THE E-MAGAZINE THAT FOCUSES ON THE REALITY OF SELLING TRAVEL
7 GREAT SALES TIPS FOR
In this issue EDITORIAL – The Art Of Creativity 7 GREAT SELLING TIPS FOR 2013
THANKS FOR READING ST Thanks to everyone who reads Selling Travel and I sincerely hope the ideas, tips and tools have helped you generate a new dollar or two. If that has happened for you then I’d love to hear about it. We’re slowly building a readership. It takes time as ST is not meant to be a news magazine or glossy destination magazine – simply a vehicle to get the ideas out to you each month in a low cost way. At the same time it should also encourage you to create your own eMagazine for your clients to read and be inspired to book with you. Have a fantastic December, a great holiday and ripper of a New Years and may 2013 be your best year ever.
SELLING GROUPS TARGET MARKETING SMART SELLING CUEING INTO QR CODES TWITTER 101 with Cory Andrichuk DARK MARKETING PODCASTS TURNING FAMS INTO BLOGS with Steve Gillick PHONEOGRAPHY GIZMOS LOOK FOR TRAVEL AGENT REVOLUTION COMMISSION ASSASSINS WEBINAR
Best regards, Steve Crowhurst, CTM Publisher www.sellingtravel.net firstname.lastname@example.org www.facebook.com/sellingtravel Skype: smptraining1 T: 250‐752‐0106 CHECK FOR WEBINARS HERE
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I often say that creativity is the travel agents ultimate resource and I firmly believe that is the truth when it comes to marketing and selling travel. If you are a one‐person company than you must do it all and then find time in your life to create. Larger firms, have the luxury of bringing together a creative team to satisfy their marketing needs. We can all learn from the “two heads are better than one” saying, and seek out others who prompt our own inner‐creative, rather than going it alone. If that’s possible for you, then make sure that after reading through this issue that you are engaged with others to discuss your ideas. I have listed a number of books on my website for you and each one offers many insights into the creative activity – if you enjoy a read then click here: http://www.sellingtravel.net/reference‐books.html Creativity is often a result of long term experience and having “seen it all before” but not falling into the trap of “it didn’t work then, it won’t work now” mindset as quite often that old idea that didn’t work then, will work today. Timing is also a major component of creative success. It’s great to be a creative whizz‐kid but if you are always 5 years ahead of what the market wants – then it’s a no sale. There is an art in holding back on the desire to release your latest gem until the market is actually ready to buy. This also applies to your marketing ideas, themes and slogans. Get too fancy and you cause confusion. Hope you enjoy this issue. We have Steve Gillick and Cory Andrichuk presenting their ideas on Twitter and Blogging in 2013. Let me know what you need! Creatively Yours!
Steve Crowhurst Author, Trainer, Columnist, Keynote Speaker, Publisher and world traveller.
Being ahead of your time is a major challenge in the selling travel arena. I have been a victim of my own creativity and witnessed the same for others too. Many times a travel agency owner will invest tens of thousands of dollars in developing a niche and then suddenly, or it seems like it, a major supplier presents the same niche and for half the cost to the customer. A little more due diligence by the agency owner would have saved a ton of money and also given them perhaps a leading position in selling for the supplier. So beware your own creative talents. They are supposed to help you make money, not lose it. But never let that stop you doing what you do. Plan ahead.
WOULD I LIE TO YOU? OF COURSE NOT. HOW ABOUT YOU TO ME? NO. DIDN’T THINK SO. We’re all selling something aren’t we. Got to make a living. Sometimes, your words and images say something to the reader that’s very different to what you intended. Creativity can cause a few challenges once in awhile. So to help out on the tell it like it is scene – here’s seven great ideas for you to read and think about how you might be able to use the ideas, change the ideas, re‐invent the ideas to suit your own needs.
How do you like my graphic side? Okay then. Just wanted to show you the results of using this new Graphic Novel filter found in the latest version of Photoshop Elements 11.
You hear it all the time I know. Sell groups. Your BDMs tell you this. Your head office tells you this. Your manager, supervisor, and host agency… every one tells you to sell groups. But they never tell you, or better… show you how. Funny thing that. Wonder why that is? There’s one more thing you’ll always be told and it’s this: groups are everywhere! But no one actually shows you exactly where those groups that are everywhere, actually are!! So let’s forget all the generic statements and just get busy looking for and closing groups. Here’s how you do it and I’m going to come at this somewhat backwards. First and foremost to attract any kind of group you must let your clients and everyone else know that you accept group bookings and at the same time demonstrate somehow that you can service most group arrangements and especially custom FITs. Having a Groups tab on your website doesn’t do it. When a customer clicks on that tab what will they find waiting for them? Only you can answer that one. I can tell you many times when I explore travel agency websites – the information ranges from a blank page to last years departures to planned and scheduled events for the coming year.
I’m still coming at this topic from the rear… we’ll get to the How‐To in a moment. What I want you to focus on is this: once you’ve attracted a group decision maker, they had best be wowed when they discover your group page on your website or visit your agency. If the group decision maker is not wowed then the ideas I’m about to explain will be all for nothing. Today more than ever, video is or has become the main format for marketing travel. The reason being it’s full multi media and “just like the tele…” that gadget that most households have and most people watch each and every night. The video emulates a TV program. This what your group decision maker would be wowed by then they visit your website.
