Travel agents today need a strong digital marketing strategy to engage with their customers. It's not like the old days when people contemplating a trip would walk in the door of a brick-and-mortar travel agency. This still happens, of course, but it's relatively rare. Today, the vast majority of travelers book their trips and do their research online. There are many digital tools for engaging with customers such as your website and social media pages. One of the best ways to stay in touch, however, is by email. With email, you don't have to wait for people to visit your pages. You can proactively contact them and point them wherever you want them to go. Here are 6 powerful email tactics for travel agents.
1. Build Your List
One of the biggest email marketing challenges is to grow your list. There are quite a few ways to get subscribers.
Use a reliable email marketing service such as MailChimp, Constant Contact, or AWeber. These and similar services, also known as autoresponders, provide many tools for automating your marketing: scheduling, subscription forms, automated responses, newsletter templates, and more.
Place subscription forms in visible places on your website and social media pages. You can test various placements and tactics such as exit popups on your site. Your Facebook page is another premium spot for your form.
Give people a reason to subscribe. Offer benefits that match your specialty (e.g. "To find the best value on Caribbean cruises, subscribe to my newsletter"). You can also offer a lead magnet such as an e-book or report. Another idea is to offer a promo code or discount on one of your services.
2. Create a Branded Newsletter
To get maximum engagement, it's important to contact your subscribers regularly. Creating a newsletter helps you position yourself as an expert and gets people to expect your emails. You can also just send out messages regularly. A newsletter, however, has a higher perceived value and lets you build your brand. Give your newsletter a simple and straightforward name that helps you brand yourself such as "Sue's Travel Tips") and include your logo. Using an automated email service gives you access to many professional-looking templates.
Some business owners find the idea of creating a newsletter daunting but there's not much to it. You choose a template, set up a schedule (something else you can do through your autoresponder/email service), and create your content. You don't have to write a long post or essay every time. Most customers are busy and therefore appreciate short and concise writing.
3. Share Useful Information
The main goal of all your marketing is to get more bookings. However, the focus of your email campaigns should be on providing useful information rather than directly promoting your company. You can include offers in your emails, of course. however, you should also share tidbits such as:
Destination Guides -Describe attractions, activities, and events in areas you cover.
Timely Events - Talk about festivals, concerts, holiday celebrations. This overlaps with destinations but the focus can be different. For events, you might list things like Top Music Festivals in Europe, Most Exciting Carnival Celebrations, etc.
General Travel Tips -Packing, locating the best fares, etiquette in different cultures, etc.
Useful links. As we'll discuss below, it's best to send subscribers to your own site and other pages. However, you can also include useful links provided they aren't competitors.
You needn't worry about providing too much information so that people don't need your services. Even when customers can do tasks themselves, they often appreciate the convenience of having it done for them. Thus, providing information on travel apps, airlines and cruises isn't going to stop people from booking with you. In fact, it might even help you as you're reminding them how much research they'll have to do if they don't get help! At the same time, you're demonstrating your thorough knowledge of the industry.
4. Use Email to Boost Your Content Marketing
Email marketing is a powerful tool to enhance content marketing for travel agents. If you have a blog, for example, you should link to your latest posts in your emails. You can also send traffic to your Facebook page, videos, articles, and any other channels you may be using. Linking to your own content also means you don't have to create tons of content for your newsletter. You can simply entice people with a short summary of your latest content along with a link.
5. Segment Your Email List
Creating a single email list and newsletter is a good first step. However, as your list grows, it's even more powerful to segment your list and send the most appropriate messages to each subscriber. Segmentation isn't that complicated if you're using an autoresponder. For example, you can set up different campaigns associated with different opt-ins. You might set up a sequence of emails to promote tours to different destinations. Some of your readers might be more interested in the Caribbean, others in Europe or Asia.
6. Make Your Email Marketing Mobile-Friendly
More and more people are using mobile devices. You need to be prepared for this and make sure your marketing is mobile-friendly. Not only are travelers using smartphones and tablets for research and booking, but they also use them at every stage of their journeys. For example, 64% of travelers now check into flights using mobile devices. There are two main ways to leverage the mobile revolution.
Make sure your emails are easy to view on mobile devices. Keep email copy short and concise. On a similar note, keep subject lines brief so they don't get cut off. Limit the use of images as these can slow down the experience for mobile users.
Reach out to customers while they're traveling. They're likely to open your messages from their phones and may appreciate add-ons you can offer. For example, someone on a trip may want to book a tour or buy a city pass for transportation and entertainment.
Email Marketing: A Powerful Tool for Travel Agents
These email strategies are all helpful for travel agents who want to grow their business and connect with more clients. Email marketing can complement all of your other digital marketing strategies. It helps you acquire new clients and keep in touch with existing ones. With an email list, you can establish your expertise, send traffic to your website, and remind travelers to take advantage of your latest offers. You'll also find that the benefits of email marketing increase over time as your list grows.