5 Signs It’s Time to Rebrand Your Travel Business

September 24, 2020

Affiliate Disclaimer: This post on choosing a rebranding your travel business contains affiliate links. If you find it helpful, using the links is a great way to thank us without costing you a thing! It also helps fill Rigel's treat ball. 😉 Now down to the business of rebranding your travel business!

Is it time to rebrand your travel business?

Maybe you’ve decided to expand your niche. Maybe you decided to scale your business to take on subagents or ICs (independent contractors). Perhaps you’ve always relied on selling cruises, and then COVID happened. Or maybe it’s time to refresh your logo (because, let’s be honest, last time you updated your brand, your teenager was still in diapers.)

A successful brand identity will communicate the purpose, vision, and voice of your travel business to your target audience.

If something shifts in your mission, purpose, niche, or target clientele, it could be a sign that it’s time to rebrand your travel business.

We’ll help you decide whether or not to take the leap. Ready. Set. Rebrand.

This is the first in a 2-part series! Sign up here to be notified when Part 2 of HAR's Rebrand Your Travel Business lands on the blog!

Why Rebrand Your Travel Business?

When needed, rebranding your travel business will more clearly communicate to travelers who you are and what you do.

Successful brand identity will communicate the purpose, vision, and voice of your travel business to your target audience. If you're curious to hear from one agency that went all-in on a rebrand, check out this podcast with Molly Williams, CEO of The Optimists Travel (formerly, The Savvy Traveler). Molly went rebranded her agency from head to toe. You can learn more about it on her interview with Steph Lee on Travel Agent Chatter!

As with Molly's agency, it’s important that your own brand identity evolves along with your business. These qualities—your travel businesses' purpose, vision, or voice—may shift or evolve as you gain more experience in the travel industry.

When needed, rebranding your travel business will more clearly communicate to travelers who you are and what you do. It will help you attract and keep the right clients, and save you time on qualifying clients.

HAR's Rebranding Brainstorm & Checklist

Here's a handy pdf that will walk you through whether or not it's time to rebrand. This will also give you some spoiler alerts to our article.

Download it if you'd like to go through it as you read the article.

The Anatomy of a Travel Brand

When we talk about rebranding your travel business we’re referring to changing your brand identity. Your travel brand identity consists of collateral such as:

  1. Travel Logo: A symbol or design that represents your travel business and (possibly) your travel agency name. For those that still need to develop or rebrand their logo and have an eye for design, Wix is a good start.
  2. Brandmark: A symbol only that represents your travel business (think of the iconic Nike swoosh symbol) Most travel agencies don’t have (or need) this.
  3. Your Travel Agency Name: Self explanatory, but if you want to explore changing your travel agency name go to the link!
  4. Your Tagline: A catchy phrase that captures an aspect of your business, whether it be what product you sell (luxury cruises), or a quality of your service (high value). (Not all travel agencies have or need a tagline.)
  5. Typography: A combination of font and format that you use on your travel website and in communications with your clients.
Hex Codes Example
  1. Color scheme: A combination of 3-5 colors you consistently use in your branding/logo (in addition to black and white logos). Each color has a unique hex code, a 6-character alphanumeric code so it’s recognized on HTML ( pictured and highlighted below). Hex codes will be a part of your style guide, and ensures consistency as you design brand collateral across different platforms.
  2. Website: Where your travelers will find you. (We recommend Wix)
  3. Packaging: A term typically used for retail brands, with travel companies packaging can be considered the presentation of client communications. This may include personal emails, email blasts, newsletters, contracts, invoices, travel itineraries etc.
  4. Messaging: Any copywriting or wording you create for your agency (e.g. marketing copy, client communications, blogs, position statements etc.)

Your travel brand is much more than just a logo. Your brand identity represents the intangibles qualities of your travel business.

If your business shifts in purpose, vision, or voice (the “personality” of your brand) then it’s probably time to rebrand.

What are these intangible qualities of your travel brand? Things like:

  1. Brand Voice: The tone you express in your emails, on your website and how it leads a potential traveler to know what to expect when they work with you.
  2. Brand Definition: What is your travel business? What type of travel do you offer and who is your target client? If you’re unsure about the definition of your travel brand, our elevator pitch exercise will help.
  3. Brand Values/Mission: What does your travel brand stand for and what does your brand identity represent? Do you want travelers to associate you with budget group travel experiences? Luxury products? Sustainable travel travel experiences? What are the core values of your travel brand?
  4. Brand Promise: What do you guarantee your travelers? What can they expect from coming to you?
  5. Unique Selling Point: What makes your travel agency unique? What do you offer in your travel planning and booking services that others do not?
  6. Target Travel Market (or Market Position): How do clients know what kind of travel you offer. Do you offer premium/luxury travel at a high price, or do you focus on high value travel with medium price and maximum quality? Or do you provide low-budget travel options for large groups of people?
  7. Brand Engagement: The service you provide your travelers, and how they engage with YOU (and your agency)!

