Every travel consultant is very much aware of the seasonality of the travel business. In the winter people head south and in the summer they head to Europe and in the fall they seek out New England, except for the real bargain hunters who decide to cruise during hurricane season. A time and a season for everything, right?
Actually, that is exactly right. We can improve on our marketing by being a bit more scientific in our examination of the calendar. Smart travel consultants who pro-actively market know they have to stay ahead of the calendar. They are constantly looking “down the road” to see what holidays and destinations are around the corner. Typically, you will be promoting months in advance to give clients time to consider, plan and budget for their travels.
Too often, we rely on last minute urgency prompting us to market too late or too little. By rigorously using a marketing calendar, travel consultants can better stay on top of their marketing plan. A marketing calendar, noting when to market and on what destinations to focus, will enable you to be better prepared and to market more efficiently. Set up a calendar and revisit it each week, making notations of what marketing you did and how effective it was. Make adjustments as you read about new destinations, economic conditions or other factors influencing the market. Next year, you will have a terrific written record to assist you with formulating a new marketing calendar for each season.
But your marketing calendar is more than just a reminder of dates and seasons. Once you have noted special holidays, seasons and events, work your distribution channels and tactics into your marketing calendar. Also, calendar in your objectives. Work in both calendar quarters and months. Calendar your goals and objectives into bite-size pieces. Your marketing calendar will be your benchmark and accountability as the year progresses. Naturally, you will re-visit your calendar often in the year to make revisions for circumstances as they arise, but start thinking about your tactics and how you might schedule the following:
- Public Speaking
- Writing Opportunities
- Press Releases
- Group Leader Program
- Cross Marketing
Exercise – set aside time to sit down and begin to work on a marketing calendar, plotting when to market particular programs. If you have notes from years past, use them to gauge how well particular efforts might have worked and how well timed they were for the market. I like to work first with a paper calendar as it gives a good spatial sense of the elements of your marketing plan. Get yourself to Staples, buy a desk calendar and get to work (in pencil, because you will be erasing a lot)! Let’s begin with seasons and special holidays. For example, with July 4th vacation possibilities, you should begin marketing packages for the date in early April. Likewise, how will you market to clients with birthdays and anniversaries? When will you be marketing summer vacations, fall foilage and ski vacations?
Pencil in your Objectives now. If you have set 75 new clients as an objective, how many will you get in the first quarter? How many in the second, third and fourth? Calendar as many of your objectives as possible.