Is your entire travel practice easy to understand, use and navigate? Are you emotionally and psychologically available to existing and potential clients? Read the rest of this entry »
Cross marketing refers to the practice of working with a non-competitive retailer to enhance business opportunities for both parties. Any compatible product is a possible theme for cross marketing purposes, and travel presents a great opportunity because of how easily it can be linked to almost any theme.
Retailers make excellent cross marketing partners because they typically do not compete with travel agents and because it is easy to create real value by marketing together. Read the rest of this entry »
This week we are looking at 10 fundamental marketing principles that will provide a basis for consistent and successful marketing efforts. The next two principles seem easy to understand and implement, but in fact, observation indicates they are among the most difficult lessons for travel agents to integrate into their practice. The best of intentions will not substitute for the first, and trial and error is inadequate for the second. Read the rest of this entry »
While we have lived with market uncertainty for several years at this juncture, there has been noticeable improvement for most regions of North America. As you consider your business strategies, appropriate decisions have to be implemented. Here are a few tactical principles that will keep business coming through the door through the balance of this year and into the next: Read the rest of this entry »
You have at your disposal a variety of ways in which to reach out and touch your clients and potential clients. Let’s drill down on this topic by looking at the concept of distribution channels. Consumers of your service will see your ads in print and on the web. They might hear of you through a referral or see you give a talk at the local chamber of commerce. They might read an article about you or even by you in the community newspaper. Each of these avenues where a client might encounter your services are rivulets off of a distribution channel, a conduit to consumers that you use for marketing your services as a travel consultant. Read the rest of this entry »
Public speaking is an optional, but also a highly recommended, tactic in a strong public relations program for a travel agency. Every association in town, every club, church group, every business class or travel class at your local community college, enjoys having guest speakers. No doubt, speaking in front of a group is daunting to some travel agents. If so, start with groups with which you are very familiar such as your Sunday School class, social club or other organization to which you belong. As you become more comfortable, branch out. Read the rest of this entry »
Yikes! We are already past the first quarter of 2013 and deep into the second. There’s no more “new car” smell to this year. But it’s not too late to revisit key aspects of your marketing plan and benchmark how well the year is progressing. The year is not too far gone to re-energize your efforts. Marketing plans are organic – they are not carved in stone and fixed for the year. You can and should make adjustments throughout the year. In fact, it’s not even too late to write your 2013 business plan if you have not done so already. As we have said here many times before, the very act of planning is almost as important as the plan itself.
In the end, it’s all about who you know. An important component of building a successful travel practice is the network of people with whom you come into contact. Although your own circle of influence may be small, it grows exponentially because your friends, family, neighbors, acquaintances, teachers, and co-workers all have circles of influence into which you can market. These relationships provide opportunities to introduce your practice to people with whom you might otherwise not come into contact.
If you have now chosen the distribution channels and tactics you wish to use in 2012, it is time to begin to tie your Marketing Plan back into your overall business plan and budget. You want to make sure that your Marketing Plan is realistic with regard to your budgets and overall capabilities. You want to be certain that your goals are measurable and achievable.
If you already have a year or more of travel consulting history behind you, the financial elements such as annual sales revenue, expenses and anticipated profit may well be established. However, it is important to now work your marketing plans into those goals. Your marketing plan, though it may increase some of your expenses, will also increase your revenues. Again, this is where your marketing calendar is so important. Use it as a way of tracking your anticipated progress and review it often. If you are not hitting your marks, both with regard to planned marketing and to your revenue goals, you can quickly adjust. Read the rest of this entry »
Many travel agents have found referral networks provide an excellent source of new clients. You can generate strong word of mouth marketing by establishing both formal and informal referral networks to generate recommendations for your travel planning practice.
Referral networks are individual business people in complementary industries who commit to refer business to each other. You send business to your accountant and she tells her clients about your travel practice. You send your clients to a small boutique dress shop in town and the owner of the dress shop places your fliers in her store and tells her customers Read the rest of this entry »
Advertising is one of the most vexing tactics for a travel agent to properly implement into a marketing plan. The capital expenditure for advertising is one of the most risky since client response, or lack thereof, occurs outside of the view of the travel agent. It is often difficult to measure results and to ensure the target audience is indeed even seeing the advertising. Done correctly, however, advertising can be very effective and can raise the public profile of the travel agent and help drive sales. The secret is to properly develop the advertising, to choose the right media and to follow up appropriately. Read the rest of this entry »
An important component of building a successful travel practice is the network of people with whom you come into contact. Although your own circle of influence may be small, it grows exponentially because your friends, family, neighbors, acquaintances, teachers, and co-workers all have circles of influence into which you can market. These relationships provide opportunities to introduce your practice to people with whom you might otherwise not come into contact. Networking is an almost essential element for most traditional travel agents, and an important skill to undertake and develop. There may be no more basic, fundamental marketing skill than networking. Read the rest of this entry »
My opinion of social marketing has not deviated a great deal since I first looked at the potential of Twitter, Facebook and other forms of social media as marketing channels for travel agents. Some agents report good results, most have yet to garner significant business. Of those who have had successes, Facebook and participation with various online communities seem to hold the most promise.
