PR can play an enormous role in providing your travel agency with the credibility you need to grow. I am often surprised how little attention the entire range of public relations strategies receives from travel agents. For those of you engaged in building a local, community based practice, there may be no more important arrows in your marketing quiver.
Public relations includes media (articles about you), speaking opportunities, events and publication (articles by you). In each of these efforts, your personality is at the core of the marketing tactic. When the public reads an article about your agency, hears you speak, works with you at an event or reads an article you have written, they engage you as an individual, not as a faceless company. That encounter is intensely personal and carries an authority that an advertisement cannot. Read the rest of this entry »
Marketing is not just about brochures and advertising. Much marketing happens during the course of other activities in the life of your local community. Attending and participating in community events is one of the most important ways to gain a public relations advantage for your travel agency. Wherever people gather, you have a quiet and subtle opportunity to introduce them to your travel company, to promote your own unique brand of travel consulting and to further integrate your business into the life of your community. Authentic marketing is keyed to your personality and community events offer an excellent opportunity to put your talents and personality on display for both existing and potential clients. Read the rest of this entry »
When we craft a public relations campaign, we weave together networking, public speaking, media relations and publication. While each of these activities are separate disciplines in their own right, they have something in common – the are vehicles driven by your personality. In each instance, you power both the message and the delivery. For better or worse, your travel practice will walk and talk like you do. If that is truly the case, it is important for us to choose carefully the persona we project. Read the rest of this entry »
Most successful business people will humbly admit that luck had a great deal to do with their success. However, those same business people are just as likely to tell you that they were exceptionally prepared for luck to happen. Smart travel agents train themselves to spot opportunities and recognize that marketing is a continual exercise in awareness. It is a part of the “marketing mindset” to know when opportunity is presenting itself.
I spoke to a travel agent once who was preparing to escort a cruise group of piano enthusiasts. I asked him how he had managed to put together such an unusual group. The agent, I’ll call him “William”, said that the group resulted from a chance conversation he had with the publisher of a piano magazine. They were both at breakfast in a hotel and William struck up a conversation with a stranger. The publisher said this, William said that, and soon a cruise group was forming.
That William is one lucky guy. Read the rest of this entry »
We have all heard that “It’s who you know that counts.” While that aphorism is certainly not the whole of marketing, your range of acquaintances is very important to your public relations efforts. After all, the term “public relations” itself indicates a relationship with the public! Having a large network of people that you can reach out and communicate with on any given project is a potent arrow in your quiver. It’s a good idea to begin cultivating some new relationships and renewing some old ones. Read the rest of this entry »
Your personality is at the heart of media public relations. When the public reads an article about your agency, they engage you as an individual, not as a faceless company. The encounter is intensely personal and carries an authority an advertisement cannot because the brand of the media acts as a testimonial to your expertise. When a consumer sees an advertisement, there is a large credibility gap to be overcome – the ad merely says what the company professes. When a consumer reads an article about you, however, the depth of the encounter is significantly greater due to the third-party context of the media.
One of the most valuable aspects of good PR media placement is the fact a similarly placed advertisement may have cost more than your entire advertising budget! Whatever the value you place on the PR you receive from media, ensure you get the highest and best return by leveraging the article or video using the tips TRO is providing this week. Doing so will practically guarantee many more people see the PR placement and you benefit from the additional exposure.
Yesterday we provided the first two steps you should take after receiving good PR. Today, let’s cover two more. Read the rest of this entry »
One of the best possible things to happen to a travel practice is to get a much deserved bit of good PR. A positive public relations media placement ensures more people will hear about your travel practice in a forum providing near instant credibility. The third-party aspect of public relations has the same impact as a testimonial – people inherently trust the experience of others more than self promotion. Read the rest of this entry »
Reason # 3: Travel consulting is a people business. The more people you meet and know, the more opportunity you have to grow your business. It really is that simple. Yet, many travel agents shy away from the fundamentals of good solid marketing basics – networking, word of mouth and public relations. The tactics that make up these three marketing strategies are absolutely key to growing most travel consulting businesses. Your task is to create an association in the minds of the people you meet – when they think of travel, they think of you. Networking, word of mouth and public relations are the way you create, amplify and increase the strength of that association.
This is not to say that there are not other marketing strategies that will pay real dividends. But almost all other marketing strategies are extensions of these three basic tactical arrays. Social marketing, for example, Read the rest of this entry »
A travel agency can achieve a very effective public relations program for very little capital expenditure. However, to be effective, the program will almost certainly involve an extensive outlay of energy and effort. For the travel agent willing to put in the time necessary, a public relations campaign can be one of the most effective ways of raising the agency’s public profile. Public relations typically carries an inherent third-party endorsement. As a result, potential clients will feel more immediately confident in the expertise of the travel agent when the marketing message is received via a public relations channel. Read the rest of this entry »
This week we have been discussing how you might leverage your public relations efforts by working in tandem with a local not-for-profit, in our example, an animal shelter. Provided you have managed to drum up some press attention for the event, you will find yourself in the position of giving an interview. Here are a few tips to prepare for speaking to the press.
If possible, learn in advance who will be conducting the interview and read or review some of their past work. Being familiar with the reporter’s style will make you feel more comfortable with the process. Speak with the person in advance and set the tone of the interview Read the rest of this entry »
Yesterday we used the example of leveraging your public relations efforts by sponsoring an event with a not-for-profit, an animal shelter. Continuing with that same example, we now want to involve the local press. An article written in the local paper will provide not only the publicity you are seeking for your event, but will raise the profile of your agency as readers associate it with a worthy cause.
