Some of us “older” curmudgeons have expressed bewilderment over what all the ballyhoo is about when it comes to social media and our travel businesses. There is Twitter, Facebook, MySpace (someone is trying to resurrect it), Pinterest, Instagram, and more. I’ve seen posts in forums and communities like TRO’s that constantly question the value of social media, and how some folks “never” get business from those avenues. So I have to wonder, are you doing it right?
The perfect example cropped up today. I have a client booked to Cancun, departing in two weeks. I was at a supplier training last night and learned about a promo code that would get the client a complimentary upgrade to first class on their outbound flight. Once the promotion was applied and confirmed I had four options on how to advise my client: text message, email, private message on Facebook, or posting it on his Facebook wall. The first three would have been effective in advising him, and only him, of this great perk I secured for him. However, I was looking for a subtle way to say “look at me, I’m your AWESOME travel consultant” and telling the world about it at the same time. So I posted on his Facebook wall.
What happened next? Within four hours a friend of his commented on the post, and then contacted me. She was getting ready to plan her honeymoon, could I help her? Do you think she’s hoping for a complimentary first class upgrade? I’m sure she is, and if the promo is still applicable, I will get it for her just as well.
And for those that are still sitting on the social media fence, here’s another example from last year. In 2010 I reconnected with an old neighbor and high school friend via Facebook. She found out I was a travel consultant and had me book her Fall 2010 school break trip with her two sons. In early 2011 she contacted me again, but this time to book the family trip (seven passengers, four rooms) on a Regent Seven Seas Cruise for 12 nights in Scandinavia. The ONLY reason I got that booking is because we reconnected through social media, and she found out I was a travel consultant.
But my point here is this: Facebook and other social media, IF USED PROPERLY, can lead to new business for you, without costing you a fortune in marketing funds. Don’t be afraid of social media, and give it a chance. You don’t have to jump into EVERY social media avenue out there. Pick a couple, and wade into the shallow waters at first. Get some tips from some of our social media gurus here on TRO, ask other agents what has worked for them, and experiment. Most importantly, find SUBTLE ways to promote your business without looking like you are promoting your business … like advising a client about an upgrade you got him by posting on his Facebook wall. It really can work.
Susan Schaefer is the owner of Ships ‘N’ Trips Travel (www.shipsntripstravel.com) located in Brentwood, Tennessee, and specializes in leisure travel with a focus on group travel and charity fundraisers. Through their division Kick Butt Vacations (www.kickbuttvaations.com) she focuses on travel for young adults under 35. Susan can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (888) 221-1209.