No matter how experienced the travel agent, when it comes to marketing I seem to always get the question, “Where do I begin Meredith?” The answer I consistently give is to start with Module 1 of the Make Money Selling Travel Blueprint. While this may sound like a huge plug for my own product, it’s not. The reason why I created the MMSTB is because I found people wanted a pathway to properly marketing their businesses. Since no two businesses are alike, there is no marketing plan that will look the same. But the steps can be similar. That’s why I painstakingly put together a very clear, step-by-step path to making a customized marketing plan for any business selling travel.
But today, I want to share with you the 5 things you absolutely should be doing in your business to ensure your marketing is effective and running like a well oiled machine.
Here they are:
- A Specialty– I feel like a broken record with this. But the truth is that experts make more money. A specialty is just you claiming a stake as an expert at something. Figure out what you are an expert at, and then claim that and get known for that. You can claim romance travel, family travel, special needs travel, group travel, or many other things as your expertise.
- A Message– Most people don’t realize that claiming an expertise is only HALF of the process of picking a specialty. The 2nd half is finding a way to articulate your specialty so that it is magnetic to your ideal prospects, i.e. a message. When you speak to everyone, you speak to no one. And when you speak in terms of features, it’s dull. You won’t get people’s attention. A great message focuses on the benefits, results, and dreams you deliver. A great message pulls at the emotions of your ideal clients. Thus, instead of just settling for being a romance travel specialist, it’s far more magnetic to tell your prospects that you help couples ignite and maintain the passion and romance of a new love for many years to come through planning romantic escapes.
- A Weekly Electronic Newsletter– This is The. Most. Effective. Marketing. Vehicle. Ever. That is, when it’s done right. When it’s done right, it serves as your virtual storefront. The purpose of a weekly electronic newsletter is to stay “top of mind” as a source of valuable information. It’s NOT to send specials. Your clients will not see your weekly newsletter as spam or a nuisance if you structure it in a way that it builds “know, like, and trust.” In other words, begin your newsletter with a friendly greeting that shares a little bit about what’s going on in your life. This builds the “know” and “like” factor because you are letting them into your world. You are showing them that you are a human being with similar wants and goals. Follow your friendly greeting with a great, high content article. It doesn’t have to be long. In fact, it shouldn’t be long because they won’t read it. But write about things they are asking about. Your own client conversations are the best hunting ground for article ideas. You can add any other section to your weekly newsletter when you have these 2 present. Follow this formula, send it consistently and reliably and the perception of your business will go up astronomically. Your engagement with your clients and prospects will improve dramatically. This is the smartest thing you can do for your business. It surprises me that so many people fight this one little thing. They think they don’t have the time. I say you can’t afford NOT to do it.
- A System for List-Building– As travel agents, we can be great at keeping in touch with existing clients. Why? Because we have so many resources to do so. Our suppliers offer free marketing materials. Our host agencies and franchises do marketing for us. But all the marketing that’s “done for you” is to your existing list. When you don’t have a system for list-building, your business grows at the rate of a snail. Creating list-building systems is a huge blind spot for this profession. So commit today to implementing one list-building system. It could be speaking, networking, trade shows, Facebook ads, or many other things. A list-building system is one where you capture the name and e-mail address of your ideal prospect. Go figure out where your idea prospects are hanging out, decide upon a list-building system and implement it!
- A Branded (Individual) Online Presence– Your online presence can be as easy as a simple website and a Facebook page. But the point here is that it is branded to your message. This is why the template websites don’t work! This is why paying someone else to post on your Facebook page doesn’t work! Do you really want to look like every other travel agent out there? And by the way, travelers aren’t looking for travel agents. They don’t need them. They ARE looking for expertise and an opinion. Just look at the traffic generated by tripadvisor.com. If you want to establish yourself as an expert – you have to have your own content and message on your website and Facebook Page.
So, here’s what I want you to do: Go through this simple list of the 5 MUSTS and decide if you have any gaps in your marketing. If not, GREAT! If yes, fix them!
Meredith Hill, ex-President of Hills of Africa Travel, founded the Global Institute for Travel Entrepreneurs (GIFTE) to empower frustrated and struggling travel consultants who weren’t getting the marketing support they needed. As the fastest growing industry organization dedicated to marketing education for travel professionals, GIFTE’s mission is to revolutionize the way travel advisors market and grow their businesses. GIFTE’s products and programs provide all the tools, resources and support travel professionals need to reach a whole new level of success in travel – one that includes making more money while making a difference in the lives of their clients. Learn more at www.travelbusinessu.com, or visit and “like” GIFTE’s Facebook Fan Page at www.facebook.com/GlobalInstituteforTravelEntrepreneurs.