Posts Tagged With: marketing

There are 37 articles tagged with “marketing” published on this site.

Setting expectations and exceeding them

The most difficult marketing hurdles travel agents face are the misapprehensions of their clients. Every opportunity you have for repeat business, testimonials and referrals depends on your clients’ satisfaction with your services. Misunderstandings will act as an impediment to client satisfaction. Many consumers do not know exactly what a travel agent does. Especially if the client is under the impression that the travel agent is primarily a retail travel outlet, misunderstandings will occur. It’s a good idea in every instance to demystify travel for your clients and to bring their expectations into alignment with the efforts you undertake on their behalf. Read the rest of this entry »

The Marketing Mindset

If you are a travel planner, marketing is by necessity your  constant companion. Too often, however, travel professionals treat marketing like a hand tool that is pulled out of the box only when sales are “needed,”  when business seems a little slow. But effective marketing  is a mindset, a constant preoccupation for the successful travel agent intent on growing their business.

As I have often said in this column, marketing drives sales. The marketing you do today may not have an effect for weeks or even months. Business a bit quiet right now? Want this time next year to look better? It’s a good idea to begin marketing more thoughtfully and consistently. Now. Read the rest of this entry »

Marketing Like You Mean It

Many travel professionals will openly confess that marketing is not their forte. After all, a large percentage of travel agents, if not the overwhelming majority, very rightly entered the industry not because they love marketing but because they love travel.  Many have a very limited background or formal training in marketing, but manage to conduct a reasonably viable business out of a capacity to communicate their enthusiasm for travel and for being of service to others. That said, however, it’s time for travel agents to get serious about marketing.  The stakes are high – involved is not only your own business, but I dare say the future of the entire travel agency distribution channel. Read the rest of this entry »

Branding Your Travel Agency: Can You See Me Now?

Every travel agency seeks visibility in its marketplace. Through advertising, niche marketing, and solid networking, agency owners work to raise the profile of their travel practice above the crowd, so the public immediately associates the agency’s brand with the word “travel”. Creating an association strong enough to be top of mind anytime someone thinks of “travel” is no small feat but, especially on a community level, it is achievable. No doubt in your own community, there is at least one travel agency with more than its proportionate percentage of “mindshare” – people immediately think of that agency when they think of their next cruise or vacation. Read the rest of this entry »

What’s Your Story?

From earliest childhood, we are taught to listen to stories. We develop a real, active interest in the lead character of a tale. No doubt some people tell stories better than others. But the one story you should spend time writing and polishing is your own. Why are you in travel? What do you do? How do you do it? Have you ever had a really special moment traveling? What was it? Is that why you are a travel agent? Did you travel with your parents? Why do you think people should travel? Read the rest of this entry »

Birthing New Ideas

I spend many of my columns speaking to the importance of positioning and differentiation – setting your travel practice apart from the crowd. From the emails and comments I received, however, it’s clear that it’s not always easy to really BE different.  Where do the ideas arise that will energize your travel practice in such a way that travelers will choose you over another agency or booking on their own?

The most important thing is to lead with your personality. You are the one thing that is truly unique about your travel practice.  You are the one thing not duplicated online, in your office, or at another agency. You are the human element with which people want to engage. Learn to infuse your creative thinking with your own personality. Read the rest of this entry »

Do you have a written marketing plan? Do you have a written marketing budget? If not, you don’t have both oars in the water. Many travel professionals “wing it” and begin marketing at the first sign of business slowing down.  The problem with doing things that way, of course, is timing.  The business you have today likely resulted from your marketing efforts months ago. Likewise, your marketing efforts today may not pay off for some time.

Budgeting enforces the discipline necessary to actually calendar your marketing efforts. When spending real dollars, travel agents become very cognizant of the return on investment. In addition, the marketing budget can and should include such essentials as marketing collateral(business cards, flyers, capabilities brochures), websites, advertising, dues to local organizations and promotional items, all professionally produced. Having a marketing budget, and then wisely spending it, ensures that the travel agency is doing everything necessary to keep its profile high enough to gain mindshare in the community. Read the rest of this entry »

Finding Your Niche

Developing and marketing a niche area of expertise is one of the best possible ways to differentiate your travel practice from the competition. As an expert in a particular theme or destination, you can quickly establish your travel agency as the only reasonable resource to which consumers should turn when considering travel in your niche venue.

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  Read the rest of this entry »

Stay ahead of your clients

Travel is a “repeat buy.” Many clients will travel on a schedule approaching every one or two years and some much more frequently. Their repeat business is a big part of the growth and stability of your travel practice. It is important to stay ahead of such clients by anticipating their needs. Read the rest of this entry »

Positioning for Travel Agents – Credentials

A large part of your identity as a travel consultant is made up of the credentials you earn over time. The word “credential” comes from the Latin credentialis (giving authority), derived from credentia (trust). Credentials are a third-party attestation of competence and skill. Typically, credentials have two sources. The first are the credentials you earn through study and testing, the type of credential that result in certificates from trade associations, The Travel Institute, CLIA and others. The second source for your credentials, however, is the story that you build through the work you do each day for clients, and you need to make those credentials as tangible as a destination specialist designation. Read the rest of this entry »

Positioning Your Travel Agency – Know who you are

How would you answer if challenged with the simple question of “who are you and why are you here?” The travel agent seeking to also be a good marketer should be able to clearly communicate their brand with enough frequency and volume to be noticed and enough clarity to be understood. Too often, however, travel agents fail to sharply define their market position. Read the rest of this entry »

A travel agency can achieve a very effective public relations program for very little capital expenditure. However, to be effective, the program will almost certainly involve an extensive outlay of energy and effort. For the travel agent willing to put in the time necessary, a public relations campaign can be one of the most effective ways of raising the agency’s public profile. Public relations typically carries an inherent third-party endorsement. As a result, potential clients will feel more immediately confident in the expertise of the travel agent when the marketing message is received via a public relations channel. Read the rest of this entry »

Yesterday we used the example of leveraging your public relations efforts by sponsoring an event with a not-for-profit, an animal shelter. Continuing with that same example, we now want to involve the local press. An article written in the local paper will provide not only the publicity you are seeking for your event, but will raise the profile of your agency as readers associate it with a worthy cause.

