Friday, November 09, 2007

Agents: Don’t be intimidated by the online world

Our latest column in Travel Weekly:

It is easy to see why some travel agents are intimidated when faced with the prospect of competing with something as powerful as the Internet.

While we at Travolution have a tendency to witter on about social networking, user-generated content and the like, retail travel agents are trying to ensure they can convert those walking through the door into buyers of products.

At last week’s Travolution Conference, Global Travel Group’s product development and e-commerce director ­Jason Edwards put it well when he said elements of ­online travel, such as social networking and digital marketing, are difficult to achieve due to resources.

He also commented that understanding the issues was a key factor.

Now, of course, we would urge all Travel Weekly readers to nose through a copy of Travolution now and again to learn more about what the online world is talking about.

But, equally, when it comes to knowing more about how to reach consumers through search engine marketing or social networking, we would urge agents to try things out for themselves.

It takes no time at all to create a travel agent Facebook group and, for example, using it as a springboard for discussion and the chance to share photos from trips.

Better still, why not create a page on a photo-sharing service such as and ask customers if you can upload pictures from their holiday.

Sound easy so far?

Meanwhile, even on the simplest website it is possible to add destination information or even post reviews from customers.

The beauty of search engines such as Google is that they like valuable, unusual, exclusive content (such as reviews and pictures associated with destinations).

This, already, is a crude form of digital marketing – and it probably hasn’t cost a penny.

Kevin May, editor, Travolution


Claude said...

Great post Kevin,

I agree with you, digital marketing isn't so difficult, Travel 2.0 have many free spaces where we can make marketing and promotion...

Other free exemple: TripPlanner with Yahoo

But this isn't completly free, because in fact, it take time to manage !

best regards from France


Darren Cronian said...

It doesn't cost much for reliable hosting, but can become more expensive when traffic to the website increases.

You can buy a relatively cheap out of the box CMS [Content Management Systems] or free if you don't mind tinkering with WordPress.

Don't get me wrong, I am not saying a well designed site, with good usability is cheap - I'm just stating that there's options out there for smaller travel companies who can't afford to get a web design agency in.

Garri said...

Whilst it may not cost a penny to utilise social media tools and blogging, it does require time and patience.

But above all, you also need a clear strategy. And beyond that, you need to stick to it, even if you think it's a waste of time. Your efforts will start to pay off over time.

We have a Flickr photo feed on our main site which pulls in public photos tagged 'holiday'. From time to time, we see some interesting photos.

A few weeks ago there was a photo of blonde in a red bikini sitting by the pool. Of course, our curiosity got the better of us and when we visited the Flickr page to find out more we were amazed that it was actually Chanelle Hayes from the latest Big Brother.

At this point we were also working on our first press release, so you can appreciate it shifted angle with the headline becoming: Bikini clad Chanelle from Big Brother makes a splash on Holiday Pad!

When we tried to find the photos to provide some provenance to our claim, they had mysteriously vanished, most likely made private by the owner.

The point is, if you stick it at you'll get lucky and in turn be able to leverage that luck.

In our case, that bit of luck vanished as easily as it appeared, but it was interesting to see the potential power of social media at work.