Thanks to modern technology, travel agents can now start and run their business from home. However, smaller firms need a sound marketing strategy to compete with the more than 67,000 travel agencies in the country. To help, we curated expert-approved travel agency marketing tips to get your business off the ground.
Here are 25 of the ultimate travel marketing tips from the pros.
1. Feature a Client’s Travel Story in Your Blog
Linda Coss, Freelance Marketing Copywriter, Plumtree Marketing, Inc.
A great digital marketing strategy for travel agencies is to use customers’ stories and travel images in their blogs. After each client returns from their trip, send out a short questionnaire with questions like “what was the best part of your trip” or “tell me about the best meal you enjoyed.” The questionnaire can also ask the client to share some of their travel photos with a request for permission for photos to be used on the agency’s blog and social media page.
Maggie Aland, Marketing & Review Editor, FitSmallBusiness
Travelers always search the internet to find the best deals, so it’s important for travel agencies to be available online. A professional website can get even the most hesitant customers to stay and engage instead of moving on to the next result in their search. Begin by having your own domain name and a reliable web host that keeps your website always online. Not only does this ensure that your site is easy to remember, but it also helps build you a more recognizable, trustworthy brand. We recommended Bluehost, which offers domain registration, website hosting, and even a business email address for just $2.95 per month. Click here to check out its hosting plans.
3. Invest in Comparison Ads
Ingrid Miller, General Manager of Travel, MediaAlpha
If you’ve ever searched on a large meta-search travel site like KAYAK, a few windows may pop up in a new tab or behind your main browser window when you run your search. Those windows display results for your particular search, for example, in the United States, you’ll often see Hotwire search results in one window, and Booking.com in the other. These windows contain real search results with accurate pricing to help you narrow down your flight, hotel or car rental choices, but they are also paid advertising placements, and they perform extremely well for marketers who need to reach travelers when they are very close to making their purchase decision.
4. Create Content Around Your Travel Destinations
Rishi Kapoor, Founder & CEO, Nanak Flights
Write about the different travel destinations that your agency offers deals on. People researching that specific destination can find your blog, get inspired, and are just one click away from booking their trip with you. Not only that, but it helps with your overall keyword targeting. The more a specific destination is written about on your website, the higher you’ll rank for that destination in Google when people search for travel deals. But make sure the content isn’t keyword stuffed and shows up organically. Otherwise, it can have the opposite effect.
Marc Prosser, Chairman & Chief Revenue Officer, Fit Small Business
Customers still appreciate travel agencies with an actual office, but there’s a substantial cost of maintaining a physical location. You may have the best deals and resources to offer the perfect travel plan. However, it will not help with your bottom line if your customers can’t find you. Make sure that your business is listed in as many online directories as possible to increase the chances of customers walking through your door. Yahoo Localworks is a great tool that lets you submit your business listing to multiple directories as well as scan existing local listing to ensure your information is up to date. It also gives you access to your agency’s online reviews and ratings all in one place. Click here to scan your listings for free.
6. Invest in Signage for Your Business
Stan Tan, Digital Marketing Manager, Selby’s
Window signage is a great way to attract visitors to travel agencies. The reason why it works so well is that most travel agencies are located in a retail setting with a decent amount of foot traffic. Backlit signage grabs attention. A big advantage of backlit signage vs digital is that backlit signs can also be scaled up to be as big as you want while keeping the cost relatively cheap compared to large digital signage.
7. Define Your Customer Persona
Senthil Kumar Hariram, Marketing Director, Stan Ventures
Personalization is key when it comes to digital marketing for travel agencies. To get the maximum return on investment from digital channels, travel agencies must first define their customer persona. Are they young couples, family tourists, business professionals? This is quite an important step that several travel agencies miss out on. If you are not sure where to start, then the best option would be to set up the analytics tracking for your website including Facebook retargeting pixels. This would help you to learn more about the type of audience showing interest in your brand.
8. Always Fine Tune Your Marketing Campaign
Suzie Schmitt, Digital Marketing Specialist, Beanstalk Web Solutions
We target those individuals who, more than likely, want to see the ads. These are people whose demographics, interests, browsing history, and so on indicate that they will find the advertised product or service interesting or useful. Based on feedback we obtain is through conversations with our clients and from the data we’re seeing from the ad campaign, we’re able to fine-tune these ads and focus our efforts on the areas showing the most success.
9. Send Direct Emails to Old & New Clients
Andrei Vasilescu, CEO & Digital Marketing Expert, DontPayFull
Deliver your special offers or upcoming tour programs through emails which drive clients to contact your agency for more information. Announce special discount deals for the existing clients and a special bonus for recommendations. By this, existing clients will take more service from your business and will be eager to fetch new clients for you to get special discounts.
Gavin Graham, Editor, Fit Small Business
Printed postcards were made for travelers, so it’s not surprising to find postcards as part of an effective travel marketing strategy. Motivate potential customers with stunning destination images along with great deals for the ultimate travel package. Once you’ve got your design all set up, make sure that your postcards are professionally printed with Vistaprint. Vistaprint is the postcard provider of choice for small businesses with its affordable price and great turnaround time. If you still haven’t finalized your postcard design, you can choose from more than 10,000 templates or get help from one of its professional designers.
Your suppliers are your best source of unique marketing ideas, so it’s important that you remain in contact with them. This gives you access to unique and sometimes high-end functions that will boost your travel agency’s reputation without having to break the bank. The event can be a fundraising program or a launching of new services that you can partner with and market over your social media account before, during and after the event.