Without developing the intangible aspects of your travel brand, your branding might just be another pretty face.

Together, these elements create the larger picture of your brand identity. If your business shifts in purpose, vision, or voice (the “personality” of your brand) then it’s probably time to rebrand.

The extent of your rebrand depends on what you want it to accomplish. Rebranding your travel business may simply be a matter of tweaking your logo and title to better reflect an updated niche. (You can compare that to painting your house a new color.)

Or your rebranding may require a complete overhaul of your brand identity as you transition from a personal brand to a business brand. (A new addition to your house, plus new siding and landscaping).

Is time for you to rebrand your travel business? We’ll help you decide!

Top 5 Indicators It’s Time to Rebrand Your Travel Biz

If nothing is changing with your travel business, then it’s probably not time to rebrand. Rebranding without a purpose or rebranding too frequently might just alienate your clientele.

But if you’re here, it’s probably not because you decided to keep along doing the same old, same old.

A successful travel brand will reflect your services, your purpose, your vision, and your voice. If any of these elements change, chances are your brand will need to change too.

Here are a few indicators it’s time for a change:

1. You changed or developed your niche (or target market)

Ensuring your brand clearly reflects your niche will save you a lot of time in communicating to new clients who you are. If your niche has changed, chances are you will need to do some rebranding.

For example, travel advisor extraordinaire Will Medina changed his name and brand from Larimah Travels to Destination Weddings Experts (with the tagline, Weddings • Group Travel • Honeymoons) when he began focusing on destination weddings.

An Exercise:

Channel your inner extrovert to do some market research during your next happy hour (in line at a co-op, or at a travel conference): Ask an acquaintance if they’d be willing to take 1 minute to help you out with a little experiment. Give them your business card, and without offering any explanation, ask them to tell you what they think you sell.

Do they pause for a long time to figure it out or are they close to the bullseye? If not, your branding may not be communicating your niche or services very effectively.

2. Your travel branding looks vintage (in a bad way)

Look, I’m no style queen, but if a traveler is spying on your website to see if you’re up to snuff, you want to leave a good impression. It’s important that your branding is keeping up with the times, and this may mean you need a refresh (or an entire overhaul).

Would you believe if I told you Expedia’s website looked like this in 1997? 👇🏻👇🏻👇🏻

Expedia Site 1997
Expedia's site in 1997 (image from Wayback Machine Internet Archive)

Or that Carnival’s site looked like this in March of 2000? 👇🏻👇🏻👇🏻

Carnival Site 2000

Okay, that’s a far enough trip down memory lane. If your website or business card has even a whiff of this variety of vintage, it’s time for a change.

An Exercise:

Ask yourself this: “When is the last time I refreshed my brand?” If your answer is over 5 years ago, it might be time to take a look at it with fresh eyes to see if it needs to catch up with the times.

3. Your branding is not unified across all platforms

If you're brand in inconsistent across different social platforms, it's an indication that you were indecisive with your travel brand, or you were trying to accomplish too much with it.

You want to ensure you present yourself consistently to all your clients across all platforms. If your travel brand has multiple personalities, then it's time for a change.

The good news is that this is an easy fix if you’re otherwise happy with your branding.

Style Guide Example, 2020

An Exercise: Answer these questions:

1. Same Logo: Do you use the same logo across all your branding collateral? (e.g. communications, business cards, website, social platforms, email etc.)

2. Same Headshot: Do you use the same headshot across all social platforms? Does your headshot reflect the personality of your business?

3. Consistent tone/ voice: Do you use a consistent tone or voice across all social platforms and communications with clients?

4. Style Guide: Do you have a style guide (or at least a color scheme) for your logo (see ours below!)?

While you may not need a brand overhaul, if you answered “no” to any of these questions it’s time to unify your brand identity and message.

4. Your business has evolved (and so has your budget)

There is nothing wrong with creating your own branding with Wix or hiring it out on a shoestring budget to places like Fiverr or Upwork.

