Remember when the Internet seemed like an insurmountable
challenge to travel agents? And, in fact, a large number of
agencies that couldn’t adapt to the new technology paid the price.
Most agencies today, however, are as Web-savvy as they come. The
industry as a whole met the challenge head-on and now technology,
rather than a threat to travel agents, has turned out to be an
invaluable tool. Along those lines, the next skill for agents to
master may be the fine art of marketing, and we think this issue’s
cover story, “Marketing 101” (page 16), will help.
If the difference between a moderately successful agency and one
pulling in the big bucks is the ability to find, develop and retain
new clients, better marketing is certainly crucial. Yet, according
to recent surveys, while most agencies have a Web site, relatively
few have spent the same time and energy developing a marketing
plan. To some agents, marketing goes no further than handing out
fliers and posting a sign outside their storefront. So we asked
experts in the industry for practical advice on how to develop a
The good news is that, when it comes to marketing, there is no
shortage of possibilities. In addition to the wide variety of
online marketing tools, some agents use focused direct mailings;
some develop partnerships with churches, schools, professional
groups and other affinity groups; some agents donate trips to
contests or pledge drives; and some agents take out ads in
specialty magazines. Whatever your preference, there are several
online resources included in the story that can help you get
started. Also, organizations such as ASTA and CLIA offer assistance
in developing marketing plans, as do most of the major consortia,
like Signature, Ensemble and Virtuoso, among others.
Just as technology was once a challenge, if you start now,
marketing can become one of your agency’s strengths over time. More
importantly, if you don’t take your marketing to the next level,
you may look up to find you have fallen behind the competition.