Despite some initial apprehension, travel agents attending Travel MarketPlace in Vancouver last week put their fears aside and responded with enthusiasm when they participated in a Facebook Live educational seminar presented by Vanessa McGovern, executive vice president, business development and strategic partnership, for the Global Institute for Travel Entrepreneurs (GIFTE).
McGovern successfully managed to convince the majority of over 250 travel agents in attendance that Facebook Live was not only an effective marketing tool, but also a fun way to connect to their clients and keep travel agents relevant and in turn, profitable.
Promising to deliver some “a-ha moments,” McGovern anchored in on the objections that agents have to using Facebook Live, dispelling their biggest fear first: that it was hard. Starting with the basics, McGovern walked attendees through the process, stressing that “livestreaming is the future of how consumers are getting their content” and noting that “Facebook is the largest aggregator of marketing intelligence on the planet.”
Facebook Live proposes a huge shift in how travel professionals market, but not an unapproachable one to be feared, said McGovern to a room full of travel agents and suppliers gathered for the co-sponsored educational event presented by ACTA and Travel Market Report.
She went on to note that live streaming is authentic, and while product knowledge is valuable, that alone will not generate more clients. “There is no amount of product training that can make you get a client. I see travel professionals spending 80 percent of their time on product training and only 20 percent on client attraction and marketing. You have to have a better balance. I know you don’t have time. But you don’t have time to not think about using Facebook Live.”
Agents went live at the event
Within a few minutes of McGovern’s urging, agents in attendance were streaming live footage of their experience from the general session, letting clients know they were serious about education.
Diane Manson, owner of Mountain City Travel in Kimberley, British Columbia, was one of those agents, and she spoke with TMR about what she learned. “Vanessa walked us through the steps and away we went. Although I wasn’t fearful, I had shaky knees when the ‘live’ was finished.”
Manson said she would have liked her livestream to be more polished, but when asked if, despite its imperfection, it would still prove to be a valuable marketing tool, she confidently said, “Absolutely!”
Manson said her take-away from the session was that “going ‘live’ is real, vulnerability amidst the sea of social media is authentic, and viewers like that, and finally, ‘live’ garners higher viewership.
Invite suppliers to join in
Some additional tips McGovern offered include inviting your favorite suppliers to join a Facebook Live with you to offer product information, sharing a live tour of a new ship or hotel room inspection, showing a behind-the-scene look at a trade event, and just plain making consumer connections.
“Consumers are craving expert advice,” said McGovern. “They want to know authentic information about where they are traveling. Share what you’ve learned with them and definitely share your amazing travel experiences.”
While Facebook Live is meant to be spontaneous, McGovern also suggested scheduling a livestream in advance by posting the time you plan on going live on social media channels. “While clients are definitely more engaged when something is live, you will definitely get more followers if you tell them when to tune in."
Also important to note is the ability to repurpose Facebook Live posts. McGovern suggests downloading the video file, adding your business logo to it for brand identity and re-uploading it to YouTube and Instagram.
Most importantly, McGovern encouraged travel professionals to use the tried-and-true email as their best marketing vehicle. “At the end of the day, social media is a rented platform. Email still remains the most important marketing vehicle you own.”