The typical approach to involving the press is to craft a press release. Hopefully, you have been cultivating press relationships in your community prior to the time you need them. Even if you are without such first-hand knowledge of local press contacts, however, a bit of preparation can assist you in getting the appropriate attention you seek.
I often encounter a mindset that sees marketing as an expense. I suppose from the perspective of an accountant, that is absolutely accurate. However, in reality marketing should be viewed as an investment. Think of it this way: marketing is only expensive if it’s not working. If you made 5 dollars every time you spent two marketing dollars you would be spending money all day and be happy about it. Ideally, marketing is an investment.
We all live within the constraints of a budget. So this week we are going to address marketing on a shoestring, on choosing strategies that are smart and that work. Today, however, we are going to talk about avoiding turning our shoestrings into nooses – making mistakes with our marketing dollars that, like bad investments, are nothing but expensive errors. Read the rest of this entry »
More than any topic I know, people love reading and talking about travel. With that in mind, here are the titles of some travel articles for your consideration:
- 5 Ways to Travel Better this Year;
- How not to be a victim on your next vacation;
- Getting the most out of a cruise vacation;
- Secrets the airlines don’t want you to know;
- What You Don’t Know about Las Vegas – but Should!
Would you like to read those articles? I would, and my bet is that you would too. So would your clients! So why don’t you write them? Anyone reading a well-written thoughtful article on any of these topics would likely regard the author as an expert in the topic of travel. My suggestion is that you write the articles, get them placed locally, promote yourself as a speaker and get yourself recognized as a local expert. Read the rest of this entry »
Writing press releases and stories about travel is a proven way to promote your travel agency with little or no capital outlay. However, many travel agents fail to do the preliminary groundwork necessary to ensure that their press release or article will be noticed by local or national media. Good marketers are continually seeking out and developing relationships with the media gatekeepers – reporters and editors. Within almost every community you will find newspaper reporters, researchers for television and radio stations, bloggers and specialty magazine journalists. These are the individuals who decide what stories make the cut. Typically, these writers and reporters work under terrific deadline pressures and welcome good ideas for stories. Your efforts at public relations will be greatly enhanced if you are on a first-name basis with the writers and news room and media staff. Making yourself known as a credible and reliable “go-to” resource with a well-defined set of opinions and positions can make it easier to be picked from the crowd when a reporter needs a local voice. Read the rest of this entry »
One of my favorite set of articles in the 365 Guide is the series on Guerrilla Marketing. The essence of good guerrilla marketing are marketing tactics travel professionals can execute with a minimal expenditure of capital. Certainly public relations can fall into this category. For maximum impact, however, the effort needs to possess a strong creative flair to “stick” in the public’s mind.
The public appreciates creative marketing stunts so long as the effort does not inconvenience others. The best efforts are fun and visually striking. The visual nature of the creative effort gives media an opportunity to video and photograph, exactly what the public relations building travel professional is looking to achieve! Read the rest of this entry »
You have seen the bumper stickers and the decals in store windows in your local community: Buy Local! You cannot miss the current trend urging people to buy from local businesses and to invest consumer dollars into their own communities. If you want to inject a bit of enthusiasm into your own public relations efforts, consider the possibilities of starting or involving yourself in a Buy Local campaign.
There may already exist in your community an organization dedicated to supporting local businesses. If so, get involved. You will find yourself networking with other local companies and the owners of each of those businesses will appreciate your support and will likely be doing business with you. If there isn’t an organization already in place, you have the amazing opportunity to lead the effort. There are few ways to so certainly get the local media’s attention! Read the rest of this entry »
If you have been reading TRO’s 365 Guide for any time, you know I consider local public relations to be one of your key marketing strategies. Public relations helps you to build the profile of your company, to raise its local visibility. As a travel professional, public relations is one of the best possible ways to build awareness of your service. PR has the added advantage of being dependent primarily on sweat equity rather than capital investment. This week we are going to look at a few ideas that might serve you well in a local public relations campaign.
Why go it alone? By incorporating a “cause” into your marketing efforts you increase the buzz factor substantially. Everyone loves a story involving well-intentioned motives. If you can successfully associate yourself with a cause, you will generate a great deal of positive good will in your community as well as do some good locally. What could be a better combination? Read the rest of this entry »
Here’s the good news – the theory behind good PR copy is easy to understand. Here’s the bad news – the theory behind good PR copy is easy to forget. The theory is simple: find a unique angle and then relate it to your readers. Many travel agencies, however, make the classic mistake of writing their PR copy by listing the features of their agency. Good writing in a marketing context always talks to the benefits. Even if you do list a feature, you want to couch it in the context of the benefit to the client.
Read the rest of this entry »
Public speaking is an optional, but also a highly recommended, tactic in a strong public relations program. Every association in town, every club, church group, every business class or travel class at your local community college, enjoys having guest speakers. A tried and true tactic for a public relations strategy is to offer your expertise to a group in the form of a speaking engagement. When an organization provides you with a platform as a speaker, your credibility as a local expert is greatly enhanced. You stand out from the crowd of other travel consultants by virtue of your very appearance in front of the room. Moreover, opportunities to speak tend to come in successive waves – speaking at one function often leads to other speaking engagements. Read the rest of this entry »
You can be a “thought leader” in your community. The public has a keen interest in all things related to travel. If you seek them out, you are likely to find many opportunities to interact with hundreds, perhaps thousands of consumers in your community through an intelligent public relations campaign. This week, we are going to investigate some of the easily accessible aspects of public relations for travel agents.
Publishers and editors of magazines, newspapers and newsletters in your community need your assistance. Each day, or week or month, these hard working souls have to fill their periodicals with timely, interesting content. Read the rest of this entry »