How Travel Agents Can Make Their Mark on Social Media [+Quiz]
Back in the days of yore when I was wee lass, there were no personal computers let alone internet and social media (SM). Yes, friends, I lived long without the adrenaline rush of retweets, FB likes, and Tumblr followers. Oh, how times have changed.
For me, navigating social media is like learning a new language. But the truth is that learning the language of social media is a must for travel agencies. But don’t fret, dear reader. I’m putting together a few basic tips to help you along with your social media marketing . . . and you might even have some fun along the way.
⭐️ HAR Article Highlights: ⭐️
The Big Picture:
According to Pew Research, 72% of all adults in the US used some type of social media in 2019.
Chances are, as you’re reading this, someone is sitting at their office desk. The air conditioner is on too high so even though it’s 98 degrees outside, they’re forced to wear a cardigan inside. They’re eating a sandwich with limp lettuce and sweating cheese, slipping into a daydream so they can have a break from the drudgery of their day.
According to Pew Research, 72% of all adults in the US used some type of social media in 2019.
They are daydreaming about scuba diving for the first time in the Caribbean (they’ve always wanted to do that). Or they’re visualizing digging their toes in the warm white sands of Kona beaches or imagining trekking in the Andes as a milestone to mark their retirement. For thirty minutes, they are thinking about escape.
Chances are they’re scrolling through Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. They’re looking for images of their daydream to materialize in front of them . . . looking for someone to tell them they can afford to make that dream into a reality—if not now, someday. They may not know it, but they’re looking for you.
What’s the moral of the story? If your travel agency is not up and running on social media, it needs to be (yesterday). If you're a social-media-phobe, don't fret. We'll make it easy as possible because a.) you don't have to do it all and b.) some programs will streamline the process (or essentially do it for you).
Where Are Your Clients on Social Media?
You don’t need a statistic to tell you that almost everyone and their great-grandmother is on social media. The question is, which platforms do your clients/potential clients use the most?
It can be overwhelming. There’s a lot available. But you don’t have to do it all. Even just picking one or two social media platforms is a great start. If you’re not sure what platform to choose or want to make sure you’re currently using social media to target your client base, check out this quiz below: 1
All finished? There’s probably a good chance Facebook popped up in your queue as the front runner, but if you want to expand your social media (SM) presence, or decide which SM accounts to concentrate on, you might consider looking at option #2 or #3 on your list.
There’s so much stuff out there about how SM marketing, so I’m not going to reinvent the wheel. But let me just break down a few tips to make your biz pages sparkle.
5 Steps to Boost Your Social Media Presence
- Make it Pretty. Really, Really Pretty. We’re trying to reinforce the daydream state. Try to use photos that are visually stunning/ attractive. Large headlines also help. You can always do screen images to make your own custom headlines for a photo if you’d like.
- Quality Over Quantity This is personal taste, but in general, I’d suggest posting only when you truly have something of value to offer your clients. Dumping followers with ads and self-promotion can be a downer, but worse yet, it makes you forgettable. Your experiences, expertise, and insights will sell themselves.
- Just Because You Build It, Doesn’t Mean They’ll Come. Do simple things to increase traffic to your SM accounts. Make sure your profile is comprehensive. Add share buttons to your webpage and use hashtags with reckless abandon. Create original and meaningful content. And don’t forget that all roads lead back to your website.
- Stay on Brand. It’s good to have a blend of personal and business—after all, you’re a real live human. But keep your rants and raves up on your personal accounts (unless, of course, you’re raving about a client’s vacation).
- Engage, Engage, Engage. You don’t need to participate in every SM platform, but it’s a good idea to stay active on at least one or two. Social Media is a time suck, yes, but you can use that “time suck” to your advantage. Pick a couple of SM accounts and do them well.
[ VIDEO] This Travel Advisor Shares Sure-Fire Social Media Tips
We've been getting into multi-media these days, so I want to share some expert advice from travel agency owner, DeJuan Shorter. He has incredible social media tips for travel advisors. (Listening to his chat with Steph will make you feel like you're taking a master class.)
