Digital marketing has leveled the playing field for businesses of any industry and enabled companies of any size and budget to scale and optimize in profitable, unprecedented ways. So how about for the travel industry? Does the same hold true? Unequivocally, yes. This is a post for beginners and intermediates alike, providing actionable and helpful digital marketing for a travel agency. My intention is to provide a comprehensive roadmap to success in online marketing as a travel agency.

If you’re curious as to why I’ve decided to focus so many posts on the travel industry, the reason is twofold. First, I noticed a lack of comprehensive information specific to travel agents and their unique offers and client profiles.

Secondly, I’m an avid traveler myself – as I sit writing this article in an unfamiliar but quiet cafe just outside Tokyo.

Ultimately, I hope to provide an outline of actionable steps and solutions that a travel agency of any size can start implementing immediately. I’ll first be reviewing some of the most powerful digital marketing tactics currently being used by businesses online followed by both free and paid advertising methods.

Given the nature of the travel industry, I highlight three specific platforms as most suitable for building brand and story: Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube. I also cover Facebook ads, search engine marketing and content marketing as viable solutions to client acquisition and travel agency growth. So let’s have a look at the outline, shall we!

Outline

Digital Marketing For A Travel Agency: Things We Must Understand First

If you Google digital marketing tactics, you’ll be inundated with a wide collection of various platforms, strategies and options. It can be hard to know where to focus your time, energy and budget. 

I hope to clarify this exhaustive list in this section. So I’ve separated the digital marketing tactics into either paid methods or free options.

Again, since I’m not including every single online advertising tactic, if you have questions about (or a successful experience with) another choice, please let me know in the comments! 

But for this post, let’s start with the best paid advertising strategies for a travel agency.

Before we dive in, I want to briefly review on of the most important things to understand before you start building and implementing your digital marketing strategy:

You Must Understand Why & How Your Customer’s State-of-Mind Changes Between Different Platforms

For example, people visit Facebook to be entertained, engaged and to connect with friends and family (i.e., they’re not in the buyer state-of-mind). 

However, people are often on Pinterest looking for inspiration and solutions to problems (i.e., they are more likely in a buyer’s state-of-mind).

So to have a successful marketing protocol, you must understand your prospect’s state-of-mind on the platform you’re using and cater your messaging, offer and ads/content to match that intention.

Furthermore, most paid advertising will require retargeting ad campaigns and followup communication before any profit-related conversions. 

This is especially true for a travel agency since your product offers tend to be higher ticket prices.

Still, leveraging the power of these platforms for lead generation, building brand awareness and reaching new customers cannot be understated. 

So let’s look at your marketing options moving forward!

Recommended Read: Advertising On Facebook: Understanding Why People Are There

Paid advertising is probably what you had in mind when you Googled “digital marketing for a travel agency“. 

And it makes sense since running paid ads can offer businesses and individuals a shortcut to results and conversions.

However, it does require a strategic approach, some technical know-how and application of some marketing best practices. 

But again, it can be an awesome opportunity to catapult your agency forward. 

So let’s look at 3 great options for travel agencies to start using in their digital marketing right now!

  • Facebook
    • Amazing audience targeting for making customized, highly relevant campaigns
    • Great for collecting data and running profitable retargeting
    • With over 2 billion active users, literally everyone’s on Facebook
    • People visit Facebook to be entertained and to engage with family and friend
      • Create campaigns with this in mind!
  • Instagram
    • Actually owned by Facebook, so you’ll enjoy similar targeting and retargeting capabilities
    • Skewed towards younger users and millennials and great for building brand
    • Compared to Facebook, Instagram users tend to have higher engagement with brands and posts
    • A highly visual platform – perfect for travel images and videos!
  • Pinterest
    • Also highly visual and has a huge market for travel lovers and travel seekers
    • Currently, arguably less saturated for running ads and promoting your offers
    • Great for running targeted ad campaigns and generating organic SEO traffic quickly (compared to Google)
      • See the next section for more on this!
    • Users use Pinterest for inspiration, interesting content and to find answers to problems or questions
      • Match your content strategy to meet these user expectations!

