It’s early Spring. Most Americans will be vaccinated by summer, and outbreaks are being controlled. Most of the world is open for travel to anyone who is vaccinated and willing to be tested twice before arriving at a ship or resort. The pent-up demand for travel is triggering outrageous bargains, and most people haven’t a nickel on this in the past year. How do you ensure that you share in this good fortune?
If you’re an experienced agent with a huge book of clients, it will hopefully be like “shooting fish in a barrel.” But what if you don’t have a huge following, and you need to try something different from how you’ve marketed in the past?
A very promising strategy, which I’ll be trying myself, is to sign up for free personal and business accounts on Snapchat (www.snapchat.com). If you’re even aware of Snapchat, it’s probably because probably most of your children and grandchildren over 13 are regular visitors. It’s completely different than the social media you’ve been using.
- Your most effective posts will likely be videos you make yourself that are only about 10 seconds long or photos that appear for 3-5 seconds.
- All videos and photos disappear once they’re read or 24 hours after you send them.
- Snapchat only works on Apple and Android smartphones.
So, why would you ever want to try Snapchat? Because all of these “limitations” are actually strengths.
The most refreshing thing about Snapchat is that while your posts appear for only 10-seconds and no replays are permitted, this forces posts to be intriguing and compelling. Otherwise, viewers will skip to their next post. The 24-hour rule creates a sense of urgency. If you snooze, you lose, might be the credo.
For the most convincing arguments for exploring Snapchat, see Bronwyn White’s article, How to Do Travel Marketing on Snapchat. It makes the business case for travel marketing by emphasizing that the 35+ age range is Snapchat’s fastest-growing age segment.
For a great “How To” guide for setting up personal and business accounts on Snapchat, look no further than Karen Olufson’s article, Snapshot for Business: The Ultimate Marketing Guide. Don’t be turned off by the fact that it emphasizes marketing to young people. The instructions for setting up personal and business accounts are so easy that even a senior can do it.
Snapchat’s stock recently went public, with spectacular results; Forbes noted that since Snapchat already reaches 85% of the under-35 market, its future growth will depend on how well it can do in the 35+ segment. Since it’s video-intensive and relatively simple to use, it a natural fit for traveling seniors (and travel advisors) who are already are equipped with iPhones, iPads, and similar Android devices. They love using them to send photos and brief video clips home to their families and friends; why not send them to potential clients as well?
About a year from now, when you’re on your first cruise or adventure, why not send out brief clips of your favorite activities and sites to those whom you hope to entice back into traveling? Since posts can only be sent to either one person or your entire mailing list, it becomes a 10-minute project for you to take a brief video clip or still photo on your phone, caption it, and send it out to the entire list of those who may enjoy viewing your stuff. Each one of them can also choose to ignore your post, send it out to one special friend, or send it to their entire list of viewers. If they enjoy your post, they will hopefully add you to their friends list and send you a message as well.
Until you start traveling, you can advertise great travel deals. Use a 10-second video to tell people why it’s a great deal, and invite them to contact you for more information and send your post to their friends.
A nice thing, all down the line, is that no one has to worry about filing or saving your post. They simply view it, and then decide whether to post you back and pass the posts they like onto their friends. In this way, rather than stockpile massive collections of photos and videos, viewers can form new relationships with persons they didn’t know 10-seconds ago!
Will any of these people become prospects? Some probably will, hopefully enough to form a group.
Also, don’t discount the idea of sending posts to fellow agents. Snapchat for the “over 35’s” can be much like software development was in the 1980s. Everyone shared software, and few products were copyrighted. The idea was to get as many people as possible into the game, even if you didn’t benefit directly. Snapchat for Traveling Seniors can be the same kind of marketing engine.
I’ve just opened a Snapchat personal account on my iPhone. The first thing the program did was to search my phone book for all my contacts who already had Snapchat accounts. I just had to click on their names, and I was able to form my first Snapchat group of friends that I’m calling Travel Contacts. This permits us to send videos, photos, and messages back-and-forth; and to post on other social media platforms. My Snapchat account name is steve_frankel. If you’d like to explore Snapchat with me, open an account, add steve_frankel to your Travel Contacts list, and send me a post so I can add you to my Travel Contacts list. Let’s all explore how to create compelling posts and strengthen our businesses with Snapchat.
Dr Steve Frankel and his wife have sailed on most of the Seabourn, Silversea, Crystal, Azamara, Oceania, Regent, and Windstar ships on more than 40 cruises. For the past six months, he has been writing a weekly column, Point-to-Point, for Travel Research Online (TRO) that’s shared with more than 70,000 travel advisors and industry leaders. Steve is the CEO of two companies: Travel Intelligence Associates (TIA), and Cruises & Cameras, LLC (C&C). TIA provides writing, consulting and White Box services. C&C specializes in small ship cruises and is associated with LUXE Travel (a FROSCH company) and the Signature Travel Network. Steve has a doctorate in Educational Research and Marketing from Indiana University, He is one of the first travel advisors to complete a five- course sequence of courses in epidemiology from Johns Hopkins University. In his former life, he was the director of several organizations specializing in public policy studies. He’s the author of 13 books and a former Contributing Editor of The Washingtonian magazine. His email address is Steve@CruisesAndCameras.com.