Pretty amazing, right?! Here's some more fodder for your social media strategy!
Some of Our Favorite Travel Industry Social Media Accounts
The first thing to do, if you haven’t already, is to make sure you reserve your brand’s social media page/handle on all major platforms—even ones you don’t plan on engaging with now. Who knows which way the wind will carry you in the future.
Below are a few examples of travel industry social media pages that caught my eye. I also included a little info about optimal posting time for the different SM platforms. I even made up a new acronym! Optimal Posting Time will forever be known as OPT.
HOWEVER, I have to issue a giant disclaimer. The OPTs listed below do not take into account the demographic/lifestyle of your client base—it just cites the day and times when there’s the highest volume of traffic. So if you’re targeting bakers who work a 4 am-12 pm day, their peak browsing times will differ significantly from a 9-5er.
Also, according to Anna Bennett, a Pinterest SM expert, folks are more likely to fantasize about travel on Saturdays.2 In the end, you know best! Trust your gut!
Facebook (for Consumer Engagement)
Optimal Posting Time: Wednesday. 11:00am & 1:-00-2:00pm. 3
What I love about Boutique Japan's page is that (besides having gorgeous images) is that it has a voice, using its posts as a way to inform readers. Boutique Japan also has review ratings (which is a great reminder to ask your happy clients to leave you a review on Google or FB).
Timely Traveler has a fabulous and engaging Facebook page too. As a follower, I feel strangely compelled to comment on every post they publish. One of the other things I love about The Timely Traveler is how they use their clients' positive (and magical) travel experiences as thoughtful social media material. It's professional and personal at the same time. Take a look:
Well, Mark Zuckerberg doesn’t need me to inform you about Facebook. Just be sure that when/ if (preferably when) you develop a FB page that you utilize its review function so everyone can see your clients brag about you.
You’ll also want to make sure you “verify” your travel agency, to help boost your company in random FB searches. Here’s the link (hint: We did it for Host Agency Reviews and, it’s quick and easy).
Twitter (for Consumer Engagement)
Optimal Posting Time: Wednesdays and Fridays 9:00 am 4
Who Does it Well: Ashley Metesh McCoy, @Kinshipvacations
If you prefer to engage on SM at warp speed, Twitter is a good bet for you. If you're really only an occasional poster? Probably not for you. McTetesh-McCoy does Twitter very well because of her a.) frequency and b.) it's personable.
Though it might be tempting to make kneejerk tweets, it good to keep them streamlined, visual, and relevant to your followers. That goes for retweets too. Save your live tweets of Buffy the Vampire Slayer for your personal account, unless it’s miraculously part of your niche 5
Don’t forget to take advantage of Twitter chats! Take a look at this Twitter chat calendar to find one that fits your niche. And for the love of all things holy don’t forget to link your account to your website!
Instagram (for Consumer Engagement)
Optimal Posting Time: Wednesday 11:00 am & Friday 10:00 am-11:00 am (You can also look at your personal engagement on your business account to see the best times for you).6
Who Does it Well: Kathy Takushi, @CaptivatingJourneys
One of my favorite things about this Instagram account is that the pictures seem genuine. Traveling is a visual experience, so it makes sense that Instagram would be a popular venue for agents and for those who suffer from wanderlust. If you go with an Instagram account, you can let the marvel of certain geographical locations advertise for you. It also gives clients (and prospective clients) a taste of your style/personality while staying on-brand with your business.
Repeat after me: Follow your clients on Instagram. When they post images of the trip you helped make happen, like them until you’re blue in the face (that is, if you genuinely do).