This could be you explaining how you recently arranged for, escorted, led, helped… put together a custom FIT.
Groups Are Everywhere Before we take a look at marketing for groups, better find out exactly where they hide out. A decision needs to be made: what kind / type of group do you want to attract and what kind / type of group can you actually handle? Most agents will base their group acquisition on their own travel knowledge and expertise and then it’s a matter of locating where that type of group meet to share their interest. This meeting place can be physical and it can also be online. With a little detective work you can locate where they meet and who the executive director is. Try This One: The Top 200 Most Researched Surnames… This is an easy one for me as I am currently doing the research of my family names. But if I was in your shoes I’d be looking at the TOP, most researched names and then forming my group tour programs around those names and finally push marketing my Find Your Ancestors Tours of, in and at the various and main destinations such as the UK, Ireland, Europe, Canada of course, America and Australia and anywhere else your clients want to go.
Here’s a great idea for group travel. This literally popped into my inbox as I was writing this page. Look at the choices and then the prices. This is a nice booking if you can get it. All you need to do is find the group – the tours are already in place.
Once past this list, how about targeting just Irish surnames, Scottish surnames, French, German, Egyptian, Chinese… as you can tell, there is no end to this particular niche and this is just ONE idea. Another surname related niche to chase is the hunt for famous people and where they are buried. Huge group following of where certain composers and authors are laid to rest. You can search online for this type of information. Some tours already exist. Check your preferred suppliers.
Finding a group that likes to hike or a family who bears a most researched name is as easy as searching on line. I know that sounds like a standard comment and it is, but it’s true and it’s what I do when I’m looking for leads. It’s a matter of clueing into the keywords or search terms and then stay at the mouse until something comes to light and leads you in the right direction. One thing to know is that there is a magazine for every activity or desire.
What that means is this. Let’s stick with hiking. Go to your closest and largest magazine rack. Where is it? In Chapters or Barns & Noble? You find it and then you go stand in front of it. Now you see all the magazines and behind each magazine is a readership. Inside the magazine is where you find content and advertisers and classified ads. Each and every magazine is giving you the profile of the readership. You are receiving, for the cost of the magazine, or the free online version a string of keywords used to attract and retain readers. What you do now is use those same headlines and slogans and keywords in your marketing. They will pull for you as they do the magazine. Hikers to interior designers – read and learn. An interior designer’s group to Japan. Nice. That’s a slam dunk. Photography, art, hiking, cruising, sailing, computer camps… whatever those magazines are pushing off that rack there is an audience for it. Whatever your clients like to do – there’s a magazine for it. Whatever anyone likes to do, there is a travel program to suit it, match it or be arranged as a custom group FIT. Stay Home Groups Travelling one’s own country is not a cheap deal. To do it well and enjoy it, can mean a nice commission to you. Hiking can be done “here”, that interior designer’s tour can visit Santa Fe, or Paris, or ????? A stay‐home group in 2013 might be the order of the day if the world continues on it’s financial loss and war mongering ways. Not to worry, people with money will still be travelling. People with enough money will still be travelling. People with not enough money, will save and go next year. Festive Seasons and All that Jazz Well it’s almost here. Christmas and a host of other religious events. Then there’s New Years and you still have time after reading this page to get yourself in gear to use the group theme to sell a New Years getaway. Yes indeed there’s always empty flights on Christmas Day and there’s always a group waiting to go somewhere on that very day. Yup… they don’t do Christmas and there’s your “Don’t Do Xmas Group Tour to Las Vegas!”
Group Tour Magazine Let me introduce you to one of my favourite sources for group travel information and education. It is published by Group Tour Media. Their website shown below. Click here: www.grouptourmedia.com
This is a wonderful glossy magazine and if you do not come away with twenty ideas for groups and group destinations then something has to be wrong. You need another beer! Your Closest Group The group closest to you and so easy to locate is sitting there in your regular client list. If you don’t ask you don’t get. This is the Selling Travel No Fluff Group Generator tip. ASK! There you go. Just ask your existing clients where they want to go in 2013 and then start batching the destinations and pretty quick you’ll have ten people for Europe, another ten for Cuba and then what you do is you start to market the group departure and sell each of these clients into your group. Back to taking advantage of the festive season. Sell your clients on selling their families and friends on a 2013 group tour somewhere. Let them discuss and argue for the destination then bring it to you. You can incite this riot by sending out your Christmas cards that spark the discussion. “Give yourself the gift of travel this year!” You’ve seen and read and heard that before. I think it was invented when those three kings turned up. Over to you. Groups for 2013. That’s your mantra for all of next year. Need help – call me. Email me. Always like to see a great idea go big!
Publishing later this year. Dream Merchants tells the story about what you do. It’s a reference, a business guide, a playbook, a book based on success and succeeding as a travel agent and explores what it takes to ‘make it’. Dream Merchants also reviews the success traits that have been inherent in travel agents for 170 years since the industry as we know it, started in the mid 1800s. Would you like to participate and tell your side of the story?
