Written By: Michelle Fee, Founder & CEO – Cruise Planners
Whether you are just starting your travel agency, or you’ve been around for decades, having a strong online presence is more important than ever. An established digital footprint helps new customers find you and allows you to expand relationships with existing customers.
With so many online channels though, it can seem overwhelming. You’re probably wondering, “How do I know where to dedicate my time and resources? Do I have the technical know-how needed? Can I afford it?”
At Cruise Planners, we do a lot of the heavy lifting to help our travel advisors maximize their online footprint by supplying them with robust websites and mobile apps as well as social media and search engine optimization (SEO) support. This takes a large load off their shoulders and allows them to spend more time with their customers and selling travel.
If you don’t have the support of the nation’s largest travel franchise network behind you, there are still some best practices you can put in place to help maximize your digital presence.
Have a great website
In today’s digital age, a website is the lifeblood of nearly every business. If you don’t have a website, it’s like you almost don’t even exist.
When you are designing your website, you should always keep your customer in mind. Make sure your site is easy to use and easy to navigate. Customers shouldn’t have to do too much digging to find the information they are looking for. Your site should also be responsive, meaning it will look great on any size device like a phone or tablet.
A good travel agent website should inspire visitors to want to travel. Including beautiful, high-resolution pictures is a great way to do this. You might also consider writing a blog or travel inspiration features to help clients get excited about planning a trip.
Create a Google My Business account
Have you ever done a Google search and seen a list of businesses related to your search appear near the top of the page? These are Google My Business pages. With a Google My Business account, you can create a free business listing that includes pictures, information about your business, links to your website and a link to call you directly. Your business profile will be visible in Google searches that match certain search terms. This is an easy and free way to improve your SEO and drive more web traffic to your travel agency.
Find your niche on social media
Social media continues to be one of the leading ways to connect with customers, but it can be overwhelming. Rather than spreading yourself thin posting to five or six different platforms, focus on just one or two sites and post regularly. It’s a good idea to pick the social platforms your customers are most likely to use.
Additionally, if you haven’t done so already, you should consider creating a business profile separate from your personal profile on the social media platforms you choose to participate in. Not only will this help keep the content you post focused and relevant to your customers, but with a business profile, you get many enhanced features like demographic information about your followers, enhanced reporting about the performance of your content and the ability to do targeted, paid advertising.
Make a Yelp business listing
Reviews play a huge role in the consumer decision making process, and Yelp continues to be a leading site for reviews. By creating a business profile with Yelp, you will make your business more visible to potential customers searching for travel agent services. Like a Google business profile, a Yelp business page allows you to include photos, links to your website, and other important information about your business. Yelp business listings are free to create with the option to pay for enhanced advertising options.
Consider a mobile app
More and more business is being conducted through phones. A mobile app can get your travel agency in the palms of customers and provide useful tools that will keep bringing them back. If you’re going to invest time in developing an app, you have to make sure it will provide value to your customer. Focus on trying to solve a problem or making something easier for your customer, like providing an easy way to book future travel or a place to access information about an upcoming or current trip.
How Cruise Planners supports our travel advisors
At Cruise Planners, we understand the importance of having a strong online presence in today’s digital world. That’s why we invest heavily in giving our advisors the tools and guidance needed to be successful.
All our travel advisors get their own beautifully designed, mobile responsive websites with an easy-to-use booking engine that lets customers quickly find the information they’re looking for. We’ve also built a mobile app that allows our advisors’ customers to access upcoming trip details, make payments and book future travel. The app even has built-in destination guides and an integration with Yelp so clients can explore activities in the destinations they are visiting.
Additionally, we provide support in helping our advisors establish their Google My Business account and Facebook Business page, as well as posting to social media on their behalf up to four times per week. We have also partnered with an online reputation management company so our advisors can manage multiple online profiles, like a Yelp business page, from one centralized location.
Looking to maximize your online presence? Learn how you can get the tools and support needed to grow your digital footprint with Cruise Planners at www.cruiseplannersfranchise.com.