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People have always shared their travel dreams and adventures with others. Early on, travel magazines, brochures, home movie projectors and Polaroids were the media of choice. While the game has gone digital, the themes are largely the same: “I love to travel and I know you do, too. Where should I go next? What should I do? What should I see?”

If we do our marketing well we can generate thousands of enthusiastic followers, evangelists all. If we do it poorly, we can spend a lot of money and time only to decide
marketing doesn’t work.

The social media teams of the best practitioners in the industry are keenly aware of the nature of good conversation: They listen more than they talk and, when they talk, say something interesting. They position their company ethic so people rally around it, converse and tell others.

The public shows a loyalty to such companies, to a company ethic totally in tune and responsive to the wellspring of passion for travel. The companies’ marketing wizards tap into the passion of others and nurture it through attentive conversation. The images they choose are all about inspiration.

Certainly such companies have “products,” but inventory remains in the background as a manifestation of the inspiration their marketing platforms generate. For the
best marketers of travel, their efforts are about creating community: inspiring travel.

Inspire your clients: Provide fodder for their travel dreams. Tell stories. Back up your efforts with great pictures, quotes and examples. Feed your clients a steady diet of inspiration and they’ll come to you when they want to travel.

Why do so many companies offering “content” focus on supplier product? Too many travel agency websites look like advertisements for various suppliers, rather than
testimonials to the prowess of the travel professionals behind the magic.

Let me tell you where your leads are going: Google. If you promote particular suppliers and provide all of the details, consumers will take your information and initiate
the shopping process by comparing your “pricing” with everything they can find. This is not a recipe for value-added services. Rather, it’s a way to send your website visitors on a merry chase down the Google rabbit hole.

How do you explain the motivation of those companies insisting you promote supplier content? If you spend a few minutes thinking about the proposition, I believe you’ll know the answer.

The better solution: Quit promoting suppliers on your website and social media efforts. Provide opaque travel offers; ask the consumer to contact you for more information. Start a conversation. Put yourself at the center of the equation. You are the equal sign. You are the value add. That is pure marketing theory. It’s solid, it’s sound and it works. Every other approach is designed only for suppliers—not for you, the travel professional.

Richard Earls

Richard Earls has spent the last 25 years in the travel industry as an agency owner, a technologist, a publisher and a writer. The many publishing credits to Richard’s résumé include Weissmann Travel Reports, STAR Service, Intelliguide, BTP24, Voyager Travel Guides, Travelhoppers, Travel Research Online and Voyager Websites: www.VoyagerWebsites.com.



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