At Travel Agency Tribes, Ryan McElroy's role is to collaborate on the strategic direction of the company as well as lead the sales and marketing functions. Driving growth through innovative solutions that help travel advisors build their business is his forte. Here, he takes a deep dive into Travel Market Report’s Outlook on Social Media.
TMR: The majority of agents say social media is very important or important to their business. What steps should more agents be taking and how can they use this research to their advantage?
Ryan McElroy: Consistency and leverage. Fortunately our industry has so much great content that can be developed. We have so many resources from destination and supplier content to agent fam and personal travel content to UGC (User-Generated Content) IE from our clients. We need to use a myriad of all these resources, along with the leveraging of the fact we, as travel professionals, travel so often to our advantage.
TMR: In your opinion, what is the most important finding in this research, and why?
RM: The fact only four in 10 respondents have a plan for social media marketing. In order to be really, really, successful in digital marketing, a plan is key along with desired outcomes. A plan will keep you, your team and the organization on point and moving in the right direction.
TMR: Are you surprised at the results? Are they in line with what you see in the market?
RM: I was a bit surprised with the limited knowledge of hashtags. The hashtag is how social media content is discovered. It’s vital that advisors know the major hashtags our industry uses and is tagging both destinations and suppliers if applicable.
TMR: Is there a certain number of times a month or an average of posts per day trave advisors should have? Is there a formula/method that can help them get started?
RM: I don’t think it’s all about frequency of number. Set aside the time, one hour a day, three hours a week etc. Ask yourself who is going to benefit from what I’m posting? Are you trying to inspire someone, educate someone, make someone smile, reinforce a brand promised?
TMR: Which platform do you think is rising in popularity?
RM: Attention has shifted to Instagram. Travel is visual and Instagram caters to that. I would have thought the number or agencies/advisors engaging [on Instagram] would have been higher.
Linkedin is underutilized. It’s where professionals congregate. If you’re looking for new clients that are active in your business community and want to support local business go there. The market is wide open for advisors/agencies on LinkedIn.
TMR: Why do you think two-thirds of travel advisors use video?
RM: Storytelling and authenticity. Video doesn’t need to be a production. Let your personality shine. People buy from advisors and agencies whom they trust. Video is a perfect way to instill trust.
TMR: Is paid advertising a worthwhile investment on social media?
RE: Facebooks revenue is almost all ad based. It did over 13 billion in the third quarter. Paid advertising works. However, you have to get good at it and you can’t be doing “one and done” campaigns. You must commit to a monthly budget and get great at placing the ads, adjusting and testing them on the fly.
TMR: What are travel advisors missing in the social media picture? What advice can you offer?
RM: Leveraging clients. Ask your clients if you can post some of their pictures and tag them. Interview them and put that content on your website and place it on Facebook and LinkedIn. Travelers love to brag and boast about their travel resume. Provide the soup box. Trust me they will be some of the most popular posts you ever do.
TMR: There are agents who responded to our survey that said they generated $25,000 or more from their social media efforts. Is there even more they could be doing to increase that number?
RM: Reverse engineer why the sale was made. What was the demographic of the person who was influenced by your posts, etc. Birds of a certain feather fly together. Go find more of those types of people and post more of that content.