Travel advisors that can introduce simple initiatives to maintain a connection with their customers throughout this global pandemic have a higher chance in retaining customer loyalty, according to GlobalData, a data and analytics company.
GlobalData said soft marketing is key right now, as the dates for when international travel will resume are still uncertain, so this will allow advisors to touch base with consumers as well as entice new prospects. Brands who hold a strong social media presence have greater chances of retaining customer loyalty, increasing brand awareness, and the possibility of attracting a wider market, and thus will emerge better off than others.
For example, Flight Centre Travel Group, which operates flagship Flight Centre leisure travel brand and U.S.-based travel agency Liberty, released a travel video ‘Open up the World’ aimed to inspire travelers and reassure consumers that agents are still working from home. According to GlobalData, a later announcement between March 15 and April 7 saw browsing time increase by 91.62% compared to 2019, “this highlights how a simple action can gather additional traction.”
“In light of the current situation, the prospect of identifying a new market opportunity will seem ludicrous to many as all companies will simply strive for survival over the next few months. Yet this is now the time for strategic evaluation, where any opportunity for increasing brand recognition should ultimately
, be a key priority,” explained Johanna Bonhill-Smith, Travel and Tourism Analyst at GlobalData.
To foster this emotional connection, either through social media or email marketing, advisors should maintain communication during this time. Steadily posting images, virtual tours, cultural content, or nature exploration can not only keep you in mind when travel bookings resumes, but keep an affinity for your business that encourages loyalty.
Lauren Doyle, Executive Vice President of The Travel Mechanic in Apex, North Carolina, said “it’s important to show up consistently for clients.” Doyle, who is active on Instagram, utilizing IGTV and Instagram Live, as well as Facebook and newsletters, said “now that people are bored, they’re turning to social media even more.”
While it may not be the right time to market travel, it is the right time to help members stay connected with their own clients.
Doyle, for example, hosted a Happy Hour on her Instagram Live Thursday night, where she made a French-themed cocktail and shared a sample itinerary for an ideal mother/daughter trip to Paris.
Sometimes the best way to connect with your client is to be authentic. Doyle said, “be transparent. In a world, especially with Millennials, we don’t want the BS, we want to see your transparency. I’m going to show my clients that I have good days and I have bad days, just like they do.”
By posting these videos, “I’m telling people what I bring to the table in a fun way,” adding that agents need “to be talking about the value we bring to the table every day – it may feel redundant but the public doesn’t know if we don’t tell them.”
Dehoney Travel has started a social media campaign called the “Dehoney Travel Armchair Traveler” on their Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter social media profiles using the hashtag #dehoneytravelarmchairtraveler , where each day they feature a short virtual tour of a different worldwide destination or tourist site.
Through these posts, they hope to keep their followers and clients engaged and dreaming about travel as they share some of our favorite travel inspirations through virtual tours garnered from across the internet while we all remain in our homes. They will also be sharing travel photos and videos of the Dehoney Travel team members on their own travels. And, as members of Ensemble, they also include the hashtags of #EnsembleStrong, #ASTAStrong as well as the hashtags from the particular tourism bureaus or tour operator being highlighted to cross-promote.
If Instagram and Facebook are intimidating, travel agents can also connect with clients via newsletters, like Philip Beck, travel consultant with Personal Travel Management in Vancouver.
Beck puts out a weekly newsletter “I never mentioned a dollar figure, because I know that you never win on price,” but rather focuses on value and experience. It started as a Q&A with common questions asked by his luxury and adventure clientele.
“Since I’ve been doing the focus of communication and value, I modified it a little more in the past few weeks with asking people for more engagement.” In a recent newsletter, Beck shared art he’s collected from traveling all over the world, and asked for others to respond with theirs.
Creating this two-way conversation with clients helps deepen the advisor-client bond. In some cases, it may even spur inspiration for future bookings. Beck said someone responded to one of his newsletters after seeing a few mentions of Mongolia, and expressed a desire to go.
Reassure clients it’s okay to dream, and that you will be there when the time comes to book their next trip.