Social Media and the Travel Agent: Small Steps Yield Big Results

As a business coach who specializes in working with independent travel professionals, I like to make the complex simple and help travel agents see how small changes can sometimes generate big results.

A small change I focus on these days is helping travel agents see the importance of HOW they think about business social media and their relationships with their customers.  My work is cut out for me, as many travel professionals are finding it hard to understand and adapt to the new social landscape.

In my opinion, business social media and the travel industry are natural together, like a good salted-rim margarita and Mexican pool-side bar… they can stand alone, but complement each other better together!

Why so natural together you ask?

  • Many travel professionals DO understand the value of Facebook travel pictures/ albums, destination videos, and that social Disney fun speaks for itself!

  • Hundreds of thousands of customers are using social networks to save time and money.

  • Because the competition is using it!

  • Because our local customers like to use it and want to engage socially with a specialist.

  • Because customers expect such travel specialists to meet them in the buying process…online and off.

Taking the time, and thinking about the many new social tools available is sometimes the slight edge that can create a competitive advantage for you! This slight edge in mindset also involves understanding how customers are quickly adapting to using social channels to plan, research, educate and change their buying behaviors.

I am still a big fan of Facebook, and like to coach others to integrate other tools like Pinterest, YouTube, Hootsuite, and Nimble into their total social strategy.  Obviously when we can combine our efforts, maximize penetration, and triple output, return can be SO much higher than just using one tool versus multiple that complement each other.

Business social media is, of course, not a replacement for traditional marketing drivers like newspaper, postcard mailers, email, proactive telephone calling campaigns, and other forms of advertising. It’s an adjunct to them. Business today is being directed more and more BY the customer and HOW the customer wants to do business.  Providing your customer with online and offline choice, flexibility, support, and mobility is key to a profitable and healthy future.

If travel agents and other businesses are not meeting both their prospects and repeat clients where THEY want to meet and do business, there will be no business left in the future.

Take the time to listen and then pay attention to what your customers have to say – they know more than you think!

What You Can Do

1. Monitor: Search on destinations or #hashtags, follow popular travel writers, spot trends in the industry,  keep an eye on competitors and what is working foro them. These monitoring methods can help you plan your own messaging and business strategies.

2. Entice. Use Facebook, LinkedIn, and tools like Instagram to share visuals with your prospects and customers. When they can see the beauty of a destination, they’ll picture themselves there and plan their own getaway.

3. Engage: When you gather a following, you can share what you find with them. Curate the best and most helpful travel news, tips, and articles and you will remain top of mind.

Using social media to monitor the landscape of travel and guide your activities is essential in today’s global, social world. Please share your own techniques and tips in a comment!

Cory Andrichuk is a passionate travel entrepreneur and highly specialized business coach to independent agents, HOST agencies, Travel Associations, and respected travel suppliers. Learn more at BrandUCoaching.

Sandwalker photo: Ed Coyle Photography

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