Filling the Pipeline | TravelResearchOnline

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Filling the Pipeline

A key objective of marketing your travel planning practice is assuring a flow of new clients through the door. Retention of your existing clients is absolutely necessary and challenging in and of itself, but the acquisition of new clients provides for growth. If you are not taking measures to acquire new clients, attrition of your existing base will mean your business will decline over time.

Remember our discussion of the sales funnel?  Typically, only a small percentage of your leads pan out into actual travel planning opportunities.  In order to maintain the volume you need for a healthy business, your marketing activities must be robust and continual. 

“Filling the pipeline” is the phrase often used to describe the strategy of continually developing new contacts for your business. No matter how robust your current client roster may be, some client attrition is inevitable.  Clients move on, find new agencies, book themselves, pass away. Keeping the pipeline full is an important task both for the stability and the growth of your travel agency.

Most travel planners use a variety of tactics to acquire new clients. Certainly referrals are a big part of keeping the pipeline full, as are your networking activities, speaking opportunities and advertising. Periodically, however, those tactics need to be re-examined, organized and supplemented with new ones.

Below are a few of the more common strategies and a brief explanation.

        • Advertising – well placed advertising can provide you with a new audience. Done well, advertising can intrigue clients with the man possibilities of working with you. Done poorly, however, it can be a dark hole for your precious capital!
          • Banner Ads
          • Paid Adverting
          • Paid articles (native ads)
        • Publishing – Like to write?
          • Newsletters
          • Blogging
          • Guest articles
        • Cross Marketing – working with other businesses in town to market to each other’s list. Here are a few examples of successful cross marketing ventures with have seen other travel consultants do:
          • Photographers
          • Wedding planners
          • Clothing store
          • Yoga Studios
        •  Networking – The more people who know you are “out there” the wider your sphere of influence.
          • Clubs and Associations
          • Volunteer work
          • Community Involvement
          • Schools and Churches
          • Social Organizations
        • Public Relations – Forming relationships with the press, sponsoring events and organizations and attending trade shows projects the personality of your agency in a very strong, dynamic manner.
          • Media
          • Sponsorships
          • Press releases
          • Tradeshows
        • Public Speaking – not everyone is confident speaking in front of a crowd. However, the moment you stand behind a podium, you are presumed an expert. Speaking about travel is one of the best possible ways of being identified as a “local expert”
        • Group Leader Programs – Why do all the work yourself? A few group leaders will allow you to leverage the passion of others in your community who love to travel and who have networks of friends and relatives.
        • Word of Mouth – when you are recommended by a friend of a friend, you have the added power of a testimonial behind you, and the power of a third-party endorsement is hard to over-estimate!
          • Testimonials
          • Referrals
        • Social Media and Digital Marketing – Expanding your digital footprint also expands the scope of your sphere of influence.

Sit down and make a list of the various ways you intentionally seek out new clients. Next, make a list of the last few new clients that you added to your roster, and note how you acquired them. Also make a list of new leads or prospective clients and note through which channels they came to your door. You may observe that some methods of client acquisition are serving you better than others and that some are not serving you well at all, including some for which you are paying. Take a hard look at those tactics that have not been working well and decide whether to spend more time and resources developing them or less. Perhaps you have not developed that particular channel well enough, or perhaps it is truly non-productive. Take your most fruitful tactics and focus on them to ascertain whether you need to accelerate your efforts in those channels.

Simply spending time looking at your client acquisition channels will likely be productive. Organizing and evaluating how you acquire new clients will help assure that your business will continue to grow.

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