As you may know I prefer the real thing to fluff. That means street smarts and savvy been there, done it know‐how ‐ versus academic, never been there, never done it. So, if you would like to submit your street smart input as to what makes a travel agent successful please click to the link below and complete one of the two submission forms. One is for Travel Agents and one is for Suppliers – (a supplier in this case means: any person working for a company that services the travel trade / travel agent – tour company, hotel chain, printer, college, association, etc.) By submitting one of the two forms, you will be giving me permission to use your input all or in part and reference your quotes sourced back to you. The information you provide will not be shared with anyone other then the reader of promotional flyers for the book and when the book is published. Thank you in advance to those who do participate. Your input will be greatly appreciated both by me and those that read the book. Here’s where you click:
If you’ve ever shot with a bow you will know how difficult it is to hit the bullseye let alone the target itself. Memories of me with my tree branch bow and wobbly arrows and shooting in my splendent attire of shorts n’ bow tie! Target marketing is no different to learning how to shoot a bow properly. You could shoot it any ole way of course but if you want to hit that bullseye each time, every time then it takes practice along with a dose of trial and error. Take a hard look at your clients and learn as much as you can in terms of their needs and wants. They are the target. Reading their travel history with your agency, the amount of money they paid, where they went, what they did, the cruise line or tour company they travelled with… all of this information is something to use when you plan your targeted campaign. You could and you should, survey your clients at least twice each year. There are free survey tools that you can use such as www.surveymonkey.com and www.boomerang.com. All you have to do now, once you have your information collected and collated is design an award winning something to send to your clients individually, or in small select same‐ interest groupings. The ‘something’ you choose is very important and it should go a long way to causing excitement and nudge your clients towards wanting to travel again and soon. MAIL DIRECT: Yes you can still send something directly to your client. Amazing eh? And there’s me thinking it’s all digital. Not so fast… there are some clients who still like to swoon over glossy brochures and dream the dream of going on that cruise, safari, hiking in the foothills and more. That’s the target too – to cause this reaction through whatever you send in the mail. To do this with style and score a direct hit you must, as already mentioned, know what your clients are interested in receiving. They might read anything related to travel, but there’s always that #1.
As Scott Barker of Big Bark Graphics likes to say “Package with Excitement” and what he refers to has meaning here too. When you send that supplier’s brochure to your targeted audience – sending a cruise brochure to a cruise loving client, why not mail it in a glorious looking envelope that features a fantastic scene of the ocean (one of your own photographs) with a slogan on the cover saying, “Get ready!” or “It’s TIME!” – you can do better I know, but you get the message.
The imagery for your envelope can be found on your preferred cruise line websites. They might even co‐op the mailing costs. Just ask. Slip This In Too Now, one other brochure you must slip in that cruise envelope is a ‘suggestion’ piece. This becomes an alternative that your clients may like. We know they are cruisers, they like being on the water and all the amenities that cruising offers. A river cruise is a close cousin of the deep water cruise. So you slip a river cruise brochure into this direct mail and attach a note that says, “Have you seen Europe this way before?” Once again you’ll write the copy so that it causes your cruise clients to think about and try something different in 2013. What else could you slip into this envelope? Well a cruise line DVD would certainly support the brochure and it would save your clients going online to watch YouTube. If there is space left on the DVD you could also add your own video clip of you saying, “Call us today!” Adding a short commercial for you and your services is a great way to use supplier DVDs.
I am the proud owner of a new iPhone5 and do not ask me why. Not sure I could answer. I don’t text. Don’t share photos. Have no 5. Have no 10. Use 23 minutes in a busy month and mostly to my pal Mikey. I don’t call my wife to tell her I am just pulling into the drive way and I don’t check email as soon as the plane lands. Yup. I know. Why do I have an iPhone? The reason is this. After I thought about it and I can have my content grabbing tool and mobile phone all in one. I can travel without my huge camera and lenses and especially when I’m taking touristy shots for use in my social media marketing. I got the i5 for smart selling purposes. There. I said it. To me, this is one of the best tools (any smart phone) that a travel agent can have holstered to their hip. It’s a shoot, save, edit and share tool. Mind you that has to be done right. Do it on the fly and you missed the curse word that someone uttered in the back ground. Editing is a key word in social media content. You can capture everything you need with this small handheld gadget and there are numerous tools that enhance the its usage too. They range from boom microphones, to telephoto lenses to all sorts of video apps and more. Rather than just shoot a shot and send it, you should first think about that image and then edit it and perhaps add a slogan, adapt it to something happening now and or a destination and use the image to smart sell one of your best cruises or tours. A simple 30 second video of a calm ocean can help push your clients to click on your cruise webpage. A 60 second video of you, talking on camera or interviewing a customer who has cruised more than Neptune, can work too.
