The travel industry has been overtaking international gross domestic product for several years now, with no indication of stopping. The number of global travellers passed the 1 billion mark over 2 years ago now. This rate of growth indicates we’ll see this number rise to 1.8 billion by 2030.
A ‘New Golden Age of Travel’ is upon us according to the 2015 Travel Weekly Industry Survey, which found that digital marketing is key to lead generation for travel agents/advisors/counsellors/specialists. Now is the perfect time to be selling travel. Below we take a close look at travel marketing for lead generation in 2016.
Key Takeaways from the 2015 Travel Weekly Industry Survey
- Emails remain the favoured approach to attract new customers
- Social media use is rapidly rising, up 7% from last year and is particularly important to large players in the market and lower-volume home based agents
- Travel sellers are identifying with the term ‘travel agent’ more and more, establishing a link between social media and travel terms
- Cruises remain the chief source of revenue for travel agents, making up 36% of total sales for all travel agents and 40% for home-based agents
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Digital Marketing for Travel Agents
Digital marketing is one of the most effective ways, if not the most effective way of obtaining leads and retaining customers when it comes to the travel market. The vast majority of travel consumers are not blindly loyal so staying top of mind is essential to gain and retain their business.
Which marketing approaches are most important to attract new clients and keep current ones?
When it comes to the most valuable tools for marketing your travel business, a combination of traditional media, social media, advertising etc. works best.
“It’s more about touch points in a variety of different ways. So having a Facebook page that you don’t update regularly is not effective. Over-emailing isn’t effective. Being able to segment your customers on how they want to be communicated to is important.” – Libbie Rice, co-president of Ensemble Travel Group.
The rise of social media in the travel market
Social media is now the second most important marketing approach to attract new clients and keep current ones. Larger agencies and home-based businesses have truly embraced this social media movement. By tactfully incorporating social media into their marketing strategy, home-based travel agents have found they can punch well above their weight when it comes to influencing and attracting new and current customers while larger agencies have a full set of resources to devote to dominating the social media scene and extending their reach.
More and more professionals are calling themselves travel agents thanks to social media. While according to many, ‘travel agent’ no longer reflects what travel professionals really are and do, the term travel agent continues to get traction on social media.
“The only reason that perhaps more professionals are using the term ‘travel agent’ is that in some social media platforms the term in favor is ‘travel agent’, not ‘travel counselor’ or ‘travel advisor’ or any other category. The hashtag that seems to get the most traction in social media platforms is #travelagent and this is the term most consumers are familiar with.”
“I think travel sellers should rebrand themselves on social media and start calling themselves ‘travel counselors’, ‘travel advisors’, ‘travel experts’, which they are.” – Ignacio Maza, executive vice president of Signature Travel Network.
Jean Newman Glock, owner of JNG Worldwide agrees, stating that most travel agents/experts now realise that having a strong Facebook page and social media presence is just as important as having a website.
How can travel agents get more leads through social media?
When it comes to marketing your travel services on social media it seems instead of offering just pure customer service through social networks, the key is to engage with consumers and advisors in order to inspire travel. Not with promotional, booking offers and content but with original and unique content, photos and copy.
“The best advisors are already experts; they just need to learn to use the tools to shout it from the virtual rooftops. It starts with the individuals at each member agency learning to take good photos. Photos and videos are the new capital of travel.” – Jean Newman Glock, owner of JNG Worldwide and Signature Travel Network’s social media consultant.
Newman Glock’s preferred social network? Instagram.
“For travel, it is perfect: inspiring and visual. I have one-sixth the followers on Instagram that I have on Twitter but the engagement is 100 times higher, and the questions are all about travel. Daily, I get questions about how to book, etc., and I refer them to travel advisors. I can’t quantify the return on investment, but the return on your brand exposure will be high.”