Your brand identity needs to grow with your business. As your business grows[1.(e.g. you expand your niche, your target market expands, or you begin to take on sub agents or hire your own ICs), you may find that you need to navigate from a personal brand toward a business brand. (More on this later!)

If your current branding doesn’t fulfill the initial dream of your brand identity's full potential, it could be time to rebrand.

If you have the budget, consider going with a professional designer so you can take steps to get closer to your dream brand.

Just as your business evolves over time, (hopefully) your budget will too. If you find your branding doesn’t match your wildest dreams, and you have the budget to make an investment, it’s worth the money to hire a professional to take a deep dive and put in the time to make your brand exactly how you dreamed it would be.

Branding packages may include:

  1. Logo Design
  2. Branding Files, including:
  3. Vertical image
  4. Horizontal image
  5. Brandmark
  6. Wordmark
  7. Digital Files
  8. Print Files
  9. Full color
  10. Black
  11. White
  12. Transparent
  13. Vector Files (AI, PDF, EPS, SVG
  14. Image Files (PNG, JPEG)
  15. Secondary Logo
  16. Brand Style Guide
  17. Brand strategizing/ consultation
  18. Social Media Branding
  19. Brand Background (or Pattern) for website, communications etc.
  20. Business Card Design
  21. Continued Branding Support

If you didn’t have the funds to initially create your dream brand, but you have the investment now, consider going with a professional designer so you can take steps to get closer to your dream brand. Even if you don't want to invest in all the items listed above, using a professional designer for your logo (branding files) and style guide is a good start. You can always see if they're willing to barter a logo and design set up in exchange for you booking their trip and giving back some or all of the commission.

Your website is critical in amplifying your brand. Explore your travel agency website options here.

An Exercise:

Take a gander at the list above. What branding elements do you already have? What elements do you want that you don’t have? Take inventory of where you’re at with your branding and where you want to be. This will help your initial conversations with a designer when the time comes (or help you figure out what you want to create for yourself).

5. Times Are A-Changin’

This is a biggie: If times are changing, it might be time to change along with them and rebrand your agency.

2019 was a good year for selling travel. Then COVID came to crash the party. When events occur that impact the travel industry, professionals need to decide if they can ride out the storm or if they need to adjust what products and destinations they’re selling.

One one end of the spectrum, it may a matter of simple modifications to your client communications to get your agency through the turbulent times. But if your bread and butter was selling large groups or cruises, you may need to reconsider your business model. If you're changing core fundamentals of your business (your purpose, services, mission, or voice) in order to respond to the times, you'll need to rebrand your travel business.

An Exercise:

Take stock of your travel agency business plan. Pay special attention to how the event (or changing times) may impact your niche, mission statement, and purpose of business. Did any aspects of your business significantly change?

If so, modify those portions of your business plan and consider how rebranding might better reflect those changes (we’ll have tips on how to do this in our next article! Sign up for our newsletter to be notified when we launch Part 2 of HAR's Rebranding Your Travel Business!)

These are only some of the reasons you may want to consider changing your brand. How did you know it was time to rebrand your business? We’d love to hear in the comments below!

Closing and Further Resources

We hope this helped you decide whether or not it’s time to rebrand your travel business. Here’s some more resources that can help determine if it’s time for a change:

  1. Check out HAR’s Free Business Plan Template: Here you can take a deeper dive into the purpose and mission of your business to see if your travel business is heading in the direction you want it to go. When you look at our business plan, you can focus on these sections of the plan:
  2. Name
  3. Niche
  4. Mission Statement
  5. Purpose of Business
  6. Is your travel agency name up to snuff? This resource is intended for newbies, but it’s also a great exercise for seasoned travel agents to determine if their agency name still has its luster.
  7. Reassess your niche: Is your niche still steering your agency in the direction you want to go? This is a great exercise to revisit to see if what you’re selling reflects what you originally set out to do.
  8. Sign up to be notified when Part 2 of Rebranding Your Travel Business is live: This will ensure you has a FastPass to get our latest article updates (Psst! We’ll have a resource on how to rebrand your travel biz coming out soon!)

Have you rebranded your travel business before? We’d love to hear how you knew it was time and what you did for your rebrand! Let us know in the comments below! 👇🏻👇🏼👇🏾

About the Author
Mary Stein - Host Agency Reviews

Mary Stein

Mary Stein has been working as a writer and editor for Host Agency Reviews since 2016. She loves supporting travel advisors on their entrepreneurial journey and is inspired by their passion, tenacity, and creativity. Mary is also a mom, dog lover, fiction writer, hiker, and a Great British Bake Off superfan.