THE HOW-TO MAGAZINE FOR ICs, OSRs & HOME-BASED TRAVEL AGENTS
The ART of
AN SMP TRAINING PUBLICATION
The Travel Agent’s Store
Read the Preview of Selling Flexible Independent Travel Arrangements
TABLE OF CONTENTS – IC FEBRUARY 2014
JUST ARRIVED! Selling Flexible Independent Travel Arrangements
NEXION: True Support For True Professionals
MESSAGE FROM MIKE FOSTER, President, Nexion Canada Advertorial
EDITORIAL: Marketing in 2014 will be different…
HOSTING EVENTS IN 2014
USING THE WORD FREE
BE AN EXHIBITIONIST Guest article by Steve Gillick
THE ENGAGEMENT’S OVER – START SELLING!
FACEBOOK TIMELINE COVER
WEBSITE DESIGN IDEAS
VIDEO MARKETING DATA
SELLING THE LOVE
NEW TOOLS: SPAMfighter
NEW TOOLS: 99Covers
MORE NEW TOOLS: Sprout Video, FIXME Stick, Panono
THE TRAVEL TRAINING INSTITUTE Advertorial
SELLING WITH STEVE
WHAT’S IN STORE? The Travel Agent’s Store
MARKET YOUR GROUPS: Big Bark Graphics Advertorial
Advertising in IC Travel Agent reaches the serious business-minded travel agent.
Promote your products and services via video, audio or generic text and images. IC
Travel Agent is marketed direct to over 4,000 travel agents plus thousands more via
social media channels such as Facebook, LinkedIn, SlideShare, trade contacts,
partners and educational institutions. Your ad includes a BONUS How-to-Sell article.
Full page rates range from $300 to $425 based on number of insertions.
If it’s not yet 5pm where you live, you still have time to make one more
call, close one more sale or e-mail one more promotion!
Selling travel from home does
not have to be a puzzle when you
read IC! Find the host agency
that best suits your needs.
Share your money making ideas
in IC and help your IC colleagues.
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TRUE SUPPORT FOR TRUE PROFESSIONALS
At Nexion Canada, we know that you are passionate about your travel business. So we provide you
with the professional support and industry relationships you need to be more proﬁtable and efﬁcient,
giving you the freedom to run your travel business the best way: your way.
A full-service host agency combining decades of experience, Nexion Canada provides independent,
Canadian-based travel professionals of all experience levels with:
Your choice of up to 80% of commissions
Top commissions with leading air, cruise and land suppliers
Technology tools to better manage your business
Access to our exclusive point-and-click booking engine or through the Amadeus, Sabre or Galileo
Training, coaching and networking opportunities
Innovative marketing programs to grow your business
Exclusive cruise block space and supplier offers
Lead generation for qualiﬁed agents
Vacation.com membership included at no additional charge!
It’s time to join a family of professionals that truly supports your independent business dreams.
It’s time to join Nexion Canada.
Contact us today to learn more about our growing family of travel professionals.
MENTION THAT YOU SAW US IN IC AGENT MAGAZINE
AND RECEIVE YOUR FIRST MONTH FREE!
10/29/13 2:18 PM
Message to IC Travel Agent Readers from
Mike Foster, President, Nexion Canada
“On January 31st, we celebrated Nexion Canada’s first year of success. One-year later, our company
continues to grow and meet the complex education and training needs of both new and seasoned agents,
and when you look at everything we have accomplished this past year, it’s quite impressive the amount
of new initiatives that were unveiled and the number of elite educational opportunities that Nexion
Canada has provided. If our first year of business is any indication of what’s in store for the future, I think
we are in a great position to become Canada’s leading host travel agency.”
Join us soon and be with us when we celebrate our 2nd anniversary.
Paid Advertorial by Nexion Canada
Steve Crowhurst, CTC, Publisher
MARKETING IN 2014 will be different…
… if you choose to accept the changes that is.
The theme for this issue of IC Travel Agent discusses the blending of old media with new (as in
social and mobile) offering ideas to Baby Boomer aged travel agents who might need more social,
and Generation X & Y aged travel agents who might need more knowledge on how to use old
media in a social media application.
Having scoured more than a few websites of both mature travel agents and young professionals
there is still a huge requirement for all parties across the board to upgrade their websites and to
make them more appealing, functional and less text-based in 2014. More on that inside.
Want to make better use of your Facebook cover image space? Stay tuned as I have reviewed
several travel trade supplier Facebook cover images that are using the space creatively. Learn
from this information and create the same concepts for your own Facebook cover image.
Inside you’ll find how to host consumer events, a travel provenance checklist and a selection of
tools that will make your job easier. Nothing over the top. Just keeping with the easy-to-read
and do, street smart tips and tools that you can implement.
Don’t forget to check out the new eGuide additions to The Travel Agent’s Store.
Here’s to your continued success!
Steve Crowhurst, CTC
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Marketing in 2014
As you well know the travel marketing landscape is rife with social media and depending on
your age bracket, generation and career timeline you are either fully aware of how to use social
media, learning about it or you don’t give a hoot! As always, somewhere in the middle is the
right spot to be. Then we also have what I call Old Media Marketing. All those old media
marketing tools that travel agents have used prior to the appearance of social media, still work.
Many work as they did before and others have evolved with the times and taken on a digital
format. In this article we’ll review each of the current marketing channels and how the old has
morphed and their equivalent digital counterpart.
How to make use of these marketing tools in 2014
The agency window is
valuable marketing real
estate and can still be used
as a bulletin board, sign
board, feature displays,
play videos on TV monitors
and display the agency
website information. In
2014, the agency window
should be used to promote
social media channels too
and by using window
lettering, ASK the client to
call, click or walk in.