Smart Selling is all about knowing the 3 Screens or even 4 or 5 Screens. It keeps changing. There’s the desk top screen, the laptop screen, the notebook screen, the tablet screen, the e‐reader screen and the mobile phone screen. How many is that? That is SIX screens. To sell smart on these gizmos you need to know that your imagery will play well. For instance if your website is not geared to play on a mobile phone screen then it will look rather weird. You should, if you intend to use your social media tools and smart phone gadgets for Smart Selling activities, make sure that everything you intend to produce in the way of marketing is convertible to play on the 6 Screens. You can share YouTube videos posted by your preferred suppliers. You can pre‐empt the video with a text message to set the scene. You can send your clients to your website to watch the video. You can send your clients to your own YouTube channel. Using preferred supplier content is the quickest route to build a travel video library and your preferred suppliers will love you for it. Make sure you direct your clients to call you for the booking. You can very quickly create your own agency App and have your clients download it to their smart phone and once again it must be very worthwhile downloading. It must useful. Offer be something. Perhaps When you hear this sound… it this is your deal app? means travel The quick trip app. The drop everything we’re deal! going to Mexico app.
The introduction of the tablet computer has caused what is now referred to as T‐COMMERCE. You got it in one. Suppliers are working their marketing magic to appeal to tablet users. You have to do the same and make sure whatever you are pitching online will “play” as in tended on the tablet screen. No need to get excited – just contact your tech person and they will do what needs to be done. For those of you who are the DYI types there are also websites that you can go to, type in your agency website address and the program will create a mobile version of your site and with the possible extension of /mobility. With so many tablets and smart phones in the hands of travellers, including your clients this makes a lot of sense going into 2013. I have seen as you have, a family of four and the kids are now using a tablet to entertain themselves. Not watching the in‐ flight screen – just their tablet. Same for Ma & Pa.
Here’s one website you can explore – it’s called Duda Mobile and there you can create your mobile website.
Check with your creative tech team or ask your host agency or head office to produce mobile ads for you. Your preferred suppliers might also be able to offer you mobile quality ads you can send out to your clients and hey think of this… as your clients are travelling and in transit, they receive a nice “How’s it going?” email from you. Better still… how about a 30 second clip of you, or you and your agency team all saying “Have a fantastic holiday, see you when you get back!” Now that’s customer service and smart sales.
CUEING INTO QR CODES FOR YOUR WEBSITE URL, EMAIL ADDRESS AND TELEPHONE NUMBER
THE QR CODE HAS NOT LEFT THE BUILDING AS SOME MARKETERS WOULD HAVE YOU BELIEVE. THEY ARE STILL HERE AND CAN WORK SOME MAGIC FOR YOU AS YOU HEAD INTO 2013. The QR code appears in all sorts of colours and configurations as you can see from the screen shot below. Look for someone in your local area to work with you to create such a QR code for your agency. If you cannot locate anyone try this online QR Code Creator. It’s free. http://qrcode.kaywa.com/
You can create a QR Code for almost anything you want to push market – the basics would be your website address, your email address and your telephone number. After that, what else could you use a QR Code for? How about a link to more information, a brochure, a FREE offer or a value add IF YOU BUY THIS MONTH! The different colours used below also add a new dimension to the overall graphic appeal.
To access these images search Google Images for: interesting QR Code designs Anthony Dalton, author of so many books, friend and marketing buddy, put together his bookmark giveaway recently and sent me a copy of it. It’s simple with plenty of white space and right there is Tony’s QR code. Nice. Amongst other things, Tony is speaking about his travels onboard cruise ships. When he’s finished, his audience can now take away one of his bookmarks. Most people have a smartphone of some kind and that means they can scan his code and then be looking at his website… which leads to what? That’s right, book sales. Now we put you and your agency in the picture. Scott Barker of Big Bark Graphics presented a webinar for Cory Andrichuk’s Travel Agent Revolution recently on the power of packaging your agency. Scott’s online store where you can build your own designs, offers you a QR Code creator too. The QR Code reaches out, way beyond the page it sits on.
Where else could you stick a QR Code – yes you could do that… but I was thinking: Agency window… LARGE On a t‐shirt that you wear On a t‐shirt you give to your clients On the back of your jacket Create a QR Code rubber stamp and stamp all brochures Add to your stationery – especially the envelope Add to postcards Get it buzz cut into the hair on the back of your head (for guys only I guess!) YOUR TURN!
Twitter 101 for your Travel Business
You’ve heard about Twitter but, like most travel agents, you are probably still wondering what it is and how it fits into your business model. Wikipedia states, “Twitter is an online social networking service and micro blogging service that enables its users to send and read text‐based posts of up to 140 characters, known as ‘tweets’”. Jack Dorsey, who invented Twitter, says the definition is "a short burst of inconsequential information, much like chirps from birds”. Like all other business social media channels, Twitter is comprised of user‐generated content, which includes 140 characters, links, images, and video (there was a time not too long ago that Twitter only allowed text messages and no images or video… very boring!). Short messages, known as tweets, are sent by millions every second to groups of recipients called followers. A Twitter username, also known as your Twitter handle, is denoted by the @ symbol such as @brandUcoach or @ TARevolution (shameless plug here!). These short messages are Twitters’ strength as they deliver ‘bursts’ of communication allowing your followers to quickly read, retweet (share), and/or tweet you back in seconds. Many travel agents believe this might be too much information to take in while selling travel full‐time but, in our new digital and consumer‐based selling environment, digital learning needs to become the norm. I believe that without taking the time to invest in new marketing tools like Twitter, your business will be swept away to another professional travel agent who is!
