How to promote a travel company. Part 3.
Once you have a great website that ranks highly on the search engines, there is still more work to be done. The driving force behind your marketing activities is always to get your brand recognized and automatically associated with the types of vacation you offer. There are a variety of ways to do this, which can be generically considered as ‘social networking’.
1. Social Media
Social media websites such as Facebook and Pinterest are ideal for all those in the travel business. The objective is to create a community of fans who enjoy reading what you have to say about travel, liking your photos, and responding with their own thoughts and comments.
- Facebook: If you’re unfamiliar with Facebook, join the other billion or so users so you can start to see its potential for your travel start-up. Create a company page which is strongly branded – showing your company name, logo and tagline. Post photos, information and all manner of tips relevant to the types of vacation you offer. You can also share the articles which sit on your website and articles you rate from third party websites. The better the content of your posts, the more people will take notice and share with friends. To learn more about the company behind the Facebook page all they need to do is visit your website – and if they like what they see, they will book their vacation with you.
- Pinterest: The same principles apply but on this website the emphasis is firmly on photos – perfect platform for a travel company. You can ‘pin’ a great photo to your Pinterest company board which links directly back to your website. Choose your very best images – blue seas of Mauritus, the Hong Kong skyline by night; a Thailand temple at sunset – whatever relates to the vacations you offer. Photos sell a destination so pick the most amazing and pin ‘em. Then wait to see the increase in traffic to your website.
There are many other social media tools to incorporate into your marketing strategy and to drive more traffic to your website. Explore the potential of Twitter, LinkedIn and StumbleUpon.
2. Travel Exhibitions
Travel exhibitions are held regularly and you should represent your company at the most appropriate ones. These exhibitions are often several days long with the first day or two being for those in the trade and subsequently they open up to Joe Public.
Begin networking with the other travel companies and tour operators who are exhibiting their products and services. Build working relationships with those in your area and keep your eyes peeled for business opportunities. If you are a tour operator you may link in with independent resorts that you would be interested in adding to your product portfolio. If you are a smaller start-up, you should be checking out your competition and approaching tour operators if that is how you plan to take your business forward.
Before you go you need to prepare your printed items which should all be fully branded and clearly define what kind of vacations you are selling:
- Stand: Your stand is the first thing to catch the eye of a passer-by. It should be eyecatching, clearly promote your brand and give a reason for someone to stop and ask for more information about your vacations.
- Business cards: Take a big supply of business cards to hand out to other travel companies. A professionally designed business card is essential, and your company brand should sing out loud and proud.
- Brochures: Print glossy brochures to take which give an overview of the vacations you offer and distribute them to anyone who is interested. They must be visually outstanding, show plenty of images about your destinations plus a crisp overview of what you offer.
- Rates: Make sure you have printed rates for both tour operators and general public.
- Special offer flyers: Don’t be shy to use this forum to promote special offers to the general public. Take a stack of professionally designed and printed flyers to promote your latest offers and hand them out to as many people as possible. To track effectiveness, include a promotional code that they need to quote when booking to benefit from the offer.
3. Travel Media
Another important avenue to explore to promote your travel company is that of travel media. Investigate travel publications relevant to your vacation market to find the editor or travel journalist’s contact details. It may take a little time and effort and even a few phone calls but it is definitely worthwhile.
Press releases: Create regular press releases which cover something really special about your company or your offers. Maybe you’re just starting out and you need to get more brand exposure – then create a press release to explain how you differ from your competitors. Perhaps you are launching an unbeatable special offer that deserves media coverage.
Journalist trips: Remember that issuing press releases won’t automatically lead to your company name being seen in print. However they may well generate interest amongst travel journalists and you may find your company being approached with a request for a journalist trip. If budget allows grab this opportunity with both hands. You can treat a journalist to a great free holiday which results in your company getting an amazing editorial splash in a travel magazine – the cost of the free giveaway is far lower than the value of the coverage you will receive.
4. Handy Hints
An exclusive offer or contest to win a holiday always goes over well. Consider the feasibility of this approach and work up the offer with associated terms and conditions. Exclusive offers should be as the name suggests – exclusive to the platform you promote them from. This could be a Facebook exclusive offer or a reader’s offer in a particular travel publication. A great contest could be promoted everywhere: on your website and social media website pages and in your press releases. If it’s truly a great offer the media will be more tempted to run with it.
Although your travel company website is the most important tool to sell vacations, there are many supplementary activities to undertake to help further your brand and your business. Regular social networking through social media channels and at exhibitions should be a fundamental part of your marketing strategy, as should creating strong relationships with the travel media.