One thing is perfectly clear – travel agents love social media. At any travel trade show, the social media panels are packed. Hold a social media webinar and it’s a record crowd of travel agents that show up. It seems everyone has a Facebook or Twitter account, and a good part of everyday is spent pumping content into the social media funnel.
There are even some great success stories. Last week, travel agent Denyse Turner related her own experiences which include “15 group cruises, 5 individual cruises and more vacation packages than [she] can handle alone“. That is tremendous success and there are many more stories beginning to come in attesting to the power of social media as a marketing tactic.
Here’s the problem. Denyse makes it look easy. Agents are flocking to social media because of her story and others like it, much the same way that people charged across the North American continent in 1849 looking for gold.
Not everyone will get rich. However, a lot more travel agents could if they would understand that even something as new and exciting as social media is built on basic marketing fundamentals.
You see, I have been watching Denyse Turner for some time. She’s been on my radar ever sense she first joined TRO’s Community. I’m pretty sure Denyse would have been good at any given marketing tactic she chose to use. She was aggressive, but, more important, she made a study of it. She watch others, took notes and laid out a plan. There is nothing haphazard about the way she goes to work.
In truth, social networking is not new. The medium in which we conduct social networking is new, but 10 years ago social networking was all about your local community. Social networking, as Nolan Burris will remind us, is about socializing! Good marketers know how to socialize, to make small talk and to form relationships long before they ever try to discuss travel plans.
Then, as now, marketing was about relationships and good marketers realized they were selling themselves.
The one small concern I have with social media is how easy it is to get involved and the concern that, as a result, travel agents might ignore other important fundamental marketing tactics. Even with social media, the basics of good marketing principles pertain. Most often, those basics are learned by doing, by involving oneself in a study of networking, public relations, advertising and word-of-mouth.
Many agents will do fabulously well in social media. Many, many more, however, will build their businesses just outside their front door in the local community. The skills necessary to market well apply either place.
Marketing, customer service, sales – those are the three areas of expertise that bring success when done well. Its not the media, its the personality behind the curtain. Those skills can be learned, practiced, improved upon and mastered. Making each a part of your fundamental commitment to your travel practice is essential.
Don’t neglect to study the fundamentals of sound marketing. Once mastered, they will serve you well in any decade, in any media.