How to: Grasp the basics of travel agency marketing – part two

We all want to improve the marketing of our businesses. Following on from last week’s advice about defining your core message, this week we look at how to turn that message into awareness and sales.


First principles

There are many approaches to successful marketing; thousands of books have been written on the subject and advertising agencies the world over pay their executives phenomenal sums of money to guide clients’ advertising messages and, of course, their budgets.

But you aren’t a multinational brand with a £10 million budget, so we have to go back to some core basics of five simple steps:

  1. Create awareness

  2. Generate leads

  3. Convert leads into paying clients

  4. Ensure you get repeat business from these customers

  5. Get them to tell their friends.

This article looks at each of these steps in turn. Assess how your activity and business fulfils them. Once you have done this, you might say “I knew that and I was doing most of it, but a few things have slipped”.


1) Create awareness

It isn’t as simple as making sure that as many people as possible know what your business is. You and your staff have to know what business you are in yourselves and what this business looks like. Refer to last week’s How To for steps to defining the image of your business.


2) Generate leads

Make sure you know who your audience is and that your marketing messages are appropriate for them.

Be single-minded in your advertising. Don’t commit the cardinal sin of trying to sell every one of your products or services in a tiny black and white advert. Pick out one clear message and attract the customers’ interest through the advert.

Look at all available media. You may be on the high street but your customers are looking online and in newspapers for ideas.


3) Convert leads into paying customers

Even the best brands in the world let themselves down here. How often have you sent off for something or rang a plumber and got no response?

If your advert was right, your leads will be hot, and they will have cost you money. Follow them up immediately, find out what they are interested in and ask who else they are talking to.

Loyalty starts here. Get to know them and show them that you really want their business. Add them to a database to follow up after a while, especially if your business is seasonal.


4) Repeat business

Good service and a good product are not enough these days to guarantee repeat business. Consumers shop around and have more choice than ever before.

Talk to them regularly, send them emails, letters and leaflets about promotions and even call them to ensure all is fine with their purchase and to ask what else they might need.

Try to learn about them. If you sold them a short break, find out where they take their main holiday, and how many times a year they travel.

This is great knowledge to have: there is no point spending time and money cross-selling to a customer who takes only one main holiday a year. You have to make sure that you are on their shopping list, because your competitors will be!


5) Tell a friend

If a customer is unhappy they will tell on average six other people about you. So keep a customer happy. Better still, fix what they were complaining about and they will tell 11 of their friends.

Most people have friends that are like them and have similar purchasing behaviour. So encourage your best customers to tell their friends. And offer recommendation incentives, such as ‘recommend a friend who books and win a bottle/case/vineyard of wine’, depending on the value of the booking.


Danny Crowe, director, ElmscottDanny Crowe is planning director at communications agency Elmscott

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