Travel agency marketing probably sounds a lot more daunting than it really is. However, if you have little to no experience, you will definitely need to become familiar with the process. Fortunately, with a little help and guidance, you can learn how to market a travel agency that brings in a multitude of clients year-round. Use this how-to guide to create a travel agency marketing plan that works for you.
Why Invest in Travel Agency Marketing
In order to grow your travel agency business, you are going to need to invest both time and money into quality marketing. As nice as it would be, clients are typically not going to seek you out personally. Instead, they will ask friends and family for referrals and conduct online research. Or maybe they’ll come across an ad or visit a booth at a local event. Getting your name and business in front of clients means strategically putting your information in places they are most likely to see it.
How to Market a Travel Agency
Travel agency marketing is not much different than selling any other product or service. Look for any opportunity to learn about marketing, even if it isn’t directly related to travel. Notice which principles apply to your specific niche or business and devise a plan to put them into action in a way that makes sense to you.
Next, ask other travel agents within your network what has worked for them, then have a brainstorming session. Write down as many marketing channels and ideas as you can think of, along with what resources you would need to put each idea into action.
Finally, create a solid marketing plan that includes all the ideas that are achievable and puts them in a realistic timeline.
Why You Need a Travel Agency Marketing Plan
The most important thing to consider when it comes to marketing is whether the ROI (return on investment) is high enough to justify the cost. When you don’t have a travel agency marketing strategy in place, you have no direction. Winging it doesn’t usually work because your efforts are scattered and inadequate.
Often, it is helpful to work backwards. Set a goal for how many clients you want to reach within a specified time or how much money you would like to make each year. Do the math to find out how many clients/dollars you will need each month. Use these numbers when creating your marketing plan to make sure you’re doing everything you can each month, and even every day, to reach your long-term goals. Again, simply hoping your marketing is sufficient without having a detailed plan will usually leave you coming up short.
How Do Travel Agencies Attract Customers?
There are plenty of options available when it comes to travel agency marketing, so don’t be discouraged if something works for another agent but not for you. Take into account your resources and strengths and use marketing strategies that utilize these components. For example, does your community hold travel fairs, bridal fairs, or other events that provide opportunities to set up a booth and hand out information? If so, do you prefer this face-to-face sales strategy to an online one?
On the flipside, are you great at writing and social media? Do you love interacting with people in person? If this sounds more like you, you may want to begin marketing using these channels first.
An important thing to keep in mind when learning how to market a travel agency is that overnight success is unrealistic. You will need to put in the time and repetition if you want to see your numbers grow. Don’t put out one ad and then sit back and wait for the customers to start rolling in. Spend a portion of every workday reaching out to potential clients in one way or another.
Sample Travel Agency Marketing Plan
Your travel agency marketing plan will be unique to you and your needs, but there is a basic formula you can follow. Add in personalized details and goals to formulate a plan that will ensure your success.
Set both short- and long-term goals that are measurable and realistic.
Consider the time of year, upcoming holidays, and what is currently trending to determine what to focus on during which months.
Choose marketing channels and ideas to implement.
Gather resources needed to put ideas into action.
Take action with daily, weekly, and monthly tasks.
Monitor ongoing progress, including which marketing channels are bringing in the most clients.
Evaluate what is working and what isn’t, and make changes as needed.
Follow up on changes and continue evaluating progress.
Travel Agency Marketing Ideas
If you need help making a list of travel agency marketing ideas, use the suggestions below to get started. The more marketing channels you take advantage of, the more your business will be seen by potential clients. However, it’s important to pace yourself so you don’t get overwhelmed and struggle to keep everything running smoothly. If needed, start with a few at a time and add more as you are able.
How Can I Promote My Travel Business Online?
A large portion of marketing is conducted online, so don’t underestimate the importance of a strong and attractive online presence. Fortunately, if you are part of a franchise you’ll be provided with a booking website that is managed and maintained on your behalf With a travel business, maintaining the many destinations and various vacation types, it would be nearly impossible to maintain a bookable website on your own.
Utilize Social Media
Consider your social media presence to be the celebrity version of yourself. Assume that your adoring fans want to hear all about that time you went snorkeling in Cancun or where you stayed in Puerto Vallarta. Share candid, but professional-level vacation photos that show off some of the highlights and your favorite moments. Post regularly and often, and advertise new travel packages as they become available.
It’s also good to include a variety of content. Try to keep it within your realm of business, but do it in different ways. Share humorous travel memes or incorporate current holidays and how people celebrate them in some of your popular destination spots. You can also create interactive posts asking for feedback from your followers. For example, ask, “If you could visit any place in the world, where would it be and why?” or pose a trivia question and see who can identify the location.
Finally, join online groups that allow non-spammy self-promotion. Often, group members will ask for tips or advice, and you may be able to offer help with their travel preparations or make valuable connections. Also, don’t limit yourself to only one or two social media platforms. The more people you reach and the higher number of times they see your content, the greater likelihood they will come to you when they’re ready to book.
Create an Email List
your website should have a prompt to sign up for your mailing list. Also, anytime you have someone fill out forms in person, make sure there’s a spot for an email address. Your email list is one of the simplest and most important marketing tools you have. Send regular emails that provide value to the customer and remind them that you’re there when they are ready to book a vacation.
Most people don’t want to make a purchase from someone they’re unfamiliar with. They want to know that others have had positive experiences with you and your services. They also want to know they can trust you. You can help with both by including positive reviews on your social media pages and Google My Business listing,
Keep in mind that not all reviews need to be positive in order to build trust and loyalty. In fact, many readers intentionally look for negative reviews to find out why a low rating was given. Negative reviews are your chance to show customers how you respond to problems. Don’t ignore bad reviews; use them as an opportunity to showcase how you resolve them.
What Other Ways Can I Promote My Travel Business?
In addition to online marketing, there are plenty of other creative, and usually inexpensive, strategies for travel agency marketing.
Send Out Postcards and Direct Mail Pieces
Similar to an email list, you can collect addresses from potential clients and include them in a mailing list. Periodically send them postcards that advertise a travel package or destination and include your contact information.
Take Out Ads in Local Publications
Any kind of circular that goes around your community on a regular basis probably has ad space for sale. Reserve a spot as often as possible to remind people about your business and how you can help them.
Hand Out Business Cards
Use every network opportunity available and hand out or trade business cards with anyone who is interested. They may call you in the future or pass your card along to someone they know who is planning a vacation.
Set Up Booths at Fairs & Local Events
Many events include space for vendors to set up booths and sell their products and services. Some events are made almost entirely for this purpose, such as bridal fairs, craft fairs, and travel fairs. Create an eye-catching display with beautiful travel photos and video, and give potential clients an opportunity to join your email or mailing list or to enter to win a prize.
Rely on Word of Mouth
Word of mouth can be one of the most powerful marketing tools. People love to ask their friends and family about their experiences, especially with companies they are unfamiliar with. You may even benefit from offering a referral incentive.
And of course, you can tell people about your business yourself. Practice an introduction that is 30 seconds or less, sometimes called an “elevator pitch.” When you meet someone new and they ask you what you do for a living or what your hobbies are, you’ll be prepared with a short, non-salesy answer that lets them know you’re the one to come to when travel plans are being made.
Use Your Suppliers
Many of the other companies you work with in your travel agency will be willing to collaborate with you on occasion and co-fund your marketing efforts..
Wear a Travel Shirt (or Branded Shirt)
This will start conversations with others while you are out and about in your community.
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