Written By: Jason Coleman, CTC, ECC, CLS, LCS, DS, Business Development Manager/MentorU Coach – UNIGLOBE Travel Center
National Travel and Tourism Week is roughly a month away. Organized and promoted by the U.S. Travel Association, the second week of May is an annual opportunity to unite as an industry and showcase the value of travel to our economy and lives. Travel agents should absolutely be a part of this outreach campaign. Besides joining other sectors in raising awareness of what we do, it is a chance for you to market yourself and your business and capitalize on existing promotions that extend your efforts without a lot of added expense. Here is a list of nine ways you and your business can get involved with National Travel and Tourism Week, May 6-12, 2018.
1. Lead the Effort for an Official Proclamation
How cool would it be to have your mayor, city council, county, or district board join you in proclaiming May 6-12 as National Travel and Tourism Week. Congress made NTTW official back in 1983, but you can lead an effort to get your elected officials to make the proclamation locally. Every jurisdiction has a different process for this, but I’ve done it before and it’s very easy. Usually just a request or informal meeting with an official representative can get the proclamation on their agenda. And when you’re successful, don’t forget to take lots of pictures of you with the mayor or council to post all over social media and share with your clients. You’ll look like the local travel hero!
2. Represent Travel Agents at a Travel Rally Day Event
Travel Rally Day is held the Tuesday of NTTW. This year, Travel Rally Day is Tuesday, May 8. Rally events happen around the country and bring local tourism workers together with elected officials, the media, and interested public to raise awareness locally. A map that lists events around the country is available on U.S. Travel’s website. Attend your local event and represent travel agents! Wear something visible like Carnival’s “Travel Agents Rock” shirt or your agency logo wearables. Be proud of the industry you’re in. Support others who work in other segments near you. Who knows, you could even get some face time with a reporter covering the event. How great would that be for your business?
3. Contact/Meet Your Local Elected Representatives
NTTW is a great week to reach out to your state and congressional representatives to remind them of the benefit of your business to the local economy. How many jobs do you create? How many clients do you serve? What can they do to make your job easier? If you are an ASTA member (and you should be!), reach out to Eben Peck at headquarters and ask for some talking points on issues important to ASTA and our travel agency community. You can also get a list of talking points from the U.S. Travel Association. The most important message you can convey is to let them know that you’re a small business in their district!
4. Plan Your Social Media Posts
Generating positive awareness surrounding NTTW is a perfect match for your social media posts. Find ways to promote your value and the role of travel agents through your Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and other social media accounts. Create posts that inspire exploration and travel experiences. Share the impact of the travel and tourism industries on our economy. This week, more than any other, is the time to shout it from the rooftops to your contacts and connections. You are a proud travel agent, part of this amazing industry. Don’t forget to use the official hashtags to be part of the conversation nationwide: #nttw18, #TBTravel, #TravelNow
5. Host a Client Event/One Week Sale
Capitalize on the promotions and publicity surrounding the week to invite your clients to a special event. Do something that centers on promoting your value, your services, your relationships. If you choose to combine an event with a one-week sale, focus on promoting domestic destinations, U.S. rail travel and river cruises, and local getaways. These are the focus of U.S. Travel Association’s campaign, so maximize your efforts by working with the existing efforts. Whatever you do, make sure you are the focus of your event or sale. People will work with you because of who you are and what you do for them.
6. Write a Letter to the Editor or Send a Media Advisory/Press Release
If you’re not in the practice of regularly writing letters to your newspaper editor or sending press releases about you and your business, this is a great time to start. I used to be intimidated by this activity, and I realized my fear came from knowing that I could actually get a call or request for an interview or comment. Wait…isn’t that exactly what I was trying to achieve? There are several resources available for you to borrow and adapt to promote NTTW to your local media. My best recommendation is to use these as a guide, and don’t just fill in the blanks. Make it your own. Use your own language. Say what YOU want to say. Consider this platform to make a new connection to a journalist who covers the travel industry, local businesses, or professional accomplishments of professionals like yourself.
7. Send Your Clients a Thank You
You wouldn’t be in business without your clients. Tell them that! Send a hand-written postcard or note to your clients thanking them for their friendship, loyalty, and trust with their vacation plans. It will come out of the blue, and be such a welcome message for your clients. You don’t even have to say a thing about NTTW. Just use the occasion to recognize and thank those that help keep you in business.
8. Spread the Gratitude
Don’t stop the thanks with just your clients. Spread the gratitude around and thank those that support you and your business. Think of people like your supplier reps, your host agency support team, and those that provide your business services like your mailman, your banker, and others. Extending kindness in the form of gratitude not only makes the recipient feel good, it has shown to work wonders on the giver as well. Who doesn’t want to feel better at the end of the day, work more productively, and carry less stress? All of these are great benefits to regularly showing gratitude. With all that in mind, it’s something we should be practicing daily, right?
9. Tell Your Story
NTTW tells our industry story, our impact on the economy, and the service we bring to our local communities and the world. It’s also a great opportunity for you to share your story. What got you into this business in the first place? What motivates you to create memorable experiences for your clients? Imagine how much good it could do for travel agents in general to share these stories more. Not only does it promote you and your business in a truly authentic, “non-salesy” way, it also raises the profile of travel agents in general. The story of you and your business is perhaps the most important marketing asset you have. Use it frequently, and let it shine in the spotlight this National Travel and Tourism Week!
Resources to help you promote National Travel and Tourism Week are available from the U.S. Travel Association here: https://www.ustravel.org/events/national-travel-and-tourism-week.