One of the biggest surprises of running my travel business is that I did not anticipate the percentage of time I would spend marketing. Not that I thought it was all about planning trips and cashing commission checks; I just did not realize how time consuming it was.
Personally I find the marketing piece one of my least favorite “hat.” As a business owner, we all wear different “hats” at different times and if I had my way, the marketing “hat” would remain in the drawer—only followed by the accountant “hat.” Those wacky tax laws are a killer!
I am going to assume that most of us out here don’t have multi million dollar advertising and marketing budgets. More like multi hundred or maybe multi-thousand dollar budgets at best. But through some trial and error, I discovered a few things that work well for me. A lot of these are not new ideas and I can’t take credit for inventing them but these are ones which have yielded success for me. Maybe they can for you as well.
- LANYARDS. I always were a lanyard (you can also use a name tag) when I’m out and about. It’s simple to create and you can get lanyard kits at most office supply stores. I have my agency logo, with my first name on it. I was reluctant to do this at first, but for a three dollar investment, I have booked many trips. The latest was from a cashier at my local grocery store. She saw my lanyard and started asking me questions about my favorite places to eat at Walt Disney World and bam– the ice was broken.
- BUSINESS CARDS. Always have a business card ready. I recall a speaker at an industry event (they all run together sometimes) talking about being prepared and how he handed out laminated cards while in a hot tub! Now that’s prepared. In fact I have a stash of business cards I keep in that same lanyard I wear when ever I leave the office. I am convinced that dollar for dollar, they are your most cost effective marketing tool.
- TRIPOLOGY. I am a big believer in Tripology and the service they offer. For those that are not familiar with Tripology, it is a service that offers legitimate leads to agents based on customer requests. You fill out a profile with your specialties (the more specific the better), the customer fills out what they are looking for, and Tripology matches those two things and sends you an email. The initial email has basic trip information and a price for the lead and you make the decision if you want to pursue it. But be quick, only the first three agents to buy the lead will gain access to the customer. They limit this to prevent a landslide of agents replying and overwhelming the customer. The beauty of it is that you know what they want (a qualified customer), you know it’s your specialty and you control how much you spend. The program does have some drawbacks. Like any other customer interaction (phone call, email, etc.) sometimes they never get back to you at all.
Of course there are tons more low cost marketing tips, but those are my favorite (and profitable) top three. Have you used any of these? Do you have any that work well for you? Please share in the comments!
Graig Wilkins (odd spelling and all) is a home based travel agent specializing in Disney destinations worldwide. He is the Owner /Manger of Mouse World Vacations and can be reached at Graig@MouseWorldVacations.com or www.MouseWorldVactions.com