Word has it the economy is improving. My experience is the activity levels of travel agents are one of the best early barometers of the health of the economy. Judging from the chatter I hear, business is up and that’s good news for everybody. Here’s some good news you may not have considered. Because you survived one of the worst economic times in many decades, you are likely well prepared to take advantage of the upturn. You have pared down your expenses, you have mastered some marketing and sales fundamentals and improved your customer service technique. Whatever skill set you developed over the past three years will serve you well now.
I understand the desire to be cautious with funds when there is still a great deal of uncertainty in the air. However, marketing does not necessarily require hard currency when some sweat equity will do nicely. Here are a few thoughts that should keep you moving forward.
1. Listen for the pent-up demand. Your clients may have deprived themselves of vacation time over the past few years. Talk to them about where they want to most go. Remind them that now is the time to travel because as demand increases, so do prices. Begin engaging your clients in conversation. Get in front of them before they begin talking to someone else.
2. Many agencies tightened the purse strings on their marketing efforts last year. Let’s hope you were not one of them. Everyone markets when times are good and it is hard to sort out one message from another. Always continue to market when everyone else quits. Right now, not every travel agency is ‘out there’ yet with their marketing dollars – they are being cautious. For a short while you still have the floor to yourself and will garner more mind-share from those hearing your message.
3. Market using tactics that require effort rather than dollars. Shift your marketing away from “shotgun” tactics designed to market to the world and focus. Use word of mouth, networking and advertise with media that has a tight, loyal readership.
4. Remain tied to your existing clients and ask for referrals and testimonials. They know you best and it takes less effort to market to them than to gain new clients at large. Be better about communicating with and following up with your clients. Stay in touch with them. Enhance and deepen your existing relationships.
Where to put your energies?
- Existing Client Channels
- Direct Contact
- Emails and Newsletter
- Networking Activities
- Volunteer Activities
- Cross marketing with local retailers
- Group Leaders
- Public Relations
- Speaking Opportunities
- Writing articles
- Web site and blog
- Advertising in niche periodicals
Conserve your financial resources by marketing via an investment of time and energy. Place a greater emphasis on your networking and speaking opportunities, and gear up your public relations efforts. Focus on advertising in niche markets, not on mass-market efforts. By tightly focusing your efforts you concentrate your resources and, hopefully, your results.
Get out there and begin marketing hard. Now. Go. Do it.