If you have now chosen the distribution channels and tactics you wish to use in 2012, it is time to begin to tie your Marketing Plan back into your overall business plan and budget. You want to make sure that your Marketing Plan is realistic with regard to your budgets and overall capabilities. You want to be certain that your goals are measurable and achievable.
If you already have a year or more of travel consulting history behind you, the financial elements such as annual sales revenue, expenses and anticipated profit may well be established. However, it is important to now work your marketing plans into those goals. Your marketing plan, though it may increase some of your expenses, will also increase your revenues. Again, this is where your marketing calendar is so important. Use it as a way of tracking your anticipated progress and review it often. If you are not hitting your marks, both with regard to planned marketing and to your revenue goals, you can quickly adjust. Read the rest of this entry »
Many travel agents have found referral networks provide an excellent source of new clients. You can generate strong word of mouth marketing by establishing both formal and informal referral networks to generate recommendations for your travel planning practice.
Referral networks are individual business people in complementary industries who commit to refer business to each other. You send business to your accountant and she tells her clients about your travel practice. You send your clients to a small boutique dress shop in town and the owner of the dress shop places your fliers in her store and tells her customers Read the rest of this entry »
Advertising is one of the most vexing tactics for a travel agent to properly implement into a marketing plan. The capital expenditure for advertising is one of the most risky since client response, or lack thereof, occurs outside of the view of the travel agent. It is often difficult to measure results and to ensure the target audience is indeed even seeing the advertising. Done correctly, however, advertising can be very effective and can raise the public profile of the travel agent and help drive sales. The secret is to properly develop the advertising, to choose the right media and to follow up appropriately. Read the rest of this entry »
An important component of building a successful travel practice is the network of people with whom you come into contact. Although your own circle of influence may be small, it grows exponentially because your friends, family, neighbors, acquaintances, teachers, and co-workers all have circles of influence into which you can market. These relationships provide opportunities to introduce your practice to people with whom you might otherwise not come into contact. Networking is an almost essential element for most traditional travel agents, and an important skill to undertake and develop. There may be no more basic, fundamental marketing skill than networking. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted In: Agent Perspectives
Last month I represented TRO in their booth at the Trade Show for Travel Weekly’s Cruise World 2011 and the Home Based Agent Show in Ft. Lauderdale. The best part of being at Trade Shows is the opportunity to meet agents from all over the US, Canada and even South America and showing them all the great tools TRO has to offer. If you haven’t already taken a look around the TRO site and utilized all they have to offer, you are missing some great stuff.
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My opinion of social marketing has not deviated a great deal since I first looked at the potential of Twitter, Facebook and other forms of social media as marketing channels for travel agents. Some agents report good results, most have yet to garner significant business. Of those who have had successes, Facebook and participation with various online communities seem to hold the most promise.
The venues are new, the actual return on investment difficult to measure, and the case studies few and far between outside of very high profile brands. There is little doubt that for some companies with a tight niche market, tangible products or a well-defined brand, social marketing has been an extraordinary and exciting new way of creating buzz among consumers. The return on investment for most travel professionals is more difficult to assess. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted In: Soundings
My fellow TAs, this is a cry for help. My 30-year-long love affair with cruises is in jeopardy. ‘The Thrill Is Gone’ as BB King says. The change has been so gradual as to be almost un-detected, previously misdiagnosed as Creeping Laziness.
I recently sat down for some remedial therapy with my Grief Counselor*, digging deep for answers. Emotions ran high and we went through several boxes of tissue…but here is what emerged:
Is there any more confusing marketing decision than how to conceive, build and deploy a travel agency website? What information should be included? What are clients expecting? How to keep it updated? Should it have a booking engine? How much should the agency spend given the amount of business that the site generates? How should the site be promoted? Is the target market local or far-flung? It’s enough to make the hard working agent go screaming into the dark.
The options are many and the answers to the above questions are as individual as every agent. By the way, some of the best sites I have seen promote individual agents, employees and contractors, that work in larger agencies.
Experienced travel agents seek out good group leaders. In its most common incarnation, a “pied piper” or group leader is provided with a free or “comp” travel opportunity as both incentive and as compensation for organizing and recruiting others to travel as a group. In some instances, however, the group leader acts as a focal point or celebrity for the group and assumes a central role in the marketing of the travel to others. The travel consultant that consistently and patiently grooms a series of group leaders is establishing the groundwork for regular group travel opportunities. By marshalling the energies of one or more group leaders, the travel consultant both leverages the group leader for a particular trip and also comes into contact with a number of new individual clients. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted In: Point-to-Point
E-X-E-C-U-T-I-O-N is a nine-letter word that identifies the reason most companies and individuals fail to meet their full potential. More realistically, it is a lack of execution.
According to Webster’s New World College Dictionary “execute” is defined as: [to carry out; perform; do.]
The issue is not a lack of knowledge. It is a shortage of “do”. Try this out, for the next seven days focus on the “do”—the concept of execution.
