“Look at your enemy’s strength to find their weakness”
Carl von Clausewitz, Prussian General
Clearly the Internet has provided some really heavyweight competition for independent travel agencies; however in many ways it also leveled the playing field by creating new cost-effective ways to promote. Social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and user-generated resort review sites provide small travel agencies the platforms to compete on an equal playing field with the big online travel giants like Expedia, Orbitz & Travelocity. They may have the big name, but you have personality and experience!
Big agencies will have someone in charge of social media who is scared to death of loosing their job if they post something that doesn’t meet strict corporate policy. The result is either the constant sales pitch or bland “who cares” type of information. Either way, you have the advantage. In social media you must have an opinion. Otherwise, who’s going to care what you have to say? People will be interested in what you have to say, if you share your opinion. This affords you the opportunity to brand YOU. So I’m asking what are you doing to brand yourself by increasing your online footprint?
Social media, user-generated review sites and other online communities all provide a way to increase your online presence or footprint. Each time you post an article, review or response, you post your name, web-link or e-mail. Each of these posts creates an opportunity for people to click through to your web site. The neat thing about social media is that it’s cost effective (free) advertising to get your message out.
One of the major factors in the demise of traditional advertising was that it is so expensive. On a typical small business budget, you had to buy the bare minimum and that limited you to price based advertising. Competing on price is never a smart move, but communicating knowledge and expertise in a personal way is and social media provides a great way to do so. Therefore, the goal is to take full advantage of these promotional opportunities by creating as large an online footprint as possible.
- Do you use Twitter?
Tweets that you post send traffic to your website. The more you tweet, the more followers, the more traffic you drive to your site. Goal is to build followers. Follow other people and follow-back if they follow you.
- Do you have a business fan page on Facebook?
Facebook is one of the highest traffic sites on the Interent. You can set up a fan page for your travel agency…FREE. Post tidbits on your Facebook business fan page to drive traffic to your website. Join groups and become fans of others.
- Do you have a BLOG?
This is the cheapest website you will have. Blog software is free from WordPress. You only have to purchase hosting space which is like $50 a year. Blogs allow you to enter the Blog community, linking and posting comments to other blogs and sending more traffic to your web site.
- Do you post hotel and cruise reviews on user-generated review sites?
Show people your knowledge and worthy of contacting to help plan their vacation. Did you know Trip Advisor allows travel agents to post reviews? For a shameless plug; www.ReviewResorts.com actively encourages travel agents to post resort and cruise reviews. In return, you get your name, web-link and e-mail posted on the review. FREE Advertising!
- Post vacation classifieds on Craigslist and other classified sites.
Once again in my shameless attempt at self-promotion, travel agents can post vacation classifieds on www.ReviewResorts.com More FREE Advertising!
- Do you publish press releases?
Type into Google; “Free Press Release” and you will find hundreds of sites to publish your press releases free.
- Have you thought about creating a social community for your particular travel niche? www.ning.com is like a Facebook forum only created and promoted entirely by you. If you cater to a special interest or destination travel market www.ning.com might be your best bet. Once again, the goal is to create as large an online footprint as possible to create momentum for your business.
Good luck and happy posting.