Times are tough for business. It has nothing to do with the economy or the state of the travel industry. Business is tough—period. If it were easy, everyone would own their own. So, how do you hedge your bets toward success? I am a firm believer in listening to others who are more successful than you. With that in mind, I asked several very successful agencies how they did it and came up with these 10 marketing tips. Try one, two, or all 10 and see if they work for you—and let us know.
Offer a unique experience
Far too often, travel agencies and focus on marketing the features of the suppliers. They talk about their location, their amenities, and their luxuries. Instead of selling someone else’s features to your customers, sell yours!
When you write your brochures or website sales copy, think about why people travel – to relieve stress, learn a new culture, or go on an adventure – and market to these feelings and motivations. Travel is an experience, and it’s vital to focus on the unique experience your agency can offer for customers.
Never compete on price
Surprisingly few travelers choose their travel based on the cost—Nolan Burris has said this time and time again. Marketing yourself as the cheapest around is a great way to attract customers, but a poor way to generate any real revenue. Instead of competing on price, compete on value. Don’t be the cheapest agency, but the best. Most travelers are willing to pay a premium if your value goes beyond what your competitors can offer.
Be active on social media
Social media is a wonderful tool for the travel industry. Since repeat customers are so valuable, being able to keep in touch with your fans is a great way to develop an extremely powerful revenue stream.
Create a Facebook page for your agency and connect with all of your customers directly. Recommend destinations, activities, and special deals on social media to generate direct sales and valuable feedback from your audience. Remember, play around with social media. You can’t break it. Do not be afraid of it; embrace it!
Dominate your niche
At first glance, W Hotels and Four Seasons Hotels occupy the same category: high-end accommodation. Look closer and you’ll see that they’re actually very different from each other, occupying different niches within the luxury hotel category.
Experts in the industry have been harping about niches and specialties for a decade or more. Don’t be lulled into thinking they are all taken. Like the luxury hotel market, you can identify a small niche within a larger one and totally own it!
Unleash the power of email
Email marketing is one of the most powerful ways to attract customers back to your travel agency. It is personal and as if your clients have invited you (and your message) into their homes. Get in front of their mind with a carefully timed personal email reminding them about what you do, a targeted offer, discount, or story. Engage them and keep them interested!
Focus on repeat customers
It’s far easier (and cheaper) to earn another booking from an existing customer than it is to reach a new one. One of the primary goals of your marketing efforts should be finding your best customers and focusing your efforts on their experiences. From families that travel every year to business travelers, identify the type of traveler that’s most valuable to you and focus on building a real connection with them.
Treat clients like family
A key to earning repeat business is to offer an experience your customers can’t wait to return to. Think of your clients as family members, and go out of your way to offer an experience they’ll never forget. The benefits of offering great service range from great online reviews to a more involved audience on social media. Do this well, and you will have zombie loyalists as Peter Shankman likes to call them.
Retarget potential customers online
Do customers visit your website, only to leave and never return? Many of the people that leave your website without making a booking can be converted into customers with the right retargeting strategy. Retargeting is a form of advertising that only targets people who’ve already visited your website. It’s highly effective, especially in the travel industry where customers often compare several options before making a decision. Utilize the analytic tools available to find out what they are looking for when they leave and retarget them accordingly.
Ask customers for feedback
Would you travel to a destination you knew nothing about? Of course not! Yet every day, millions of dollars are spent by marketers to reach an audience they know almost nothing about. Asking your customers for feedback is an excellent way to learn which aspects of your marketing are working, and – more importantly – which aren’t. Asking your customers for feedback is amazingly simply, especially if you do email marketing. But understand, along with good feedback comes negative; which can be just as (if not more) useful.
Write a blog
Any travel-related business benefits from writing a company blog. Blogging lets you keep in touch with clients and prospects and increases your website’s visibility to search engines. Better yet, blogging allows you to automate many tasks. Writing a blog also makes keeping your agency’s social media presence up to date very simple. Even if you only blog once a week, you’ll always have something to talk about with your fans and followers.