Marketing for travel agents is essential in this highly competitive and crowded market. Since most people now book holidays online, the challenge has changed for travel agents. As a travel agent, why not speak with marketing companies that know about marketing for travel agents?
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The UK travel industry has grown a lot in the last few decades as package holidays have made it possible for UK consumers to go abroad. Budget flights are affordable and people are sometimes taking more than 2 overseas holidays a year.
The travel industry has benefited by online travel companies in some ways. By making it possible to compare travel destinations, read reviews, look at hotels and plan a holiday from the comfort of the house without the need to visit the travel agent. However this has in many ways cut out the middleman (the travel agent). Therefore marketing for travel agents is important.
The travel industry is however very competitive and new travel companies are cropiing up offering more and more specialist holidays (adventure holidays, live aboards, ski holidays, cruizes etc.). Great for consumers, who have a wide choice of destinations and operators to choose from. Difficult for established travel agents who are being undercut by new comers and specialist travel agents.
Travel agents need to use marketing in order to gain market exposure and capture consumers into their agency/website rather than a competitors.
Many high street travel agents face the problem of having the costs and overheads of staff, offices, insurance etc. However they have the benefit of consumers walking by, dropping in and being drawn into the holiday dream. A double edged sword in many ways but online & offline travel agents both face the hurdle of consumers shopping around for cheaper costs rather than impulse buying.
There are a wide variety of tools of marketing for travel agents can use in order to attract consumers into the travel dream. Encouraging them to part with their money for a week or two away in the sun (or snow – if that is what they prefer):
Websites For Travel Agents
Over the last decade, websites have played a more central and important roll for travel agents. A relatively new addition to the marketing mix websites have only been around for a few years. Tet now they are one of the most central parts of a travel agents marketing strategy.
Websites for travel agents are central to their business, as they are virtual shop windows that people can use (instead of going into the travel agent) to look for holiday packages and book a holiday.
PR For Travel Agents
Many travel agents that do not have plush offices or shops in every town do struggle to bring in enough holiday makers. Generating exposure and interest in a travel agent is difficult and something that many travel agents do struggle with. Both the large travel agents like Thomas Cook, and the smaller ones/freelancers without the need for a good PR agency. PR for travel agents is all about raising the profile of the travel agent, in bringing their name into the media (whether they are large or small) so that consumers take notice and pay them interest.
PR is a very cost effective form of marketing for travel agents, and one that any travel agent can utilise to ensure brand awareness.
SEO For Travel Websites
The internet is a highly competitive market and travel companies face the problem of getting onto page 1 for a wide range of search terms. Terms like ‘cheap holidays’, ‘summer holidays’, ‘adventure holidays’, ‘holidays in Spain’ etc. There are only a few places on page 1 for any search term. SEO is all about getting travel companies to just that place. SEO for travel agencies is an very important part of marketing for travel agents and one that will bring a lot of visitors to a travel agents website.
PPC For Travel Agents Websites
Paid advertising is a great way to shortcut to the front of the search engine; travel agents can get their name onto page 1 all day every day with PPC adverts. PPC advertising is all about paying a search engine each time a visitor clicks on the advert link with brings in a new relevant visitor to the website. PPC for travel agents is a great way to quickly get new visitors to the website and hopefully booking holidays through the website.
Building A Travel Agency Brand And Promoting Credibility
The marketing areas above are all part of online marketing (PR can be carried out both offline and online), but travel agents do use many forms of offline marketing to great effect in raising awareness and sending the marketing message to consumers.
The main factor that many travel agents face is credibility; as companies such as Tui, First Choice, Thomas Cook have been running for so long, they are established brands which people trust. Smaller travel agents may get onto page 1 for web searches. But if consumers do not trust them/know them, then they may not book a holiday with them.
Advertising For Travel Agents
Many travel agents use traditional marketing (magazines, TV, radio etc.) in order to build credibility and a name in the industry. If consumers are buying a holiday, mostly they want to know and trust the travel agent. This can be hard for new or small travel agents that do not have the established track record of some of the larger travel agencies. Advertising for travel agents is a very effective way to build their brand and encorage holiday makers to trust them with their holiday dreams.
Part of marketing for travel agents is having Atol protection.
For any travel agency, the problem is which marketing company to use, there are thousands around the UK.
It is advised to select one that has experience in doing marketing for travel agents. One that knows the travel industry and understands how to communicate a travel agencies message.
Meeting the marketing company is a very wise idea. To discuss strategy, marketing objectives and how to ensure the marketing campaign brings results. Marketing can be very hit and miss and unless the marketing campaign is very well planned, it can become a very expensive exercise that does not bring in much fruit.
Regular meetings are also strongly advised in order to discuss progress. To look at marketing targets and ensure that the marketing company is achieving their set targets. Many marketing companies tend to shy away from meetings, as they do take time up and detract from dealing with other clients. However in order to get value for money (something very important during times of recession) regular meetings are very wise.
Marketing costs do vary depending on the size and experience of the marketing company that is chosen.
One thing to bear in mind is that all marketing companies are in business to make profit. In order to pay for cars, houses, holidays etc. they do need to make good profits from travel agents.
Choosing a good marketing company that can produce consistent results is important. But overpaying and adding to a marketing companies new car is not good.
By comparing quotes from 3-4 marketing companies that have experience in doing marketing for travel agents, just fill in the form above.