Most small to midsize independent travel agents work on commission. Therefore, converting a prospective client takes on particular importance.
As this model links an employee’s salary directly to sales performance, it is crucial that that management and staff align strategy to maximize revenue across the company hierarchy. A fundamental element of increasing sales is attracting a new customer, which is achieved by emphasizing the value of your services through a strategic marketing plan. In this article, we’ll discuss five key ways a travel agent can pinpoint a prospective client, ensuring conversion and retention.
1. Carve a niche
A cursory Google search for ‘vacation’, ‘holiday’ or ‘flights’ will throw up thousands of results. In this technology-driven environment, it is important that travel agents develop a brand that sets them apart from competitors. Often, carving a specialist niche is an effective approach for small independent travel brands. By targeting a particular section of the market, travel agents can reach a more defined prospective client. Furthermore, travel agents need to stress the value of using their services over do-it-yourself travel booking. Agents should highlight their experience and expertise in the field. For instance, utilizing social media to emphasize specialist knowledge is a great way to engage with a prospective client in an authentic way.
2. Incentivize referrals
Cultivating a glowing reputation is a marketing strategy that never fails. Through word-of-mouth referrals and recommendations, travel agents can acquire new clients and generate return customers. Furthermore, word-of-mouth referrals produce some of today’s most valuable marketing materials: user-generated content. As UGC similar to TripAdvisor reviews become increasingly influential, it is important that travel agents tap into this organic, viral, low-cost marketing strategy. An effective way to encourage referrals and UGC is to incentivize clients. For example, when the most efficient ways include giving free gifts and discounts, customers are more inclined to recommend your brand. Not only does this generate new sales, it also promotes positive brand associations with existing customers.
3. Embrace complexity
Some independent travel agents are cautious of complex booking or elaborate itineraries. However, brands need to remember that in the Internet age, it is complicated bookings that keep travel agents relevant. After all, if a booking was simple, the customers would do it themselves. Therefore, travel brands should embrace complexity and offer tailor-made packages for round-the-world trips, large groups, and high-yield corporate travel clients.
4. Get social
When it comes to referrals, the importance of user-generated content, like review sites, has already been highlighted. In addition, social media is an extremely valuable way to interact with a prospective client – and what’s more, these channels are free to use. Due to their expansive reach and low overheads, social media platforms are invaluable marketing tools. In order to maximize the use-value of social media, travel brands need to create original content, interact with users, and write professional response to queries. With a winning social media strategy, a travel brand’s presence on social media can proliferate by means of user-generated content.
5. Integrate platforms
Travel agents should carefully consider how they distinguish their brand. Marketing materials should stay on-message, ensuring every interaction provides a positive representation of the brand. For example, marketing leadership should make sure communications emphasize a particular niche or special service. This approach should be consistent across all platforms, including email campaigns, social media, and face-to-face service.
Why converting a prospective client remains the key to success
No matter an individual’s experience in the travel industry, success is entirely predicted on his/her ability to convert a prospective client. Travel agents who have honed their skills and mastered the art of developing a client base will continue to dominate. Not only will these agents enjoy higher revenue, they will attract a diverse range of partners. This will further enhance their competitive edge as their inventory becomes increasingly comprehensive. Considering the intensity of competition in the sector, it is critical for the independent travel brands to work towards building their customer base and industry influence. With these core marketing tools, travel agents can ensure they stay relevant in a turbulent ever-changing market.