Social Media as an Affordable Marketing Tool
Many travel agencies spend a lot of money on marketing and branding themselves. However, you can also use social media to market yourself properly in a cheap and economical manner. The travel industry is a service oriented industry and everything works on how satisfied your clients are. Thus, by offering your clients with unique experiences and showcasing their holidays on social media, you can actually transform your business at no extra costs to yourself. Stephanie Diehl, the owner of Travel Designed, mentions that her strategy is to use the social media to share the right kind of information with her audience. She uses social media “to stay top-of-mind” among her customers and believes in posting one post on social media every day. Her posts usually comprise of questions, photos, information or travel advice.
Around the year 2008, all social media websites had a combined viewership of approximately 2.1 trillion page views. However, this statistic soon increased to mind-boggling numbers. In fact, Facebook alone managed to log about 1 trillion views per month around the year 2010. The dramatic increase of the influence of social media in our daily lives is not surprising at all. Social media has begun to play a huge role – for individuals as well as businesses and organizations – because it helps them to come closer to each other and provides them with a direct channel to interact with each other. Statistics have also shown that almost 46% of the travelers post their holiday reviews on social media and that 43% of the travelers actually read these reviews. More than 52% travelers are largely influenced by social media when it comes to travel planning as well. Thus, using the social media as an opportunity for travel agents has become quite important. But, how does one really go about using social media?
Why has social media revolutionized the travel industry?
The travel industry depends a lot on the word of mouth. Social media simply gives people a platform to voice their opinion and listen to others just like them from all over the world. Thus, when a traveler voices his/ her opinion with regards to a travel agent on popular platforms like Twitter, Facebook and Google+, he/ she manages to get hundreds of other people acquainted with the travel agent in question. This acts as a major source of branding for the agent and creates a huge impact on brand awareness. In fact, almost 80% of the travelers have stated that they believed the recommendations made by their friends and contacts on social media. Jean Newman Glock, president of JNG Worldwide, mentioned that her entire business model revolves around using social media as a major marketing tool to build leads by sharing her passion for travel as well as her travel expertise with her audience.
How to effectively use social media as a travel agent
There are so many ways that a travel agency can use in order to make itself more visible on social media and increase its clientele using social media. Here are a few simple tips to help you get started as a travel agent.
1. Become a brand that people connect with. One of the best ways of using social media as an opportunity for travel agents is to brand your agency as a trustworthy brand. You can easily create a proper online reputation by getting your existing customers to share their experiences on your social channels and posting reviews of your customers on your social media profiles. Don’t forget to share your social media ideas, offer helpful travel tips and offer your customers with unique reads. Having the right content is likely to help you attract more customers.
2. Offer the right deals. One of the main charms of an online travel portal is its ability to offer customers with exciting deals. Show the world that you can play this game as well by offering your customers with last minute deals, car rental bargains, special room rates and seat sales. This has a major impact on brand awareness for your travel agency as well.
3. Show your expertise as a travel agent. Create bucket lists, use images to convey powerful thoughts and use your expertise as a travel agent to offer your readers with more information about refreshing destinations that they can visit during their next holiday. One of the most important roles as a travel agent is to create the need to travel and social media helps you to do this seamlessly.
Recommended Social Media Platforms to Work On
1. Facebook is one of the best places to start off as a travel agent new to social media. It has the maximum number of users and it is commonly used by people all around the world on a daily basis. Many travel agencies like Travelscene already use Facebook as their primary target market. Moreover, Facebook also offers your agency with ease of access, up-to-date information and an excellent lead generating platform. The Director of Public Relations at Cruise Planners-American Express Travel, Caitlin Murphy, highlights the importance of Facebook and also talks about why it is important to invest time in social media. She mentions that each franchisee has its own Facebook page because each franchisee manages to build its own contact list and create its niche brand on social media. This makes social media an excellent way to build leads and engage customers.
2. Twitter has emerged as one of the most popular social media platforms in the recent past. It might not be as popular as Facebook, but it is certainly used by people looking for up-to-date information. You can use Twitter to showcase your latest achievements, promote the hottest deals and talk about the successful experiences that you managed to create.
3. LinkedIn. Travel agents commonly use LinkedIn for business travelers. LinkedIn helps you to create social connections and puts in touch with people from the service and business industry. Arlene Feen, a consultant at Protravel, mentions that her LinkedIn connections comprise of true professionals who are always there when she needs them.
4. Google+. The recent changes in the Google algorithm program have made Google+ extremely important as a social media platform as well. It might not have the number of users that Facebook offers, but it certainly helps you to boost your Google rankings. And let’s face it. Google is one of the most common places where people search for anything to do with travel and one of the best places for your agency to build leads.
5. Other social media platforms that you can use to the fullest as a travel agent include Pinterest and Instagram.
Social media has actually transformed the way travel agencies look at marketing and branding. As a result of the number of benefits that it has to offer, travel agents have actually begun to invest time in social media. And those who do, have been reaping enormous rewards as well.
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