Whether you’re part of a large network of travel agents or going it alone, marketing is a world you can’t afford to not think about. It’s also something you can do on a budget of practically nothing. A little time, focus, and strategy can vastly increase your agency’s online presence and reach. Over the next few posts, we’ll be looking at some of those strategies in detail, but here’s a taste of what to expect, plus a few ideas to get you started.
We can’t possibly impart all the expertise of people who design, build, and optimize websites for a living, so our feature on this will only be covering the absolute basics. Some of these are obvious enough. Do all your links work? Is your text legible against any backgrounds or images? Is there enough blank space, but not too much so that your page is nice and readable? But there are some more technical aspects too. Is your website formatted to display and be usable on a tablet or smartphone, for example?
Using Social Media
We’re sure we don’t need to tell you that since everyone’s now doing social media, it isn’t enough to simply create a profile and start posting anymore. You need a consistent brand and strategy in order to stand out and build a following.
Consistency also helps people find you easily online. Use the same handle for Twitter and Instagram, if it’s available, and make it one that’s easily identifiable as your agency. Decide an effective time when you can post new content and try to stick to it. You’ll be surprised how many people check on specific social media pages for updates, and giving them that sense of schedule helps cement you as a reliable resource. Keep your content consistent as well. Visitors to any of your social media profiles should have a clear idea of who you are and what you’re about within seconds of browsing your page.
There are also a number of tools available online for sharing your posts across multiple platforms. Instagram for instance allows you to link your Facebook and Twitter account for instant sharing, which can save time, and maximize the post’s audience. The downside to this is that these are three wildly different platforms, and not every post is going to be suitable for all three. Also, look closely the next time you see an Instagram post automatically shared on Twitter. These appear as links back to Instagram, not images, so while you may have a killer Instagram page, this function can make your Twitter timeline look messy and secondary. In short? Know how each platform works and ‘cross-post’ judiciously with that knowledge in mind.
E-Mail Lists and Building Your Following
Has social media taken over from the humble email newsletter entirely? Not yet. A good newsletter or e-zine can be just as important as your website, and a convenient way to reach your customers online without being intrusive.
The key here is to not make your clients feel obligated to subscribe. Offer them a small incentive for doing so, such as an entry in a giveaway. Mix fun features and informative content in that’s tied to your product, rather than just showcasing your latest deals, which can feel a bit too ‘hard sell.’ On a more serious note, many jurisdictions have strict laws around privacy and adding addresses to mailing lists without consent. Be transparent about what you’re doing, and double-check to ensure you’re compliant with any applicable laws.
Whatever your newsletter’s content, remember to treat it as a portal back to the rest of your online presence. Don’t forget to include links to your social media accounts, include a contact email address, and most importantly, a link back to your website.
There’s no denying how much work a consumer info event can be, not to mention how daunting. There’s planning, catering, choosing venues, public speaking (shudder), and almost certainly more little details than you’ve thought about. Far more than we can cover in a quick introduction.
Consumer info nights can also be a lot of fun, and an excellent opportunity to present the human face of your agency to your clients. They can lead to sales directly, but the main benefit is to further your relationships with clients and potential clients that attend. Through your presentation and even casual conversation, you can quickly establish yourself as an authority on your product.
On that note, be specific! A successful consumer night is focused on a particular niche or destination and targets its audience. Invite established clients who are interested in the style of travel or destination you want to showcase. Get the word out to lists and outlets focused on that particular niche. The more your potential clients feel the event is ‘for them,’ the more likely they are to come.
Consumer rights can take many different forms, and be held on any scale and on any budget. A small group attending a night at your agency, or even in your backyard is a perfectly fine way to start. No matter the budget or scale of your event, treat it with the same professionalism, follow up with your attendees, and measure your results. You might have more eyes on you than you think.