Websites are the digital
version of the typical travel
agency window especially
for the home-based travel
agent. A website also brings
with it more digital
marketing tools. If you
operate from a street front
host agency, it is a good
idea to mirror on your
website what your host
agency window promotes.
Consistency in messaging is
very important to you and
your host agency.
For a very low investment, if
your personal / host agency
dress code is not 100%
business attire and more
casual, then everyone can
wear the agency colours
and logo. Follow companies
like Nike and showcase your
logo - and let your tag line
sell the story. A simple “Ask
Me About Travelling…”
under the agency logo will
attract passersby to chat
Social media brand wear
makes a different use of the
same t-shirt or ball cap. In
addition to a stitched or
printed logo, a printed QR
code on the same t-shirt
can be scanned by anyone
with a smartphone – at
which point they are
already reading your offer,
or surfing your website, or
finding the location of your
host agency. Just the QR
code causes a “need to
How to make use of these marketing tools in 2014
Predicted to be a long lost
thing of the past, glossy
travel brochures are still a
desired read by many
clients. These so called
dream catalogues serve
their purpose in print. They
stay around the house,
friends and relatives see
them too. They have
evolved into a format that is
easily viewed on screen and
instantly shared. Sharing a
print and/or digital version
of a supplier’s brochure is
one of the best ways to
promote yourself in 2014.
The e-brochure is one of the
best referral tools there is.
The e-brochure serves its
purpose as does the printed
version however younger
generations of travellers
are concerned about the
world’s forests and prefer a
digital version. Promoting
e-Brochures as opposed to
print can win business to
your agency. In 2014 make
it a goal to create your own
glossy looking e-Brochure.
Build in hyperlinks to your
website, videos, surveys
If your client base ranges to
the older end of the Baby
Boomer age bracket, then
telephone conference calls
are still a viable tool to use
with many Baby Boomers
being retired business
people – they are fully
aware of how a teleconference works and not
shy about chatting by
phone. So easy to arrange
through your local Telco.
The old style conference
call has morphed into a
variety of formats such as
Skype and Face Time to
conference call apps such as
Crowd Call. Most of your
Baby Boomer clients are
smart phone savvy and
using these apps most of
your clients will be able to
conference with you from
almost anywhere. In 2014
Direct mail, well-used by
travel agents is a marketing
tool that can work for you in
2014. The typical direct mail
ranges from a postcard to a
letter with an offer plus a
brochure and business card
which is now enhanced for
instance by inserting DVDs
that are flat and easy to
mail. A DVD can carry your
entire product offering and
tell your personal travel
story too. Everyone likes to
get mail even Gen X & Y.
One DVD is direct mail.
Direct mail in 2014 means
digital mail, email, PDFs,
links and more. Anything
that can be attached, sent,
downloaded & forwarded is
now 2014 direct mail.
Instead of mailing a DVD,
you’ll drop the contents
into Dropbox for your client
to view. The brochure will
be read as a PDF onscreen.
The missing link for the
client is the tactile response
to holding that glossy
brochure. Perhaps home
deliveries in 2014?
Digital Direct Mail
How to make use of these marketing tools in 2014
Consumer events are one of
the best ways to attract 50
clients to meet you in one
room, to be informed,
entertained and sold. In
2014, the entertainment
must be cutting edge in
terms of imagery and your
delivery well practiced. You
can engage Gen X & Y
clients in the audience by
sharing by various travel
apps and using Google
Earth onscreen to transport
the room to view a special
place in the world with you
at the mouse.
Hosting an event online is
almost as good as hosting a
live event “old style”. The
missing ingredient is the
face-to-face interaction, the
body language and the
chance to close the sale
one-on-one. Online events
can actually be used to set
up an “old style” live event
and this is done by luring
local clients via your online
event to register for the live
event. Tools used for online
events are webinars and
Skype for Business with 10
Local magazines are not
very expensive. A business
card sized ad can cost
around $175 per insert and
up it goes from there. Local
reach is good. It means the
around your home-based
agency, making getting
together very easy. If you
have the money and sell
wider than your local area
magazines are the answer
and usually very expensive.
Local magazines to national
& international magazines
also publish a digital version
of the print issue. The ad
costs are very close if not
the same. The audience
reach is different in that
some readers depending on
age prefer the hard copy
whereas others, prefer the
online digital copy. Be
guided by the generation
you sell to. Seniors & Baby
Boomers are also becoming
more internet savvy.
Newsletters are still on the
marketing menu and it
might be the Senior and
Baby Boomer generations
that welcome the printed
version. In 2014 upgrade
the paper stock and print on
what’s known as recycled
Laser paper, or a Brilliant
White paper. Print from
your own printer for short
runs. If you are mailing
more than 100 units then
best to use a local quick
The social equivalent of the
old media newsletter is
probably a Blog. Your Blog
can be forwarded and sent
viral whereas the old style
newsletters could only be
handed to someone and
passed along that way.
Writing a Blog will work for
you if you can maintain the
schedule and a high level of
content. Remember what
you send out online can
come back to haunt you if it
is not 100% fantastic!
How to make use of these marketing tools in 2014
The local newspaper comes
in all shapes and sizes and
generally in a tabloid
format. Local readership is
who you want to reach. To
attract the local readership
in 2014 you should take the
travel pulse first and get to
know what the common
interest in travel is. Then
your ads can focus on the
local trend. Local papers are
not expensive. National
available online. The cost of
advertising will be low for
the local digital version and
expensive for the national
digital version. Be guided
generation you sell to or
wish to attract. You might
survey your clients as to
which newspapers they
read and which version.
