How’s business? This is the question my friends and family ask on a weekly basis. I suspect this question is more of a barometer on how the economy as a whole is doing. If I have a good week my friends and family think the economy is getting better. If I have a poor week it reinforces what the media says. Such is life in the Great Recession of 2009.
Last month I implemented Live Person (live chat) on each of my websites. I am happy to report that I have made three bookings as a result of Live Person. These individual bookings resulted from starting a relationship with the client via live chat. In order for a potential client to begin a live chat they must first give their name, phone number and email address. It seems that some clients like to “test the waters” gently before having phone contact with a travel professional, so this option works well for them. Live Person is definitely a keeper.
A great feature of Live Person is the ability to see who is on your website and from where they came. As a result, I noticed that my cruise website gets a ton of hits, but generates very little in the way of leads or actual bookings. This website has been picked up by Google and Yahoo for the search terms “cruise vacations” and “cruise packages.” Since these are very generic search terms they are most likely terms that a bargain shopper is using.
My cruise website is a Nexcite by Passport Online site. Due to the fact that I pay for this site and the site is not paying for itself, changes had to be made. Ten days ago I removed my cruise website from Nexcite, created a new cruise website using Dream Weaver, and then uploaded the site on my GoDaddy hosting account using the cruise domain name. For my Nexcite account I created a separate Hawaii site. Both sites are live and I will give them three months and evaluate their effectiveness in regards to leads and bookings. (CruiseVacationTravel.com and HawaiiVacationST.com)
Constant Contact is my email marketing program. I use it because my sites are hosted by different companies–Go Daddy, Nexcite, and Passport Online. I maintain one master marketing list. Each separate website has a sign up form that “reports back” to the Constant Contact database. I can also manually add in prospects as needed. There is a new feature which Constant Contact is offering that I am trying. It is the autoresponder. An autoresponder is an automatic email (or series of emails) sent to your prospect without any intervention from you. Constant Contact has the ability for you to create up to 5 autoresponders that will automatically be sent in intervals after a client has signed up for your email newsletter. I have created three emails that educate the consumer on the value of a travel agent and what my travel agency can do for them. These emails are scheduled to be sent 5, 15 and 30 days after the client has signed up for my email newsletters. The idea behind this is to create a relationship with the client before they request travel arrangements. It also is a good tool to keep you in their mind if it will be a bit of time until they receive the initial newsletter. I am keeping track of those who receive these autoresponders and when/if they book travel with me.
Overall my business is down compared to last year. While disappointing, this gives me time to come up with new ideas and to tweak my websites. Onward and upward I say. Have a great month!
Pat Saizan, ACC, CTC owns Saizan’s Travel based in Altamonte Springs, FL (a home based agency hosted by Travel Planners International). For more information, you can contact Pat at Pat@SaizansTravel.com.
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