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Agent Diary: ‘My free or low-cost ideas for generating new business in 2021’

Rather than wait for the pandemic to be ‘over’, I’d urge you to get out there and promote your agency, says Ponders Travel managing director Clare Dudley.

Happy new year, everyone! I want to start January with ideas; let’s get creative, think outside the box and get some sales.

We all have the tools, but we must ask ourselves if we have the creativity and the energy? The answer is ‘Yes, you do!’

Some have warned against doing too much marketing at the moment as people are still unsure about travelling. I couldn’t disagree more. We can’t sit back and wait for this pandemic to be ‘over’.

“Once we get the ball rolling, this year is going to be so big for travel. Talk to your friends, family and clients, I bet you they are all desperate for a holiday.”

It perhaps feels harder to pick yourselves up and start believing again after such a torrid 2020, and if I could give a new year’s gift to anyone it would be belief or inspiration. But once we get the ball rolling, this year is going to be so big for travel. Talk to your friends, family and clients, I bet you they are all desperate for a holiday, a change of scenery and an adventure. There’s a good chance they are planning to do a little more than normal as they didn’t have a holiday in 2020.

Marketing tips

Here are some of my ideas for generating new business, and all are either free or a very low cost.

Use social media to the maximum. Link Facebook to Instagram; both sites are vast in their followings. You can increase your followers on both by following more sites yourself. I find that if you follow someone new, they often start following you back.

Send private message to old friends and family and invite them to follow your business’s pages.

Use all the offers and posts our lovely trade partners are sending us. Ensure your posts are engaging; add some fun and creativity. Videos are great and ones you make yourself help build great followings.

“Link Facebook to Instagram; both sites are vast in their followings. You can increase your followers on both by following more sites yourself.”

The personal touch is key. Make your emails to clients more about your experiences of products and destinations. Make your e-blasts specific and segmented, linking past passenger activity to what you think clients may like in the future.

Carry out as much in-house training as you can. Never underestimate the power of knowledge.

Create virtual events for clients. Many operators are providing these now, and you can team up.

If you have a shop, use the space to entice those not necessarily thinking of a holiday to come in. Maybe offer another local business some window space – that way you get a new business friend, their customers come in and your shop starts sewing the seed of their holiday plans.

“Offer another local business some window space – that way you get a new business friend, their customers come in and your shop starts sewing the seed of their holiday plans.”

Don’t be afraid to offer to do a travel-themed talk to local groups. The likes of the WI, U3A, Probus, Rotary and similar are always looking for speakers with good content.

If you have a specific interest, join like-minded groups on Facebook and target them with holiday ideas around your shared interest, be it gardening, bridge, boules, photography or walking. Many will travel together.

Call past clients to say hello, and ask how they’re doing. This very effective marketing is both friendly and engaging.  Think about your customers. If an offer comes in and you think they might like it – tell them!

I could write for days on this subject. Try it yourself and watch your sales mojo come back. 2021 is a year for those of us that have fought hard and who believe in our businesses. You can make it happen.


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Mutual support is our new theme

Here at Ponders we are going to work more closely with local like-minded businesses this year so we can support each other. We have three lovely big windows, so we shall let others use the space to promote their products. So far, we have already given window space to local businesses that don’t have their own shopfront and would normally sell via markets and craft fairs.

They include a jewellery business, a firm that specialises in personalised gifts and another that makes candles and diffusers. This tactic fosters goodwill and attracts new customers and opportunities, with our ‘kindness’ being shared on local Facebook pages. I’ve found that if you support your fellow small businesses, they will begin to support you too.

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