Posters are still attractive, if
you can find them. Many
suppliers now charge for
them and others no longer
offer them. In 2014, why
photographs add a slogan
to your image and print
your own posters. Ask local
aspiring artists to create a
travel poster for you in lieu
of exposure. Quality posters
in agency windows can still
attract walk by and drive by
traffic to contact you.
The digital version of the
old style travel poster is
something that can be
shared and printed by your
clients. Set the resolution to
high so the printed version
is very fine and not fuzzy or
pixelated. Promote the fact
that your posters can be
downloaded and printed
and encourage your clients
to share the image with
their friends. Tag your
poster and track who
Old style radio ads have
worked very well in the past
and still do depending on
the radio station, average
age of the listeners and cost
of the ad. They can be cost
effective and excellent for
holding call-in events such
as “ask the travel agent”.
The captive radio audience
remains huge during peak
rush hour drive times.
Promoting sun vacations to
people stuck on the
highway during the winter
is cruel but effective!
Internet radio is now
accessible by anyone with a
device and headset, in car
satellite radio and wherever
a USB or Wi-Fi connection
can be found. Old style
radio ads reaching millions
of online listeners – nice!
Survey your clients by
preferred online / internet
radio stations and then
request the media kit from
the top three radio stations
your clients prefer. Online
talk shows in 2014!
How to make use of these marketing tools in 2014
In 2014 old style referrals
take on a new look. Old
style means the request for
referrals is typed / written
at the bottom of the ad or
newsletter. It still works as a
passive method to build a
list of new clients. The 2014
referral can also be digital.
Social media makes asking
for referrals must easier
and quicker. As your
connections increase you
can ask your members or
readers, followers etc., to
help you grow your
business by sharing your
name with their friends.
Speciality advertising old
style means handing out a
pen with your agency logo
printed on it, or a keychain
or a sticky note pad. All still
relevant today. The pen &
the fridge magnet attract
the most interest.
The 2014 version of
specialty advertising would
be USBs and DVDs. The old
style pens and key chains
now come with a built in
USB drive. Fridge magnets
are now printed with a QR
VHS has gone but the video
marketing concept not at all
forgotten. It has morphed
into new and exciting media
formats and is still to be
played through the family
TV and other entertainment
devices. Video cameras
have also evolved in size
and power – now featured
on smart phones and
Video is one of the major
marketing tools for travel
agents. In 2014 film your
own video content, convert
to DVDs & YouTube and
post your website and blog.
Clients will view it on hand
held devices. Add a call to
action statement or a
hyperlinked icon to the
video and direct traffic to
You have way more NEW tools today
than you did when the Old Media
was in full swing. Pod Casts, PDF
documents, texting, Facebook, eBooks written and published by you
and on it goes. So out of all the old
and new advertising channels &
formats, which ones are the most
trusted? Thanks to Statista Charts
and Nielson this chart offers a quick
insight into which ads are trusted by
the consumer. Click the image for
Hosting Events in 2014
For home based sellers of travel hosting live events
versus online is one of the best methods to engage,
entertain, present, sell and close the sale. Choosing the
right date, time and choice of venue is the key to a
successful event. Old school would call these events
consumer nights, or cruise nights and for some reason
they were always held at night. In 2014 break that mold
and become a little more creative in the event title,
time of day and location.
Here’s where your creativity comes into play.
Think about the product and destination you are
selling and try to match it to a specific venue. City
art galleries are excellent, museums too, then
you might consider yachts in the harbour,
penthouse suites of hotels, even outdoors,
inside a rock climbing club, at the local
university, Chinatown, Little Italy and similar
places that connect to your tour idea. Okay, a
pub works too!
Time and Timing
Thinking for your older clients you’ll do better to
host an event during the day. You’ll have several
time choices, early morning, mid-morning,
lunchtime, early afternoon and late afternoon.
A 90 minute event is all you need to arrange.
After that people tend to fade and mentally
wander from the program. Actually the peak and
valley in terms of paying attention is around 20
minutes for most people.
If your host agency has a large agency premise
then perhaps you can hold the event there.
Time and Money
When you host an event during the lunch time or
evening time, attendees expect food. You never
pay for someone’s lunch or dinner unless they’ve
made a $10K booking with you and paid in full!
Boost the Head Count
When you arrange a consumer event remember
that you are first selling the event, not the
product you intend to pitch. You’ll need to turn
on the charm and attraction tools to win your
client’s attention. You’ll do this by making sure
you target clients who have shown an interest in
the chosen destination. By following up the day
before the event, sell them once more on
attending. After the telephone follow up,
complete the circle by sending a confirmation
email, text message and post to your social
media channels too with a “bring your friends”
Time your event in the morning and provide
coffee and cookies or an energy bar. You can
have the venue provide the coffee and you bring
the tin of goodies with napkins. Job done.
Not yet. This is a sales session and door prizes as
in free trips are not on the menu. What’s on the
menu is tantalizing information and well-priced
offers that the audience cannot refuse.
Using The Word FREE!
Free is free. If a consumer must purchase something to get something for FREE then it’s not
FREE and that means you go to jail and do not collect $200. As you well know the travel trade
has for years given away its knowledge and all for FREE. Service fees have saved the day, but
they won’t save you if you entice your clients with the header suggesting something is FREE
when it’s not. Some words like included also have the meaning of FREE depending on how the
sentence reads. Here’s what you can offer for FREE.
1. Contact us today for your group travel quote. It’s FREE!
2. Click here to download your FREE brochure.
3. Download your FREE video link… right here…
4. Book now and your DVD is INCLUDED.
5. Subscribe to our FREE newsletter.
6. FREE full colour travel brochures…
7. Book today and get this t-shirt…
8. Ask for your FREE e-Book.
prizes such as a couple of t-shirts or mouse pads
FREEBIES You Can Offer
Most of the following items can be provided by
your preferred suppliers – that said their local
marketing funds have dwindled too, which
means you must show good reason for your
request and promise an excellent ROI.