Free Methods: Takes More Time But Free

Who doesn’t like free traffic? Of course, this is like the holy grail to running an efficient online business. As such, it takes patience, strategy and focus. 

Luckily, there are various places to start creating content for that will eventually drive you new leads, sales and conversions.

Again, this is a longer-term strategy that may take many months to see results from. 

But regardless of other paid advertising methods you decide to implement for your travel agency, having an effective SEO strategy to generate free, organic traffic over time is highly recommended and will pay off in dividends.

If you’re at all worried that this strategy is not realistic due to the sheer volume of competition in ranking a piece of content, rest assured that there’s way more demand than the supply could ever meet. 

Consider these stats: As presented by BroadbandSearch (2020), of the 7.8 billion people in the world, over 60% frequently use the internet with staggering growth rates increasing that number every year. 

Google alone processes more than 3.5 billion searches every day! 

And this is a number that’s likely to increase as the internet becomes more widely available and both convenience of use and accessibility grow via increased mobile usage.

So while some keywords will naturally be more difficult to rank for, focusing on niche keywords with lower competition is a great starting point.

As long as you’re creating detailed, high-quality, value-adding content, you’ll be investing in a business asset that will compound over time with more and more traffic. 

It’s all about targeting the right keywords and understanding your audience’s needs, wants and problems.

Let’s check out some strategies to start building a free traffic strategy!

  • SEO for Google (and other search engines)
    • Start creating keyword optimized blog-style content on your website
    • Think about user intent when researching keywords to write articles about
      • For example, is the user in a buyer state-of-mind for that particular keyword?
      • Consider the difference between “can I travel to Hawaii cheaply?” versus “how many Hawaiian islands are there?
      • A person searching the first search keyword is probably more likely to be interested in traveling to Hawaii
      • The second search term however is probably someone who’s just looking for a quick answer for whatever reason
    • Optimize your posts for SEO (by adding your keywords at least in the title and somewhere in the opening paragraph(s)
    • Write longer-form posts (at least 1,000,2,000+)
    • Ranking on Google can take up to 35 weeks or more, but once you start generating traffic, it’s free and highly valuable
  • YouTube
    • Start creating good quality content (i.e., value-adding and is entertaining, inspiring and/or educational)
    • Be consistent, use relevant tags and keywords in your titles and descriptions
    • Travel vlogs, videos and channels are very popular on YouTube – how can you and your agency present a unique twist or angle as a travel channel?
  • Pinterest
    • Create a business account and optimize your titles, descriptions and boards using travel industry keywords
      • Use the Pinterest search bar (similar to Google’s autosuggest) to find relevant keywords to optimize your profile, boards and pins with
    • Create visually appealing pins and connect your existing written (or video) content to them
      • I use Canva, which is a free, easy-to-use design tool with tons of free, customizable templates
      • You’ll also have access to hundreds of other free templates for any and all of your social media channels, including Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and many more
    • Promote your content and other people’s helpful pins
    • Pro strategy for explosive traffic growth: Use Tailwind to schedule out your posts and join Tailwind Tribes to get your pins easily shared and in front of thousands of new prospects interested in travel
  • Instagram
    • Every business should have an Instagram
    • People on Instagram are more likely to engage with posts and follow company profiles
    • The goal of your Instagram should not be to sell (although occasional deal offers exclusive to your followers is OK)
    • Rather, your content should be either entertaining or interesting, inspiring or educational (or some combination of those)
  • Google My Business
    • Does your agency have a physical location? Make sure you’re showing up for local searches!
    • You can also create and optimize a YouTube video to show up as a video result for people searching for local travel agency search terms
      • This will help you stand out and since people love to watch video for information, this can be a great way to rise above your competition

Recommended Read: How to Use Social Media to Promote Your Business

Your Roadmap Moving Forward

Adopting a digital marketing strategy may seem overwhelming at first if you’re new to these concepts. So I hope in this section I can help you determine where you should focus your energy first.

