You eat, breathe, and sleep travel. You know the in’s and out’s of a cruise ship better than anyone. You could repeat airport codes in your sleep. Most likely you know more about a destination than Jennifer Aniston knows about rom coms. However, there is one thing that may not come as easy for you–marketing.
The old school way to market your business is out. Travelers want an authentic experience traveling–that also includes their travel agent. You are part of the travel experience.
Before you start marketing, do your research
Who is your customer?
What kind of customers do you generally serve? What are their demographics? You need to establish who your current customer is and who your target market is. Establish their age, gender, race, annual income, types of travel, etc. Anything you can think of to create a picture of your average customer. Now, does this work for the future of your business? If your current customer base is well into their 70’s you might have a problem in the next few years. Think about how you could target a new customer base. What elements could you change to appeal to a different demographic.
You need to know your customer before you can effectively market yourself and your business.
What does your typical buyer journey look like?
A buyer journey is nothing more than the path it takes your customer to purchase from you. How did they find you? What did it take for them to purchase with you? Did you have to nurture them or did they buy immediately? Figuring out how your customers interact with you and how you get leads is important in analyzing what you bring to the table as a travel professional. After establishing your personal buyer journey, take a look at the industry. Research shows that 49% of Millennials take last minute vacations. Are you giving your Millennial customers what they need to use you? Maybe sending them last minute flight deals occasionally to keep you on their mind?
Marketing tips for your travel agency business:
Specialize, personalize, add complexity
Don’t sell the deal, sell your knowledge and expertise. Being a jack of all trades, but a master of none isn’t going to get you anywhere in the travel industry–that’s why you need to specialize. Take a few destinations, types of experience, etc. and make it your thing. Creating a niche may seem like you’re narrowing your prospects, however it can create more business than you think.
We are living in a world where personalization is required and that doesn’t exclude travel. More and more, travelers are going on personalized trips partial to their interests and hobbies. You may have a customer looking at going paddle boarding, exploring coffee houses, different cuisines, or cliff diving on the other side of the globe. Creating a personalized itinerary that reflects the traveler is key to success.
Travelers are not coming to you for something they can easily book online themselves. They want to see the value of using you. Add different complexities to remind your customer only you can plan a vacation like this.
Is your website mobile responsive? Google research reports that 40% of travel site visits come from mobile. Individuals primarily do research on their phones–then purchase via desktop. However, younger generations are gaining more discretionary income leaving 46% of Millennials booking travel through a smartphone or tablet. You can’t get away with just a desktop website, mobile needs to be top of mind!
You may love social media, or you may hate it. However, this industry can really thrive off of the social networks. 87% of Millennials look to social media for travel inspiration for their next adventure. If you’re not on social–how will they hear about you or find you? Also, 97% of Millennials will share their journey on social media. Can you say repeat and referral? Your clients are already sharing their experiences–why not create a referral program offering your current clients something in exchange for promoting your service along with their travel experience.
Travel is visual. Why do you travel? To see the sights. Most social platforms–mainly Instagram, Pinterest, and SnapChat are only visual. These platforms are great avenues to promote your business. Which brings us to our next topic…
Video & Photography = Travel Marketing
Wanderlust is provoked through photo and video. Chances are you got into the travel industry because you love to travel. Take these opportunities to capture the allure of travel with basic photography and videography. Does that intimidate you? Since Instagram’s emergence, everyone can be a photographer. There are simple tutorials you can watch online to help with your photographic skills. Does this excite you? Invest in a good camera or high-quality mobile camera. There are many options to enhance your mobile phone’s camera that are inexpensive as well that include better lens and lighting. There are also many photo editor apps that can add some zazz to your photos.
Maybe you don’t travel as much as you’d like or as much as you used to. That’s okay! This is a chance to interact with your customers. Ask them to take a couple shots for you…or ask if you can use one of their photos for your promotions. Many customers would be willing and even excited about the opportunity.
Another option is to go to a free stock photo site like Unsplash. A lot of stock photography is excellent, however used frequently across other businesses. Try to only use a few of these photos to avoid getting too commercial. You still want to keep a reputable brand and authentic experience. With the proper tool set, you can become a photographer or photo curator in no time!
Email still remains the most effective form of marketing. It’s easy too! Many platforms offer free software you can upload your email list to and send customized emails with amazing visuals and tracking.
MailChimp–The most widely used email automation platform is easily manageable and user friendly. The platform has many integrations to help enhance your analytics. Their free version allows up to 2,000 subscribers and 12,000 emails/month. You can do a lot with this platform!
Mailjet–If your customer base is much larger than 2,000, Mailjet has hardly any limits with 6,000 emails/month and unlimited contracts.
Benchmark–it’s easy drag and drop editor and responsive email templates are only an addition to the 2,000 subscribers limit and the 14,000 emails per month.
If you plan on emailing your customer base often, try to only email once a week for mass communication. Most recipients will unsubscribe due to too many emails, approximately 69%. Make sure to pay attention to your customer base’s average occupation and email checking habits–this will help when scheduling best practice sending times.
Share your Knowledge
Do you have a blog? Are you consistently sharing your knowledge? Blogging can be a great opportunity to share your expertise as well as build your brand. Blog posts, when marketed properly, can gain a lot of traffic from social media. Blogs also provide you content to publish on your social networks. Travel bloggers are very popular and if you’re traveling consistently you can make for a interesting blogger. Sharing your stories abroad and how you traveled can inspire readers to want to take a similar trip–and they will want to be contacting you to help them do it!
You are part of the travel experience. How are you adding to it? Is it a negative or positive addition? Ask yourself these questions as you research your current customers and prospective customers. Making your traveler’s life easier and providing value is essential to your existence. Travelers want a real and authentic travel experience–establish how you are doing that for your customers, then marketing will come much easier. There are many marketing tools that are helpful to making your life easier and more effective!