Monthly Archives: August 2012

Posted In: Point-to-Point

Stop bowling alone

In his book titled Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American CommunityPictureRobert Putnam shows how we have become increasingly disconnected from family, friends, neighbors, and our democratic structures — and how we may reconnect.

Putnam warns that our stock of social capital – the very fabric of our connections with each other, has plummeted, impoverishing our lives and communities. Putnam draws on evidence including nearly 500,000 interviews over the last twenty-five years to show that we sign fewer petitions, belong to fewer organizations, know our neighbors less, seldom meet with friends, and even socialize with our families less often. We’re even bowling alone. More Americans are bowling than ever before, but they are not bowling in leagues. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: The 365 Guide

Facebook Post Promotion – Paying for Engagement

As your Fans Like and Share your posts, your Facebook engagement in increases. What many do not realize is only about 15% of your Fans actually see your posts organically. As a result, your engagement and EdgeRank can remain very low. Pages already having at least 400 likes can use Promoted Posts to increase their engagement.

On the lower right hand corner of your posts is a small link “Promote”. You can promote recent posts directly from your post by clicking on the link and choosing a dollar amount. Read the rest of this entry »

Recently I have been rethinking my fee structure. Primarily because I made the same mistake a lot of travel agents make that have committed to requiring a deposit or retainer–waiving them for family and friends.  To date I have broken my rule to charge a service deposit before doing any research, five times.  It is no surprise that none of the five have yet to be booked. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Publishers Corner

Facebook and Your Travel Practice

The 365 Guide is in its second week of a series on Expanding Your Digital Footprint. More than one of the responses to the Facebook articles essentially asked “Is marketing on Facebook really necessary to my travel practice?” The answer is a resounding “No!” There are many different ways for anyone to market their travel practice and Facebook is only one possible vehicle.

But there is a really good reason for marketing on Facebook every travel consultant should consider. Facebook is where the people are.

According to their recent SEC filing, Facebook has more than 900 million active users who visit the venue at least once a month. Of those, 526 million visit Facebook daily. Those are absolutely staggering numbers. There are times when I have my doubts about the longevity of Facebook, but with such high current activity levels it is very difficult to ignore the potential. Consider this – do you know more people who use Facebook or who do not? How many people do they know? The possibilities for expanding your circle of influence are large. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: The 365 Guide

How can we place a value on a “Like”? My own experience confirms what others say: it is difficult to properly assess the value of a “Like”. The standard measurement of dollars resulting from a customer reaction to an advertisement does not seem to apply. It is almost always impossible to trace back any given sale of our services to an interaction with a Facebook post or ad.

We really should not be surprised, however. Calculating Return on Investment (ROI) is easier with advertising than with marketing, and Facebook is actually a marketing venue, not an advertising venue. The distinction between marketing and advertising is always important to understand, and perhaps more so with digital marketing than with any other media. In setting goals for marketing your travel practice, Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Editorial Musings

Travel Weekly recently published the 2012 Consumer Trends study and I encourage everyone to take the time to read it thoroughly. It is a fantastic insight into the mindset of your customer.  Some of the results are very encouraging, some are alarming, and some are quite honestly surprising.

Encouraging

Perhaps the most encouraging statistic was that consumers who use a travel agent, book more trips and spend more money on them. Go team! The unspoken corollary to this is that when you have a customer, you should be reaching out to them and presenting travel ideas all the time. Mine your database—one of the cardinal rules of salesmanship. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: cartoons

Open Jaw – August 10, 2012

Picture
Courtesy of Open Jaw and Sean Kapitain

Posted In: The 365 Guide

Facebook provides your travel practice with a variety of advertising vehicles for promoting your page. Like all advertising, one of the key objectives, and difficulties, is converting your advertising dollars into a measurable return. I have experimented with a number of different Facebook advertising vehicles with great success in terms of generating Likes and Engagement. I am less confident of the success in our monetization of those metrics into actual revenue, however. Nevertheless, I am impressed the the ability on Facebook to target and reach a demographic of people. I suggest some small investments by those of you willing to experiment and would love to hear any feedback on your own experiences. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: The 365 Guide

Building Your Facebook Audience Organically

As a result of our earlier articles this week, you now have a Facebook Page for your travel agency and you are laying down awesome content for your Fans. But people only show up if they know the party is happening! Let’s examine how to grow your Fan base organically, without spending any money. Tomorrow, we will look at managing paid growth and Facebook advertising.

The process of building a base of Fans is two-fold. First, you have to bring them to your Page. You can bring them to your page by organic or paid marketing. You must then induce viewers to “Like” your Page. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Arrival Gate

Dear Stephanie,

I would like to start my own travel agency business. Do I have to start working with a host agency?

Signed,
Dmitriy

Hey Dmitriy,

First off, welcome to the travel industry – we love newbies!

