For most travel advisors, the importance of having a strong and regular presence on social media is a given. The harder task is keeping up with all of that posting on a consistent basis. After all, they must find or write the content, take the pictures or video, post the content, and then respond to comments. And this needs to be done every single day.
Now there’s help, a simple and cost-effective solution for travel advisors to manage their social media outreach. BranchUp® offers travel professionals a system that curates and automatically posts inspiring travel content from trusted travel suppliers daily on travel advisors’ Facebook business page and LinkedIn account. It is easy and fast to use. And the best part is that this service is free for advisors.
How it works for travel advisors
Any travel advisor in the U.S. or Canada who has a Facebook business page can sign up for BranchUp. Once an advisor profile is created, it is all about the posts.
The social media experts at BranchUp create a combination of supplier promotional posts (that are branded by the participating travel advisors) and inspirational non-transactional posts to provoke travel desires for their clients.
All of the posts are designed to engage the travel advisors’ social media followers, and incite new travel dreams, while keeping the advisors top of mind as their chosen travel experts. Inspirational posts showcase wonderful destinations through stunning imagery; and product posts highlight special savings and other offers.
All leads, including the CTAs (call to action) on the landing pages of the supplier promotions, are directed back to the travel advisor. Whether the leads come through email, phone call, text message, or Like or Share, they go to the travel advisor.
“This is personal, free Facebook content for travel advisors,” explains Mike Drever, founder and CEO of BranchUp. “It helps to engage your social media followers and turns your Facebook business page into a lead-generating marketing tool. And all of this is being done on your behalf, at no cost to you.”
Facebook is the top social media platform today for both consumers and marketers, according to a survey conducted earlier this year by Sprout Social. Seventy-one percent of consumers and 65% of marketers said they planned to use Facebook the most of all the social media platforms in 2023. So Facebook is undoubtedly the place to be for marketing travel on social.
As for managing the curated BranchUp content, participating travel advisors can view posts up to two weeks in advance. The posting schedule feature allows advisors to take control of the BranchUp content and customize it as they wish for their social media feeds. Each post has text and an image that links to a landing page for lead capture. Advisors can edit a post, reschedule it, or delete it. As Drever describes, you simply set it and when the advisor’s client clicks on the supplier landing page, they get an email from their follower. Basically, an extension of their sales team.
Advisors can also choose which of BranchUp’s suppliers they want to promote. If they choose to be inactive with any suppliers that do not correspond with the type of travel they sell, posts from those suppliers will not show in the advisors’ Facebook feeds.
In addition, the BranchUp system provides detailed analytics, so travel advisors can easily track how many posts were made to their account monthly, the audience and reach, the engagement, and the number of click-throughs. This way, advisors can decide which types of posts resonate most with their clients/prospects on Facebook.
Extending marketing reach for suppliers
Travel suppliers also benefit from using the BranchUp system. It is an efficient way for cruise lines, tour operators, tourism organizations, and other travel-related suppliers to extend their reach to a larger segment of consumers - while including their travel advisor partners in the marketing. Every interaction is directed back to the advisor.
As a social media marketing tool, BranchUp boasts industry-leading performance. More than 40,000 plus travel advisors are currently participating in the program, and they have an estimated 9.4 million followers (qualified travel consumers). This is highly competitive with the reach of all the major consumer travel magazines combined (including Travel & Leisure, Afar, Departures, Food and Wine, Hemisphere, National Geographic, Recommend, and AAA) with a combined circulation totaling about 10 million, according to Anne Marie Moebes, chief marketing officer, BranchUp.
BranchUp says that Facebook’s average engagement is .09%, while BranchUp’s average engagement is significantly higher at 2.80% with travel advisors and their followers. So, the BranchUp platform delivers even better results than the overall Facebook platform. The bottom line for suppliers is that marketing that would cost upwards of $100,000 per publication through consumer travel publications can be achieved at a far less and more economical price point with BranchUp’s social media solution.
Another advantage for travel suppliers is the system’s efficient content creation. Suppliers send their promotions to BranchUp; and then the BranchUp team designs high-quality, professional posts and landing pages. Suppliers no longer need to spend critical funds and time on the design phase in-house, as BranchUp handles all design aspects on their behalf with their approval to maintain brand integrity. The posts are then automatically fed onto the advisor’s pages to market to their followers.
Disrupting the traditional trade model
The BranchUp system is unique and innovative. “We’ve disrupted the traditional trade model,” says Drever. “The process used to be suppliers reaching out to travel agency groups, then to travel advisors, and then to travelers. Now we speak to all audiences together. We have the supplier promotions, the consumer engagement, and the travel advisor education all happening simultaneously -while reducing the speed to market. Everyone benefits!”
Moebes adds: “This is the first time in the history of the travel industry that there has been a true B2B2C [business to business to consumer] marketing model. The entire transaction stays with the advisor, and their affiliations, while reaching the travelers using a more efficient and cost-effective model.”
Created by a travel industry veteran
BranchUp was founded by Mike Drever, founder and CEO, a travel industry veteran, and former CEO of Expedia™ CruiseShipCenters™; and his partner Peter Steele, COO and co-founder. Back in 2015, Drever recognized the importance of social media for travel advisors. His purpose was to develop new marketing and technology tools to empower travel professionals and help them master the art of sales and marketing by leveraging technology to their advantage.
Drever started as a travel agent back in the 1980s, when the internet was just in its infancy, and the only way to communicate with consumers was still through print ads, postal mailings, and phone calls. Perceiving the future of travel transactions, he was one of the first to use email marketing to stay in touch with friends, family, and clients.
Drever is an inspiring example of how travel advisors can achieve greater success by utilizing new technology and resources. He has spent 25 years working with travel advisors and franchise owners to develop and implement personalized marketing systems that, in his own words, “create customers for life.”
FROM THE SUPPLIER:
BranchUp provides curated lead-generation marketing for B2B2C applications. Through its proprietary software, the company currently supports more than 40,000 users. BranchUp works with cruise and vacation suppliers to drive business with personalized, turnkey social media marketing for travel advisors, so they can focus on product training, sales, and the client service side of the business. It will only take a couple of minutes to sign up here.