LinkedIn (Global Engagement)
Optimal Times to Post:
- Wednesdays: 8:00am - 10:00am | 12:00pm
- Thursdays: 9:00am | 1:00-2:00pm
- Fridays: 9:00 am 7
Who Does it Well: Valerie Wilson Travel
LinkedIn is a must if your travel agency does corporate bookings, but leisure agents shouldn’t write it off either. It’s a great way to connect with that one person you got your driver’s permit with never to be heard from again who developed a liking for birds and wants to book a trip to Manu National Park in Peru for their fortieth birthday.
Pinterest (General Engagement)
Optimal Posting Times: Breaking from the pack, the best time for an agent to post on Pinterest is on weekends, from 8:00 pm - 11:00 pm!8
Madeline Jhawar's agency Italy Beyond the Obvious has a phenomenal Pinterest board. Not only does it provide eye candy, but her posts also link to the great resources on her blog. It really focuses on providing folks not only with visual eye candy but also links to great resources on her site. This helps Madeline get a ton of leverage out of her great resources. Pinterest is a great option for travel agents who sell FITs and custom trips.
Jhawar's profile may not have multi-million followers, but she gets a heckuva lot of monthly views. Another thing Madeline does that I love is a.) link her pins to her blog and b.) put her agency name on each image (it's very subtle but nice).
Ready to Post? Next Step's
Okay, so now know where you want to focus your social media magic. So what's next?
2. Find Free Images for Your Social Posts
First up, make a post. Along with your own amazing pics, we have a few opinions on where to find the best free images for your blogs and social media.
If you are a multitasker extraordinaire and want to schedule some posts in advance, there are free social media scheduling programs at your fingertips. With one exception, most free plans allow only one user and link to up to 3 social media accounts. If you're just cutting your teeth on social media, this could do the trick.
Here are three (free) social media scheduling tools:
Hootsuite is the social media scheduling platform we use here at HAR (and by "we" I mean our amazing marketing strategist, April Oliveira). Here's the skinny (and a special shoutout to fearless HAR reader, Angi, for letting us know that Hootsuite updated their free plan):
- Base Cost: Free ($49/mo. for lowest-cost paid plan)
- # of Users: 1
- # of Social Accounts Included: 2
- # of Scheduled Posts: 5
Not gonna lie, I'm not familiar with Buffer, but they have a bona fide free social media scheduling plan if you want to cut your teeth on social marketing. Here's the info:
- Base Cost: Free ($15/mo. for lowest-cost paid plan)
- # of Users: 1
- # of Social Accounts Included: 3
- # of Scheduled Posts: 10
Originally, Later was only available for Instagram but has since expanded. Later includes the most robust free plan, allowing the highest volume of posts and the most social accounts. They base their pricing on social "sets" rather than individual accounts. A "social set" includes Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, Linkedin, and Pinterest.
- Base Cost: Free ($12.50/mo. for lowest-cost paid plan)
- # of Users: 1
- # of Social Accounts Included: 6 (They refer to this as one "social set," to presumably each account needs to be connected to the same person or business)
- # of Monthly Posts: 30 (per set)
That's a Wrap!
What social platforms do you use and love? Let me know in the comments below. If you're on the search for other marketing options, don't miss HAR's $100 Travel Agency Marketing Plan!
- Data for quiz taken from Sprout Social's, "Social Media Demographics to Inform Your Brand's Strategy in 2021" & Pew Research Center's, "Demographics of Social Media Users and Adoption in the United States" ↩
- https://www.business2community.com/pinterest/best-time-days-pin-pinterest-01152667#YB3eDs98hx870qmW.97 ↩
- Sprout Social's, "The Best Times to Post on Social Media" ↩
- Source: Sprout Social's, "The Best Times to Post on Social Media" ↩
- If BTVS is part of your niche, we SERIOUSLY need to talk. ↩
- Source: Sprout Social's The Best Times to Post on Social Media ↩
- Source: https://sproutsocial.com/insights/best-times-to-post-on-social-media/#linkedin ↩
- Source: https://filmora.wondershare.com/business/best-time-to-post-on-social-media.html ↩