The short answer is no, you technically don’t have you to start working with a host agency when you enter the industry.  The typical paths taken if an agency doesn’t work with a host is to align yourself with a consortium/franchise or to go independent.  However, I’m a huge advocate of host agencies and feel they are the best entry point for most agents.  Here’s why: Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: The 365 Guide

Marketing on Facebook is a tricky endeavor. Your Fans are not there to enable your business and overt advertising often fails badly. What is very clear is the need for your brand building efforts to be completely and comfortably ensconced in great content that is both educational and entertaining, with an emphasis on entertainment. The content you choose for your Post Updates has to be relevant and it has to possess a high interest factor. You have to hit your Fans where they live with articles that keep them involved with your posts and eager to see the next.

Engaging your clients increases the ever important EdgeRank – the formula by which Facebook determines how many of your Fans continue to see your posts organically.  If a Fan interacts with one of your posts, they are more likely to see tomorrow’s post as well. I have learned the best techniques for engagement are open questions, videos and pictures, great articles, and, best of all – travel quotes.  Let’s look at each of these in turn. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Point-to-Point

FAMS are sometimes thought of as one of the great perks of being a travel agent, and no doubt about it, FAMS can be fun; especially when you have a chance to meet and compare notes with other agents. But make no mistake about it, FAMS are also work.

I suppose there are some circumstances – a trip offered by a supplier as a reward for outstanding production, for example – when you can afford to just relax, go with the flow, and just enjoy yourself. But even in that kind of setting there is still work to be done.

Here are just a few of the things an agent should be attempting to accomplish on a FAM. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: The 365 Guide

Your First Facebook Post

This week the 365 Guide is working through the most basic steps of setting up a Facebook Page as a part of our Expanding Your Digital Footprint series. Today we will finish building your Facebook page, publish it and make your first post. Log into Facebook and go to your unpublished page. Expand the Admin Panel and click on the “Edit Page” button, choosing the “Update Info” menu item. From there, choose “Basic Information” from the menu on the left.

Username and Address

Our first task will be to register a username for the Facebook Page to build your brand and make it easy to remember. Choose a username similar or identical to your brand, e.g. www.facebook.com/abctravel. You can use only on alphanumeric characters, and you cannot infringe on other’s trademarks. Read the rest of this entry »

This past month has been insanely busy, between following up on leads from the consumer show, and attending a local industry trade show over the last weekend of July.

Last month I talked about a consumer show (sports themed) in which I participated.  One of my leads from the show turned into a 10 person Christmas trip to Maui with a budget in the $30,000 range.  This single booking paid for my participation in the show, and relieves much of the anxiety I was experiencing about spending so much on the booth.  In addition to the sizeable Maui booking, Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: The 365 Guide

I begin our series on Expanding your Digital Footprint with the mechanics of setting up a business page on Facebook.  I should start with a necessary warning. Facebook has a history of altering their instructions and policies without notice.  Thus, if any aspect of the instructions below have changed, a little creative searching with Google  and some trial and error should greatly assist your efforts.

Firstly, understand the difference between a personal profile and a business page.  A “Profile” is a Facebook presence for individuals.  “Pages” are where a business builds its presence.  There are many good reasons not to use a personal profile as a business page. The best reason is to do so violates the Facebook Terms and Conditions and they can shut your profile down without warning! If you have Friends, then you have a personal profile.  If you have a “Like” button on your page, then you have a Business Page and you have Fans, also called Followers.   Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Editorial Musings

Google has developed a new service called Think With Google. In a nutshell, they take the trends they are seeing online (and Google sees all) and meld it with experts in various fields to give insight to various industries and segments. Travel obviously, is a big one!  Take a look at these five alarming (to some) trends and see if you are ready to compete in the travel arena in the coming years. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: cartoons

Open Jaw – August 3, 2012

Picture
Courtesy of Open Jaw and Sean Kapitain

Posted In: Deck Plans

Avid Cruiser Voyages: Greenland & Iceland

Two of the most inspiring – and most frequently misunderstood – cruise destinations are without a doubt the northerly islands of Iceland and Greenland. And cruising here is becoming more popular with each passing year. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted In: Point-to-Point

Are the cruise lines drifting away from the travel agent?

After being in the travel business for the last 26 years, is it just my failing memory of “How it used to be?” or am I noting that there continues to be a major change in the direction being taken by the senior management of the major cruise lines?

I seem to remember going to some of the major cruise conferences where “agent friendly” cruise executives would proclaim how important the travel agent distribution model was to them. Cruise Line panels had very pro-agent executives like Bob Dickinson (Carnival), Rod McCloud (RCCL), Kirk Landerman (HAL); Rick James (Princess) and Jackie Johnson (NCL) all telling the agents how important we were to them. They were both agent friendly and approachable at every event I attended. Read the rest of this entry »