Pre-21st century, landlines, telephone directories, newspapers, magazines, print brochures, and snail mail, along with meeting clients face to face in a brick and mortar office, were the major ways in which travel advisors communicated and connected with potential customers.
Internet technology and social media has changed all that so that today’s travel advisors have a beach bag full of digital tools to help them with their marketing plans. You can advertise your services, research travel destinations, post special offers, upload gorgeous photos, and instantly keep in touch with both longtime and prospective clients.
The older method of communicating and advertising was effective for its time, but digital communication offers a wider variety of tools to carry your message and engage with your customers, but only if you put those tools to use. With most people turning to the Internet to explore, research and plan their travel, you want to be sure you are positioned to be effective. Let’s take a look at some of the wide variety of technological tools at your fingertips — your digital footprint.
Website: Your website should be easy to use and spell out who you are and the services you offer using compelling and engaging language to tell your story. It should incorporate effective Search Engine Optimization (SEO) words so that prospective clients can find you; it should also be up-to-date and be mobile responsive. The photos should be clear, colorful and representative of you and your business, and professionally done if you’re not handy with a camera. Don’t forget to include a section with a selection of candid shots taken by travellers you’ve assisted, along with their testimonials boasting of the amazing service you’ve provided. You want your business to stand out and deliver your message with pizazz!
Facebook: Posting photos and text to Facebook couldn’t be easier. You can quickly build a following by posting enticing photos of vacation destinations, offering travel tips and inspiring messages, and letting potential travellers get to know you by sharing information about yourself, your interests and why you love being a travel advisor. You want to establish a personal connection with potential clients and remain uppermost in their minds when they are thinking of travelling, so post multiple times a week to keep that vibe going.
Instagram: Beautiful photos and Instagram go together like Mom and Apple Pie and should inspire travel dreams, wanderlust, possibilities. You get the idea. Include a cute caption and use multiple tags.
YouTube: A YouTube video with you front and center helps customers feel a greater connection to you and the services you offer because it’s almost like visiting with you in person. With today’s technology, you are just a short learning curve away from producing videos that highlight something exciting/interesting/informative. Make them fun, make them colorful, make them short (under two minutes).
Blogs: Create blogs that include promos on upcoming trips, offer travel tips and trends, or highlight destinations, restaurants, cultural experiences and attractions you’d recommend. Write them on a regular basis and include them on your website and post to Facebook and LinkedIn.
E-blasts: An e-blast is a quick and effective way to communicate with your database to emphasize an upcoming tour, give the details of a promo you are offering, or even just convey a happy message saying that you are thinking of them today as you’re making summer vacation plans and asking what their plans are.
LinkedIn: LinkedIn is a professional networking site where you can highlight your employment, background, skills and interests, share accomplishments, request and give recommendations, and interact with others.
Your website is the Mother Ship and your social media should link back to it as much as possible. Don’t be hesitant to explore the technology that is out there and make it work for you and your clients. Be engaging and consistent as you spread your message, set goals for yourself, and most of all have fun promoting what you do to help your clients have outstanding travel experiences.
— By Eileen Alexander, a writer living in western North Carolina, who is inspired to plan more travel each time she sees one of Ilja Chapman’s Facebook posts or YouTube videos. She and Ilja have been working together since 2007, back in their New Hampshire days!