marketing Tag

As a travel advisor, you wear many hats. In today’s day and age, it’s not enough to be a great travel advisor in terms of knowing and selling destinations. You must also think as a business owner with a plan and strategy on how you wish to grow your business. Of course, one size does not fit all.

Most of you understand the importance of having a plan and strategy but may not know how to make it a reality – you’re not alone.

From my perspective, the best place to start is with your passion and interests. Then, start with understanding who your target customer is and what products they will want to buy. You may have gone through this exercise some time ago, but it’s always good to dust off that plan and reevaluate it to ensure it’s producing the results you seek. For others, you’re not quite there yet.

I, along with a team of marketing executives and industry leaders, would love to try and help you take your marketing plan to the next level. This summer, we’re bringing back a Magellan award-winning event that will give you the tools, knowledge and components of a good marketing plan. This three-day event is aimed at all levels of expertise and designed to dive deeper than the basics of marketing. You’ll leave Marketing with your own marketing plan that is developed and ready to put into practice.

At this symposium, you’ll work with experts on:

  • Learning the components of what makes a strong marketing plan, and work on your own unique marketing plan
  • How to build your brand
  • Mining your database
  • Maximizing your marketing with Nexion and Travel Leaders Group tools
  • Social media and online strategy
  • Leveraging public relations
  • Planning and executing consumer events
  • Budgeting and measuring return on investment
  • Making yourself retainable and relatable

One of my mantras is “It’s important to work on your business and not just in it.” You may not fully understand what I mean by that. Working in your business equates to the day-to-day tasks you do as an advisor – making bookings, taking final payments, accounting, for example. Growing your business means also taking time to work ON it, and a lot of this centers around marketing.

Everything Nexion Travel Group does in terms of education, coaching and specialty events adds value in making you the most effective, efficient and profitable travel advisor you can be. This event is personally important to me, because I truly believe that as much as anything we do, this program will prepare you to take your business to the next level by giving you the tools, knowledge and confidence to develop and execute on a marketing plan that is relevant to you and your business.

I invite you to spend three days with me and our experts at Marketing, who are there solely with the purpose to make you successful marketers. It’s going to be a phenomenal event, and I am excited to see the inspiring and lucrative ideas and plan of action that our advisors will put into place and execute from their learnings. To attend, you must be a member of Nexion Travel Group.

All travel professionals interested in learning how to succeed as a professional business owner, backed by Nexion Travel Group’s many great benefits, are encouraged to call 800-747-6813 or email sales@nexion.com.

 

Written by Jackie Friedman, Nexion Travel Group President

 

credibilityDo you want to increase your credibility and expertise in your travel specialty or niche? Do you want to reach new audiences, find new clients and create new business opportunities for your travel business?

Are you not sure of the formula for success or even where to start? Keep reading to learn how to go from zero to hero and market yourself as an expert in your travel specialty without having to spend a penny.

Recently, I attended an entrepreneurship workshop in Fort Lauderdale with a talented group of new and experienced business owners. One of the guest speakers was a gentleman by the name of Bruce Serbin, an award-winning media publicist serving clients in a variety of fields, from financial services and the travel industry to book authors, business consultants, professional speakers and everything in between.

expertFrom this workshop I gained 12 best practices you can implement today to build your reputation and credibility as an expert in your travel agency niche or specialty:

    1. Make a list of experts and journalists who regularly cover your travel specialty. Be sure to look at radio, television, newspapers, social media and online blogs. If your specialty is honeymoons and destination weddings, look at the number of people who are regularly featured in your area of expertise. Make a list of those specialists. Second, make a list of the journalists who covered these specialists; this will be one of your go-to lists of publications and people you will need to develop relationships with to establish your credibility.
    2. Be an expert. Don’t make it about you; make it about your expertise. Begin to chronicle the trips you have planned, hosted and executed for your clients in your niche and collect testimonials and reviews from those clients.
    3. Stop writing press releases. Press releases are typically meant for new product launches, new business launches and other innovative and newsworthy topics. They are not intended to be written for your business in general. If you do this, the press releases will get lost and probably won’t be published.
    4. Develop your pitch. You need to have a solid pitch for each area of expertise you want to develop for your business or hot topics that are trending in your market niche. Components of a successful pitch include:
      Introduction/Lead: Why are you contacting me?
      Define who you are: Why are you a good source? Indicate number of years as an expert, any high-level positions you may have, positions on boards of directors, etc.
      Articulate your thoughts: What do you have to say about your expertise? What can you offer on the topic that’s trending
      Always include the close: The close must include your mobile number, email address, website and social media handles.
    5. Learn the different types of pitches. Great places to start include:
      – Knowledge and insights: Share your knowledge and insights around your specialty or niche.
      – Breaking news: Selling “you” around existing events as an expert.
      – Predictions: What do you see in 5-10 years?
      – Leverage HARO (stands for Help a Reporter Out): This is a website of journalists looking for experts on a specific topic.
      – Breaking Myths: Focus on common travel-related myths and what the truth is to bust the myth.
    6. thought leaderBe a thought leader. Draft a pitch as a thought leader versus a follower in your specialty. Offer fresh new ideas, and say what others are not saying (entertain a controversial headline).
    7. Be flexible. People may reach out to you to for an interview on a topic that you may not think of yourself as an expert at first glance.
    8. Size doesn’t matter. It’s all about earned media and credibility. A blogger with a smaller following could be more beneficial for you than a major media outlet from a conversion perspective. Take advantage of every opportunity, and remember that smaller opportunities can lead to bigger opportunities.
    9. Write an article. Write an opinion piece on a topic where people are split down the middle 50/50; you will see traction online. Keep it about the benefits for your readers (9 ways to reduce travel stress, or 7 questions to answer when planning your next family vacation, for example).
    10. Expect rejection. Keep at it; if you are working on 10 new media opportunities, you will be lucky to have one “yes” come to fruition. Remember, there are many people pitching to media outlets.
    11. Get media trained. If you’re serious about being covered on radio and television (even if it’s local coverage), be sure to invest in proper media training to ensure your credibility comes across on camera and over the radio.
    12. Leverage your media coverage. Be sure to leverage your media coverage in everything you do. Have a media page on your website, include a link on your subject line in your email and on your social media channels, and in your phone and in-person conversations (Did you hear about our agency on the local CBS news the other night?).

With your pitches, remember to publish them on your website. Journalists can pick these up and write articles from the pitches you publish, making it easier for them. Remember to pitch on the long side. If your pitch is longer in word length, it will be less gaps for journalists to fill when they go to write the article.

If you use some of these PR secrets in your travel business, you will find success in the media and new business opportunities. Whether you are a travel agent who is new to the business, or you’re an experienced travel agent, using the media can be your engine and fuel for growth and reach new audiences and build new business opportunities in your travel business.

 

Written by Cris De Souza, Nexion Vice President, Sales and Marketing

 

We’ve all heard the term, “If you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours.” This concept certainly rings true in the travel industry. Many independent contractors are business owners and are faced with the challenge of generating new customers.

To face this challenge, most travel professionals start with contacts they already know and turn them into clients. For some travel agents, this may be enough. For most, it’s necessary to be creative in how to successfully reach potential, new customers. If you’re one of these travel professionals who wants additional clients, the good news is, you don’t have to go after the search process alone.

Consider partnering with a complementary business to promote each other to your customer bases and expand your reach. The benefits of cross-marketing with complementary businesses include:

  • It expands your reach to potential customers who otherwise would not know about your travel services.
  • It provides added value to your agency by differentiating you from your competition.
  • It adds credibility to your agency through the power of referrals from trusted customers.

Tips for Finding the Right Partnerships

The best partnership relationships benefit both businesses, along with their customers; everyone wins/receives a benefit. Here are 10 tips for finding the right businesses to become successful partners:

  1. Take time and write down as many types of businesses that you can think of that may work for you and your agency.
  2. Get out and visit with owners of other businesses, both small and large. You never know what types of ideas can be generated with other successful entrepreneurs.
  3. Don’t be afraid to take risks.
  4. Seek mutually beneficial partnerships. Ask, “What are both businesses wanting to get out of the partnership?”
  5. Always budget for associated expenses. Treat these opportunities as part of your overall marketing plan costs.
  6. Be open to partnership opportunities.
  7. Look to your local chamber of commerce or business networking groups for good partners.
  8. Find businesses that cater to your target customer; is there a matched appeal or interest based on demographics or affinity/psychographics?
  9. Use social media to “trade” marketing. Once you’ve found a business partner, link to each other’s websites and social media pages to cross-promote both businesses.
  10. Be creative. The best partnerships aren’t always obvious.

