The first order of business for 2016 was to formulate and implement an actual marketing plan, like a PROactive one and not a REactive one!
The pillars of the plan were a newsletter, organized client rosters and lists, and a new client welcome packet by e-mail and regular mail. It was a bit of a challenge to plan the schedule and frequency since I do not want to annoy clients with too many emails or calls, but it must be enough to stay top of mind and hit at peak vacation planning times. We will see how it goes and analyze the long-term results and feedback, but at this point I’ve settled into the following marketing schedule:
Monthly – Newsletter (using a program with Constant Contact, a 3 column newsletter that I write)
Bi-Weekly – Forward a promotion or existing piece of material from Virtuoso
Weekly – Go through roster and choose a few clients to personally call and check in
Daily – Hand write one thank you card to a client or supplier
To start, I revisited my client list and did a thorough review to be sure I added in some strong prospects — I deleted a few people too! The newsletter went out to 250 clients and had an open rate of 48%, which seems pretty good by marketing statistics. I did receive quite a few calls that day and a nice increase in inquiries for the next day or so. All in all, the newsletter took about 45 min to write, so it proved to be a very worthwhile investment.
As a member of our consortium, we get such inspiring and beautiful e-brochures and even brief reviews of promotions. The amazing part, they are all done for you and all you need to do is forward with a quick note. Now when those come through, I’ll be sending them out every other week. It seems like an efficient way to subtly reach out and share a few travel ideas.
Last on the marketing agenda was to set aside some time each week to personally call three clients. The focus of the call is just to touch base, say hello, and remind them I’m here for their travel needs. I really do not want to seem like the salesman, so I’ll try to insert a personal question for them related to something I know that would be of interest to them. For example, as a bike tour brochure came in the mail I called a few of my biking enthusiast clients and asked how their cycling was going, then mentioned the tour casually. The response to the call was very positive and it felt nice to stay connected.
Finally, I was happy to conquer the Welcome Packet this month as well. Now when a new referral or inquiry contacts me, I have a professional and informative piece ready to send. The contents include a cover letter explaining our agency, consortium, and credentials. A page with current client endorsements is also included, plus I mail our monthly magazine and another destination piece all in a beautiful folder. I’ve also written a bulleted flier stating the advantages of working with a travel advisor. I’ve delivered four so far and received a nice compliment on the information. Although this was the most time consuming part of the Marketing Plan, I think it will be the most worthwhile, and I highly recommend creating something to immediately send out or even send via email. It added credibility and sparked a few good questions from new clients during our inevitable follow-up conversation.
All in all, it was a great January! Now for February the goal is organization… and the tasks for the month are to compile Client Profiles and data, create a checklist and flow chart for bookings, and work on daily task management. Wish me luck!
Marti Litwin is an independent Virtuoso travel advisor with En Route Travel in Southern California. She has a Master’s degree from the University of Southern California. Marti shares her value of sharing unforgettable family experiences with her clients. In addition to travel, she enjoys yoga, health and wellness, her 2 children, and an adorable rescued Golden Retriever, Cookie.