Online marketing has transformed the way in which most travel agents conduct their business, but a recent educational seminar hosted by travel industry expert and TV host Sandra Cottam McLemore reaffirmed that traditional offline marketing practices are every bit as important to an agent’s bottom line, if not more.
McLemore stunned hundreds of travel agents in attendance at this year’s Affluent Traveler Collection conference in Boca Raton, Florida, this week when she told them only five percent of her marketing is done online. And while she stressed that a combination of online and offline marketing is integral (and a personal decision), she also invited travel advisors to put more emphasis on the human interaction they have with their clients.
“Just five percent of my marketing is online. Not because it’s not important, but because it’s my personal preference. Online is super important because it’s where people go to get visual proof of the products and services I’m selling. But to me, the ninety-five percent offline is where I can engage with people, communicate and build my new client base.”
McLemore shared her list with attendees of five places where they need to go offline (literally “leave the house” as she put it) to find affluent clients, adding that all of her methods were tried, tested and deemed worthy of placement on her list by numerous agents she works with.
Tap into high-end private schools, daycares, universities and summer vacation camps. “I know an agent who has a group of 243 affluent travelers. She found them with one phone call and she didn’t even have to collect money. She went into her local private school after finding out that they taught Spanish and French and that they took their language instruction very seriously. She went to the head of the language department and she offered to take a big group of children with their families to Spain to do immersive language practice.” Groups such as these can evolve into annual business, and eventually the younger children become teenagers and young adults who also wish to travel independently.
There are people right now who already work with all of the affluent people in your community. They do their taxes, style their hair, look after their financial accounts, plan their events, and even perform their plastic surgery. Think of a partnership or collaboration you can have with these people where they can refer you and vice versa.
Local luxury retailers
Think about the affluent car dealerships in your area (BMW, Porsche, Rolls-Royce, Lamborghini, Mercedes, etc.). What if you were to host a wine and cheese event at one of their dealerships with a pop-up video screen surrounded by the luxury cars? The dealer loves it because they can bring back people who have not bought a new car in two or three years, and you love it because you’re surrounded by affluent customers. “Think outside the box, because there are people already buying luxury in your community,” said McLemore.
Attend the local philharmonic, symphony and orchestra, and all the places where people appreciate the fine arts and gather together. Mingle with concert-goers and place an ad in the program for a group trip to Italy, Germany or Austria. Special interest groups of any kind are ideal places to look for affluent travelers.
There are places you can go in your local community where you can just be in the presence of luxury. You can sit poolside at a country club, enjoy a cocktail at a rooftop bar, or blend into the crowd in the lobby of a high-end hotel property. McLemore’s advice: “Look luxurious and speak the language of luxury.”