One of the first things you think about when starting a travel agency is, “how will I market my business?” With so much to keep track of, marketing should be a main priority. As a travel advisor, you need to stay on top of the latest travel trends, keep your website up to date, maintain relationships and be in the know about everything within the tourism world – all while selling travel and offering caring service to your clients.
It’s best practice to plan the bulk of your year’s marketing initiatives well in advance. With this is mind, there are a few effective marketing ideas to consider when starting a travel agency.
1. Direct mail marketing to stay in touch with clients and promote the latest deals
2. Incorporate videos into your content
3. Establish a presence on social media
4. Create cutting-edge emails
5. Optimize your website with a clean, modern design and mobile-first experience
Effective Direct Mail Marketing
Imagine being able to target potential local clients who enjoy traveling and are currently researching their next vacation. This is the goal of anyone starting a travel agency. Believe it or not, direct mail is still an effective way to market your business to clients. How often do you make a trip to your mailbox? Every week, perhaps daily?
Likely, many of the realtors, dentists and local grocers captured your info from a database and targeted you based on certain criteria. You can (and you should) do the same thing! Although much of the mailbox is filled with dull bills, newspapers and the yearly birthday note, you have the chance to enhance a consumer’s stack of mail with a little variety. Sending high-quality, brightly colored travel promotions will be something they sit down to look at and enjoy.
Some examples of direct mail to market your business are:
• An introduction mailer to new members of the community
• Travel brochures with best deals
• Vacation inspiration mailers
• Personal handwritten cards (birthday, anniversary or congratulations)
Master the Art of Video Marketing
Video marketing is a big deal, especially when starting a travel agency. Travel by nature is visual and videos help bring destinations to life right before your client’s eyes. Once they watch your travel videos, an innate burning desire to visit the destination grows from within.
When people hear something, they're likely to remember only 10% of that information three days later. However, if a relevant image or video is paired with that same information, people retain 65% of the information three days later. Being able to convey the same message more effectively is why video content is so valuable to your marketing plan.
This concept can be applied to many industries, but travel agencies have the upper hand. Travel is fun; therefore, it gives travel agents the ability to play around and create captivating videos to market their travel agency effectively.
Not everyone has the financial ability to hire a videographer when they start a travel agency, but there are many free or low-cost online tools that make creating compelling videos easy and affordable. Here are a few:
Like, Follow, Subscribe - Social Media Outreach
Social media platforms are a great way to market your business when starting a travel agency. You can inspire your followers with content based on travel news, new travel deals, packing tips, destination highlights, holiday posts and more.
Facebook is an effective platform to market your travel agency. It has useful features available to your business page in addition to posting photos and videos. You don’t have to be an expert to advertise on Facebook. Create and run marketing campaigns using simple self-serve tools and track their performance with easy-to-read reports. More than two billion people use Facebook every month—so no matter what kind of audience you want to reach, you'll find them.
Here’s how to create a Facebook ad for your travel agency:
- Design your photo or video for the ad.
- Select your audience.
a. Segmentation is the power of targeted ads. You can customize who sees your ad by age, geographic location, and even interests. Adjust your target audience to be as broad or well-defined as you want.
- Choose where to run it.
- Audience Network
- Set a spending budget.
a. Start small. Facebook shows you an estimate of how many people will be exposed to your ad based on the dollar amount spent. Try a few dollars per day on your first ad and see if the results meet your expectations. Y you don’t need a large budget to advertise—try it and adjust your future ads based on your results.
- Pick a format.
- Place your order.
Once you create the ad and submit your order, Facebook takes it from there. Once the ad is approved and live, you can start reviewing the performance and edit the campaign as needed.
Win Your Clients Via Email
Email continues to be the predominant form of communication, so it's a good idea to get a handle on it from the beginning. When starting your travel agency, think about current deals vendors are offering. You can send emails to clients you think would enjoy the destinations.
Having a way to segment your clients based on age, gender, location and occupation helps when creating email marketing campaigns. You want to reach the right clients with the right deals—after all you are their travel agent (AKA vacation matchmaker).
For example, if you see a cruise line or resort is running a limited time offer where kids travel for free plus discounted rates on family fun excursions, you want to send this offer to families with young children. If you are sending this email to clients who are retired and prefer river cruising, your email may get lost in spam and they may not get future emails that are relevant to them, so you should make sure the right message gets to the right client at the right time.
A franchise company will typically supply you with a robust customer relationship management (CRM) system and email sending platform to help you segment and market to your clients. However, if you do not partner with a franchise, there are affordable basic platforms to help you keep track of customers and send emails:
Travel Agency Website Optimization
Having a business website in our modern age of technology is 100% necessary. It’s very difficult to start a travel agency without having an exceptional website, both in terms of visual aspects and functionality. Website optimization means that the site is developed to be as useful and effective as possible. For example, when potential clients Google search “local travel agents”, you want your website to show up as one of the first results.
SEO (search engine optimization) is the process of maximizing the number of visitors to your website by ensuring the site appears high on the list of results pumped out by a search engine.
To optimize your website there are a few factors to consider:
• Include high-quality visually appealing graphics
• A responsive design that is optimized for desktop and mobile devices
• Including necessary keywords throughout content
• Monthly blog posts
Leverage Proven Marketing Tools and Systems
Developing marketing campaigns, plus all the legwork that goes along with it, can take a lot of time. When you add in the digital platforms needed to run successful campaigns and the price of printing and postage, the costs of marketing can start to creep up. A travel agency franchise such as Cruise Planners provides proven marketing tools and systems at little to no cost, so you can spend more time focusing on your clients and less time worrying about marketing.
Cruise Planners’ robust marketing includes a hands-free direct mail program, a library of professionally produced and customizable videos, weekly social media posts, a proprietary CRM and email sending platform, beautiful personal websites and much more.