We have all heard that “It’s who you know that counts.” While that aphorism is certainly not the whole of marketing, your range of acquaintances is very important to your public relations efforts. After all, the term “public relations” itself indicates a relationship with the public! Having a large network of people that you can reach out and communicate with on any given project is a potent arrow in your quiver. It’s a good idea to begin cultivating some new relationships and renewing some old ones.
Every town and city is made up of a number of communities. There are ethnic communities, political ones, communities that revolve around sports and some around other activities like schools, churches or interests like bird watching. Each of these communities have leaders, organizers and passive participants. Ambitious travel agents can access these communities in creative ways to generate new clients for their travel practice. Below are some tips on how to do just that.
Pick up some local newspapers and magazines that focus on your geographic location. Your hometown newspaper is a good start, but also pick up the local food co-op’s magazine, the local STYLE magazine or others;
- In those magazines and newspapers, look for the communities within your community. See the ad for a meeting at the Unitarian Church? That represents a community. Is there a local Frisbee Golf tournament? That’s a community. Is there a art film series being shown? That’s a community. The co-op where you picked up the magazine – that’s a community.
- Choose activities in which you have a genuine interest. Your approach to the leaders of the community must be authentic and must be client centric. You absolutely must have their community’s interests at heart for them to respond to your overtures.
- Jot down the ways that travel ties into your chosen communities. Spend some time thinking about how you might participate with the group and how travel could enhance their experiences.
- Now, within the limits of the time you make available, attend some meetings. Volunteer your services. Get to know the people involved. Spend some time with them. Don’t overtly market your travel agency. Timing is everything. Be a participant first and find your niche within the community.
- Watch for opportunity. At some juncture, the time will be right. Offer to speak to the group about travel or to organize a trip around the group theme.
Networking and Public Relations takes time, but the rewards are layers deep. The relationships you build and nourish in the process are yours to access not just for business purposes but contribute to your life in countless ways. The more you give to your communities, the more you are likely to receive in return.