Top 4 (Free) Travel Agency Marketing Tools for 2023
At HAR we are grassroots-marketing aficionados, and in 2023 we wanted to share what's been working for us (the tried and true) and some tools we've switched up. When we take on new marketing programs at HAR, it has to tick some boxes:
- Is it worth your time and brain power to switch over or adopt the program?
- Is it user-friendly?
- Is the support responsive?
- Will it grow with your company?
- Will it streamline your processes?
I'll admit to overthinking these questions. But the good news is that I've already over-thought it so you don't have to! Below are HAR's top marketing tools of 2023 and I'm fairly certain you'll find something to round out your own arsenal of travel agency marketing tools.
Whether you're just starting a travel agency or trying to diversify your free marketing tools, this article will offer you a rundown of the free travel agent marketing tool we here at HAR have grown to love in 2023. These tools will help you design branding, logos, and keep your travel agency's social media marketing engine humming. We'll list our favorite travel agency marketing tools including how we use it, pros, cons, and pricing. Want to fast-forward to a specific marketing tool? Just click below!
- CANVA (For creating marketing images)
- SENDINBLUE (for Email-Marketing)
- JOT FORM (for creating client forms)
- NOUN PROJECT (for brand development/ logo creation)
- WIX WEBSITE (for a great-looking DIY website)
#1 DIY Travel Agent Marketing Tool: Canva
how har uses Canva
I'm going to go on record to say that if we could use only one design tool at Host Agency Reviews, it would be Canva, hands down. Over the years, Canva functionality has grown to meet the needs of HAR's evolving marketing needs. In fact, we've started using Canva for more things, like infographics and data reports, replacing Piktochart (which was on our list last year).
What do we use Canva for at HAR?
- Graphs & reports (massive, massive reports)
- Editing photos (background remover alone is worth the paid plan)
- Charts, infographics, and cheatsheets
- Social media, blog, and newsletter images (& basically ANY marketing images)
- Video for blogs
Better yet? We've been able to replace some tools with Canva's growing capabilities . . . and nothing says love to a busy small business owner like streamlining your marketing tech stack to automate processes and save you time. SWOON!
Here's what we love (and what leaves our design heart wanting a little more).
- SOOOOOOOOO versatile
- Great templates
- Perfect intro to video
One of the huge pros of Canva is that it's so versatile. You can use it to create social media images, blog images, and ads, or you can even just use it to edit photos. It’s fairly user-friendly enough so that non-graphic designers (like me) can create relatively professional-looking marketing collateral quickly. A few new features that have made HAR fall in love with Canva paid plan (all over again) are the ability to upload PDFs to convert them into forms, and their growing capability with graphs and data (not quite there, yet, but getting there).
If you have brand colors, you can save those to your Canva profile with a paid plan. It's a quick program to learn, and the results are professional-looking.
Among other things, April uses Canva to create all our featured blog images:
But she also uses it for social media images, blog images, cheat sheets, downloadable resources (and everything else under the sun).
My Canva cons are super nitty gritty, and not anything I'd notice in the first few months of using it. But hey, it's been a few years! So split hairs, I will :).
- Not superb for data-heavy charts & graphs (getting there, but room for improvement)
- Can't remove Canva branding on an embedded iframe (even on a paid plan, which is silly).
The cons of Canva? In our experience, it's not great for data-heavy graphic images or infographics. Also, if you embed Canva images onto your site using an iframe, you can't remove their branding, which is a bummer for a paid plan.
- Free Plan or $12.99-$14.99/ mo or $119.99-$149.90/year.
Canva has a robust free version. But if you become a frequent user, their paid plan for $119/year is worth it for the access to (loads) more images, the background remover, and their brand kit.
#2 DIY Travel Agent Marketing Tool #2: Sendinblue Email Marketing Program
how har uses Sendinblue
In 2022, we switched up email marketing programs. By switching to Sendinblue, we were able to consolidate the functionality of two marketing tools (Mailchimp and Mailmunch) to the user-friendly Sendinblue platform. Not gonna lie, the transition was time-consuming, but it was worth it in the end.
We use Sendinblue for our newsletters, opt-ins, SMS campaigns, and just about any email you get from HAR. If you're signed up for any of our newsletters, Friday 15 reminders, webinar reminders, survey reminders, and Host Week Event Reminders, then you know how much we rely on it. And if you’re not signed up for any or all of those things, for goodness' sake! Stop reading and sign up. below! We’ll wait right here . . .
Okay. You’re back. That was quick, right? The form looks pretty good right?
If you want to get all fancy, you can do things like segment your clients by type of travel, demographic, or whatever floats your boat! That means, if you see a deal come in for Karisma Resorts that would be great for couples with upcoming anniversaries, you can send out an email via Sendinblue to that particular segment.
Another great feature for advisors? When you create email campaigns, you can hide or show different text blocks according to your contact's attribute. That means if you're promoting AMResort specials, your romance travelers can see your Secrets special and your family travelers can see your Dreams special and you don't need to create dedicated emails for each client type.
Sendinblue is particularly great if you're just starting out. Don’t be discouraged if you only have 25 subscribers. We all start somewhere. In 2012, HAR started with 0 subscribers and now we have 25k+ subscribers! You can do it!
Pros of Sendinblue
- Great value & flexible pricing: SIB charges based on email volume rather than by contact, and you can have as many lists/audiences as your heart desires without paying more. It's also easy to upgrade/downgrade your plan, and you purchase extras above your limit a la carte (e.g. landing pages or SMS credits)
- Sync campaign replies to your Gmail so you can reply directly from Gmail.
