Hello again everyone, and welcome back to the story. I’ll begin where I left off. At the end of the last column, I was getting ready to participate in an bridal show—an annual event for us. This year I made the decision to showcase the agency, Journeys Unlimited Travel, rather than showcasing a product.
This show is a very large, 2-day show with attendance of about 4,000. As I thought about our booth setup, I began to have some misgivings about my decision. How could I make an impression on all of these brides and grooms, along with their friends and family? Why would they stop at my booth this year, when further down the row another agency had built a complete tiki bar in their space? Didn’t that look more appealing? If I was a bride, wouldn’t I want to step up over there and see what fabulous, colorful brochures they had?
Confidence for my decision was fading. As a very small agency, I had a lot of money at stake here. Those of you who participate in bridal shows know that they aren’t cheap. However, a version of that old phrase kept running through my mind: “if you keep doing what you have always done, you will keep getting what you have always gotten.”. I gave myself a pep talk as I set up, and stuck to my original plan. I was rolling out my new “Bride To Be Text Club” and had to keep telling myself this idea would work.
In previous years, I have had brides fill out a form with their personal information, destination interest and wedding date to win a door prize. Armed with that information I could do all my follow up to capture the sale. 10 years ago that was very successful for us, but lately, it seemed brides were very unresponsive to any follow up marketing efforts. I knew something had to change, and I needed a new medium to reach brides of today. That is when the idea of text marketing to brides began to take shape.
I created a flier that invited brides to join my “Bride To Be Text Club”. All they needed to do was to text a keyphrase to a number and they were in. Immediately they received a text back, thanking them for joining the club. From here, I can interact with the bride by offering honeymoon travel specials and the opportunity to win prizes and eventually capture the information of those who were most committed.
So, armed with fliers for my texting club, a honeymoon and destination wedding glossy promotional piece branded with my agency name, some seashells, and a big smile, I stood tall to meet my brides. No door prize, no gift certificate.
One word: Success. Rather than weeding through piles and piles of folded up entries to win something, I had leads that truly wanted the assistance of a professional travel agent. I did not have a line of people at my booth this year which was a blessing. This allowed me to be available to talk to couples who were really serious about their honeymoon (and not the giveaway) and who wanted my assistance. No wasted hours chasing the potential of a sale who wouldn’t answer my emails or phone calls. The second show of the season is this Sunday, and you can bet I will be setting up my booth with enthusiasm!
Editor’s Note: Please don’t be shy about leaving a comment or question. It’s easy!
Amy Hobbins, MCC, CTA, is a 20 plus year industry veteran. She has managed both the corporate and leisure side of a full service retail agency, as well as teaching evenings at a travel school. She is the owner of Journeys Unlimited Travel, with an emphasis on destination weddings and the honeymoon market. Journeys Unlimited Travel is known for its full “travel concierge” services available to their clients.