draw the person to keep reading on a regular basis.
Avoid your email to be looking like the spam everyone loathes seeing in their inbox. Make the individual glancing passingly at their email notice yours and want to open it. Use the subject line to your advantage; make it unique to instantly intrigue your audience. Use the minor details to make a huge impact.
Social Media, Your New Best Friend!
Ever gone to meet a friend and notice that they’re on their phone every three and a half minutes? It is most likely that they are on social media, checking for news updates, celebrity gossip or checking sports results. Don’t get offended because we all have been there. It’s not the first time and probably won’t be the last. Over the past few years, social norms have changed dramatically due to the influence of technology. Wherever you find yourself in a public setting, chances are you will see a number of people with their eyes fixated on the screens of their chosen devices, using social media. Whether Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, these channels of communication will skyrocket your business; while you’re at it, why not take your marketing strategy to the next level and combine all three networking services? Honestly, if cats are taking over the internet, your business should be too!
Regardless of how you use social media, for free or paying a fee to push your announcements above others, you must take full advantage of this marketing miracle. Post consistently, use language that will appeal to your audience and answer all queries posted on your page. Again, contact information must be easily found on your page. Ask your friends to share the link, and spread the word.
This is a marketing channel often overlooked by many people looking to promote their businesses. Free ads are available on numerous sites that are very popular among the masses. Choose from the classics, like Yellow Pages or the widely popular Craigslist. These sites get an enormous amount of traffic daily, so you never know who can stumble upon your advert. Aspire to create an advert that is catchy and will draw customers towards you. Add beautiful photos of locations that will awaken the wanderer in everyone. Simplicity is key as is your personal flare that must translate to your audience why they should choose you as their travel agent.
Raise the bar and stand behind what it is you’re selling. Prove yourself and win over the masses. They say knowledge is power, and in this case, knowledge means elevating your reputation and consequently generating more leads for your soon-to-be booming travel business. What can I say? I’m an optimist! In all seriousness, having a blog confirms that you know your stuff when it comes to travel. Possible customers that come across your blog will recognize this instantly, and those with a strong case of wanderlust will appreciate this. They will realize that you are the travel genius they need for that getaway they have been dreaming about for such a long time. Your expert advice on where to go and other handy tips will go a long way in boosting your status in this business. Show the range that your agency can offer, simultaneously keeping it positive and fun. Think about your target audience and their needs. Blogging will also prove beneficial to your website in strengthening the credibility of your business; whilst at the same time, your website will rank higher on Google. That right there is a win-win situation!
YouTube Video Marketing
Since we’re going over the things that will make you reach a travel rock star status, it is essential to cover all the methods. YouTube is our visual encyclopedia, and much like Google, it aids us in finding out anything and everything that interests us. YouTube is used as a marketing tool by many, but it is still not marketing channels as common as, say, websites are. Once again, this is your chance to prove you are a travel prodigy to be reckoned with. Start by uploading some short, but interesting and informative videos.
Why, you ask? Let’s face it: collectively, people in today’s society have become a bit of a lazy bunch. Information is instantly available to us as long as there is a Wi-Fi connection nearby. There are a selected few amongst us that like to pick up a book and read on our travel destination. But we must be realistic. Humans are visual creatures. Pause for a moment and consider this: would you rather read about the colorful houses of Cinque Terre that distinguish the tiny Italian port from all the others on the planet or see this glorious imagery via video? Don’t deny it. You know it’s true. So, channel your inner celebrity travel guide and go for it! It will get easier with time, and it will be very valuable to your business, locally and globally.
Show Them What You’ve Got, Work That Trade Show!
This is one of the aspects that you have to invest in, so check your financial situation and apply if you can. Trade shows provide you with countless opportunities in forwarding your business goals. Whether you’re just establishing your business and looking for some inspiration or someone that’s been in the travel sector for years looking for innovative ideas, these shows pop up virtually everywhere and are particularly handy. This social arena has so many useful aspects, it will surely provide some sort of effective outcome.
Rubbing shoulders with the best in the business is especially valuable. Networking will provide you with ideas that you can adapt to your plans. Most of all, this is the place where you have potential customers virtually served on a silver platter. They come to you. With your knowledge and a little charm, you will be generating so many customer leads that your travel business will simply catapult, both short-term and in the long run.
OK, quick brainstorming session right now. Think of some of the most successful brands in the world. Got it? Now, what makes them stand out from all the others in their respective field? It may be the their logo, a certain color associated with that brand, or even a font that is automatically associated with the brand in question. For instance, if I were thinking of a little jewelry box in the shade of robin egg blue, you would instantly know what company I am thinking of. The simple truth is niche branding is what sets you apart from the rest.
Frankly, there are a million and one travel agencies all over the world. Make no mistake about it, there is competition out there. Quite simply, it is for you to set yourself apart from everyone else. Find that unique factor that makes your business special. Oddly enough, it can be as simple as a color choice or a logo. Something distinctive representing your brand and your brand only is vital in promoting your company. Having a signature brand makes it easier for customers to remember you and, consequently, contact you when they need your travel expertise.
Branding is everything, as the accomplished veterans have confirmed. Get creative and think of what your brand stands for and how you wish the public to perceive you. Create your signature brand and stick to it. Soon enough, your brand will be on par with that little blue box.
Entice Your Customers!
Reel in your customers by going that extra mile for them. Everybody loves a gift, especially when they don’t expect one. Try to upgrade their suite in the hotel they are staying at, or throw in a complimentary spa treatment. These people have worked hard to finance their trip so be assured they will appreciate this gesture, and will surely give a shout out to their friends. Chances are, you cannot afford to upgrade every customer that comes through your door, and you don’t have to. The key is in the sensational customer service you offer. Treat these people as if they are your lifelong friends and find out what makes them tick. Offer to incorporate their favorite hobbies into their trip or tell them about the secret spots they must see when they arrive at their destination. It really is that simple.
Network Your Way to the Top
Find out about any and all events that are happening in your area which may have potential partners or customers attending. Prepare a short selling pitch in advance that will capture your audience. You should definitely go out and make some contacts every chance you get. Have contact information on hand by crafting some original business cards so every individual can contact you if they need to do so.
As we have previously established, people love to get freebies. Granted, friends and family will always push your brand to help your business grow, however it is difficult to get strangers to join your mission. Therefore it is essential to give them incentives to get on the bandwagon and spread the word. Create a referral program that gives them that motivation using encouragement in the form of discounts to upgrades on their next booking. Ensure that you include this information in all channels of communication such as your website, blog, newsletters and any other outlets so the public is aware.