Twitter can be so many things but most importantly it is an opportunity to listen to others. By listening to others you learn about their travel needs and wants and how to position your services to fulfill them accordingly. You can create your own content and position your brand as the global authority in your niche (such as adventure, health and wellness, spa tours, culinary delights, destination weddings, honeymoon getaways, and luxury FIT customization). Twitter is a tool that compliments your SEO functionality that helps you get found easier online through Google and is a another way for you to stay connected to your audience (prospects and customers). I use Twitter to build and maintain new relationships by offering value upfront vs. value added, interact and engage with my customers by tweeting conversational topics vs. advertising, and drive my followers back to my website or other business social media channels like my Facebook ‘Like’ page where they can learn more about me and my brand.
HOW to get started with Twitter:
Retweet (RT): When you like, or want to share special tweets from your followers, you can forward that message to your followers, which is called retweeting. It is considered passing it on and a compliment when your message is shared in such a way (very similar to the share button with Facebook!). This is a very powerful way to position your travel niche expertise and authority on a destination/ subject/ travel concept/ segment such as adventure travel in Belize!
1. Create an account @Twitter.com. 2. Fill out your profile and add a call to action (i.e. Call me #, website address www.‐‐‐) 3. Follow your customers, suppliers and other people you respect and admire. To help you get started, here are some I recommend: @brandUcoach, @TARevolution, @TravelINDToday, @lonelyplanet, @gAdventures. 4. Download Tweet Deck or Hootsuite.com to visualize it all happening at once.
Start today! Spend 15 minutes a day on Twitter and you will begin to find your voice and eventually develop a strategic way to promote your brand and/or your business. Focus on ways to ask questions, generate ideas, and receive feedback from potential prospects and current customers. Your primary objective should be to establish yourself as a travel niche specialist and/or a destination expert with personal travel experience. Remember, like all great marketing strategies, it takes time… devote to a Twitter strategy and you will see the return in your investment! Have fun!
5. Begin to Tweet. Here is some lingo to help you understand Twitter better: Following: To receive messages on Twitter, you follow other people/ brands/companies you’re interested in—which means the messages they post show up in your incoming timeline on your Twitter home page. Direct Message (DM): These are private messages sent between you and others. *Turn your email notification on in your Twitter settings, and you will receive an email when someone privately tweets you. You can only receive such DM’s from people you are following.
Here’s 15 great ideas to Tweet about…
Email me directly for more help cory@brandUcoaching.com 1.My favorite vacation <insert a picture URL here> Linked from a Flickr, Gmail account (Google docs), Facebook photo album, blog, or website 2. Visit South America (or your FIT niche destination) with my help @mytravelagency 3. Check out my pictures of South America (or your FIT niche destination) here Linked from a Flickr, Gmail account (Google docs), Facebook photo album, blog, or website 4. When I am cold and think about travel, I like to watch this. <insert a destination You Tube video> 5. Did you forget to buy travel insurance? Not a problem. I can help. Contact me here at #1 855 289 2679 6. My satisfied customers can be found here <insert a link to your Linked In recommendations page, website/ blog testimonials, You Tube Testimonial Channel> 7. Drop everything and travel here today <insert cool picture of a …..> with my help! 8. Conquer the countries less travel today. I have been here and can do the same for you. DISCLAIMER: brandUcoaching is not 9. Traveling with one bag tips <http://www.onebag.com/ > responsible for how you interpret or use the information presented. The responsibility is 10. Check out these amazing photos found here. <national geographic site> Mine are better Linked yours to check and complete your due diligence with regard to the rules, standards from a Flickr, Gmail account (Google docs), Facebook photo album, blog, or website and compliance requirements that you must 11. My customers favorite travel app < http://www.sitorsquat.com/mobile/index> adhere to as demanded by your parent company, host agency, trade associations, 12. I love this app for my iPhone < http://instagr.am/ > state, provincial and federal governing bodies when promoting your agency or 13. LOVE this iPhone app from National Geographic < travel services. By reading from this point http://shop.nationalgeographic.com/ngs/category/travel > on, you accept and understand this statement and do not hold brandUcoaching 14 I LOVE downloading this before I fly Inc. responsible in anyway shape or form. http://www.aircanada.com/en/travelinfo/traveller/mobile/mci.html > 15. A MUST iPhone travel app <Yelp.com >
Training in MANAGEMENT SOFT SKILLS for the travel trade now available from
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Be afraid! The Commission Assassins are everywhere and you will not know they are there until it is too late! Watch for this new style webinar and learn the craft of revenue protection.
“She’s a luv’ly girl… only sometimes… well her bites a bit off!” DARK MARKETING a term used by SMP Training Co., refers to the run of vampire shows, death this and that, mummies you wouldn’t want singing you a bedtime lullaby and a host of other dark events, people and places that a certain segment of the population seem to lap up… pun intended. Into this we go for a new niche.
