Dinosaurs? How Big Is Your Digital Footprint?

By Mitchell J. Schlesinger

We live in a world where virtually everything is available to be purchased online and the requirement to be digitally savvy is crucial. And this applies to products and services of all kinds and critically, across all price spectrums. This provides travel professionals the opportunity to sell everything from weekend getaways to world cruises.

Consumers now, by instinct, go online first to research, find information, read comments on various social media sites and evaluate ratings before deciding what to purchase and where and from whom to buy it. This requires that you need to be on the same sites where customers and prospects are shopping. And a strong online and digital presence is a great way to promote your agency’s brand, provide experiential content for key sales products and reach large audiences, all at greatly reduced cost.


For the best ways to take advantage of digital marketing, use the pillars of journalism:

WHERE

  • Start with a twitter account where you can build an audience and send short messages about travel opportunities, and other interesting updates.  
  • Post photos on Instagram taken when you and clients travel to promote interesting itineraries and destinations.
  • Use Facebook as a home base to promote your agency and encourage customers to post photos and comments about recent and upcoming trips.
  • Network on Linked In to follow organizations and share specific content.

WHAT & HOW

  • Content is the key to online marketing. Use the adage that “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery”. Read content on online sites and use styles as a model for your own content.   
  • Be engaging; online sites provide the space to be personal and persuasive about the types of travel your agency specializes in, destinations and preferred suppliers.
  • Be experiential; remember, you are not SELLING, you are ENTICING. Use the medium to extoll different aspects of the experiences including the destinations & shore activities, accommodations (nothing beats a balcony!), dining options, onboard programs, etc.
  • Be value-oriented; why promote inside cabins if outside, balcony and suite staterooms enhance the experience; not to mention earn you additional commission? And promote the entire experience so expansively that the price becomes secondary. At the worldwide destination-based brands at which I have worked, the experience and value always super-ceded the price. The same approach can be employed selling mainstream destinations on fabulous ships with multiple restaurants, beautiful spas, large workout rooms, great entertainment.
  • Be honest; provide content about you and your agency, product and/or destination specializations, special services and most of all, extol your expertise. You want to come across as authentic and someone who clients and prospects want to engage, which builds confidence and trust.

WHO

Digital marketing provides the opportunity to communicate with different audiences;

  • It is the ideal way to engage your existing customers and provide forums for them to promote you, your agency, trips taken, destinations visited, special experiences and share photos and videos.
  • It also invites large audiences to visit your website, Facebook page, and follow your Instagram account all of which enables you to use your existing clients content as the best possible third-party endorsement, at virtually NO cost.
  • Post affordable banner ads and videos on popular sites with large relevant audiences.  There are travel sections on The Huffington Post, USA Today, CNN, travel magazines, etc. And talk to your local newspaper, most are owned by large conglomerates like McClatchy and Tribune newspapers. They have extensive digital reach across the country.

WHEN & WHY

  • NOW!! If you are already have a digital footprint, start expanding. If you haven’t started, there is no time like the present.
  • If you are not using digital marketing, you are going be left behind. I have always said; if clients, even your own, are not buying travel from you, they are buying it from someone else!

Remember, dinosaurs may be extinct, but their large footprints and remains have been sought after by archaeologists for centuries. You don’t want to become extinct like a dinosaur, but you certainly want to have a footprint like one in the digital marketing arena!