The typical approach to involving the press is to craft a press release. Hopefully, you have been cultivating press relationships in your community prior to the time you need them. Even if you are without such first-hand knowledge of local press contacts, however, a bit of preparation can assist you in getting the appropriate attention you seek.

Read the rest of this entry »

I often encounter a mindset that sees marketing as an expense.  I suppose from the perspective of an accountant, that is absolutely accurate. However, in reality marketing should be viewed as an investment.  Think of it this way: marketing is only expensive if it’s not working. If you made 5 dollars every time you spent two marketing dollars you would be spending money all day and be happy about it. Ideally, marketing is an investment.

We all live within the constraints of a budget.  So this week we are going to address marketing on a shoestring, on choosing strategies that are smart and that work.  Today, however, we are going to talk about avoiding turning our shoestrings into nooses – making mistakes with our marketing dollars that, like  bad investments, are nothing but expensive errors. Read the rest of this entry »

Finding Your Niche

Developing and marketing a niche area of expertise is one of the best possible ways to differentiate your travel practice from the competition. As an expert in a particular theme or destination, you can quickly establish your travel agency as the only reasonable resource to which consumers should turn when considering travel in your niche venue.

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  Read the rest of this entry »

Travel agents know travel. The best have a passion for their craft and put much time and energy into learning about new destinations and product. They attend webinars and spend countless hours earning advanced certifications and destination specialist designations. What is often lacking, however, is a solid foundation in marketing. Passion for travel will not guarantee success in the business of travel. Knowledge and understanding of a product is absolutely vital to a successful travel practice. However, it is not enough in and of itself to ensure that a travel consultant will succeed as a business person.
Yet, many agents rush into their marketing efforts without first grounding themselves fully in the necessary business disciplines. Read the rest of this entry »

Invest in yourself. Most knowledgeable marketing guides will indicate that for small service businesses, between 1% to 3% of your gross proceeds should be reinvested in marketing. Thus, if your Gross Revenues are $1,000,000 (commission income of approximately $100,000) a marketing budget of between $10,000 and $30,000 is a norm. However, not every outlay needs to be in actual dollars. Many of the marketing tactics we discuss daily in The 365 Guide are more labor than capital intensive. In fact, in a small service business like travel consulting a direct marketing approach is actually preferable to capital outlay since so much of the impact of the marketing message has to do with the people who own and operate the agency. The more the marketing plan involves direct involvement by the agency staff in events, speaking engagements, word of mouth campaigns and other public relations efforts, the lower the actual capital outlay is necessitated. Nevertheless, there is an important lesson in the simple and undeniable fact that to make money one has to spend some money. Read the rest of this entry »

No travel consultant escapes the trap: friends and family who travel will ask for your assistance. You are the family “travel agent” and, as such, fully exposed to requests for “discounts”, “good deals” and “freebies.”  Just beyond your gene pool are the neighbors, acquaintances and friends who want and need your professional assistance.

Friends and family – there is no more accessible, nor unforgiving, collection of clients anywhere to be found. Acting as a travel consultant for close friends and family (F&F) can be something just short of torture when things go wrong. Here are a few tips that can both salvage your relationship and provide you with a close group of intimate clients and evangelists. Read the rest of this entry »

A week of important observations: 1 and 2

An unfortunate temptation in marketing your travel business is to scurry from one tactic to the next looking for the next magic “trick” that will make clients come streaming through the door. The lure of the newest, the latest and great marketing gimmick is strong, but often comes at the expense of fundamentals.  Thus, you sometimes see new travel agents that have not yet mastered the art of networking in their local communities leaping onto Facebook or Twitter to market their new travel business because they heard that some other agent, somewhere, managed to wring a sale out of the online world.

Don’t get me wrong.  I am all for creative niche marketing and I, too, am eager to learn of new media techniques for marketing. However, I am equally convinced that in the eagerness to quickly build business, too many agents dart from one “technique” to the next rather than honing tried and true fundamentals. Read the rest of this entry »

Filling the Pipeline

A key objective of marketing your travel planning practice is assuring a flow of new clients through the door. Retention of your existing clients is absolutely necessary and challenging in and of itself, but the acquisition of new clients provides for growth. If you are not taking measures to acquire new clients, attrition of your existing base will mean your business will decline over time.

Remember our discussion of the sales funnel?  Typically, only a small percentage of your leads pan out into actual travel planning opportunities.  In order to maintain the volume you need for a healthy business, your marketing activities must be robust and continual.  Read the rest of this entry »

The Social Media Gold Rush

One thing is perfectly clear – travel agents love social media. At any travel trade show, the social media panels are packed. Hold a social media webinar and it’s a record crowd of travel agents that show up. It seems everyone has a Facebook or Twitter account, and a good part of everyday is spent pumping content into the social media funnel.

There are even some great success stories. Last week, travel agent Denyse Turner related her own experiences which include “15 group cruises, 5 individual cruises and more vacation packages than [she] can handle alone“. That is tremendous success and there are many more stories beginning to come in attesting to the power of social media as a marketing tactic.

Here’s the problem. Denyse makes it look easy. Agents are flocking to social media because of her story and others like it, much the same way that people charged across the North American continent in 1849 looking for gold.

Not everyone will get rich.  However, a lot more travel agents could if they Read the rest of this entry »