The advertising industry makes billions of dollars promoting large brands and creating (at most times) unique and catchy commercials. But the key word here is “large” - large companies benefit from such exquisite, painstakingly-priced ads. And although it may be tempting for small businesses to to follow in the footsteps of their big siblings, investing such substantial amounts of money into promoting themselves is usually not the right step. In fact, small businesses, especially travel agencies, gain more from low-cost or even free advertising, which is not as obscure of a concept as it may sound. The following is a must-have list of ten ways in which you, a home based travel agent, can promote your travel services on a budget (a very low budget, to be more frank):
1. Birthday emails
Make sure to always acknowledge the existence of your existing clients. Set up a spreadsheet of your clients’ birthdates and email addresses and link it to your travel company’s mail server. Draft a birthday email and you are set. Your clients will now receive automatic emails from your company wishing them a happy birthday and thanking them for their input in the business. Remember, it is easier to keep a client than it is to gain a new one.
2. Savvy deals
Do your research and constantly be on the hunt for good travel deals. If you come across an offer that you yourself would considering taking, share it with your clients; they will probably be interested in it too. Send a mass email, or, if the deal is specific to a few of your clients, give them a quick call.
3. Instagram account
Set up an Instagram account with your travel agency’s name and focus it on sharing more about your company as well as the entire travel industry. Post quality content: beautiful photos you took on your last trip, the latest deals, new resort openings, etc..
4. Local newspaper
Advertising in a newspaper can, indeed, be free. Many local newspapers offer weekly free slots for short advertisements. The ads are usually quite limited, but sufficient enough to get your company’s name, goal and telephone number across.
5. Tons of reviews
Ask everyone you know to leave your travel agency a Yelp, Google, or Facebook review. These are crucial, as they are one of the first pieces of information a potential client looks at when deciding whether to book with your travel agency. It is especially important to get your clients to leave reviews. To increase such a turnover, give your clients an incentive; for example, you could offer a discount on their next purchase in exchange for a review on each of the aforementioned platforms.
6. Word of mouth
Perhaps the most effective method of advertising, increasing the positive buzz about your travel agency is almost solely up to the clients with whom you work. Nonetheless, always ask; after a successful deal with a client, ask them if they had an enjoyable booking experience and whether they would be able to recommend the company to a friend or relative. And, of course, say thank you!
7. Neighborhood festival
Many neighborhoods host summer and autumn festivals with booths available for local businesses. This option may be a bit more pricey, as it involves renting a booth and printing out company flyers, but it is still worth a shoot, as it will acquaint the neighborhood with your travel agency and instill a sense of trust between yourself and the local consumer.
8. Exciting lotteries
This one’s quite straightforward; after all, who doesn’t like free stuff? As a travel professional, you could get quite creative with what and where you raffle off prizes to your clients. You could have customers enter the lottery on the travel agency’s social media account, the company website, or even the booth at the next neighborhood festival, giving out apparel and pens with the company logo or free airline tickets or hotel nights (from travel vendors) to a specific destination.
9. Destination videos
Document where you go. Nothing will make a client want to buy a vacation from you more than seeing you on that vacation. Grab your camera or even phone, and start recording, shot as much beautiful pictures as possible. You can later edit the videos through a movie-editing software and post them on your agency’s social media pages or youtube.
10. Attention with postcards
Similar to but more intimate than birthday emails, sending postcards is a great way to stay in touch with clients and remind them what your company is all about- travel. Save this one for the clients that you know a bit better, and send out a few cards from your next destination.