Europe Express is a travel supplier that works only with travel professionals, and does not seek to work directly with consumers. Even though their marketing is never consumer-focused, we can learn a lot from them and especially how they utilize social media in their marketing. Much of what Europe Express does can be duplicated by travel professionals in how we reach out to our market (our consumers).
We recently sat down with Kier Matthews, Vice President of Sales at Europe Express, where he is responsible for travel agent sales and marketing. We asked Kier what Europe Express does that travel professionals can emulate in their own marketing. Kier emphasized the need to ENGAGE, ENGAGE, ENGAGE with your fans; don’t do sales, promos and deals through social media. He follows his own advice. Europe Express has a Facebook business page as well as a private closed group started by one of their BDMs Ed Jones. Ed started his travel-professional-only closed group when he worked for a previous supplier, and continued with the group when he joined Europe Express. On both their business page and Ed’s closed group, they focus exclusively on engaging with their travel professional fans. They never promote sales or deals. Instead they post destination pictures, travel-related articles from a variety of sources, as well as some of their own sample itineraries (which can be found on their website).
Discussing Facebook, Kier stressed the importance of having two pages: a personal profile and a business page, keeping business on the business page.
Kier emphasized how important that it was to engage your fans, to get them to like, share, and most importantly, comment on your posts. “Engagement is what drives people to participate more,” Kier said. When discussing engagement, he suggested responding to EVERY comment made on your Facebook posts (personal and business). However, staying engaged does not need to be an all-day endeavor. Carve out time on your schedule, even if it’s just 15 minutes a day, to create posts and to respond to any comments made on previous posts.
Another way to engage fans is to host educational engagement contests; Europe Express did this back in March 2015. Every day for four weeks they would post a booking requirement and the first travel professional to post a booking number that met the requirement would win a gift card. Each day the booking criteria was different, and they had 200 to 300 travel professionals actively participating in the contest. Kier said “it was insane.” Travel professionals can host similar education contests, using destination pictures (name this destination) or other types of posts. It all leads back to promoting fan engagement.
Overall social media marketing (including Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube) has been incredibly huge for Europe Express, enabling them to maintain and increase their market share. Kier sees more marketing shift to social media in the future, and feels that travel professionals need to establish a very regular, very engaged plan to utilize social media in their marketing.
You can follow or like the Europe Express Facebook page and see first-hand how they are using social media on a daily basis. Take some of their ideas and use something similar on your own business page, and start engaging your fans today.
Susan Schaefer is the owner of Ships ‘N’ Trips Travel (www.shipsntripstravel.com) located in Tennessee, and specializes in leisure travel with a focus on group travel and charity fundraisers. Through their division Kick Butt Vacations (www.kickbuttvacations.com), she focuses on travel for 18 to 23-year-olds. Susan can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (888) 221-1209.