DARK MARKETING is real. It’s used by many of the huge corporations and brands. Here’s a glimpse at what it’s all about. Definition found online.
The ultimate end goal is to reach an influencing audience without necessarily directly engaging the brand with the prospective targets. Instead the brands are almost non‐ existent but they are funding events through creating a sense of elite “insider” or “personal” events. During the events brand team representatives would engage with crowds by loudly ordering the products and then casually engaging in conversation about the products. Or a softer approach of casually conversing about a product or using a product that leads to a pitch in a very casual social setting.
The DARK MARKETING I am talking about is different in the WHO we target and HOW we go about it. Nothing deviant or sly. All out in the open. In fact this is more seizing on the trend and creating an opportunity to sell a certain type of travel to a certain destination. Let’s step into the dark for a moment. Knock, knock! No need to answer, I know who and what’s behind that door and it’s a very scary movie. Long flashing fangs and that’s just granny! Wait til you see young Jed. Okay you’re getting the picture. There is a trend. That trend is followed very closely by a segment of the population. That segment of the population are using social media and this is where you go to whirl your cloak of travel secrets to attract dark market clients. Take a look at this ad: Says it all. There are vampire vacations ready to go for your dark clients to sink their teeth into. It’s a trend. It seems to be building. You may identify with black, dark, vampire, goth, occult… and zombies too (yeah!) and why not. There’s money in them thar hills. Yes those hills. Who else could you attract to the dark side? Well how about followers and readers of Stephen King or Anne Rice. How about a tour of the eeriest places the world can offer. Haunted houses, resorts and places where the lights go funny. The Dracula Experience I hear is very good this time of year.
Perhaps you can build a collection of TV shows past and present, movies, scary books, images and posters and once you have enough content you can then start to engage your dark clients to attend a consumer night (door prize a string of garlic…) and post articles to your blog or if you are using video you could call it the Vlad Vlog! Okay enough! Time to make some money. Believe in the dark side or not – just know that there is a niche for anything and everything. There is a trend. Some big money, names and actors and authors creating the buzz you can tap into. New movie, new book = new tour. Simple.
Hi my name is Nigel and I’ll be your tour guide for this trip. Now don’t be scared, wait until you see me as a vampire! One thing I can say is this and I’ll stake my life on it – this is a tour to die for. You’ll love it!
Okay, over to you. Watch the telly. Check the top ten shows, books and come out swinging with your new dark side tours. Bon chance!
Guest Article by Steve Gillick, CTM President, Talking Travel email@example.com
Turning a Fam trip into a Blog Or When the Twits Hit the Fam, go one step further and flog your blog. A familiarization trip (or in local parlance, a Fam, or education‐on‐location) is THE unique form of professional development available to the travel industry. Usually sponsored by a tourist board, but sometimes through a combination of tourist board, travel wholesaler and various on‐site suppliers, the purpose of a Fam is to educate the travel seller by allowing them to experience a destination, so they can then market, promote and sell that destination to their clients. The operative word here is ‘experience’. Once you determine your motivation for participating on the Fam, it’s time to immerse yourself into the ‘experience’. And this differs from person to person. A destination wedding and honeymoon specialist will have certain goals from the Fam, and specific questions that need to be asked and answered about each hotel or resort visited. They want to make personal contacts with the movers and shakers that deal with weddings. The luxury specialist also has his/her own agenda. They are looking for the upgrade options, the concierge services available, the ‘what else’ about the resort or hotel or destination. And the same holds true for the adventure specialist, the culinary niche specialist, the cruise specialist etc. And the generalist will want to experience all they can in order to convey the ‘spirit’ or ‘ambiance’ of the destination to their clients. Writing ideas can also be based on your own personal interests. Your appreciation of an art gallery, a museum, an attraction, a spa experience, a street scene, a shopping excursion, a hike through a forest, a walk through a town, a conversation with a fisherman, a visit to a winery, a view of a mountain, and more.
THERE ARE FIVE DISTINCT FAM TYPES THAT EMBARK ON THESE TRIPS: 1) The Fam Hounds. Those who follow (like a pack of hounds) any Fam trip for which they can be approved, all in the spirit of getting discounted travel and freebies along the way. These are the bragging right champions whose claim to fame in the industry relates to the number of Fams they take. And along the way, they may or may not participate in any of the Fam activities; they may or may not do any research prior to the Fam, and, aside from adding the Fam to their resume, there is usually no follow‐up after the Fam. It is a done deal. It happened so now it’s time to move on to the next Fam. 2) The “Tabula Rasas”. (Tabula Rasa is a philosophical term meaning ‘blank slate’) These are travel professionals who, as soon as they get accepted on a Fam trip, whether it’s their first or tenth, they immediately go into denial that in fact they are travel professionals and therefore all their knowledge of travel disappears. They don’t know the check‐in procedure at the airport, they are not too sure what to do with their passport, they don’t carry business cards or bring a camera with them, and sometimes bring the wrong clothes for the climate or the wrong shoes for the activities listed on the Fam itinerary. 3) The “Go‐with‐the‐Flow Crowd”. These are travel professionals who legitimately sign up for a Fam trip in order to learn about a destination. Their sole preparation lies in making a photocopy of the itinerary to carry with them. They then sit back on the bus and wait for things to happen. It’s like a giant reality TV show starring them. Whatever happens, happens. 4) The “Know‐it‐Alls”. These are the Fam participants who have been on many Fam trips over the years and know the routine so well that they start to dictate to the Fam leaders, which corners to cut. A resort inspection may be sabotaged by a strong Know‐ it‐All because s/he wants more time at the restaurant and mall, later on in the schedule. A meal experience may be cut short because h/she wants more time to enjoy the Spa at the host hotel. Essentially the value of the trip is compromised by Know‐ it‐Alls who have their own Fam agenda. 5) The Sellers. These are the Fam participants who pick and choose the Fams that will best benefit their clients, their sales and in the long run, their career path. They do research before the trip, study maps, trace the route of the Fam, delve into the destinations being explored, make a list of questions they must have answers to, bring a stack of business cards, note pads, pens, a camera or video and good walking shoes. Their goal is to immerse themselves into the Fam experience.
