Digital marketing for travel agency – A complete guide
15 minutes read
Digital marketing for travel agency
Advertising your travel agency to potential clients is an important part of being a travel agent. Either you want to start your own travel agency, or you are already an established one, you need a marketing plan. Look no further, because below we are showing you straight out of our playbook, 8 powerful strategies of how to market yourself as a travel agent on the internet.
Table of contents
1. Your travel agency website
Starting with the cornerstone of all, your travel agency website. It is the basic tool you use in order to present yourself and your travel business to potential clients.
- When was the last time since you updated your website?
- Have you checked how your website looks/ performs from your mobile phone?
- Does your website appear in the google search results?
- Are you getting any leads from your website ?
Based on our experience, a lot of businesses rarely check how their website looks/ performs. Without getting into too much detail, there are 3 things you should focus on and that is speed, mobile friendly and conversion.
Recent studies show that most visitors are willing to wait up to 3 seconds for a page to load before leaving it. Moreover, about half of internet users expect a site to load in less than 2 seconds. As a result, a slow loading website will lead to an increase in the bounce rate, which means losing potential customers in front of competitors. It will take you less than a minute to check your website’s speed and health. Just use free tools such as GTmetix, Google Page Speed or Pingdom and you will find out how your travel agency website performs. If the results come back with red flags and errors, it means there is work to be done. If green, it means that you are in a good position although there is always room for improvement.
In 2023, having a mobile-friendly website is no longer optional, as 52.2% of all Internet traffic comes from mobile devices. This means that if you do not have a mobile-optimised website, you will lose more than half of your potential customers. With more travelers relying on smartphones and tablets rather than desktops to surf the web for their next travel arrangements, a mobile-friendly website is a must.
Travel agencies, as well as hotels and car rentals must have as a priority a website that stands out in the market and converts. By converting it is meant turning a visitor to a potential customer (either B2C or B2B). In order to achieve this, except from speed and responsiveness to mobile phones, your agency website needs the below:
What you must have:
- Unique and interesting design and layout – design travel agency website
- All your business-contact information (phone number, email address, physical address) to be accurate and listed in every page
- Appealing and high-quality images
- Well-written content, blogs and articles
- Dedicated landing pages for target deals. A landing page for travel agency is the one that will convert your visitors to potential clients by subscibing them to special offers, your newsletter or target deals. (besides the info itself, you can add booking interface to these landing pages or a price-picker calendar)
- Short insights and highlights of attractions
- Maps and guides
- Accommodations listings (hotel, resorts, etc.)
- Information about Travel and transport (Airport, Public transport, taxis)
In conclusion, tell a friend or client to visit your website from a mobile phone and ask him how easy for him/her was to navigate and find the relevant info. Check out the websites of some of your competitors and see what they have that you don’t. Make a checklist of the things that you believe that should be done, consult a Web Agency, get a quote, and assign these tasks to be done.
2.Branding for travel agency
Travel agency branding
If you are wondering how to get corporate clients for your travel agency and high value B2B leads, you need to understand that travel agency branding should be the core of your marketing strategy. Brand awareness is a crucial aspect of any B2B travel service where a well crafted brand design can help you achieve customer loyalty as it makes your customers return to your service again and again.
For the purpose of this read, we are not going to analyse the difference between branding vs marketing as it is a big topic and you can easily find that using google search. What you should take as a business owner is that branding must always come first and is the foundation for all your marketing efforts both online and offline. Branding is not just your logo and the colors you use. it’s the desired perception of your company and the feeling you want to create in the minds and hearts of customers.
Your Travel agency logo
The importance of having the right logo does not only apply to your travel niche but in every business that wants to be successful. Being in the branding consulting and logo design business since 2015 our advice for your travel company is:
Scenario A: If you are a sole entrepreneur – travel agent who wants to start an online travel agency or you are just starting your travel agency and budget is an issue, you can find a designer in your area who can help you create a basic logo and a business card. You can research travel agent logo ideas in pinterest or google, make a moodboard and show it to your graphic designer in order to get a feeling of what you might want. Although this method will save you a lot of money, in the end it might cost you more because if it is not good it will negatively impact your online marketing efforts and sales.
Scenario B: You are a well established travel agency with years of experience and a recognizable brand name in your niche. Did your company evolve throughout the years but your logo is the same as when you started? Do you want to keep it the same but change it just a bit in order to give it a more “fresh” look. What you need is rebranding. Note that during a rebranding process, work is not done only in the logo of the company but to its whole visual identity, such as colors, typography, stationary, travel agency slogan, online graphics, packaging, in-depth brand strategy, brand messaging, visual identity, social media templates, print and digital. As an example, you can check out a sample of some rebranding word we did in this link here.
