Self-promotion is a crucial part of your travel agent business. If you want to succeed, you have to put in the work to get your personal brand out there.
And the best way to promote your personal brand these days? You guessed it: social media.
According to a 2015 report from Pew Research Center, nearly two-thirds of American adults are on social media; that’s up from just 7 percent in 2005.
Clearly a huge piece of your potential clientele are already logged on, so taking advantage of their social platforms and getting involved with them digitally is a great way to help promote your brand. In fact both the travel industry and marketers are two of the top industries that benefit from social media usage—and that plays right into your role as a self-promoting travel agent.
But the thing is, there are good ways to promote yourself on social media and there are some very, very bad ways.
To get the most out of your marketing efforts, you must put yourself in the mindset of your potential customers and consider what they might be looking for.
What would new customers find the most attractive? How could you draw them in? Would it be by posting tons of Tweets trying to directly sell them on travel? Probably not.
What if you try opening up an Instagram account simply to keep putting up discount offers? You probably won’t find yourself with too many customers.
Think about your social media marketing efforts in ways that you yourself find other brands to be attractive. What makes them engaging? Are they reliable? Do they post useful content? Have they earned your trust?
These days, brand loyalty is the most important factor in any successful business. Skeptical consumers are much more likely to see right through the sales gimmicks of yesteryear. You have to do more to connect with them.
And that’s where social media’s beauty comes into play. It’s the perfect platform for you to create a loyal community, an engaging epicenter where potential customers can use you as a resource for all things travel. They’ll look to you as an authority. To them, you’re not just another salesperson trying to bait them—you’re a genuine travel expert who has the inside tips and the industry insight that they’re looking for. They trust you because you’ve proven yourself to them. Sharing your knowledge and experience sets you apart. It can make all the difference and establish your brand.
When thinking about your social media strategy, follow these guidelines:
Set Your Goals
Think about your personal brand before you even set up an account. What do you want to achieve? Are you trying to earn trust and cement strong customer relationships? Are you looking to become an authority in the travel industry? Make sure that you understand what it takes to build brand awareness and loyalty. Go in with a plan and stick to it.
Understand the Different Social Media Platforms, but Don't Use Them All
When you’re self-promoting your at home travel agent business, you might get over-excited and want to open up accounts across all social platforms. This isn’t necessary. Besides, it can actually do more harm than good. Rather than risk having too many accounts to keep up with, try to narrow it down to a few. We recommend Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Learn about these platforms and the types of posts that go on each one. For instance, Instagram is perfect for visuals, inspiration and brand awareness. Twitter is great for engaging with potential customers and creating a dialogue. Facebook is perfect for referral traffic. And just as important, make sure than you post regularly.
Engage Your Fans and Followers
The entire point of social media is to be social. Don’t just post for the sake of posting and expect the customers to flood in. You have to be involved. Social media is a two-way street. Respond to comments, “like” other posts, and share other user’s images—and always give credit where it’s due. Interact with your community. Remember that selling travel is largely a relationship-based business. For you to land those accounts, you’ll need to participate actively in building that relationship.
Avoid The Biggest Mistake You Can Make
The worst thing you can do while creating your brand on social media is to sell travel outright rather than focusing on creating a genuine rapport with your audience. Don’t put up posts that use wording such as: “Ask me how to become a travel agent!” or “Ask me how to travel!” They really won’t resonate with potential customers because that’s what your competitors are doing. There’s no personality there, no authenticity, no actual help. Rather than attempting to flat out sell travel, focus instead on positioning yourself as an industry expert, a resource for your followers or fans to consult. Engage with your audience. Answer questions when appropriate, and become the person that your followers go to when they have travel-related inquiries.
In an industry saturated with travel agents all looking to land customers, the ultimate social media goal is to achieve brand awareness and, eventually, brand loyalty. Sure, selling one itinerary is great, but building a relationship with a client who returns to you for help with a destination wedding, a honeymoon, a babymoon and all of their family vacations— all while gushingly referring you to friends and family? That’s exponentially more profitable.
For more specific information regarding InteleTravel's Marketing Guidelines, including questions regarding your complimentary personalized website, our strict guidelines pertaining to the use of the InteleTravel company logo, creating your own logo and more, please refer back to your InteleTravel.com Independent Travel Agent Training Manual.