It’s always good to reward your loyal clients and social media followers with contests and giveaways. This keeps them constantly excited and engaged as you build your brand’s name. For travel agencies, come up with contests and rewards related to travel to help emphasize your brand. You can use new travel promotions or ask your vendors if they want to contribute to your event in exchange for advertising. Leverage the power of social media to organize, hold and market your entire event.
Don’t forget to participate in local happenings to increase your business visibility. You want to make sure that your local community is aware that your brand exists so join as much local trade shows or fairs as possible. Set up a booth and be prepared with information that will be of value to the crowd.
Statista reports that email marketing is still considered the most effective marketing channel for travel agencies. Mailchimp says that travel emails have an impressive 20.69% open rate, so it’s no wonder that email newsletters are still very popular. Make sure that your newsletters are designed for quick reading and with vibrant images to hold the attention of your readers. Share exclusive offers and discounts so your subscribers can find more value in receiving your emails.
Evan Tarver, Sales General Manager, Fit Small Business
Great customer service is what businesses like travel agencies rely on to gain loyal customers willing to endorse their brand. Leverage this opportunity by turning them into your “micro-influencers” with the right customer referral program. ReferralCandy is a referral marketing tool that lets you set up a smart referral program for your travel agency and helps you reach more of your target market while building loyalty along the way. Referring friends is as easy as sharing a simple link that will take them to your website. It’s also compatible with popular ecommerce platforms so that you get quick and seamless integration even with your third-party apps. Launch your own referral program and enjoy a 30-day free trial today.
Often, people can forget a business name but not a catchy, witty tagline. Slogans give businesses an added personality by using creative descriptions that they can associate their brand with. The process of developing your business tagline should be taken seriously. You would not want to end up with one that will leave a negative impact on your brand. Take your time and play around with ideas, then ask for feedback before making a decision.
Printed marketing materials never go out of style, especially for travel agencies. Potential customers still appreciate well-made brochures and bright, colorful flyers or even postcards that they can take home and share with family and friends. Quick response (QR) codes can be designed to send visitors back to your website or app through their mobile device. You can even add special discounts exclusive to those who scanned your QR code.
Creating your own mobile app can sound intimidating when in reality there is enough technology that can help anyone without programming skills to launch one in minutes. Mobile apps can help you reach and acquire more of your target customers. Create dynamic offers and push notifications that you can send directly to your subscribers. You can even integrate your referral program to increase customer loyalty to your brand.
No one says no to giveaways, and branded swag makes a perfect gift for your customers for all occasions. When customers use your branded luggage tags, pens or organizers, it increases the visibility of your brand. Combine this with your referral program, and you have a strong marketing strategy that will keep drawing new customers to your door.
Neva Paule, Supervising Editor, Fit Small Business
Stunning images on your website can convince even the most hesitant of travelers to plan a trip so you will have a lot of those naturally, but so will other travel agency websites. To stand out, you need a creative presentation that will leave a lasting impression of your brand to potential customers.
Create a video portfolio to present your featured destinations instead of the usual photo album formats. Hippo Video lets you create customized videos with your travel photos you can add to your website. Its interactive call-to-action feature helps you to quickly address questions or objections, resulting in better user experience for your website visitors. Experience Hippo Video’s premium services with a 14-day free trial or sign up for its basic plan for free today.
Once you have your own website up and running, you might want to consider adding a blog. This gives your customers more travel-related content to read without the sales component. Keep travel agency announcement and offers out of your blog and just share posts that feature destination in your travel packages. Share some tips and reviews to give your audience a quick guide on how to maximize their travel then offer a link to the relevant travel package on your website. You can even ask one of your loyal customers if you can feature them. Remember also to work on your SEO strategy with keywords that will help it rank on search engine result pages.
Great customer reviews are equivalent to word-of-mouth referrals but can also heavily damage your sales when they are negative. This is why more online shops and websites include a functionality where customers can leave a review of the product or service on the same page. Not only does this make creating improvements to your service easier, but you also get to contain the negative feedback from customers with better communication.
You and your team have to anticipate and prepare when negative online reviews happen. It’s important to remember that you are speaking on behalf of your brand. You want to be accommodating but also firm on your terms of service and policies. Offer compensation when appropriate but infrequently to avoid attracting characters that will take advantage of your generosity.
Travel brochures are a dime a dozen, and you’ll see them everywhere there are travelers ― hotels, convenience stores, bookshops, and so on. They come in many shapes and sizes, with vibrant images all vying to catch the customer’s eye. As a travel agency owner, you might become intimidated by the thought of your travel brochures getting lost in the mix and for good reason. Draw readers in with the perfectly selected photo and complementary color scheme.
Jillian Ilao, Review Editor, Fit Small Business
When creating your email marketing strategy for your travel agency, always remember to have engaging content that will send the audience to your website. This includes adding videos to promote your latest travel packages and discounts. BombBomb is an email marketing platform that allows you to send videos to your contacts via email. Its personalized campaign features help improve click-through rates and lead conversions. BombBomb’s software also provides seamless integration to other widely used business application. Try BombBomb with a 14-day free trial today.
The Bottom Line
Having a solid travel marketing strategy is the key to standing out from competition, no matter the size. Try our list of expert travel agency marketing tips to become a familiar brand in the travel industry quickly.
Want to add more to our growing list of travel marketing tips? Share them with us in the comments.