There are numerous strategies, platforms and social media you can take advantage of – some of which are better than others for travel – but that dosn’t mean you should focus on every one of them, at least not to start.

Rather, it’s best to start with just one or two platforms or content strategies and building upon them before piling on any more techniques. 

During this initial starting period, it can be difficult to stay focused as we’re constantly being bombarded with new strategies and methods that promise insane results.

But the truth is, whatever your technique, success depends on consistency and focus, strategic implementation, testing and patience to develop. 

Unless you have a large team or a big budget, you can start adding on more strategies as you’re creating high-quality become more familiar with digital marketing tactics.

So let’s go through some powerful marketing and content strategies that you can start applying today for your travel agency.

Step 1: The Free Stuff - Content, Pinterest & Instagram

So what’s the reason for starting with free digital marketing strategies? 

Simply put (besides it being free), you’ll be able to use the content you create for your free marketing in your paid advertising.

This will make the whole process of running effective ad campaigns easier as you’re creating high-quality will have high-quality, problem-solving content to show your audience and generate trust from. 

So let’s look at some tips and some ways to start.

  • Content Option A: Blog Writing For Google SEO
    • Creating a blog is a high-value asset for a business wanting to take full advantage of online marketing
    • Create high-quality, value-adding content for your audience
      • Solve real problems and answer real questions from your target market
      • Try writing at least 1,500 words+
    • Write content for keywords that people are actively searching for
      • Try typing in keyword ideas into Google and see what it autosuggests
      • Also look at the recommendations
      • Try using a free keyword research tool like Ubersuggest
      • Always cross-reference with a Google search to audit the competition for that keyword (see the next point)
    • Try to find keywords that have search volume but lower competition
      • the search term shows up in Google’s autosuggest – that’s great!
      • If you enter that search and all the top results ranking for that search term are huge, well-established sites with high domain authorities – maybe choose a different, less competitive search term!
      • However, you can also either a.) Make YouTube content for that term or b.) promote that content on Pinterest
  • Content Option B: Video & YouTube SEO
    • Siilar to Google SEO, you want to optimize your videos for the search results
    • Check out this helpful video on YouTube SEO!
  • Connecting Content to Pinterest: Pinterest SEO
    • Creating a Pinterest for Business profile and having a pinning calendar and strategy is a great way to start generating massive traffic to your blog
    • This is especially helpful for new blogs and content, since ranking in Google can take many months
  • Instagram Content: Building Your Brand
    • Rememer the main purpose of social media: being social
      • Engage with your followers, your industry and other influencers and profiles
    • Establish your brand and build a social media following
    • Pay attention to your color schemes, messaging and content
    • Focus less on selling offers and more on content
    • Choose content that’s either entertaining, educational or inspiring – or a mixture!

Recommended Read: Check Out How This Free Software Let’s You Create Professional Quality Videos, Animations, Websites, Landing Pages and Even Logos!

Step 2: The Paid Stuff - Pinterest, Facebook & Instagram Ads

Strategically implemented digital marketing can generate businesses new leads, boost conversions and increase profits and revenue. 

Unfortunately, it can be all too simple to use digital marketing incorrectly, waste money on ineffective ads and get tripped up with all the various marketing strategies, advanced techniques and best practices.

So in this section, I’ll keep things simple and to-the-point and just introduce you can begin with paid digital marketing channels in your business.

Of course, I’ll also provide some links to helpful resources and tutorials if interested in getting started straight away.