In fact, some travel professionals go the distance in their preparation by announcing to their clients that they will be going on a Familiarization Trip to country X, and for those interested, they will be hosting a presentation afterward to answer any questions, “so please let me know what questions you may have beforehand, so I can come back with the goods!” In this same spirit, social media has provided travel professionals with a natural reporting mechanism to share information –and gather even more questions, comments and interest—from their clients. Facebook is good as it allows you to express thoughts in a fairly unlimited fashion. Ensure that you have a dedicated Business Page (as opposed to your personal page). You can post photos and basically create a living journal of your experiences to share with your followers. Twitter is not as effective as Facebook when reporting on Fam activities. The Tweets (or Twits, as some call them) are restricted to 140 characters, so there is not much detail you can provide. Many twits end up being teasers of amazing things you’ve seen or experienced, with a call to action to contact you when you return. But for some, the brevity of a Twit is enough to share an idea as well as to receive a question from a client. So whether it’s Facebook or Pinterest (post your Fam photos) or Twitter (the twits who hit the Fam), or your own non‐social media note‐taking, you now have content to share with your clients in the form of a blog (a web log of your journeys). But taking this even further, the blog will help to educate your peers in the agency or company in which you work, as well as potentially interest non‐clients who may come to see you as the expert (or at least, an extremely interested person) when it comes to selling a particular destination. And then the next logical step is to post that blog and flog it in your company newsletter, the local papers, in emails and even as a press release. All of a sudden you are a travel writer, backed by the experiences and observations from the Fam trip! But hold on. Let’s go back to that operative word “experience”. Effective blogs relate to a personal observation and nothing resonates more with travelling consumers than a blog that reveals an insight‐‐ something unique about a destination. Therefore, as part of your Fam preparation, identify what you could possibly do to tweak the interests of your clients.
The answer may be found in your CRM, where you can identify the various niche markets that exist amongst your clientele as well as with your list of prospective clients (i.e. I would go with you if only you could arrange....). Let’s take the example of culinary travel. This may involve a morning trip to the market for meat or seafood or fruits and vegetables. It may involve pointers on how to pick the best products, which inevitably will involve taking photos, befriending vendors, asking lots of questions and recording the information. The next step may be an arrangement with a restaurant or hotel for you to take part (or at least observe) the preparation of the food, again, with some time to chat with the chef. And then, of course, there is the tasting and the description of the foods that you eat, as well as the different reactions from your Fam colleagues on what they are eating. And now you have the basis for a blog article. I use the term ‘blog article’ because blogs can come in all shapes and sizes. From daily snippets about a particular topic, to a weekly or monthly blog‐cum‐article that goes into details about a particular thought or item or experience. It’s up to you as to which format you feel more comfortable with.
A visit to a tea plantation in Sri Lanka and interacting with the workers can provide some fascinating insights that make for a very creative blog.
And there are a few ‘caveats” (warnings) to keep in mind.
1) Busy people don’t have time to read through a wall of words. Keep your thoughts well organized, in logical sequence and to the point. Long, drawn out descriptions belong in your first novel, but not in a blog. 2) Talk about legitimate experiences and not “we would have...but...or if only...” Your thoughts are important to travellers. You are the expert and the storehouse of experience you build becomes a strong component of your professional credentials. 3) Don’t mix and match too many ideas in one blog. Take one subject (e.g. culinary) and write about that. 4) Spell check and then have a friend proof your work. Nothing is more distracting to a reader than a blog full of typos and grammatical errors. Google can be your best friend in double‐checking the correct spelling of foreign names, towns, products, sayings etc.
And then lastly, once you have put your thoughts on paper (and by the way, if you are a bit shy in doing this, there are ghost‐writing services available where a professional writer helps you put your personal thoughts to paper (see for example, http://www.talkingtravel.ca/ghostwriting‐take‐a‐ boo.html) you need to get this out to the world. Send it in to a writer’s website, e.g., www.broowaha.com, or propose that it become an article in the next agency or company newsletter. Send it to the travel editor of your local neighbourhood paper, post it on your website, send it out as a Destination Update email or even create an “Update on John Smith’s latest travel adventures”, or similar. Post a notice on your Facebook and Twitter sites, post your photos on Pinterest or post a link to a slide show (see, as an example, http://www.talkingtravel.ca/be‐there‐with‐me.html). Get the word out that you are a well‐travelled professional with experiences and ideas to share.
