It’s no secret to travel agents that social media is increasingly important in attracting and retaining customers.
But in some cases, agents have been slow to add social media to their list of marketing tools.
Travel Market Report sourced six hot tips for agents who want to use social media to build on their brand, score new business and keep clients loyal and engaged.
Taking their cues from the experts at Travel MarketPlace in Canada recently, TMR has compiled the best ways to give your agency or independent business the boost it needs.
Post original content
There’s nothing wrong with reposting an industry-relevant article (especially if it’s from your trusty pal, Travel Weekly) but according to social media consultant and lecturer at Western University, Keith Tomasek, original is best.
“Focus on original material, because that’ll keep your readers coming back,” said Tomasek, per TMR.
But remember: don’t waffle. It’ll be more popular if it’s snappy, catchy and easy to read. TMR’s rule of thumb is three pictures or less, and about 20 lines of text.
Per TMR, being relatable and showing your human side makes it easier for social media consumers to consider your services.
“Stick your face out there once and a while so people recognise you. You can be humorous and playful, it makes you more relatable,” Tomasek said.
Per TMR, Ron Cates, co-founder of Constant Contact, also offered up similar advice during his session, citing a Harvard study that said consumers spend 67 per cent more money with you if they like and know you.
“Be real, be transparent, be authentic about what you’re selling,” he said.
To get your agency brand out to a wider audience, take advantage of hashtags, said TMR, especially because it’ll get your brand in front of users in their dream stage as well as the planning and booking stages.
Natalie Taylor, a content and social media producer, advised agents to use specific hashtags and tag other outlets as a way to boost followers and potentially gain new clients.
Post a picture from a destination you sell using the hashtag #SunsetSunday, for example, writes TMR.
Taylor also recommended using no more than three hashtags on Twitter, while for Instagram, it’s best to add more hashtags in the comments below the pic, not in the caption.
“Don’t clutter your posts with hashtags, pick the ones that are most important,” said Taylor.
Get across multiple channels
Per TMR, Cates wasn’t shy talking about the changing media and marketing landscape, where consumers use multiple channels to communicate and share our experiences.
His recommendations included using several – if not all – forms of social media instead of just emails, to reach existing and new clients.
And it’s surprisingly easy to do, given most people will only follow you on one or two outlets, meaning you can repurpose the same content across your channels.
Per TMR, Cates also suggested that if you’re creating a longer post on a blog or Facebook, just take an excerpt and post it on Twitter.
Email and social media work incredibly well together, Cates said, while highlighting that email is still growing and has the highest return on investment.
Per TMR, Cates emphasised that with people checking their emails multiple times throughout any given day, email marketing is a way to monetise what you’re putting on social media.
It might sound like a hard thing to master, but keeping on top of social media and being front of mind for consumers when booking or planning travel is essential for big business and brand building.
Schedule posts throughout the week, writes TMR, and focus more time where your audience is. So if your clients are 45+, Facebook and LinkedIn will be more powerful than say, Instagram. That said, don’t neglect these channels if you want to attract new clients.
Focus on video
Video is exploding, Cates said per TMR, and it gets up to eight times the engagement that pictures do. While video might sound a bit scary for agents, travel lends itself to visuals that can easily be recorded on an iPhone.
“People buy through visuals,” Taylor said.
Try recording a short video on your next famil and post it on Instagram or Facebook. You can also do live streams on both channels, meaning you could do live tours of a hotel site inspection to entice and upsell to any clients watching at home.