  • Facebook Ads
  • Instagram Ads
    • Try a Swipe Up story ad or unique quiz-style ad (i.e., “Take this crazy quiz to find your next perfect trip!”)
      • Here, you could create a series of questions such as their travel interests, places they’ve been or not been, etc.
      • You could then recommend a cool location and exclusive offer
      • You could also ask for their email in exchange for the results (lead magnet strategy)
  • Pinterest Ads
    • Similar to Facebook and Instagram, you can reach users based on detailed interest and demographic targeting
    • Remember, people are on Pinterest for new ideas and inspiration – so frame your ad to meet this user state-of-mind

$$ Tip Jar

Use the content you created for your website blog and/or YouTube as a lead magnet, a landing page or some free value in your ad.

You can then retarget people with different followup offers after first building that initial trust using your free, high-quality, interesting and engaging content.

Bonus Strategies: Expanding Your Offers & Monetization Channels

Technology has allowed people and business to find new and exciting ways to expand their service and product offerings – often with little to no upfront costs! 

This section will provide you with a few bonus strategies that you can start implementing into your business as a way to not only expand your audience and profit potential but also strengthen your brand.

Besides just being great additions to your business model, many of these solutions will also expand your advertising capabilities as you’re creating high-quality will have more offers from which to use for promotional purposes.

You could create and use cheat sheets, mini-courses, guides, free consultations and even free product giveaways (such as t-shirts) as enticing lead magnets to build brand and attract new prospects.

So let’s dig in and briefly explore these bonus strategies and how they can scale your travel agency in exciting new ways:

  1. Offering Complimentary Services & Digital Products
  2. Creating Print-On-Demand Products
  3. Promoting Affiliate Products & Offers

    1.) Incorporate complimentary offers such as travel guides, eBooks or mini-courses

    • For example, offering the must-know language for traveling to Europe or how to find the best deals and plan your next trip like a travel agency are great ideas as an affordable short course
    • You could even offer some type of travel consulting option as an upsell or as a standalone service

    2.) Try using print-on-demand to offer complimentary products related to travel. This can build your brand while also expanding your profit opportunities – all for free!

    • If you’re interested in getting started, there are many places to upload designs, but I like Teespring a lot
    • You can also create your own storefront with this service
    • If you’d like a full tutorial for print-on-demand and Teespring, check out this video from Greg Gottfried!

    3.) You’re already knowledgeable about the travel industry and what goes into planning a trip. So besides your agency’s services, promoting products on behalf of other companies – as an affiliate  is another fantastic way to expand your profits passively.

    • You could recommend physical products related to travel, such as suitcases and luggage
    • The Amazon Associate affiliate network is probably one of the biggest options here
    • You could create blog posts about unique destination with promoted flights and hotel packages inside the articles
    • You could then receive commissions for any flights and packages purchased through your links
    • As you likely already know, most travel and booking sites have an affiliate program that you can join

    Here’s the key takeaway for this section: 

    • Regardless of your core offers, there are numerous ways to expand your profits using things like print-on-demand, digital products and the scalability of the internet

    Other Possible Digital Marketing Options

    • Search Engine Marketing
    • YouTube Ads
    • Google Ad Sense Network
    • Yelp Advertising
    • Influencer Marketing & Using Sponsored Posts

    Recommended Read: Finding the Best Place to Advertise Online

    Conclusion

    This post has highlighted key methods and strategies of using digital marketing for a travel agency. 

    I’ve explored both free methods and paid advertising strategies and ultimately, provided a road map moving forward.

    This path forward relies on using both free traffic methods – such as Google optimized blog posts – and strategic ad implementation – such as running a video views retargeting campaign.

    I’ve also introduced some bonus ideas and ways to expand your monetization channels online. 

    Adopting business models such as print-on-demand or affiliate marketing are simple and cost-effective (i.e., free) ways to enhance your travel agency’s profit potential.

    Ultimately, focusing on providing high-quality value in an interesting, engaging, entertaining and/or educational way is key to success – no matter the platform or digital marketing strategy.

    Let me know in the comments – what’s the biggest hurdle you’ve experienced online with promoting your (or your client’s) travel agency?

    Categories: Travel Agents

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