On the last tip, an example of an obvious partnership would be a destination wedding and honeymoon specialist partnering with florists, bridal shops, photographers and caterers. A more subtle example would be a travel agent partnering with a doggie daycare, for example.

The doggie daycare gives pet owners a coupon for reduced day care services, courtesy of the travel agent, when the pet owner travels. The agent gains access to new, potential customers; the pet owner receives the benefit of reduced day care services, courtesy of the travel agent paying the difference; and the doggie daycare receives happy customers who have saved on their services, and thus are more likely to return. Win – win – win!

When I reached out to our Nexion members to see what they are doing to reach new clients through cross-marketing with businesses, I received many partnership success stories. Here are just a few:

  • One member is partnering with a snow removal company for winter resort travelers. “We’re putting together a flier to use on social media for cross promoting,” Gene says. “I will be offering their first snow removal (if it snows) to new clients booking winter destinations and traveling between Jan. 1 – April 30.” If it snows while the traveler is away, Gene, the travel agent, will pay for their first snow removal. “While this is a $25-$50 value, the snow removal company and business partner will only charge me $25. He gets a client for potential future snow removal and spring landscaping, and it adds credibility and differentiation to my business, because I am offering an added value of service and good will to new clients.”
  • Another Nexion travel professional partnered with a local pizza parlor to provide a coupon for a free pizza to travelers be enjoyed upon returning from vacation when they weren’t ready to start cooking yet. In turn, the pizza restaurant distributed fliers on the travel agent’s group departure with every pizza they delivered. As such, both businesses were exposed to new, potential clients.
  • Another Nexion member used the grand opening of a local Mexican restaurant to promote all-inclusive resorts in Mexico, as well as experiences such as Experiencias Xcaret. The travel agent provided the door prize, and the restaurant provided the clients.

My dad taught me that the best partnerships in business are those that when both business owners get up from the table, they have a feeling they have achieved something. Truly successful entrepreneurs understand the importance of mutual partnerships.

From art galleries, restaurants, bakeries, wine shops and wineries, to local ski apparel and equipment shops, bookstores, toy stores and more, the ideas for travel professionals to partner with complementary businesses are endless! Get creative, and you’re on your way!

 

Written by Jackie Friedman, Nexion President

 

Creating a Winning Formula for Your Travel Agency by Making Animations Stand Out in Your Social Media Channels and Blog 

As we know in the travel industry, the best way to drive client engagement and bookings for our travel agencies is through visual imagery and storytelling. The magic of travel comes alive by sharing the journey through compelling tales of far-off lands and desirable destinations.

Whether you’re new or experienced in the travel industry, do you ever shudder at the thought of pushing the “live” button to experiment with Facebook Live on your business Facebook page with the world staring at you while you’re on a FAM or escorting a group to Europe? If you answered “yes,” don’t worry; you’re not alone!

The argument for using video in your social media marketing in your travel business can’t be denied, with three compelling reasons:

  1. The Content Marketing Institute found that adding video to your social mix means audiences are 10x more likely to engage and share your post.
  2. The human brain processes visuals 60,000 times faster than text.
  3. Video will make 79% of all Internet traffic by 2018.

All the social media statistics agree that video content increases engagement and results in more bookings for your travel business. However, the reality is that many of us don’t want to be in front of a camera or using Facebook Live. Animated visuals can be an excellent alternative and a great way to draw people in to engage with your social media and blogging strategy.

Next we’ll share popular types of animated visuals you can use immediately in your social media and blogging strategy for your travel agency.


Animated Visuals: Why Animate?

As people scan their social media feeds, they’re making lightning-fast decisions about what content they’ll pay attention to. In this context, animated visuals add a little bit of movement that can attract the eye and add value in a short, snappy way.

Short animations can be less intimidating to create than video. Animation is simply combining drawings, photographs, text or computer graphics to make them move. The best part is you don’t need to talk in front of a camera!

Short animations can also be a way to develop your audience. If you can make a strong first impression with a short animation, that animation can encourage viewers to watch longer videos and further engage with your travel agency on social media. Quick animations aren’t divided into formal types, but you do tend to see a few common approaches:


The One-to-Three Second Animated Image: Can This Work for My Travel Agency?

In a one-to three-second animated image, the background is typically fixed and text is animated, or the image is animated.

