When attempting to gauge success from social media, the travel agent industry is reliant upon the ability of their professionals to build a client base, and more importantly, develop strong brand loyalty with those clients. The fallacy most agencies have fallen victim to is the idea that social media is meant to purely produce sales. Engaging clients to share their experiences online is imperative for spreading brand awareness and forming relationships. To accomplish this, agents must be open to sharing their own personal experiences when inspiring clients to do the same.
Typically, agencies do not use social media as a tool to flat-out sell travel. The goal is not to focus on selling travel itself, but sharing why they enjoy travel themselves. When sharing why, the key to travel agents attracting and inspiring clients is humanizing the process by continuously sharing their own personal stories. In doing so, they display transparency by creating an informal window of connection between client and agent. The window is only made possible through social media that allows for personal communication at any given time. Not only does this develop a connection, it opens the door for conversation and the start of a relationship.
To no surprise, Instagram has grown to be considered the most important social network when reaching potential travelers due to its focus on visual appeal. Naturally, agents post pictures of their own travels to show passion, experience, and expertise in travel. In addition, agents have also been known to even showcase their clients’ experiences when attempting to increase brand awareness. Not only does this display authenticity and knowledge about specific travel experiences, it also represents agents as humans who are passionate about traveling. Therefore, the agent’s objective is to portray their brand’s identity through their own personal social media to spark engagement with clients.
Because this industry is service-oriented rather than selling specific products, agents are expected to create a sense of desire for travel. Several media allow the opportunity to brand the company, offer special deals, and display in-depth knowledge. However, despite the amount of evidence supporting the utility of social media, research shows that a mere 20% of travel agents actually view it as an important business tool. Agencies simply struggle to see the return of investment that derives from the resources and efforts placed into social media marketing.
Not only do these relationships return cemented brand loyalty, they also lead to long-term brand-building for potential consumers as well. Thus, it is vital to a travel agency’s success that clients feel comfortable enough to connect and share their experiences.