The venues are new, the actual return on investment difficult to measure, and the case studies few and far between outside of very high profile brands. There is little doubt that for some companies with a tight niche market, tangible products or a well-defined brand, social marketing has been an extraordinary and exciting new way of creating buzz among consumers. The return on investment for most travel professionals is more difficult to assess. Read the rest of this entry »
Is there any more confusing marketing decision than how to conceive, build and deploy a travel agency website? What information should be included? What are clients expecting? How to keep it updated? Should it have a booking engine? How much should the agency spend given the amount of business that the site generates? How should the site be promoted? Is the target market local or far-flung? It’s enough to make the hard working agent go screaming into the dark.
The options are many and the answers to the above questions are as individual as every agent. By the way, some of the best sites I have seen promote individual agents, employees and contractors, that work in larger agencies.
Experienced travel agents seek out good group leaders. In its most common incarnation, a “pied piper” or group leader is provided with a free or “comp” travel opportunity as both incentive and as compensation for organizing and recruiting others to travel as a group. In some instances, however, the group leader acts as a focal point or celebrity for the group and assumes a central role in the marketing of the travel to others. The travel consultant that consistently and patiently grooms a series of group leaders is establishing the groundwork for regular group travel opportunities. By marshalling the energies of one or more group leaders, the travel consultant both leverages the group leader for a particular trip and also comes into contact with a number of new individual clients. Read the rest of this entry »
The need for regular communications with your existing clients as a way of maintaining relationships and staying in contact is clear. One of the best ways to stay in touch with clients is through a newsletter. Even if you do not own the company for which you work, you might consider a personal newsletter to build your brand with clients and to further establish your value to your agency. While publishing a newsletter is no small undertaking, it is well worth the effort. Done well, it will build your brand and contribute substantially to your marketing efforts, helping to establish you as an expert in your field. Done poorly, it may do damage to your practice. So let’s do this well. Read the rest of this entry »
Well over three years ago, TRO identified having a niche component to your business plan as being one of the characteristics of top travel agents. But, the concept of niche marketing is often misunderstood. Niche marketing is a way of helping you focus on locating new clients, not a set of restrictions on your business offerings. Niche Marketing is not necessarily about gearing your entire business to a particular type of travel. It is about segmenting your marketing efforts to focus on particular groups of people, however.
Niche marketing refers to the process of focusing a marketing effort on a particular theme or destination. Many travel consultants avoid it as a concept out of fear of having to turn away business outside the chosen niche, or being too closely identified with the niche. Properly executed however, niche marketing is a terrific way of locating and marketing to a group of potential clients in a highly effective and cost efficient manner. Read the rest of this entry »
“Public Relations” refers not to a single tactic but to a varied number of ways that a travel agent can reach out to the public at large and raise the profile of their travel agency. Public relations tactics tend to be a favorite of guerilla marketers as they depend more on personal effort than outlays of capital and, properly executed, can be highly effective. Public relations also have the great advantage of being a more personal approach to marketing. The personality of the travel consultant is at the center of each effort, and the authenticity of the travel consultant is immediately available to everyone within the effort’s sphere of influence. Taking on a public relations effort is no small feat in that it requires that the travel agent put themselves in full view of the public with little margin. Read the rest of this entry »
The list of possible tactics a travel consultant might employ building their business can be long and, at times, overwhelming. For new agents, it is typically best to choose a few tactics and learn to do them well, rather than to attempt every possible tactic. A few efforts well accomplished will typically yield better results than an entire array of marketing efforts poorly executed. As we earlier discussed, stay focused, work within your plan in a series of campaigns, and you should turn good results for the majority of your efforts. From time to time you can add new tactics as you become more accomplished and efficient at implementing your marketing plan. Read the rest of this entry »
Yesterday, we discussed Goals and Objectives. Now we begin to delve in the actual mechanics of a Marketing Plan. Strategies answer “how” the travel agency is going to accomplish its objectives. For example, exactly how will the company achieve 50 new clients between now and the end of the year? The strategy for achieving that objective might read something like this: “In order to achieve the acquisition of 50 new clients in 8 months, the company will increase the number of distribution channels through which it markets and increase its overall marketing investment.” Note that in the process of forming a strategy the company must take into consideration its resources. This is the point at which the company should evaluate its marketing budget, the personnel available to carry out strategy, and the intra-company support necessary to achieve objectives. Read the rest of this entry »
Yesterday we looked at the importance of a SWOT Analysis to your 2012 marketing plan. So far, so good, but now our terminology becomes more complicated. The terms Objectives and Goals are both important in building a marketing plan, but differing experts and schools use these terms in varied ways. Some use them interchangably, while others reverse their meaning from the way I will use them here. For the sake of clarity, let’s define each.
For our purposes, the term “Goal” refers to an achievable aspect of the mission statement. The goal describes a desired outcome. Thus, a goal for ABC Travel might be to “increase the number of clients with which the company works.” Another goal may be to “achieve the highest level of client satisfaction.” Goals can refer to revenue, “To increase profitability” and to expenses “Trim unneccessary expenditures.” Typically, the company will have no more than a few high-level goals. Read the rest of this entry »