Be True To Your Supplier
Even though these giveaways are free to you it
costs your supplier what you’re not paying. Only
use the freebies that relate to the supplier you
are promoting. More free stuff to be found at the
tourism office of the destination you are selling.
When you attend a travel trade show ask the
suppliers about their free stuff. Tell them why
you want it, when you want it and what your
intentions are to sell their product. Chances are
you’ll be favourably rewarded. Check your local
advertising laws for more information on and
about using the word FREE in your travel
If you are inviting 100 people to your event then
you’ll order 100 DVDs and 100 pens. If you are
intending to go the door prize route then small
Be an Exhibitionist
and show them your Provenance!
Guest Article by Steve Gillick, President, Talking Travel
When I recently delivered a workshop to an audience of IC travel agents, I included a PowerPoint
presentation that listed my travels. When I introduced the slide I explained that I wasn’t showing off
my travels to be egotistical or to brag, but rather, to display my actual travel experience as these are
the credentials that support my claim as a destinations expert. What I presented was this: a listing of
the 70 countries to which I’ve travelled and explored, the 56 re-visits to many of those countries (Japan12 visits, Taiwan-5, Turkey-3 etc.,) as well as over 578 destinations consisting of towns and cities within
those countries. When someone asks for my background I can demonstrate my travel provenance.
Demonstrating my travels was one way that I
could convey my credibility and value to the
audience as someone providing them with
career-enhancing information on marketing
destinations to their clients. I challenged each
agent to compose his/her own list.
Travel provenance is similar to the provenance
one needs to establish credibility and value
when it comes to assessing art work, an antique
or an historical item. A claim that a hat was worn
by Abraham Lincoln is simply a statement or
perhaps a family myth handed down from
generation to generation, unless ‘proof’ can be
demonstrated that Lincoln actually owned the
hat, actually wore the hat, and that this specific
hat has a lineage—similar to a family tree—that
links the present owner with the original owner
over the past 170 years or so. This proof may be
in the form of photographs, letters, affidavits
and other documents.
But there is more. Your experience and
expertise dictated to you a long time ago that it
was that magical list of supplier contacts that
could make the difference between fulfilling a
client’s travel dreams or not. You began to
collect business cards and establish relationships
with suppliers. Each time you made contact at
trade shows, on fam trips, on your own vacation
travels, at conferences, networking events and
supplier updates, you not only collected business
cards but you followed up with the key contact
afterward. While others have a digital or old
style rolodex or card index, you have a business
relationship investment file. This fits in perfectly
with your Partner Relationship Management
(PRM) practices. And all those contacts add to
your credibility as someone who can turn travel
dreams into reality. This is another key
ingredient of your travel provenance.
Your travel provenance consists of the big
picture of all the credentials that led up to you
speaking with a particular client about a
destination or cruise or adventure. It takes into
consideration your schooling, your travel
industry training, the courses you have taken,
the webinars and seminars you’ve attended, the
credentials earned, the travels undertaken
(countries, destinations) and how you keep upto-date on a daily basis (news updates, host
agency e-blasts, and e-magazines like this one).
In addition, those testimonials from your clients
are also part of your provenance.
Client testimonials are statements testifying to
the great job you did, or to the special
arrangement you made, or the excellent
customer care you practice. And the referrals
you receive also accrue to your provenance.
They constitute actual proof that your clients are
so pleased that they feel comfortable having
their friends and family use your services.
A travel agent’s job is to listen while the client
articulates their needs, desires, dreams and
wishes. If the client is not forthcoming, then the
travel agent uses their tried and true sales skills
to probe—to ask key questions—of the client.
And at various points in the conversation, the
travel agent can inject stories and specifically,
their experience at the destinations in which the
client has expressed an interest. At the
appropriate time, the photos and or videos can
be brought out to support the sale.
And then there are the more subtle aspects of
your travel provenance. In today’s world,
storytelling has been identified as a very
effective way to market travel destinations and
The agent can in effect, use their provenance to
The story formula is:
Your Travels + Your Anecdotes and Experiences + Your photos +
Your Videos = Customer Confidence and Sales
have the client visit the destination, through
sales, visuals and words, while they are still in
your office or at the meeting. This is the ideal
outcome of any travel consultation.
If you write down your experiences in a
newsletter or blog or create a travel
presentation to show your clients then this too is
part of your provenance. Therefore if you add all
your credentials to all your activities, your
training, background, current job, people skills
and passion for travel, then you have a pretty
persuasive argument for the value and credibility
of your services: that is to say, your travel
A travel agent with a strong provenance provides
confidence, support, enthusiasm and personability to the client, and exudes passion, comfort,
up-to-date information and a sense of reliability
and value. Provenance is not something you
acquire and then hide. It is something you need
to show every time you interact with a client, a
supplier and a colleague.
And how do you reveal your travel provenance
to your clients? No travel agent would or should
sit down with a client and roll out the list of
countries they’ve visited and ramble on about
how much experience they have had. This is a
deal breaker right from the start.
Shark Bay, Chichijima, Japan.
Time to be an exhibitionist… show them your
provenance. Your career will thank you for it.
Yamadera Temple – Checking my horoscope.
Namahage Museum, Oga, Japan.
I know you know about antiques and the need to show the paperwork, the history, the
provenance of the item or artwork. It’s the same when it comes to selling your services and
marketing your experience, yes, you too must also disclose the facts on where you’ve been and
what you’ve done. It’s called Travel Provenance and it must answer the “So what?” question.
There is a well-known statement often used to
help you question your marketing ideas and
actions and it goes like this: “So what?”
