What do you do in a business with a relatively low barrier to entry, lots of competition, and plenty of self service options for consumers? If you operate a travel agency, you face these challenges on a daily basis. The solution never changes. You have to continually evolve your marketing strategies so you remain competitive. Here are a few tips for doing just that in 2018.
Resolve to Build a Website That Offers a Great User Experience
One way or another, the majority of people who want to do business with you will end up on your website. To maximize conversions, SEO, and traffic, you want to ensure you create the best user experience possible. When was the last time you revisited your website design? If it’s time for an overhaul or even a completely new site, you aren’t alone.
There are so many ‘out of the box’ website builders for travel agencies. To stand out, you have to know when it’s time to drop the shrink-wrapped website and create something truly stellar. When you consider where to make changes and improvements, here are a few places to start.
- Use Analytics Software to Collect Traffic And Other Data
- Collect Feedback From Users Via Onsite Polls And Feedback Boxes
- Establish a Methodology For Testing Changes
- Add high quality photographs and videos to
- Use a website auditing tool to identify broken links, duplication, and other issues that could negatively impact user experience and SEO
If you haven’t fully optimized your site for mobile, now is the time to do just that. This is no longer optional. If you are certain your site is fully mobile friendly, try Google’s mobile friendly testing tool to be sure.
Finally, consider the customer journey as it relates to your website. Identify places where there is friction and make changes to improve and simplify those process. Then, once you have created the ideal website for your customers, focus other marketing efforts on driving people to your site.
Are You Doing Enough For Your User Personas And Are They Doing Enough For You?
If you haven’t already clearly defined the travelers you want to serve, it’s time to do that. What is the demographic of your average customer? Why do they travel? What problems can you solve for them as a travel agent? Don’t be surprised if you end up with multiple personas.
If you’ve already done this, now is a good time to revisit things. Are you currently meeting the needs of your target personas? Are there personas that are working out very well for you? If things aren’t meshing well between your brand and a particular audience segment, it’s time to do one of two things:
- Make changes so that you can retarget that persona and develop a stronger relationship with them.
- Reconsider targeting that audience type at all.
In many cases, the second option is the best choice. As your agency grows, you may find that you are becoming more of a niche service provider, or that certain segments just aren’t a good fit for your brand.
Now that your website and target personas are ready, you can start implementing digital marketing strategies that will work best for your brand.
Center Your Digital Marketing Efforts on 5 Key Social Platforms
The number of social media and message platforms is growing. You can’t be everywhere, but there are five you should focus on above all.
Facebook remains an extraordinarily popular social networking site for people in all demographic groups. Serious customers, looking to purchase travel options will likely end up here if they don’t go directly to your website. Consider treating Facebook as your digital marketing home base.
Share plenty of great content, engage with customers, and be prepared to treat this as a secondary customer support platform. This is a great place to begin connecting with influencers as well.
This one is a no brainer. What more perfect place can their be to connect with customers who share photos from their travels. If you have relationships with hotels, resorts, tourist attractions, and other entities, connect with them on Instagram as well. Keep in mind that Instagram pictures are highly influential for millennial travelers.
Twitter is a great platform for broadcasting your thoughts on travel, sharing up to the minute news impacting travelers, engaging with customers, and participating in relevant conversations. Like Facebook, it can also act as a second site for customer support.
If you are appealing to business travelers, rely on referral business, or simply want a place to develop your reputation as a thought leader in the travel and leisure niche, you have to participate in LinkedIn. Use this platform to connect with people in the travel industry as well as local business professionals.
If you have a knack for writing, consider posting articles relating to the travel business. If you are not a writer, another option is to hire a content or essay writer. They will be able to produce well-researched posts that are backed with data and case studies.
Pinterest is a great site for planning and dreaming. Travellers and potential travelers use the platform just like amateur home decorators do. They seek ideas, inspiration, and practical tips. Consider creating multiple boards to provide precisely what your customers are looking for. These might include:
- Practical tips on packing, documents to bring, travel safety, and budgeting
- Boards dedicated to pictures and tips on visiting specific destinations
- Boards curating posts according to traveler type (business, family, adventure, budget, luxury)
- Boards with pins promoting culture, art, music, and food.
- Community pin boards highlighting pins from followers
Other platforms to consider are Quora, where you can answer travel industry related questions. This is an excellent site for establishing thought leadership, and driving traffic to your site.
Another option is Reddit. There are multiple subreddits dedicated to travel and tourism. This is an excellent platform if your target audience tends to be younger travelers, especially those into budget or adventure travel. Just be aware of the rules of each subreddit. You want to be sure that your content is welcome. Promoted posts are also an option if your content is a bit more commercial.
Commit to More Content
One thing is certain, your website, brand, and social media presence all benefit when you create, curate, and promote great content. Fresh content serves to:
- Invite search engines to crawl your site to index and rank your content
- Draw traffic to your blog, website, and social media platforms
- Create conversations and earn social shares
- Establish trust and thought leadership
In fact, 2018 might be a great year to up your content game a bit. If you’ve been focusing on social media posts, consider expanding those efforts into a travel blog. Another option to consider is creating and publishing some ebooks or online travel guides. If you have relationships with other travel bloggers, you could even source out the creation of travel videos or photo journals.
Think beyond your own platforms when it comes to publishing your content as well. Boost your audience and your reach by creating guest posting agreements with people in complementary business areas. You might also reach out to online travel publications. Many accept contributions from professionals in the industry as well as seasoned travelers.
End 2018 on a High Note
There are over six months left in this year. That is plenty of time to add the above to your agency’s marketing strategy. Any combination of these is sure to make your marketing efforts much more fruitful.
Ashley Kornee is now working at supremesissertations.com as a content manager.