How much for branding – rebranding
Although nowadays you can find a freelancer online who can make you a travel agent logo for less that 50$, our advice is to choose a professional branding agency for this task. Branding is the foundation of your travel agency and you shouldn’t by any means cut corners. Depending on experience, expertise and time involved, only basic logo design services can start from $1.500 and end up to $8,000 whereas additional services such as brand guidelines and other applications can lead up to 30K.
So what is an appropriate amount of money to invest into your branding? The answer to that will depend on the level of maturity of your travel company. Based on the 2 scenarios mentioned above, if you have just come up with your brand name for your travel agency and are starting to create your own travel business, you should not invest more than $4K for the whole branding package. Once your travel agency grows, consequently your business will change drastically and you will need a rebranding in 2-3 years time. Established travel agencies with revenue lets say for example 1million per year and relatively high margins usually allocate a 2-4% of their annual earnings to branding. (but no but no more than $100K)
To sum up, in order to survive in the competitive hospitality marketplace, your travel agency needs to invest in branding before any marketing strategies are implemented as these strategies seek positive brand recognition. For travel agencies as well as hotels, this positive recognition is essential to win the trust of travelers and achieve new business both at B2C and B2B level.
3.The travel agent blog – Content marketing for travel
Did you know that companies that have a blog have 50% more website visitors? If you don’t have one it is time to start. If you have one, evaluate if you are using it to its full potential. You might ask
- What kind of travel content should I publish on my travel blog?
- How to find the right topic for travel content?
- How to generate B2B and B2C leads via my blog?
In comparison with other industries and niches, hopefully there is a plethora of sources where you can turn to, in order to get ideas for your travel content marketing. It’s all about figuring out what’s best for your travel agency. Although there’s no “one-size-fits-all” when it comes to digital marketing for travel agency, if you follow the techniques below, your travel brand will stand out and you will have an advantage over the competition.
- Find inspiration and marketing ideas for travel agents on the web, Instagram, Facebook or blogs of other travel agencies.
- Your content needs to be original, creative, informative, personal, engaging, and well-written.
- Use great photos, videos and graphics
- Identify your audience first before you start writing. Are you targeting B2B or B2C sales?
- Publish and promote your content to all your social media channels
- Apply SEO techniques to your content in order to make it rank in Google’s organic searches. (discussed in detailed later)
What you should know is that regularly coming up with compelling and successful content can be both pricey and time-consuming. This is not an excuse though to skip it. Because your competitors are doing the work and you are left behind. What you need to find is a collaboration with cost-value ROI balance between you (or your inhouse team) and an outside digital agency. We create content everyday for different types of business and niches. it woulb be impossible to do it without the guidance and market know-how given by our clients. It is simple project management, where every party brings to the table their skill set and knowledge in order to create valuable and engaging content.
4.Social Media for Travel Agency
Social Media are essential for tourism marketing. They allow you to communicate with your customers and build long-term relationships by sharing content, promotions, information, and more about your travel agency.
You need to invest the time and budget to do it if you want your business to grow. So, it is not a matter of if but who. In social media management and creating travel agent social media content there are always 2 options. Either you do it yourself and your team or you outsource it to a digital marketing agency.
If you are running your social media inhouse, key points you should follow:
- Post regularly at least 2-3 times per month. Try to think the last time you visited a business’s fb or ista profile that has not posted for months. Did it make you wonder if this company is open for business ?
- Post photos and videos using different hastags such as #travel or locations that you cover, and provide a link to your website.
- Share your customer’s travel stories.
- Be genuine and not opportunistic.
- Without being salesy discover efficient ways to nurture existing and new B2B and B2C relationships
5.Google my business -Reviews
It is misleading to think Google my Business (GMB) as a simple tool to just update your contact details, opening hours and attract local customers. It is a very powerful (and free) tool that increases your brand awareness and trust, especially if you are a newly established travel agency. No matter if you advertise globally or locally, according to statistics, a certain % of search queries are of local intent.
Reviews in GBM (as well as Yelp) are great for building up your reputation and credibility online. Highlight the experience of those who have already contracted a travel package from you and were satisfied, but at the same time don’t dismiss a negative review, respond promptly and offer solutions. When it comes to b2b as it will be discussed later below, GMB plays an important part in SEO in order to increase a travel agency’s seo rankings and domain authority.