The author Tom Peters (In Search of Excellence) once said, “It is amazing how many people in the oil business fail to get the message that in order to strike oil, you have to dig a hole.”
Popular clichés remind us “talk is cheap” and “after all is said and done … more is said than done.”
If you want to strike oil, dig a hole. If you want to grow your business, do more.
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The need for regular communications with your existing clients as a way of maintaining relationships and staying in contact is clear. One of the best ways to stay in touch with clients is through a newsletter. Even if you do not own the company for which you work, you might consider a personal newsletter to build your brand with clients and to further establish your value to your agency. While publishing a newsletter is no small undertaking, it is well worth the effort. Done well, it will build your brand and contribute substantially to your marketing efforts, helping to establish you as an expert in your field. Done poorly, it may do damage to your practice. So let’s do this well. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted In: Publishers Corner
ASTA some time ago developed the terrific grassroots campaign “Without a travel agent you are on your own.” But what is the sound of one travel agent clapping? More and more travel professionals find themselves in positions where they are being asked to do more with less. Offices are being trimmed down in terms of staffing, or agents are moving home, losing the support and companionship of co-workers Read the rest of this entry »
Word of Mouth happens with or without your participation. Clients, for better or worse, are going to talk about their experiences with your travel agency. However, that does not mean it is out of your control and cannot be managed. To the contrary, you can promote and amplify your brand through a good word of mouth campaign. By strategically cultivating your message, you can help ensure that when people talk about you, they are saying the things you want the market to hear. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted In: Editorial Musings
People don’t just want to be educated about the fabulous trips you can plan for them. They want to be seduced.
Being seduced is an exhilarating experience. Of course, we want to be educated and make rational decisions that optimize our goals. But we also yearn to be romanced, enchanted, swept away. We seek brains and beauty. Is that an unrealistic paradox?
It doesn’t have to be.
First, don’t confuse seduction with deception. Being seduced is fun. Being deceived is not. It’s unfortunate that some advertisements have confused the two. But the world’s best brands pursue “honest seduction,” touching the consumer emotionally as a way to begin a genuine, mutually rewarding relationship. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted In: Agent Perspectives
As travel agents we all go the extra mile for our clients. At least we should if we want to stay in business. We know resorts, destinations, the best restaurants. We can take care of problems that crop up during a client’s vacation. But, does the average consumer know all of this? Do they really “get” what we do? I don’t think they do.
As travel agents we are doing a mediocre job of educating consumers. Case in point-I once gave a presentation to my networking group on “Why use a travel agent.” Read the rest of this entry »
Well over three years ago, TRO identified having a niche component to your business plan as being one of the characteristics of top travel agents. But, the concept of niche marketing is often misunderstood. Niche marketing is a way of helping you focus on locating new clients, not a set of restrictions on your business offerings. Niche Marketing is not necessarily about gearing your entire business to a particular type of travel. It is about segmenting your marketing efforts to focus on particular groups of people, however.
Niche marketing refers to the process of focusing a marketing effort on a particular theme or destination. Many travel consultants avoid it as a concept out of fear of having to turn away business outside the chosen niche, or being too closely identified with the niche. Properly executed however, niche marketing is a terrific way of locating and marketing to a group of potential clients in a highly effective and cost efficient manner. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted In: Deck Plans
In a land where travelers almost regularly encounter exceptional natural beauty, Geiranger stands out in Norway as a name that has almost turned into an icon. It all comes down to the fjord that bears the same name as the town: the Geirangerfjord. It has been referred to as the most beautiful fjord in the world, with the combination of the majestic landscape and the inaccessible, vertical mountainsides that end in the deep green water.
A number of waterfalls along the mountainsides add to the special atmosphere here. The most famous ones are The Seven Sisters (De syv søstre) – a name reflecting that these waterfalls can be likened to the hair of seven women when viewed from a distance. Read the rest of this entry »
“Public Relations” refers not to a single tactic but to a varied number of ways that a travel agent can reach out to the public at large and raise the profile of their travel agency. Public relations tactics tend to be a favorite of guerilla marketers as they depend more on personal effort than outlays of capital and, properly executed, can be highly effective. Public relations also have the great advantage of being a more personal approach to marketing. The personality of the travel consultant is at the center of each effort, and the authenticity of the travel consultant is immediately available to everyone within the effort’s sphere of influence. Taking on a public relations effort is no small feat in that it requires that the travel agent put themselves in full view of the public with little margin. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted In: Point-to-Point
I’m looking for a “Magic Pill!” Whoa! Slow down big guy. Did you just say Magic Pill? Everybody knows that there is no “Magic Pill.”
There does seem to be a pill for just about everything else these days. We have pills for headaches, weight loss, cholesterol control, and even those unforeseen “intimate moments” for you old guys. Yet most sales and marketing gurus, coaches and trainers are quick to remind you that there is no “Magic Pill” for business success.
There is not a single pill that does it all. The truth is that you do have a “Magic Pill”– Read the rest of this entry »