One of the most rewarding aspects of a career in travel is the amazing relationships you build with your clients as you help them make memories and see the world. But for agents who aren’t confident marketing themselves, finding new clients and re-engaging old ones can be a real challenge.
The good news is it doesn’t have to be. Follow these 10 tips to learn how to increase and re-engage your customer base.
1. Don’t be shy to ask for referrals and testimonials from existing customers
The happy customers you’ve already created are the greatest marketing assets you have as a travel agent, so don’t be shy to reach out and ask for a referral if you have a good relationship or know they are happy with your service. The more detail they can provide in their testimonial the better. Was there a funny story from their trip they wanted to share? Or a travel problem you helped them overcome? More often than not, people love giving feedback and are happy to share with you, so don’t be afraid to ask!
It also helps to remind them to refer friends and family on to you if they enjoyed your service. It’s one of the reasons why our Travel Counsellor customer-app myTC has the agent’s details built-in and easily shareable. Once you’ve built up some great testimonials and referrals, you’ll find that you spend less time trying to market yourself and have more leads coming to you with enquiries.
2. Be active on social media
The modern travel professional has to embrace social media and have some form of digital footprint if they want to grow their business and attract new customers. One of the great benefits of this digital revolution is that platforms like Facebook and Instagram are essentially free advertising tools that you can access 24/7, so it would be foolish not to make use of them. After reaching out to your happy customers for testimonials, post them on your social profiles and start to build a community around you. Encourage your clients to update you on their trip through your social media pages and use the space to post your own travel tips and generate interest in different destinations.
3. Connect with other travel professionals
Rather than seeing other travel agents as competition, think about ways that you can connect, collaborate and share referrals with each other. At Travel Counsellors, our network of over 1,900 franchise owners love leveraging the opportunity to share knowledge, network and send each other client referrals, which is why as a company we’ve been able to excel as a leading global home-based travel business. We hold lots of social and industry events throughout the year so that our agents have plenty of opportunities to create fruitful business relationships. If you’re wondering how to start connecting with other agents, a great tip is to start following other professionals on social media,engage with their posts and introduce yourself! You never know what may come from it later down the track.
4. Go to events
A great way to find new clients in your community is to be actively out there and involved in it. Have a stall at a community market, look for sponsorship opportunities with local sports clubs or community groups and be active in a hobby or sport that interests you. The more people you introduce yourself to, the larger your reach becomes, so it always pays to introduce yourself and let your community know that you’re there to help them.
5. Scrub up on your skills with extra training
The more knowledge you have the easier it is to market yourself as a travel professional. At Travel Counsellors, we hold conferences and training sessions throughout the year so that our franchisees are always up to date with the latest travel trends, products and services. We even have mentorship opportunities available so that you can learn from the best, no matter where you’re at in your travel career. As a tip, if you invest in yourself and upskill, make sure that people know about it! Share the fact that you’re putting in effort to improve your offerings and share your new knowledge on your website, social media and with clients.
6. Reach out
Just because you haven’t heard from a customer in six months doesn’t mean that you’ve lost their business. People lead busy lives and this means they sometimes require a gentle nudge to remind them that you’re there and ready to help them. Use your CRM to track how long it’s been since you last communicated with each customer and send out an email after six months asking them how they’ve been doing. Having a consistent nurture program such as a bi-monthly e-newsletter that goes out to your email database can be a great way of keeping your brand front-of-mind, staying connected with past clients and sharing travel stories and reviews. Another great way to show a personalised level of care and attention is to take notes of clients' important dates like wedding anniversaries and birthdays in your calendar. Make time each morning for sending out friendly notes to help celebrate these occasions.
7. Optimise your website
When a prospective client lands on your website, it’s an advertisement for you and they will use it to form an impression of your travel company. Clean lines, professional photos and a smooth user experience that is mobile-friendly is essential to keep them on the page and interested in you.
How easy does your website make it to get in contact with you or book an appointment? You don’t want prospects having to dig around to find a phone number or booking form or they may lose interest and move onto someone else. At Travel Counsellors, our expert support and marketing teams are there to help our agents optimise their websites to attract and convert as many clients as possible. Our IT team can even help with any troubleshooting problems that occur, meaning our agents can rest easy knowing that their website is working hard for them, 24/7.
8. Advertise the great deals you have access to
If you’ve got access to a great deal or have put together an awesome itinerary for a customer that is bursting with value, share this news with your network and through social media. At the end of the day, one of the key reasons a client comes to a travel agent rather than booking online is they know you have access to industry deals and offers that they wouldn’t be able to access on their own. Travel Counsellors in-house booking app Phenix gives our agents access to thousands of trusted suppliers, offering exclusive deals, at the best prices which is one of the reasons why 96% of our customers say they would recommend their Travel Counsellor to friends and family.
9. Be consistent
If you say you’re going to do something, make sure you do it and do it consistently. If you write a great acquisition marketing plan that includes writing one blog post a month, don’t skip a month because you’re busy or don’t feel you have anything to write about.
Keep your old clients engaged by setting up a consistent communication flow and most importantly, if you say you’re going to follow up on something or return a call, do it. News about bad service travels very quickly and can turn a great client into an ex-client. Always be consistent in your service and you’ll find that customers can’t wait to refer you on to their network.
10. Be part of a trusted company
Finding new customers and re-engaging old ones can be challenging if you’re a self-employed travel agent. You’re busy helping clients and perhaps don’t have the best tools available to make it easy or fit it into your schedule.
That’s why joining a well-trusted and established home-working travel community like Travel Counsellors can take the stress out of marketing your business. Our talented marketing team is always there to help you promote your business, whether it’s with social media pins, or full-on marketing campaigns for your database. No matter what you need, we’re there to lend a hand in your regular marketing activity.
Just by joining Travel Counsellors, you are partnering with a global franchise who’s trusted reputation will build your credibility and extend your reach, helping you to find new clients and re-engage old ones.
To learn more about why Travel Counsellors are so successful at finding new customers and retaining existing ones, get in touch with our friendly team, today.