Generating sales with social media: four tips for tour operators and travel agents
When I’m training travel brands how to use social media to make a genuine impact - i.e to generate more buzz and sales - clients often share the same woes that “social media doesn’t make money for us” or “we find it difficult to prove sales from it.”
I regularly come across UK travel companies that aren’t using social media to its full potential and are missing countless tips and tricks. This doesn’t surprise me: limited staff, time and resources can mean that social media marketing is still an after-thought. It’s something that some brands do just because you ‘have to be on social media these days’; with little thought put into considering the most effective way to use it and failing to understand its true potential.
When used in the right way and when enough time is dedicated to it, I promise social media can drives sales. A lot of sales. I typically manage social media channels for tour operators and travel agents on an ongoing basis but I’m also increasingly delivering training/social media audits for companies who wish to keep the activity in-house and learn how to get results from their social media marketing.
Each individual company has its strengths and weaknesses when it comes to their social media activity. For training, I like to create a detailed analysis of their current social media activity and put together a plan of practical recommendations based on that and their objectives, including lots of tips and tricks that I’ve learnt over time; but here are four common tips that I often find myself reinforcing to travel brands during training:
Share your specialist knowledge
Sharing the right type of content is key on social media. I’ve worked with many independent, specialist tour operators and travel agents who are so passionate about their holidays and have an amazing knowledge of the destinations that they sell, the travel experiences available there, their hotels, the best local restaurants, etc. Many of them know their product inside and out.
This knowledge and expertise can translate so well on social media platforms; helping to create content that is interesting, insightful and captures the attention of your target audience. You want to share content that generates a positive reaction from your audience and sparks conversation. For example, you could document your holidays, FAM or research trips on social media and give the audience an exciting behind-the-scenes look, including hidden gems that you come across during your travels.
Highlight specific holidays and offers
I’m always surprised by how many travel companies fail to regularly highlight specific holidays on their social media platforms, including the price and what amazing experiences are included. This can be an effective way of driving sales, rather than only sharing general posts that drive awareness, for example, of the destinations that you sell. It makes it easier for consumers if you highlight trips in this way, rather than them having to search your website or contact you for a quote.
While you have to be careful to avoid the ‘hard-sell’ on social, it’s highly likely that those who like and follow your social platforms are interested in knowing about your holidays. Based on my experience, regular posts that highlight specific holidays always perform well organically.
Generate web traffic from your Instagram page
Using social media to drive web traffic is usually one of my top priorities for clients and this includes on Instagram. Just because you can’t include clickable links in the text of Instagram posts doesn’t mean you can’t use Instagram to drive clicks to pages on your website and more. I recommend linking all Instagram posts to web links to specific holidays, blogs, press coverage, etc, and sharing the links via the free tool LinkTree, which is basically a record of all links shared from Instagram posts that you then link to in the Instagram bio. This handy tool lets you track how many clicks each link receives, too.
It’s almost pointless doing social media marketing these days without investing in ongoing advertising. Without it, it can take a very long time to grow your social channels. I always set up and deliver a range of monthly Facebook and Instagram adverts for all my clients – usually a combination of advertising that increases page likes, drives sales leads and boosts selected posts - and it doesn't have to be expensive (I recommend at least £100 a month).
It’s also vitally important that you don’t waste your money and do the wrong type of advertising. For example, there are countless ways to advertise on Facebook depending on your objective and it can be confusing to know what option is most effective. If you don’t have experience of creating adverts from scratch through the advert manager, you’re probably more familiar with boosting posts, as Facebook often encourages business page admins to do this. In my opinion, a boost isn’t always necessary, and clients could spend their money in a better way.
One of the most effective advert types to drive and prove sales is through pixel advertising which allows you to re-market to people who have already visited your website and track when users perform a specific action, such as clicking ‘book now’ on a holiday listing.
Are you a travel brand that would like to take its social media marketing to the next level, using it in a way that generates more buzz and sales? To find out how I could help your business, please email me on firstname.lastname@example.org.