  • Idea: You could take this approach if you’re on a multi-country tour of Italy, sharing a few photos each day of your favorite moments.
  • Best practice: To create text animations quickly and easily on your mobile phone, give Adobe Spark Post a try. Although you can use Adobe Spark on your browser, the animation function is available only on the iOS mobile app. With Adobe Spark Post, you choose a template and customize the photo and text. Then use the animation options to select how to animate the text. For example, the text can blur, slide or fade in. The app is free and offers a fast, simple way to make one- to three-second animations.
  • Best practice: Available on Android and iOS, the Boomerang app on Instagram is a quick way to add movement to your image. The app creates a short video that loops back and forth. PHHHOTO does something similar: It transforms a photo burst from your camera into a forward-backward loop.


Go for the GIF: How and When to Use on My Facebook Business Page or Blog?

A GIF is a silent, animated loop often used to convey a feeling. GIFs have become hugely popular on social media and are also powerful for how-to content. GIFs started appearing in blog posts and emails but have spread to messaging apps like Facebook Messenger.

  • Idea: A great way to use GIFs in Facebook Messenger is sending your clients a GIF of Paris with an “Enjoy Paris” message shortly before they land at Charles de Gaulle Airport.
  • Best practice: In a blog post, use no more than two GIFs; in email, one is enough. Too many GIFs are like strobe lights going off in a nightclub.
  • Best practice: When you insert a GIF in an email, be sure to check the file size and compress the GIF first. When you compress the GIF, the email message is less likely to be truncated.
  • Best practice: The main GIF website is Giphy.com. It’s the biggest search engine for existing GIFs if you want to find one to share. However, Giphy.com also has excellent tools for making your own GIFs. If you add a video link (like a YouTube link) or your own video, the GIF-creation tool allows you to choose where your GIF starts and ends. The tool also lets you add different effects, such as captions, subtitles, animated text and emojis. If you want to make a slideshow GIF instead, Giphy.com has a slideshow tool that allows you to drag and drop images. Giphy.com also lets you work fast. If you have existing content, you can create a slideshow or a GIF mashup of that content. With all of the different stickers and options, the key is to create something eye-catching without overdoing the effects.


The Three-to-10 Second Video: How Do I Make It Work for Me?

Another type of video is a three-to-10 second video, which you can create with something like the Ripl app, available on iOS and Android, or Facebook Slideshow. Click here to see an example.

  • Idea: Use this longer form of video if you’re escorting a group on a cruise to share highlights of the day’s port of call.
  • Best practice: Available on iOS and Android, Legend allows you to animate text on several slides, and you can choose colors, filters and image backgrounds. Legend doesn’t have the ability to create slideshows of images the way Ripl can. Although Legend, unlike Adobe Spark Post, can animate text across several slides.
  • Best practice: With Ripl, you can upload up to eight images, add text and create a slideshow that the app will convert into a video (not a GIF). The slideshows are great for Instagram and Facebook videos. Ripl is free and offers different templates, or for more features, you can upgrade.
  • Best practice: Facebook Slideshow can help you expand the reach of your content by allowing you to combine images to create a video post. Go to the top of your Facebook page and under your status bar, select Share a Photo or Video. When more options come up, click on Create Slideshow. Next, upload three to 10 images. Then choose your aspect ratio (square, vertical), change your image duration (from 0.5 seconds up to 5 seconds), and add basic transitions and music. Then it’s a matter of publishing the slideshow to Facebook!


Creating a Winning Formula for Your Travel Agency

To wrap up on how to make animations stand out in your social media channels and blogs, we leave you with these two thoughts:

  1. Try to create something original. Anything new or different always stands out. If you have previously used content or your own new images, use your own content instead of the images that come with templates.
  2. Start playing with the tools. Mix things up with GIFs and short video, and optimize them for each specific platform. Some things will work better on Facebook, while others are suited for Instagram. Make that first view of the image eye-catching. For example, you can jazz up your Instagram posts with animated titles on your images created using the GIF tool. Remember that sometimes subtle movement can be just as powerful as a video.

Additional Sources:

Social Media Examiner Animated Visuals: How to Bring Still Images to Life (Michael Stelzner)

Donna Moritz:  Award-Winning Blogger “Socially Sorted”

Written by Cris De Souza, Nexion Vice President of Sales and Marketing