Young travel agents and social media experts share their tips of the trade. // © 2013 Thinkstock
TravelAge West and ASTA’s Young Professionals Society (YPS) recently held their third joint webinar, Best Practices in Turning Social Networking Into Profit. The discussion, moderated by TravelAge West Senior Editor Skye Mayring, covered the use of social media in generating business, with tips from five leading industry experts. Panelists included Jeff Anderson, vice president of marketing for Avoya Travel; Sophie Bujold, social media catalyst and digital firebrand, SophieBujold.com; Mimi Cassidy, co-owner and manager of Moraga Travel; Maya Northen, owner of Chimera Travel; and Ryan Ranahan, director of marketing with Crown Cruise Vacations.
Following are only a few highlights from the webinar. Scroll down to watch the archived webinar in its entirety.
- Engage with clients — ask questions or post pictures that capture your audience’s attention and encourage commenting
- Some of the most successful interactions occur when you ask users to do something. Tell them to “like” your post, fill in the blank or write a caption for a photo.
- Post promotions, sales or special offers once you have a regular audience
- Having a public image can help drum up business by showing the audience what you do and why your services are valuable
- Have a call-to-action in the “about” section of your Facebook page.
- Link to your website and offer other contact information
- Depending on your business structure, using both fan and personal pages to promote yourself can be advantageous
- Facebook fan pages versus personal pages
- Can get stats and demographics on visitors to your fan page that are useful for understanding your audience
- Advertising options with the business-side of Facebook — targeted ads to reach the specific audience you are seeking
- Personal profiles only allow up to 5,000 connections
- Offer opportunities to sign up for a newsletter, watch videos, etc.
- Facebook boost feature
- Visibility tool
- Pay to promote Facebook posts, so they are seen by a wider audience
- Think about your audience and what kind of information they are interested in — cater your content
- Give ample opportunities for your audience to connect with you
- Always relate content back to your business, encourage readers to comment and give them information about how to book travel with you
- Opportunity to prove that you are the expert — photos, stories, references, etc. can be used to prove your credibility
- Find a balance between being true to your own voice and utilizing Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
- SEO helps you find the terms your target customers might use to find you in an Internet search
- Using the term “travel agent” repeatedly might be a more effective search term than “travel consultant” or “travel advisor”
- As of April, Pinterest had 48.7 million users, a majority of which are women, who are often the decision makers when it comes to family vacations
- A good tip is to embed your travel agency name into the picture, so that your post can be traced back to you when it is repinned by other users
- Picmonkey is one tool for doing this
- Can track your pins through analytical information
- Always redirect back to your own website or business
- Use a pinboard to close the sale
- Agents and clients can collaborate on a dream trip together by posting inspirational photos and videos to a designated pinboard
- Schedule posts on Facebook to go out in the future or use Hootsuite to schedule your Facebook, Twitter and Instagram posts
- Try to keep up a regular posting schedule of some kind — it is important to be consistent
- Set alarms or appointments in Outlook to keep your schedule
- Dedicate some time daily to interacting with your audience (answering comments, etc.)
- If pressed for time, you can hire someone or designate an employee to handle social media for you