The Troubleshooters – 23rd March 2006

Don’t let your workplace worries get you down. Whatever your question, Travel Weekly’s panel of experts has got the experience and knowledge to solve it.

This week Russell Amerasekera looks at how to raise your profile on a tight marketing budget, and Alasdair Cross advises on getting user-generated content onto your website.

Click here to meet the experts and submit a question…

Russell Amerasekera

russell transparenttroubleshooters - big Q I need to raise the profile of our agency in the community but do not have a big advertising budget. What advice do you have in terms of getting coverage in the local paper and other media, and what steps can I take to get our name known in the local community and business world?
B Hunter, St Albans

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Get your team together to brainstorm ideas about how you can increase your profile in the community. I’d start by looking specifically at why your agency is different to your competitors; what is special about your people – what do they do that others don’t; any other unique selling points you have as an agency; and your customers – do any of them have unusual holiday stories.

The purpose is to define ‘your story’ – the picture you want to paint to the outside world.

Next, you need to think about all the different ways you might be able to raise your profile, such as your local newspaper, radio stations , TV stations etc.

Consider what opportunities you might have for getting your messages across through publicspeaking opportunities such as local business forums. These help to build perception and profile.

Get your team to draw up a list of influential people and organisations who may be able to help you. Everyone from the editor of the local newspaper, to the head of a local business organisation who might be prepared to consider you as a speaker at one of their events. Make sure you gather all their personal details, address, telephone numbers and then systematically target them either by writing to them or better still, make a telephone call to introduce yourself. Set your team targets, goals, timeframes and offer small incentives for achieving a result , whether that’s coverage in the local paper or securing a speaking slot at a local forum.

Be prepared for rejection, but I promise you if you persist in an organised and focused way, you will get results. The main thing to remember is to create a compelling story and tell it well

Alasdair Cross

alasdair crosstroubleshooters - big Q I watch with envy the number of websites that attract fresh content from users that helps keep the site alive with new material. How do I attract such content on to my site and what steps do I need to take to make the most of any new content I receive and manage its effectiveness?
R Meaden, Poole

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Significant benefits to your natural search rankings can be achieved by incorporating user generated content as search engines will rate your site more highly if it is seen as authorititive.

Forums and discussion boards allow you to build up a community based around your products or services. You can have a two-way conversation between you and your customers based on, for example, different holiday experiences. The site will need moderating and people can sometimes be brutally honest when messaging online. A number of chat-board service suppliers can include a moderator with your package.

Websites such as Trip Advisor allow their customers to write warts-and-all hotel reviews which make their sites ‘sticky’.

Blogs can be a great way to keep a record of interesting news relevant to you. Alternatively, let customers write their own travel blogs on your site? There are a number of chat-board and blog service providers, including, which offer a free basic service.

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