Written By: Jackie Friedman, President – Nexion Travel Group
It’s hard to believe the end of the year is coming upon us. Now is the perfect time to put your marketing plan into place for 2019. Here’s my recommended approach with six, easy steps for developing and implementing your marketing calendar:
Do more of what works and less of what doesn’t. This may seem obvious, but many travel advisors continue to do what they’ve always done to market their business without really measuring success first. A good place to start is by first reviewing the marketing initiatives you did this year and determining which ones generated the best return on your investment. If you don’t have the data for this year, take that as a lesson to put together for your 2019 marketing plan, so you can identify what the desired outcome is for each marketing initiative.
Review the goals you have in place for your travel business. Next, determine which marketing initiatives directly impact the goals you have set. Remember that the best goals are those that are S.M.A.R.T. – specific, measurable, achievable, results-focused/relevant and time-bound – because they help ensure you’re clear on what you’re trying to accomplish. For example, “Increase group commission by 10 percent in first quarter by booking four additional cabins” or “Increase bookings to Mexico by 40 percent in one year” are examples of S.M.A.R.T. goals.
Establish tactical marketing initiatives to contribute to the set goals. Once you’ve established your objectives, it’s time to put together some specific ways to contribute to successful results. For example, if you want to increase your group business, break that objective into a S.M.A.R.T. goal. It may look like this: “Book a minimum of three groups, averaging 50 passengers per group, by Dec. 31, 2019.”
Your marketing strategy and specific tactical plans to achieve this could include:
- Visiting local businesses that match your group theme to identify pied pipers or marketing partners (think wineries for a wine-themed cruise or universities for fulfilling travel abroad, for example)
- Exploring Meet-Up groups with similar special interests or niches Identifying connections you have in your network that could open doors for you and help establish pied pipers
- Identifying online social media communities that attract affinity groups to start nurturing relationships to build group sales
- Hosting a travel night for potential customers
- Contacting people in your network and asking what types of trips they would be interested in traveling with a group; you may receive ideas to consider that you never thought about
Determine which suppliers you can partner with on these initiatives. Consider setting up a meeting with your local BDM to discuss potential business ideas. Be selective, and provide them with the who, what, when, where and how of your plans so that they can prepare for the meeting. .
Plot timing and desired outcomes. Once you’ve determined the tactical initiatives you will invest time and money in, determine when you’re going to tackle these initiatives and what desired outcome you want to achieve, as well as what you need to be successful. For example, do you need to acquire supplier co-op funds? Put your tasks on a calendar, considering when you expect to do them and how much time each one will take to complete.
You might also consider creating a very basic project plan for each initiative; a simple Excel spreadsheet to identify tasks works wonders in keeping everything organized. If you’re relying on someone else to perform any of the tasks, be sure to reach out to them to get their buy-in.
Incorporate resources available to you from your host agency or consortia. Travel host agencies such as Nexion Travel Group have many marketing resources, often included with your membership, to help you promote your travel agency. Examples include a social media resource center and exclusive supplier promotions available to your clients in direct mail and digital marketing. Tip: Be selective with the supplier partners that best fit your business, and then take the time to know and take advantage of what’s available to you.
Nexion also includes a free Customer Relationship Management (CRM) program with all memberships, which can help travel advisors capture reminders of what needs to be done and when, as well as help manage integrated, B2C marketing campaigns.
Please realize that these organizations can amplify your marketing efforts, but no one is going to do your marketing 100 percent for you. You need to be part of the process. Make sure you’re marketing to the right people with the right message, and follow up with your clients after they receive marketing.
For the most part, success is not accidental. It takes planning, prioritization and hard work. Marketing plans are only successful if they can be implemented. Once you have your marketing calendar in place, build in time to follow up on each initiative to assess what worked and what didn’t.
As I often coach to our members, it’s important to work on your business as well as in your business. By taking these six steps to set up and implement a marketing plan now, you will set yourself up for greater success in the new year.