What Have You Achieved?
If you’ve been a home-based travel agent for
some time you will be well aware of the initial
skepticism that travel trade suppliers, the trade
in general and the consumer had about travel
being purchased from someone not located on
main street, selling from a retail store.
“I’ve been in the travel industry
for over 27 years…”
Today, home based travel agents are well
accepted by suppliers and travel trade alike. The
average consumer and especially the younger
generation of travellers are still in the dark about
what a travel agent can do for them. Here’s
where and why you must promote and sell your
achievements, each time asking yourself the “So
“I’ve sailed on 55 cruises…”
The “So what?” comment is often silent but
believe me it’s there in the client’s mind and
what they’re waiting to hear or read is
something more relevant and tangible. They
need to know you know and the fact you’ve
spent 27 years in travel doesn’t say too much
other than you’ve spent 27 years in travel.
“I have successfully arranged dream trips
for 8,499 clients – and I can arrange your
dream trip too!”
“Wow! That’s impressive…”
Selling Your Achievements
A mountain climber could say something similar
to the 27 years such as, “I’ve been climbing
mountains for 27 years…” and he or she receives
the same question: So what?
“Click here to read my customer’s
testimonials from our recent tour of Europe
where we cycled 1,500 km, drank 50 litres
of beer, witnessed beautiful sunrises and
sang songs to the locals!”
Now if that climber had said, “I’ve been climbing
mountains for 27 years… and summited the
Matterhorn, the Eiger North Face and reached
the South Col on Everest… here’s a picture of me
taken with my guide…” well now, here’s a
climber who can prove their climbing
provenance. This is someone you would trust
your life with.
“Sounds like me – when is the next tour?”
CREATE YOUR TRAVEL PROVENANCE BIO
Here’s your Travel Provenance cheat sheet:
As you fill in the details, consider the “So what?” question and try to answer your own question as if a
client was sitting with you. You’ll want to search for meaningful statements that explain to the client what
your experience can do for them. What is the benefit to the client that you have flown 100,000 miles?
What is the benefit to the client if you have arranged 75 weddings valued at $50,000 each?
TRAVEL PROVENANCE BIO
1. How many years as a travel agent?
2. Companies you have worked for:
3. Positions and titles:
4. Number of clients served over career:
5. Largest booking in dollars:
6. Largest group of people booked:
7. Total amount of travel sold this year:
8. Total amount of travel sold over career:
9. Number of countries visited:
10. Number of places visited:
11. Number of cruises sailed:
12. Number of miles flown:
13. Most memorable booking:
14. Accreditations / Designations / Awards:
15. Niche / speciality:
16. Photographic / written proof:
17. Fill in your own statement
18. Fill in your own statement
19. Fill in your own statement
20. Fill in your own statement
The Engagement’s Over
– Start Selling!
The word engagement is everywhere in retail travel magazines and newsletters and it’s
employing the talents of many social media teams in large travel trade companies. These same
companies with their social media teams are working for you, their IC, OSR and Home Based
member. Whether you participate in your host agency’s engagement campaigns or not, here’s
what you must do to pay the rent and make some money.
Social media campaign success depends on who
is doing the calculation. The social media team
at HQ are very interested in measuring such
things as share of voice and retweets. Here’s a
few other forms of measurement they get
excited about on your behalf:
What’s most important to the marketing team is
engagement at all levels. The challenge is,
engagement is not sales, it’s engagement which
in the context of selling travel means be it old
style or social style, the campaign has caused a
consumer to take notice. No sales yet.
Click, Call or Come In
Potential reach. The numbers of fans, followers,
Mentions per time period. How many times your
agency host’s brand is talked about online during
a given time period = overall awareness and
chatter about your host agency.
Inbound links = people are aware of your host
agency and are telling others about you.
This is the true measurement of any and all
advertising and promotion, old style or social.
There is no other measurement that matters to
YOU the home based agent other than how
many consumers knock on your digital door to
book their trip. The next measurement then is
based on you converting that prospect to a sale
and eventually a long term customer.
Share of voice = how much your host agency
brand is mentioned in comparison to others.
The Engagement is OFF!
As an independent travel entrepreneur, you
need to generate sales that produce money, fees
& commissions to you. A Facebook page with
900 Likes does not a sale make. A thousand
mentions via social networks does not a sale
make. What makes a sale is YOU when you
connect one-on-one with a prospect driven to
meet you. Here’s the challenge: there is so much
engaging going that sales are secondary. It’s time
to sell and you can do that by simply advertising
that YOU are the person to BOOK that tour or
cruise featured in the engagement campaign. It’s
a matter of you attracting the interested parties
to seek you out first.
Share of conversation = how often your agency
brand is mentioned in context of the
conversations that are most relevant to you.
Marketing Team versus Sales Team
As you well know, the sales team is usually the
last group to hear about the new marketing
campaign that was launched yesterday before
the sales team were prepared to handle the calls,
sell and close. The marketing team congratulates
themselves for a campaign well launched with
little interest at that time in your sales.
Whilst the competition is still trying to engage,
you are selling, closing and making money.
Here’s one tip – something I used to do all the
time and I’m using the weekend travel section in
the local newspaper for the example. You can
use the same idea via email and throughout your
social channels too.
Because of the continual social media
bombardment known as engagement strategies
the consumer is posting vengeful comments on
cruise line and tour company Facebook pages.
If you focus all your energies on social media
engagement and measurement of your social
media actions – this what your results will look
like. You’ll be well LIKED and broke!
The idea is this: you create an ad or a slogan that
simply states whatever your clients find online,
receive in their inbox or read about in the local
newspaper - YOU can book it ALL for them.