In this day and age, every generation of traveller is looking for the “what else” in their travel options. If I go to that all‐ inclusive resort in Punta Cana, in the Dominican Republic, what else can I do when I’m there? How about a day trip to the re‐created European medieval village of Altos de Chevon? We went there on a Fam trip...and I wrote a blog about our experience... Travellers want the insight of a professional to guide them so they can travel and develop their own bragging rights and stories or simply have the opportunity to escape from their regular routine and relax. Your Fam trip blog (s) will add to this compendium of experience that you offer as a travel expert, and can provide your clients with that spark of excitement to change a vacation into a memorable, meaningful experience. Blog On! Check my SCENES FROM A BLOG below – images that inspire me to write.
Steve Gillick’s first article appeared in the Dunera Ship Newsletter in 1967. Since then he has written extensively about travel. He authored the Scam Watch column in Canadian Traveller Magazine for many years, wrote and edited CITC’s industry and consumer newsletters from 1995 to 2012, authors the "Travel Coach” column in www.TravelIndustryToday.com; composes travel blogs at www.talkingtravelblog.ca, contributes articles to www.travelmarketreport.com and www.sellingtravel.net, and has a ghost writing service where he assists professionals with articles and speeches to enhance their involvement in industry events. Many of Steve's articles have been posted to www.broowaha.com where nearly 7,500 consumers have enjoyed his thoughts on destinations and travel trends.
Do you have a smart phone? Sure you do. Would you like to gain access to some very cool gadgets and gizmos to help your PHONEOGRAPHY output? Of course you would. Here’s a few things to get you going. A multi lens cover. A boom mic for better video sound quality. A remote that’s good up to 30’ away. There’s a whole new movement behind the art of phoneography and then there are the many apps you can download to edit and fix and change and do all that jazzy stuff, before you click and upload to your social site for your clients to view. Go to: www.photojojo.com
WARNING! Camera happy snappy travel agents are shooting and sending without perhaps a cursory glance at what’s now in transit to their clients. You should take a breather and edit before you send – especially video. You may not hear first time around some of that background noise that includes a few four letter words. So be sure to take your time and check the background of your images, no wild and too crazy signs or posters or graffiti to scare your clients away from you.
Podcasting is a very easy thing to do and as I’ve said before, if Rick Steves can do it then why not you. http://www.ricksteves.com/radio/podcast.htm All you need is what you already have in your pocket, purse or shoulder bag. That smart phone of yours is perfect for catching your comments on the fly and on location. You can record your thoughts as they happen and then post them to your website and your social networks too. That’s the quick and easy podcast. Now we move you up a notch to meet Big Mike. Well the Yeti at least. I have a Yeti and I know that’s too much information but it’s true. You can see him, her and it on the opposite page. That’s my Yeti. It’s as big as it looks. Takes over the entire desk, but boy does it capture your chords nicely. When you belly up to the Yeti you should be well scripted and have your podcast planned out. Do not wing it as so many so called professionals boast they can do. Your audience will know because not realizing it you have contracted the repeat disease and said “absolutely” and “basically” twenty three times already. What To Pod Cast? Always a challenge. Content. What hasn’t been done or talked about? Answer: not much. Thing is, perhaps YOU haven’t talked about it yet, and perhaps your clients have not heard “it” yet. So you are good to pod. When finished, cast it out to your clients and ask for feedback. iTunes offers a Podcast page too, also an App if your up for the App – see the purple thing below. Also there’s a list of the best travel podcasts – there’s always a list isn’t there. Here’s the link to both iTunes and the top pod list. https://itunes.apple.com/us/app /podcasts/id525463029?mt=8 http://www.urlesque.com/2010/ 02/03/best‐travel‐podcasts/
There’s one more thing you need in order to produce a decent podcast and that’s a voice. Yes, I know you have one, but is it, well you know, a voice like Barry White or Bill Moyers or Maya Angelou. If you don’t possess the chords you need then you can always write your script and have a professional narrator narrate. Easy. Here’s a source for you.
And as 80% plus of our trade is made of women then you lovely ladies may wish to explore this link…. http://femalenarrator.com/ and whilst you search and listen, if YOU have the chords then perhaps here’s a new revenue source for your voice and narration talents. As long as you’re having fun and making some coin – this is what I call New Business Generation. The trend going into 2013 is more and more techno gadgets in peoples hands and laps and hands free too. You can’t watch video and drive, but you can listen to a podcast. So… start creating and then let your clients know that they can tap into your travels just like an audio book.
http://www.simplyaudiobooks.ca/audio‐books‐list‐ genre/Travel/147/ Perhaps you have an audio book in you too. You’ll never know until you give it a go! There are books and websites and many how‐to articles online that you can access simply by Googling away. If you like to chat, and have things to say about your travels, then let me urge you to do this. Check out PodBean too.
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