6.email marketing for travel agents
You might think it is outdated, but believe it or not, email marketing still works, and the travel industry is no exception. Do you already have a list of subscribers? If yes, time to make an email campaign to maintain relationships with your customer base or advertise travel deals. Whether you’re B2B or B2C, email marketing can be a great way to connect with your prospective and existing clients.
There are plenty of newsletter tools (Mailchimp, GetResponse, Moosend) starting from 10$ per month that your team can use to nurture existing leads or send professional looking emails. You can create 2 groups, one for your B2B clients and one for B2C.Regardless of the content, all emails must contain:
- A catchy title, which will intrigue the interest of the recipient to open it
- The name of your travel agency in the sender’s field.
- Your contact information such as phone number, address and links to your website and social networks.
- Images from the destinations and or hotels
- A call to action such as a booking, find out more details, or to read the blog post you just published.
Last piece of advice, email marketing for travel agencies doesn’t have to be long and boring. Don’t send out emails just for sending them. Writing a short email once in a while, even just for holiday greetings, is a free, easy and efficient way to engage.
7.Travel agent ads
Travel agency adverts on the internet can take many forms, but for the purpose of this read we will focus on Google AdWords. Google Adwords is an advertising platform that is being used by many hotels and travel agencies. It allows you to appear in Google searches in the form of sponsored links. Competing with heavyweight OTAs players in Google Ads bidding can be very expensive and can lead to 0 results if an in-depth keyword strategy is not implemented.
Nevertheless it is a way to go if you want quick results and cost-effective only if it is done correctly. If you bid properly with the right keywords, you will generate some returns for your travel agency. Final thought, ask yourself when was the last time you did a google search, did you clicked on the ads, or bypassed them and clicked the 1st link of the organic (non-paid) results ?
That is because more than 90% of people skip over search ads. You are reading that right. 90% of internet searchers fly over search ads and click into the organic results. With that in mind we move to SEO, the best tool in our opinion for every business that wants to grow its business.
8.Travel search marketing – SEO
Every trip starts on the Internet by searching for information about destinations and tourist services. More than 30 percent of travelers use search engines to find their travel deals. So, investing in this channel is not just a viable marketing strategy, but the best choice you can make for your travel agency.
Being a B2B SEO digital agency, it was not a long time ago, in the beginning of the pandemic where we wrote an article titled “B2B sales in the COVID-19 period”, highlighting the importance of SEO. Advice that some of our clients took and bounced back in full force when the pandemic lockdown was over (screenshot below).
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) in simple terms is the actions taken to help your pages rank higher in search engines in order to drive more traffic to your site. Why to do SEO? Cause traffic equals leads, and leads equals sales. Car rental companies are a bit ahead of travel agencies cause they saw its value and started working on their SEO earlier.
If you’re not working with an agency and handling marketing in-house, these are 5 basic tasks you can get your team to work on in order to improve the quality and quantity of your web traffic [Note: for b2b is more about the quality rather than the quantity]
- Get a SEO audit and find out what is holding back in your website from showing in the 1st page of search engines’ results.
- Using Google Analytics and Google Search Console only (and without any paid tools) you can check your current website organic search rankings and identify those pages that are performing well and those that underperform and aren’t getting much traffic.
- Create an inventory of all your content assets such as old blog posts, presentations, articles, technical sheets, photographs, videos, etc.
- Using Google Keyword Planner you can research relevant keywords, search volume and competition. Optimizing your content for search engines should be your top priority.
- Now you can go and either update your existing content pages or create new ones, make improvements to your CTAs and keywords and add internal links to relevant blogs and service pages. Use this opportunity to generate ideas for new blog posts, start writing professional articles and the next newsletter for your customers.
Using a SEO audit you can tackle all the basic and potentially impactful SEO aspects of your travel website and you will be surprised by how some small changes can yield very positive results and how a little SEO can go a long way! Contact us to discuss your requirements in depth for any SEO related service that your organization might be interested in, such as an SEO audit, technical & content improvement or seo coaching and training for your sales team.
Digital marketing for travel agency – Conclusion
Digital marketing for travel agency has never been more important. B2C customers are constantly looking online for inspiration, the next big destination and the best travel deals, where B2B are turning more and more into digital channels. While this means there are plenty of opportunities for travel brands, there is also a lot of competition. Leverage any of above digital marketing strategies for your travel agency and you will drive more traffic, gain B2B leads, increase your ROI and gain a competitive advantage.