You’re reaching less than five percent of your followers on Facebook. Keeping up a stream of Instagram photos isn’t easy. Twitter just isn’t converting for you. While your social media accounts can be solid lead generators, you shouldn’t forget about the single most important source for branding your business and generating sales – your website.
Search engine-generated clicks to your website are the greatest opportunity for you to attract business and build a stream of new customers. Travel Market Report is presenting a three-part series following Kelly Greenleaf on her journey from newly minted travel agent to global travel curator, launching her website in March 2017.
From Sardinia, to Hollywood, to the world
Greenleaf fell in love with travel when at 12 years old she spent a magical month on the island of Sardinia. She remembers walking to the beach, eating fresh bread from the local bakery, and snorkeling in the Mediterranean.
But when she graduated from college, Greenleaf found herself in a variety of publicity and production roles for companies like The Hollywood Reporter and 20th Century Fox. Her work helped fund her love for traveling (30 countries, 6 continents), but she didn’t seriously consider a travel career until she met Wendy Burk, CEO and founder of Cadence Travel, and decided to launch a host agency called Well Traveled Living in September 2015.
Launching a website was an important first step, Greenleaf understood. But despite her extensive training in marketing and promotion, Greenleaf felt tremendous pressure to get her first website exactly right, especially with so many Hollywood colleagues watching.
“Half the people in my client database were people I worked with in production,” Greenleaf said. “I knew I wanted something I would be super proud of, to say, ‘Here I am. This is me.’ It had to look incredibly professional and current. For me, there was no other way I could start in the business.”
Chelsea Petre, Cadence host agency marketing manager, has seen agents slow down their site launch as they navigate through this branding stage.
“Try not to be overwhelmed – a website is never really finished and it doesn’t have to be everything to everyone. Just like your business evolves with new product offerings and technologies, your website will always have room to evolve. Just be sure it is something you are proud of and that you are committed to keeping it fresh and current."
Find and own your brand
Working with Cadence’s in-house marketing team, Greenleaf set out on step number one, determining her brand and “owning” it in every aspect of her marketing.
“First and foremost, my brand is me. This is a personal business, and there are many excellent advisors to work with,” Greenleaf said. “I think that rather than trying to be a good fit for everyone, I am trying to be the best version of me. Not young, but young-at-heart … not serious, but not silly. Enthusiastic about life! At home on safari in Africa or exploring a stepwell in India, but also at home sipping champagne in Paris!”
The second part of her agency’s brand “involves keeping focused on my passions. Although I would be happy to help any client with any destination, what I focus on and specialize in are the destinations that I personally get the most excited about.”
Those destinations include Africa, Australia and Southeast Asia, and are part and parcel to Greenleaf’s brand. (In Part 2, we’ll see how Greenleaf decided which destinations to market prominently, and how.)
"Travel brands are the agents themselves – their expertise, specialties, communication style, customer service approach, location, target client, personal travels, background, reasons for selling travel, etc.,” said Petre.
“When I work with an advisor, I help them look closely into each one of these areas to ultimately discover what makes up their brand. Once we are able to pinpoint the DNA of the brand, we begin the creative process of interpreting an agent's brand into things like logos, business cards, and websites so that their brand’s story can be told in an effective and visually appealing way.”
Greenleaf, Petre, and Melinda Powers, Cadence director of marketing and communications, had slightly nuanced differences in what the brand was. But all agreed that it needed to reflect Greenleaf’s personal passion for those authentic experiences she came to first love as a young visitor to Sardinia, and pursued through her adult life.
Make a list about you
Powers calls this “Applied Personal Branding.” She recommends that agents “list out all of your own personal, quirky characteristics and then apply them to your brand or business. If you tend to be the ‘mom’ of your social circle, consider that your nurturing tendencies may be the driving force behind your exceptional and intuitive customer care.
“If you can identify one or two particularly compelling moments of nurturing in your life, you’re able to build a powerful ethos statement, which may ultimately become the tagline or your mantra of your business,” Powers said.
"In travel, we absolutely want our potential clients to have an initial sense of trust, we want them to believe that we care about their needs, we want them to have a seamless experience from the moment they begin interacting with us,” Powers added.
“These are all things a website should accomplish – and it is beyond just looking professional. It is sending a message. It is saying, ‘I am serious about this. You can invest your time and resources in my services, and I will not let you down.’”