ABC: Always be closing. Like it or not, we are all in the business of selling. You happen to be selling a product most people love and want - travel! There is no better subject matter for small talk than where someone likes to go for vacation. Listen to people’s answers and record that information in whatever CRM method you use and refer to it later when you want to do some target marketing.
Elevator Pitch: As a travel agent you will usually get one of two questions asked of you: “Aren’t travel agents a dying breed?” and/or “Is it safe to go to XYZ?” You should have a well-thought-out answer to both these questions. The clarity and confidence with which you answer will likely gain you a client....or not.
Supplier Co-op Funds: Many industry suppliers offer cooperative marketing funds for various types of advertising. According to Justin Osbon of Image Tours, newspaper advertising is very effective for their travel agent co-op partners. First, it positions you as the local expert. It also puts your name out in front of prospective clients. Osbon states that newspaper advertising produces the most qualified clients but also advises you to be prepared to sell products beyond those advertised.
Direct Mail: Many suppliers also offer co-op on direct mail pieces and many of the consortia offer discounted and sometimes free direct mail pieces. This is where the aforementioned target marketing comes in. Knowing which types of travel your clients are interested in will help you channel these direct mail pieces to the best prospects, keeping your costs down and generating the best response.
Website and Social Media: The value of your website and social media really depends on your target audience. Having a professionally designed website is important for any travel agency. However, if your agency serves primarily a senior market, the depth of content on your site is probably not as important as it is if you are selling to a younger audience. In either case, it is important to impart your personality into your website. Let your clients know why/how you got into the business and what you specialize in. Many suppliers can provide you with content and/or booking engines for your site. As for social media, a consistent presence is a good thing especially for branding your agency. However, multiple daily postings, especially those that appear to be selling something, will likely cause your followers to “un-follow” you.
Marketing your agency and your services can be fun. Get creative and be sure to take advantage of the opportunities and support provided by your supplier partners.