When looking to grow your clientele and supplier base there are numerous online marketing channels to consider: blogging, social media, email marketing, digital advertising, and the list goes on. The problem nowadays is that so many travel agencies are relying solely on saturated online marketing channels and have forgotten about one of the most effective ways to grow a business: Networking.
In spite of this, we’ve put together 5 ways networking can help strengthen your travel agency.
For agents without a ton of networking experience, it may seem daunting to try and develop a good initial clientele base, but the most effective and cost-minded way to do this is to simply talk about travel with everyone you come in contact with. This may be at your local church, gym, school functions, or even the grocery store. By associating your name and face with travel it will be second nature for friends, neighbors, and acquaintances to associate you with their travel needs. You never know who you might meet, and who they might know. The only way to do this is to get out there and make some new contacts!
Build Strong Supplier Network
If there is one thing that suppliers love, it’s getting face-to-face with agents. Take advantage of event networking opportunities such as Chapter Meetings, PowerSolutions Live, Travel Agent Forum, and more to make meaningful connections with suppliers you use or want to learn more about. Gathering business cards and starting conversations with large suppliers such as Carnival Cruise Line or Enterprise, or getting to know smaller, more niche suppliers will help you offer your clients exactly what they are looking for. Having an arsenal of top suppliers will also help you stay steps ahead of what your clients might be looking for, allowing you to offer exceptional service and hopefully some get some great referrals in return (see above).
Connecting with Other Agents
Making connections with other agents can not only result in some great friendships (and referrals), it can also help you come up with some great ideas about how you want to market your travel agency. Seeing what other agents are doing in the travel marketplace will help you stay on your toes and keep thinking about your next move, whether that’s a new niche group tour idea, or a social media contest, knowing what’s on the mind of other agents will certainly help you stay successful.
Highlight Your Niche or Area of Expertise with a Captive Audience
Attending events and networking as a travel agent at say a wedding expo, or travel convention will help you stay top of mind for current and/or future clients. If you specialize in all-inclusive resort getaways attending a wedding expo will help you get in front of individuals who are looking for your product. Think outside the box with events you can attend, for example, having a backpacking Europe tour option and going to a college function will surely get some students interested. Be aware of what’s going on in your community and think about how you can help someone go on the next vacation of their dreams.
Staying on Top of Travel News and Trends
Networking events are such an incredible way to stay current with news and trends that are going on within the industry. For example, at the Travel Agent Forum (TAF) in Miami this October, attendees can attend training sessions that cover topics such as best practices for agency growth, how to implement a social media marketing plan, and so much more. Events like the Travel Agent Forum and CCRA’s PowerSolutions Live events are great avenues to gather information about what is up and coming in the industry and how you can stay current.
We really hope these tips will help you to continue to strengthen your travel agency. At CCRA we understand the value of these types of networking opportunities and do everything we can to help our agent members build stronger agencies through Chapter Meetings, PowerSolutions, and popular industry events.