Share of Voice
Share of Conversation
How to Stay Engaged and Marry
The best way to attract the business of your
existing clients and their friends via social media
and all other forms of advertising is to cut to the
chase and sell. Yeah I know that’s not what you
are supposed to do, says the guru. But it is what
YOU are supposed to do. The social media
marketing experts are the ones who engage –
and to repeat the point, do not duplicate the
engagement as it prolongs the selling cycle.
As an IC you do not have time to socialize as your
HQ marketing team do unless your time is spent
in pure prospecting, pitching, selling and closing
via all methods open to you.
The focused message of “we can book anything
you want” or if you sell a specific destination or
niche travel style then you can change the slogan
to “we can arrange your scuba vacation in any
area of the world…”
To remain wedded to your clients, focus on
promoting the type of travel you know they
want. Introduce your own travel passions and
take your clients to a new destination. Better
still, promote your FIT custom vacation services
and attract your clients and their friends by
offering bespoke tours.
Let the mass market engagement strategies that
your suppliers are pushing out do the marketing
whilst you do the selling. Same thing applies to
your host agency head office engagement
programs. There’s enough engaging going on, on
your behalf - all you need to do is get between
the engaging and the booking. Kaching!
What you do not want to do in this always on
world is over indulge your engaging prowess and
receive less than flattering comments going viral.
When enough is enough your clients, even your
long term clients will call off the engagement and
go looking for another partner. Check in with
your clients soon and find out what’s changed in
how they want to engage and hear from you.
Disengagement and More
As you might realize, more than a few consumers
are fed up with being ‘engaged’ – they want to
break off the engagement but cannot find the
right link to click and even when they do, they
are continually bombarded with social media.
FB Timeline Cover
As you well know, Facebook and all the other social networks are into making money and they
are doing a fine job, too. They make their money by offering “us” a way to connect, socialize,
engage and share. One of the Facebook tools, the cover image, offers a fantastic marketing
opportunity and it is found at the top of your Facebook page. Although you must be very careful
in the type of image you use and the text placed on that image it is FREE promotional space if
you use it for that purpose. Here’s how you can repurpose that cover image real estate and use
it to promote yourself and your next special offer. Take a look at your current image occupying
that space atop your Facebook page. Does it say anything, do anything, promote anything or
ask your clients to respond in anyway? If not, it’s time to change it.
The Cover Image Dimensions
Here’s the measurement in pixels and if
you are using one of my favourite tools
that I mention quite often, The Logo
Creator (TLC), then you will know that
one of the template sets to be found in
TLC is for creating Facebook cover
The Logo Creator Timeline Image
template is correctly sized. All you have to
do is import your own image as a
background and then using the amazing
set of graphics in TLC you can build a
series of fantastic cover images that will
sell you and your tours, cruises etc.
One thing you can do before you start
creating your own promotional cover
image is to explore what other companies
are doing with their cover image space.
Check your preferred supplier’s Facebook pages and look for common themes such as colour, text,
slogans, placement and any call-to-action terms and or phrases. You may be able to use them too.
What follows is a selection of current and past cover images that your suppliers have used. These were
random searches and some of the images are not current – however it is the layout and the ideas we’re
exploring. Make your notes as to what you like and don’t like and then search for what you like amongst
your supplier’s Facebook pages, also look at tourism Facebook pages AND your competition’s Facebook
pages. You haven’t finished yet. Check out the Facebook pages of well-known companies in other
Here’s a great idea to expose
more of your cover image. Use
a PNG image for your logo and
the background image will
Here’s how you can promote
something happening NOW
and sell it directly to the
reader. Keyword: YOUR.
Something different here. A
watercolour image is used for
the cover and logo image.
You can even see the
watercolour paper surface.
A neat idea to use the
landmark concept and
name it on the image.
This image shows someone
doing exactly what the slogan
is promoting, plus what they
will see to photograph, plus a
link to explore. Nice.
This Facebook cover by the Hong Kong
Tourist Board is timely as in the
Chinese New Year. No need to
translate the saying as most nonChinese people around the world know
the meaning and often use it
themselves as a New Year greeting.
The key element showing on this cover
image is the QR code and additional
social links too. With so many people
carrying devices that can scan a QR
code, this is an excellent element to
add to your own agency Facebook
Cunard used their cover image as a
countdown to when their QM2 was
sailing on its 200th Transatlantic
Crossing. What a great way to nudge
the late comers to get onboard and
book now – not wanting to be left
See below how you too can add a QR
code to your Facebook cover image.
So now it’s your turn to take hold of that very
important social media real estate and make it
work for you.
Here is my fancy dancy QR Code for The Travel
Agent’s Store created in a matter of minutes
using the QR Code Generator. Type in your
website address, upload your own square image.
Your QR code is created, then layed on top of
your image - and the best thing is: it works!
Do not shy away from being a little more
assertive than suggested by so many social
media gurus (read the article about
Engagement) and start nudging your Facebook
pals towards booking their trips NOW and also to
be a tad more proactive in referring their friends
A referral statement on your cover image might
just work for you when it is tied into a post
written about your referral program.
“Become a Referral Ambassador
for Steve’s Travel and…”
So many ideas for making your Facebook cover
image work for you and “work” means to attract
and generate new sales. It’s all yours!
It’s what follows the and… that you’ll need to
work on. Will you offer a small thank-you such as
a gift card or discount towards their next trip?
And now for something completely different! If you’re looking to revamp your website take a look at this
one - http://www.fitnesstravelcompany.com/ Robert Tynan the founderof Fitness Travel Company sent
me an email a month or so back and when I visited his website, it was a WOW experience for sure. So see
if you like it or if the design opens up more ideas for you and your web master.
