Can you imagine having your business grow by one thousand percent? Travel agent Kristy Smallish of Now Boarding Travel Planners doesn’t have to. She is living that reality – and all because she incorporated video into her marketing plan.
Tasty, Buzzfeed’s dedicated food video, has over 6.2 million subscribers on YouTube. They air one-minute, two-minute and up to six-minute videos on how to make different dishes as well as food basics.
So, why is watching “Jane peel potatoes” on You Tube more exciting than what you’ve got to say in writing? Jane peeling potatoes is authentic and it’s relatable, say industry experts. More than that, it is easy to process mentally and on some level it creates a desire in us to do the same thing as “Jane.”
Video is not the future of content marketing – it is the here and now. According to an article in Forbes, over half a billion people are watching video on Facebook every day. What’s more, internet video traffic will account for over 80 percent of all consumer internet traffic in the next three years.
That leads to the next question: Why aren’t more travel professionals harnessing this power of attention?
Industry experts say fear of the unknown is largely the reason. The result? If you’re not using video to engage your clients, you’re forfeiting tremendous sales opportunities.
A path paved with returns
Smallish is an owner in Ann Arbor, Michigan, who started her agency two years ago after casually arranging travel for family and friends for about 15 years prior to that. As the mother of six children belonging to Generation Z and an agent who specializes in romance travel for young couples, it didn’t take long for her to realize that to engage these types of clients, she had to take a different path. That path led her to video.
“The response was massive. It was an unexpected yet wonderful problem to have grown so quickly,” she said. Smallish admits that her foray into video was made easier by her husband, who has a degree in information science. But at the same time, she encourages other agents not to be intimidated by posting on Facebook Live, You Tube or Instagram. “It’s just an insecurity and the only way to get over it is to try.
“I don’t think nearly enough agents are going in this direction. Just within and outside our network, there should be so many videos produced on various topics and there aren’t.”
Dawn Ardito, owner of Purple Martin Vacations, also started incorporating video into her business two years ago. “My inspiration came from outside the travel industry. I was reading how video could help business people connect with their clients, so I did my first Facebook Live right from my dining room on the reasons why you should use a travel agent and what we do. It was answering the question that people are always wondering about.”
Here are some tips from those who have succeeded in using video, including how and why it can work for you:
Give travelers a look behind the curtain
“People feel like they’re insiders when you give them video,” said Ardito, who is big on taping site inspections and doing room reviews on Facebook Live and YouTube. While there are plenty of videos out there, the key is to add your personal touch and make them feel as if they are there. Also, saying things like, ‘this is what I would do for my family’ builds trust and a relationship with your viewers. Video plants the seeds for future trips and new types of vacation travel.”
More than just a marketing tool
While promotion and education are undoubtedly the primary reasons to incorporate video, client consultation and team training are additional benefits. “I always have either a phone or video call before I start working with a new client. Many of my younger clients choose video consultation, and since I don’t have a storefront, it allows me to engage with them, build a relationship and establish a bond of trust,” said Ardito, who also does team training via video for an hour every other week. “This allows us to get together just like we would if we were having a meeting in the office."
Present yourself as real
In an age of social media when trying to decipher truth from fiction isn’t without its hurdles, being authentic is refreshing to viewers. Avoid common blunders like over-the-top and cheesy transitions as well as confusing messaging and loud background noise. Just be yourself and keep it spontaneous but let your clients know when you’ll be going live on location so they can tune in. And don’t forget to add a call-to-action when you’re tying up the video. Your contact information should always be present.
Keep them engaged but have a purpose
For Smallish, she said it all comes down to an acronym: Excit(e)! “We make our videos entertaining. Excite stands for entertainment, extra information, connection, interaction and trust. That really encompasses everything we see as far as why it’s important to do video. I think our world functions off of people wanting to personally connect because the internet is so impersonal.”
Finally, take a chance
Steven Gould of Goulds Travel in Clearwater, Florida, started his agency in 2010. He points out that video is more organic than trying to promote his business through advertising. He sympathizes with fellow agents who are anxious about using video, but he doesn’t think they can afford not to. “They may say something they can’t take back, or they may not like their stage presence, but sometimes making a fool out of yourself gets some great feedback. There’s no reason not to get in front of the camera.”
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