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Becoming a Travel Influencer

Written by  Katie Hultgren

HultgrenKatie
There is a new buzzword that is being used to describe people who, through their endorsement, can make others purchase or use a product. They are called “influencers.” Perhaps you have heard of them. Often, they are individuals with a large social media presence, celebrities with enviable lifestyles, or someone who is considered an expert in a particular field. Their words and actions influence others.

Not all of us are celebrities, or have thousands of followers on social media, but as travel providers, we are indeed influencers.
Destinations and hotels want you to sell their tourism product, tour operators want you to sell the destinations using their tour packages, airlines want you to choose their flights for their clients. Even travel product companies who sell products such as luggage and bikinis all try to convince you that they have what you want and need. They target the marketing of their products in your direction. Are you influenced? The answer is probably yes!

And, when you are influenced, you then influence others. As a travel advisor, you are probably one of the most important influencers of people who plan to travel. If you have a positive opinion of a particular tourism product, that will be the one that is the easiest for you to sell.

How do you form that positive outlook? If you have personally experienced a destination or product, you are much more likely to be able to successfully sell it. If you have a positive relationship with a tour operator, you are happy to endorse their products. You will be much more comfortable selling experiences and products that you enjoy, rather than those you are unfamiliar with. Your positivity becomes your influence on others. These are some of the reasons it is so important to experience destinations through FAM trips. It is also important to meet travel suppliers face-to-face at trade shows, or to meet with Business Development Managers (BDMs) when they are in your area. Participate in webinars, to not only learn from the content, but to get a sense of the company as a whole. Expect these companies and destinations to positively influence you so you can, in turn, influence your clients.

Social media has transformed our world. We cannot underestimate its reach and power. To influence others, you should consistently share your positive experiences on your social media pages.  And since everyone prefers different platforms, your  travel agency needs to have an active presence on more than one site.

According to JAX FAX’s art director, a picture is definitely worth a thousand words. Use images of you personally traveling, wishful images of places on your bucket list, and ask clients to send you photos of themselves on trips you’ve organized so you can share them with your followers. Share great deals from your preferred suppliers. Ask your followers for their assistance  by booking deals that help you reach sales goals to reap agent rewards and incentives. Make it personal.
You are a travel expert, and have more influence that you know.

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