- User-friendly templates
- Versatile for email marketing, workflows, and opt-in forms
- Support is responsive and helpful with a large database of easy-to-navigate tutorials and resources to help the DIYers
- Comes with landing pages (with paid plan)
- SMS sends (with paid plan)
Cons of Sendinblue
- Switching from Mailchimp and Mailmiunch to Sendinblue was super time-consuming. So if you're switching from one program to another, consider the time investment.
- CRM is lacking and it may not integrate with a travel agency CRM (without a tool like Zapier)
- Sendinblue is based in Europe, so for US-based folks, it's lesser known than some of its American counterparts. That means that SIB doesn't haven't APIs to integrate with some of the programs we use. I've submitted requests to Sendinblue so I'll check back next year.
Cost of Sendinblue:
- Free up to 300/emails per day. From there, it's so extremely variable depending on plan tier (there are three including the free tier) and how many emails you anticipate sending. Click on this link and scroll down to their slider to see how much it would cost for you.
#3 DIY Travel Agent Marketing Tool: JotForm
How We Use JotForm
We use JotForm in a whole lot of ways. Some to help our backend processes (albeit not marketing) as well as creating public-facing PDFs for advisors like you to use, update with your branding, then send to your client. For the purposes of travel advisors, JotForm is excellent for agency-branded client-facing forms. We used to use JotForm for our annual survey, but moved on to another, much nerdier program (because our survey is massive). However, for a satisfaction survey or simple form to your clients, Jot Form is fabo.
Bonus on JotForm? They have an electronic signature option in their free plan, which, in my experience, is not easy to find. Here's Jot From (from HAR to your agency) in action:
Want one of these for your agency? Heck yes you do! Fill out the form below and then check out all our other travel agent forms available.
Here's the dish on Jot Form.
jot Form's PROS
- Free (but limited) electronic signatures
- You can link it to a cc processing tool to collect service fees if you care to.
- Simple forms and surveys are easy to do (especially if you use our free form templates)
- The capacity can get really robust, so if you want to get really fancy with conditional logic beyond your wildest dreams, the world is your oyster.
Jot Form CONS
For the specific uses of Jot Form at their price (zilch), I have very few complaints.
- I'd say that if you're getting into really technical and involved PDF forms you want to build from scratch, it's not the most user-friendly tool in the world. That's why we went ahead and made templates for you so you can just follow our steps to update our travel agency templates to your brand.
- The support is good, but sometimes a bit on the slowish side.
jot Form's Cost:
JotForm has a great free plan however, know that there will be limitations to the number of forms, electronic signatures, form entries, and it will include their watermark. If you want an upgrade, it will run you $24.50/mo to $64.50/mo (at the time of writing this, they were having a 50% off sale.
#4 DIY Travel Agent Marketing Tool: Noun Project
We've been relying less on Noun Project and tapping into the icons in Canva, but sometimes you just need more choices. Besides the cool name, The Noun Project can be a great resource for developing a logo or any other kind of graphics. We use the Noun Project for larger projects rather than a standalone (e.g. using it for a report or infographic). It’s also a great place to look if you need some icons for your website or marketing materials.
We use The Noun Project fairly often to make article images. The agency and computer icon below are from the noun project:
Noun PROject's pros:
- Easy to use
- Lots of options
Noun PROject's CONs:
- When I say lots of options, I mean LOOOOOOOOOTs of options (think rabbit hole)
- Since Noun Project is a third-party program that, to my knowledge, does not integrate with things like Canva, it's a bit more tedious to find, recolor, download, then re-upload the image to whatever project you're working on. (If Noun Project were linked with Canva, I would go to graphic designer heaven.)
Noun Project's Costs:
Noun Project has a lot of options on the free plan. But you won't be able to change the color of the logo. Their paid plan is either $2.99 per logo, $9.99/mo, or $39.99/year for the ProNoun plan.
Bonus DIY Marketing Tool: Wix Websites & Logos:
If you want to DIY your travel agency website, HAR highly recommends Wix. Wix is user-friendly, professional-looking, and has a great free option. If you're just starting your agency, you can get a great-looking Wix website up in a matter of minutes. (Keep in mind, that we're referring to their ADI plan, where you use their templates).
Another thing we like about Wix, is that you can also use it to DIY your own travel agency logo for free if you're on a shoestring budget.
Wix has a free site, but if you want to upgrade for a custom domain (we highly recommend this, at some point) and to remove their logo, their personal plans start at $14.99/mo. If you want to add credit card processing to the mix (for your travel agent fees) their introductory business plan starts at $23/mo.
If you’re looking specifically for a logo design and don’t mind shelling out a few bucks, these are a few affordable online resources recommended by various travel agents in our 7-Day Setup Support Group on Facebook.
- Upwork: You can use Upwork to find all kinds of freelancers, whether it be for graphic design, web developers, or writers. Their freelancers can be hired for an hourly rate of $20 and up.
- Fiverr: Fiverr also has a cache of freelancers who will design logos for a little as $5 (hence the name!).
- Deluxe Logo Design: Running at $200, it has a higher price tag compared to Fiverr and Upwork, but creating a logo is like getting a tattoo right? You’re stuck with it forever :)
- A local Art College/Community College: This was recommended on the 7-Day Setup as well! I think it’s a great idea. A logo will likely run about $200 minimum, but you also get the satisfaction of feeding a starving artist.
Need Some More Marketing Inspiration?
It’s easy to get a creative block when figuring out how to market your own business. Happens to us all, I promise! Here’s a solution for you, though. Take a peek at our $100 Marketing Plan video. Discover multiple ways to promote your agency without emptying your wallet:
What’s Your Take?
What kind of resources do you like to use to help with your DIY marketing efforts? Let us know in the comments below!
*Editor's note: This article was originally published on November 4, 2017. It was updated and republished on publish date listed.