Here’s why you should be: hosting small events locally can be a powerful addition to your marketing strategy, as it helps position you as a community thought leader on travel, a trusted resource amongst neighbors and colleagues, AND it grabs the attention of supplier BDMs in your area.
Not sure where to begin? Let’s start with the basics – we spoke to our own Chief Marketing Officer, Maggie Fischer on how she would suggest a small business owner get rolling and make their presence known in the community:
CCRA: Most agents are operating with a pretty modest and well-guarded budget for local marketing – is this something that could require a lot of additional expense?
Maggie: No! There are lots of free tools right under your nose that can help you make an impression locally, plan and promote an event, and even follow up on a regular basis to be sure that your efforts are paying off. You just have to get a little creative!
CCRA: Can you give us some examples?
Maggie: Absolutely. I highly recommend that all agents sign up for a free Eventbrite account. It allows you to create a professional looking event, manage registrations, gather customer data and promote the event – all in one tool. Eventbrite has a wealth of online tutorials and starter guides to help you practice. Once your event is looking fabulous, it also has an invitation tool so you can email and respond to inquiries right from the site, and even copy and paste events for the future. Consumers can then search for events in their area that deal with the topic of travel, and you’ll have a whole new group of leads to work with. Millions of people use Eventbrite every day – take advantage of it!
CCRA: And it’s free?
Maggie: Yes! The only time Eventbrite will charge you, is if you are actually charging for your events – which you can do, it’s just that Eventbrite takes a small percentage just like PayPal or Ebay do.
CCRA: That’s great. But how else can agents get the word out?
Maggie: First, all agents need to have a strong presence on Facebook and Instagram to start. That alone, when well designed, can not only attract new customers, but it gives your current customers a forum where they can publicly reccomend you, tag your agency in their awesome travel photos, and basically help you market yourself. Once you start that process, adding links to your Eventbrite events is easy. You can also create events right in Facebook, which can be found in a number of ways – even with a Google search. So I would suggest all agents either establish or evaluate their Facebook and/or Instagram presence, and then they’ll be well-positioned to layer on a phenomenal tool like Eventbrite to really amplify their efforts.
CCRA: Ok – but what about the meeting itself? Where should I hold it?
Maggie: It’s a lot easier than it sounds. Think of it the same way you would think of any customer consultation. Hold it someplace where you know you’ll have privacy. Don’t have it at Panera or in the mall. I also would not suggest having it in your home unless you’re inviting friends and neighbors you already have a connection with. As an agent, I would reach out to a few local hotels and inquire about renting their meeting space for a day – it may cost a few hundred dollars, but think of the return if you book several new clients. Some hotels will also waive a room rental fee if you order food for your guests or even if they know you are a travel agent. It’s worth calling a few places and seeing what you can negotiate. You can also look at some restaurants in your area with private rooms where you could easily host 10-15 people AND even score a projector.
CCRA: What else do I need? How will I fill the time?
Maggie: It’s a good idea to think about what you want to present. If you’re trying to get people interested in a group cruise or a particular resort – bring lots of collateral and maybe even some promo items. Your local BDM should be more than happy to send you some items to use. If you’re going to present some different destination options, be prepared to answer questions about travel regulations, passports, etc. I would also bring lots of business cards, and even offer referral bonus incentives to encourage your group to recommend you to others. The possibilities are endless!
CCRA: We understand that you’ll be giving a webinar on this very topic?
Maggie: You heard right! I’m actually going to be giving a webinar with one of our fantastic partners, Joanie Ogg and Travel Professional News on August 24th called Powering Your Marketing Plan with Local Events – A How-To Workshop. Spots will be limited because it is a workshop format, so if you are interested, please register as soon as you can!