IC Travel Agent February 2014

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The How-To Magazine for ICs, OSRs & Home-Based Travel Agents

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IC Travel Agent February 2014

  1. 1. TRAVEL AGENT THE HOW-TO MAGAZINE FOR ICs, OSRs & HOME-BASED TRAVEL AGENTS FEBRUARY 2014 The ART of Selling Travel from HOME AN SMP TRAINING PUBLICATION
  2. 2. Just Arrived! The Travel Agent’s Store Read the Preview of Selling Flexible Independent Travel Arrangements
  3. 3. TABLE OF CONTENTS – IC FEBRUARY 2014 2 JUST ARRIVED! Selling Flexible Independent Travel Arrangements 4 NEXION: True Support For True Professionals 5 MESSAGE FROM MIKE FOSTER, President, Nexion Canada Advertorial 6 EDITORIAL: Marketing in 2014 will be different… 7 MARKETING 2014 12 HOSTING EVENTS IN 2014 13 USING THE WORD FREE 14 BE AN EXHIBITIONIST Guest article by Steve Gillick 16 TRAVEL PROVENANCE 18 THE ENGAGEMENT’S OVER – START SELLING! 20 FACEBOOK TIMELINE COVER 23 WEBSITE DESIGN IDEAS 24 VIDEO MARKETING DATA 25 SELLING THE LOVE 26 CARTOUCHE GRAPHICS 27 NEW TOOLS: SPAMfighter 28 NEW TOOLS: 99Covers 29 MORE NEW TOOLS: Sprout Video, FIXME Stick, Panono 30 THE TRAVEL TRAINING INSTITUTE Advertorial 31 SELLING WITH STEVE 32 WHAT’S IN STORE? The Travel Agent’s Store 33 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. CONTACT Steve Crowhurst steve@ic-travelagent.com 250-738-0064 www.ic-travelagent.com Publisher: SMP Training Co. www.smptraining.com Contributors Steve Crowhurst IC TRAVEL AGENT is owned and published by Steve Crowhurst, SMP Training Co. All Rights Reserved. Protected by International Copyright Law. IC TRAVEL AGENT can be shared, forwarded, cut and pasted but not sold, resold or in anyway monetized. Using any images or content from IC TRAVEL AGENT must be sourced as follows: “Copyright SMP Training Co. www.smptraining.com” SMP Training Co. 568 Country Club Drive, Qualicum Beach, BC, Canada, V9K-1G1 Note: Steve Crowhurst is not responsible for outcomes based on how you interpret or use the ideas in IC TRAVEL AGENT. T: 250-738-0064.
  4. 4. 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 GDS systems 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. Visit www.Join.NexionCanada.com Email sales@nexioncanada.com Call 866-399-9989 MENTION THAT YOU SAW US IN IC AGENT MAGAZINE AND RECEIVE YOUR FIRST MONTH FREE! 10131503-Nexion_Ad.indd 1 10/29/13 2:18 PM
  5. 5. 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 Page 5
  6. 6. 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! Best regards. Steve Crowhurst, CTC steve@ic-travelagent.com www.ic-travelagent.com Click me to Opt-In to the NEW mailing list for SMP. Page 6
  7. 7. 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. OLD MEDIA How to make use of these marketing tools in 2014 SOCIAL MEDIA Agency Window 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 telephone, email and 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. Website Brand Wear 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 with you. 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 know” reaction. Brand Wear Page 7
  8. 8. OLD MEDIA How to make use of these marketing tools in 2014 SOCIAL MEDIA Brochures 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 and more. E-Brochures Conference Calls 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 think audiences. Conference Calls Direct Mail 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 Page 8
  9. 9. OLD MEDIA How to make use of these marketing tools in 2014 SOCIAL MEDIA Events 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 video feeds. Events Magazines 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 readership lives right around your home-based agency, making getting together very easy. If you have the money and sell wider than your local area then national-international 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. Digital Magazines Newsletters Paper 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 print service. 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! Blogs Page 9
  10. 10. OLD MEDIA How to make use of these marketing tools in 2014 SOCIAL MEDIA Newspapers 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 newspapers are. Like most magazines, newspapers are also available online. The cost of advertising will be low for the local digital version and expensive for the national digital version. Be guided once again by the generation you sell to or wish to attract. You might survey your clients as to which newspapers they read and which version. Newspapers Posters Posters are still attractive, if you can find them. Many suppliers now charge for them and others no longer offer them. In 2014, why not use your own 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 receives it. Posters 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 generation and their 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! Radio Page 10 DOWNLOAD OUR FREE POSTER Radio
  11. 11. OLD MEDIA How to make use of these marketing tools in 2014 SOCIAL MEDIA Referrals 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. Referrals Specialty Advertising 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 code. Specialty Advertising Video 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 tablets etc. 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 your website. Video 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 more information.  Page 11
  12. 12. 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. The Venue 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” offer.  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. Door Prizes 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. Page 12
  13. 13. 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 are perfect. 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.       Discounts CDs, DVDs Videos T-Shirts Posters Brochures       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 promotions.  Maps Pens Mugs Key chains Mouse pads USB drives 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 Page 13
  14. 14. 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. 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. Making Contact 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). Client Testimonials In addition, those testimonials from your clients are also part of your provenance. Page 14
  15. 15. 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 services. 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 provenance! 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. Page 15 Namahage Museum, Oga, Japan.
  16. 16. Travel Provenance 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…” “So what?” 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 what?” question. “I’ve sailed on 55 cruises…” “So what?” 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 Page 16
  17. 17. 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 DETAILS GOT PROOF? 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  Page 17
  18. 18. 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, or “eyeballs.”  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. Page 18
  19. 19. 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 Likes Reach Eyeballs SALES 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. Page 19
  20. 20. 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 images. 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 industries, too. Page 20
  21. 21. Here’s a great idea to expose more of your cover image. Use a PNG image for your logo and the background image will show through. 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. Page 21
  22. 22. 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 cover image. 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 behind. 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 to you. 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…” https://www.the-qrcode-generator.com/ 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? Page 22
  23. 23. Website Design 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 your website.  Page 23
  24. 24. 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. Page 24
  25. 25. 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? The Unforgettable 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 after. 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 more expensive. 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. The Quickie! 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!  Page 25
  26. 26. Cartouche Graphics 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. http://www.discoveringegypt.com/hieroglyphic-typewriter.html http://www.virtual-egypt.com/newhtml/glyph/glyph.html 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 calligraphic names. 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 heading to? 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.  Page 26
  27. 27. 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. Page 27
  28. 28. 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 Cities, Places, Weddings… 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.  Page 28
  29. 29. 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. FIXME STICK 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. Page 29
  30. 30. 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. Page 30
  31. 31. Page 31
  32. 32. 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. Page 32
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  34. 34. Be Sure to Share www.ic-travelagent.com

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