For the past month, we have been discussing how to establish and expand your travel agency’s digital footprint. This week, The 365 Guide will explore establishing a blog for your travel agency that you can use to grow your practice. Many of the agencies that participate in TRO’s Community actively blog and do so successfully. A few considerations will assist you in developing a blog that meets your overall strategic objectives and will contribute substantially to projecting your brand in your community.
The decision to start a blog should not be taken lightly. To begin, your resources are limited and to do a good job with your blog will require much time and effort. Focusing on a few marketing tactics well is a better course of action than continual but unfocused effort spread between too many marketing tactics. It is highly likely that your blog’s success will come over a long period of time and will be limited in scope compared to other more traditional marketing venues such as concerted networking in your community. It would be the rare instance where a blog is a first line marketing tactic for a travel agency. A blog’s contribution will initially be incremental – an excellent opportunity for an agency with otherwise established marketing channels. In addition, blogs require constant attention, with at least one and preferably more posts each week. Finally, it is an absolute requisite you love to write!
About 33% of adult internet users in the US indicate that they currently read blogs. That is a big audience, but realize that according to some estimates there are over 100 million blogs on the internet! A well written blog will influence and engage your customers and potential customers, provided you can commit to developing topics and discussions that will involve their interest. A blog is an outbound marketing tactic that can extend the reach of your brand, but it also invites commentary and discussion – a double edged sword. A well managed blog can assist you with forming stronger relationships with your community and to develop a conversation in which you and your readership can share your mutual passion for travel.
Blogs also give you an opportunity to demonstrate your expertise and can lead to other opportunities in your community for writing and speaking. Your “voice” will be directly available and accessible to your readers, thus humanizing your business profile. A blog also becomes a terrific proxy for focus groups as you can track conversations to see where your community’s interests are developing.
Just as in our discussion of travel agency newsletters, your blog must have an editorial mission – a reason for being, as well as a point of view and a voice. So your first step is to decide exactly what you will be blogging about and how you will present your messages. Your editorial mission should focus on your selection of topics and your anticipated audience. What will your blog feature? Why will it be of interest? How will you engage your readers and entice them to comment and involve themselves?
Begin by reading as many blogs as possible. Note how most blogs have a core theme around which their editorial mission is built. Few blogs are about “what I’m doing now” (that’s Twittering and another set of columns altogether). The website Alltop (http://travel.alltop.com/) is a very good resource for reviewing a wide selection of travel blogs. Start your own editorial mission quest by reading several of these travel blogs daily for a couple of weeks. Follow the ones you choose closely and watch how the publishers develop their topics around central themes. Choose one of interest and engage the writer by leaving a comment. Look at existing comments on the blogs to see how to best encourage and develop “conversation.” Note also the consistency of “voice” of the writer(s). There is a definite perspective that informs the editorial copy of any good blog, and it will seldom waiver. It is that voice that keeps readers coming back for more.
A blog can be a terrific tool for your company, but like so many other decisions, should only be adopted with a great deal of forethought and commitment.