Now the question is what else is new in the land
of website design. One thing is for sure and that
with so many gorgeous views from around the
world to be shared with your clients, your
website should take advantage of the wide
screen. Using the background of your website
can enhance the main central page.
Try one more – The Preferred Hotel Group and
they have done a nice job showing the world’s
regions at the bottom. Click to view.
Here’s the home page from Australia.com that is
using as much space as they can. Click to view.
Check out the Background feature that comes
with Weebly websites. I use Weebly for all my
websites and this new feature might just be what
your need to showcase your own travel
photographs and use them as the background to
Video Marketing Data
If you haven’t used it yet, now’s the time. Make 2014 the year of video for your travel business.
Start sourcing, collecting and collating as many travel videos as you can from your preferred
suppliers, tourist boards and specific brands you do business with. Make sure you add your
own videos into the mix too. You only need a couple of really hot videos to start attracting the
eyeballs of your existing clients. They will refer your videos to their friends and that viral cycle
will continue on for you. The chart below, hyperlinked to the source and the information it
reveals, informs us how American consumers between the ages of 16 to 44 discover the video
content they watch. You’ll have to read between the lines based on where you are located.
A couple of things jump out from this graph in favour of travel agents:
1. Under socialization your clients are
checking videos on social channels (such as
your agency’s Facebook page), and they are
being informed what to watch by their
friends via WOM, text and emails.
3. They will watch videos they find on
websites that connect them to their
interests, i.e. your travel agency website.
Travel videos are captivating and they help sell
you and your product. So start locating those
mind bending videos and use the above tools to
advise your clients where they find them to
watch. You might even arrange a travel video
event, complete with popcorn!
2. Next, when browsing within an article that
you might send them they will check out
the video if one is embedded.
Selling The Love
From North America for instance you could
arrange a one night 2 day event in Hawaii, the
Caribbean, Mexico and if your couple is game
and ready to go spend another hour or two in the
air, they could be sipping champagne in Venice,
Istanbul, London and of course Paris.
Depending on when you are reading this I
have two questions for you: What have you
got planned for a St. Valentine’s Day
promotion and if it is now after February
14th - how did your St. Valentine’s Day
travel promotion go?
Standing on a snow capped mountain top sipping
champagne… now that’s a memory not to be
forgotten. Chances are you’ll have to top that
one for the same client next year and the year
The world loves to love and people love to travel
and somewhere in there is a bunch of travel to
be sold. St. Valentine’s Day is one of those
annual events that causes guilt, satisfaction,
needs and wants and a desire to travel. Knowing
it’s an annual event should mean you drag out
the old promotion from last year, dust it off and
click the reset button. Or, you could go for
something current and more edgy or daring or
Where’s The Biz?
For every couple on your client list there is a
romantic vacation waiting to happen. A good
start is St. Valentine’s Day. Even if the day is local
at a luxury downtown hotel – start the World of
Love promotion this year. Get your clients in the
mood to go celebrate their love for each other
and do it in style.
I know what you’re thinking, but stay with me,
there’s more. The short two to four day trip can
transport your client from wherever you / they
are located to let’s say any destination within a
one hour to 8 hour flight range.
Plot where you can send your clients within that
2 to 4 day time period and start selling now.
You’ll LOVE the ROI!
I love a nice calligraphic artwork and especially the Arabic and Islamic script and often think
about using the designs in promoting travel to the destinations the calligraphy hails from.
Easier said than done if you do not know the true meaning of the alphabet you are using. The
worst outcome would be to have your clients wearing a blasphemous statement or sporting an
icon that has a very different meaning, landing them in jail for ten years. So it’s good to find
online translators who can help. In this case we have two ‘generators’ that can generate one’s
name into a Cartouche. I have gone with ABC Travel as the agency name.
When we have access to tools like these we must
consider how best to use them and one way that
comes to mind is to promote the fact that YOU
can produce someone’s name as a Cartouche.
Yes, you and your clients with their very nicely
presented Cartouches will be heading to Cairo
and to visit the museum of course.
You receive the client’s name. You type it into
the generator, the Cartouche is produced and
you then save the result as a JPEG image and
send it back to your client. Do not mention the
website or the Cartouche generator.
You can try the same idea using Chinese name
generators, too. Create interest in the
calligraphy, the culture and the country and then
after that you can send brochures or host an
event based on the destination that matches the
Ask your client who just received their Cartouche
to tell their friends that you’d be happy to create
a Cartouche for them too. Now you are building
a following and guess where your tour will be
Work with the tourism boards as mentioned and
create a special tour for your clients. Their
Cartouches could also be reproduced in Cairo to
be worn as a pendent or ring. That’s a nice addon to the tour.
New Tools: SPAMfighter
Despite all the antivirus tools and the routers and the “walls” my inbox is still loaded with spam
– some of it very interesting to read and you can learn a lot from the headlines, the fonts and
colouring, however enough is enough and so I went looking for a spam removal program that
works with MS Outlook and doesn’t cost hundreds of dollars. Here’s what I found: a terrific
spam removal tool called SPAMfighter and it’s perfect for home-based travel agents. The big
PLUS is that if you are using this program at home versus a corporation, then the program is
free to use. The free version is of course minus a few tools and options however the next big
PLUS is the price for the Pro version at only $34 – renewed each year. Below you can read
some of the information from the SPAMfighter website and the image on the right shows
where the program resides in Outlook. You would click on More to find the additional options.
Free Spam Filter for Outlook, Outlook Express,
Thunderbird, Windows Mail and Windows Live Mail
SPAMfighter has partnered up with Microsoft to build the strongest,
safest, and most effective anti-spam filter on the market. If you use
Outlook, Outlook Express, Windows Mail, Windows Live Mail or
Thunderbird and you want to get rid of spam, just install SPAMfighter.
And if you use it at home, it's 100% free.
Whenever new mail arrives, it will automatically be tested by
SPAMfighter, and if it's spam, it will be moved to your spam folder. If
you receive a spam mail that is not detected, click a single button, and
the spam mail is removed from the rest of the 8,487,715 SPAMfighters
in 237 countries/areas in seconds.
So easy to use. Once you download it, the program will attach itself to
Outlook and as your inbox fills it will remove the spam and block it for evermore. It works like a dream.
Next, you can click on an email that was borderline spam and not removed by SPAMfighter - then you’ll
click Block, and that spam will not return either. Once in a while you’ll need to police your spam folder as
some of your suppliers may use spam like words in their subject line. To return them to your inbox click
Unblock and if you wish, also add your supplier’s email address to the Whitelist.
Click for more information on SPAMfighter.
New Tools: 99Covers
As you read in the Facebook Cover Image article you MUST change your cover image from time
to time and it is probably best that you formulate a cover image strategy. Tie the change of
image into whatever it is you are selling from your website and in your email marketing
campaigns. You’ll want your client to receive the same offer wherever they click after receiving
your first promotion. Carry your promotional theme throughout your social channels too.
Finding or creating new Facebook cover images can be time consuming, but guess what I’ve
found for you? A terrific website offering free covers for your Facebook page!
From the 99Covers website:
There are hundreds of different various Facebook
Covers to choose from at 99covers.com! The
Facebook Cover photos are unique and creative.
There are many different Facebook Cover photos
you can choose from to add color, fun, and
excitement. Whether you are into sports, want to
show your faith, or want to make others aware of
a cause close to your heart, there covers that will
let you do just that.
Check the list
of images for
99 Covers also offers a custom Facebook cover service for $39
Ask Your Host Agency
Quick & Easy
Chances are the creative team at your host
agency HQ has already created a series of logo
specific Facebook cover images so make sure you
check with HQ first to save time.
If you are not one for using graphic software
here’s a simple way to cut and paste and add a
slogan to your image. Insert your image into a
Word document by clicking on Text Box, Insert
and then select your image. Open another Text
Box and type in your slogan. Choose the Font,
Size and colour you want. Highlight Text Box with
text and then click on Drawing Tools, Shape Fill,
No Fill. Follow the same steps for Shape Outline
– No Outline. Now your text will be layered on
top of your image.
Ask Your Suppliers
More and more suppliers are creating marketing
tools for their travel agency supporters and
preferred agency partners. Check with your BDM
and ask whether or not they have a FB cover
image for you to use and if not, perhaps you can
push for a customized cover image just for you.
If you are selling a specific supplier they may
want to be featured in your cover image
campaign. You never know until you ask.
Crop to size: Click on Start, All Programs,
Accessories, Snipping Tool. Use the Snipping
Tool to crop your image with text to the correct
size of the Facebook cover. Save to a folder
named Facebook Covers.
Use Your Own Images
Now you know the dimensions of the FB cover
image it is quite easy to crop one of your own
images and then add your text overlay and then
save your finished creation to a new folder
named Facebook Covers.
Well done YOU! Now you can teach others how
to quickly create a Facebook Cover with a sales
slogan to encourage inquiries and bookings.
More New Tools
Here’s what seems to be a terrific new marketing tool especially if you
would like to move from a static website to a multi-media all video
website. Posting 15 x 3 minute videos and having 100 plays per month
your plan would suit the SEED plan shown to the right. Not bad for ten
bucks a month. Also an e-commerce, pay to view feature is coming.
Simple, Easy to Use, and Affordable Video Hosting For Businesses
Video hosting can be expensive and complicated. SproutVideo wants to make
it inexpensive and easy. We have all of the features you need to make your
video campaigns successful at a price that will make you wonder why the other
guys charge so much.
This would have saved me a $100 or more recently.
There is an annual subscription of about USD$60 for
the basic stick covering 3 PCs.
External hardware-based removal of viruses, malware,
ransomware, spyware, trojans, rootkits and more that
cannot be removed by software security programs
Runs from a USB device and doesn’t install software so it won’t slow down your PC or interfere with your work and play.
Updates are automatically downloaded and stored on the FixMeStick.
PANORAMIC BALL CAMERA
For you photography buffs this is going to be a
“gotta have!” Imagine dropping this from atop
of the Eiffel Tower… hmm?
Capture more than just a picture with the Panono
Camera and discover a whole new experience. Send
your Panono up into the air. What it brings back
down will amaze you.
Play the video for more information.
The Travel Institute’s Well-Being Travel Course
Enroll in The Travel Institute's Well-Being Travel Specialist course and receive a
complimentary, one-year membership in Well-Being Travel.
The online course is designed to show you how to boost sales by
selling health, wellness and medical travel.
By enrolling in this course, you'll:
Gain an understanding of the health and wellness travel market.
Discover the different types of spas and wellness products.
Learn key health and wellness terminology.
Discover what procedures are most common with patient travelers.
Understand related insurance issues.
Learn how to find and market to health and wellness and medical travel clients.
The course includes interactive exercises, images, audio and graphics. A final test is available
allowing you to earn the Well-Being Travel Specialist designation.
CTAs, CTCs and CTIEs who complete this course will also earn 10 CEUs.
Thanks to our course sponsors: Well-Being Travel, Companion Global Healthcare, the Tourism
Authority of Thailand, Healing Hotels of the World, Malaysia Healthcare Travel Council,
the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, and Greater Fort Lauderdale.
Enroll today to receive your complimentary, one-year membership in Well-Being Travel.
What’s In Store?
Visit The Travel Agent’s Store to preview each of the e-Guides listed.
Join the Store Member Mailing List to receive pre-publication discounts.
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