From running on-air adverts to appearing as chat show hosts, Abra Dunsby speaks to the agents who have used radio marketing to their advantage
Andrew Earles, which has three branches in East Yorkshire, has been running radio-advertising campaigns on and off since 1993. “It set us up with a good foundation and boosted business by targeting the family market,” managing director Andrew Earles says.
The agency took up radio advertising again in 2014. “That’s when our high street competitors fell away. It’s good for our reputation and confirms we’re still around,” he adds.
The business pays £12,000 a year to advertise on commercial radio station KL.FM, with two adverts currently running. “It’s a good option if you have more than one store, as you can split the cost across them,” Earles advises.
Nicholas Lee, director at Broadland Travel Worldchoice in North Walsham, has advertised on North Norfolk Radio. “I advertise during peak season as it keeps our company in mind. It’s all about brand building,” he says, adding that the advertising contributed to a threefold upturn in business.
He advises securing an offer pack for multiple adverts to keep costs down. “Make sure the station is the right target audience for your agency,” he adds.
Clare Dudley Adams, owner of Ponders Cruise and Travel in Cambridge, is often interviewed by BBC Radio Cambridge.
It started when the agency’s marketing manager got in touch with the station to say that Adams was available for comment.
“I won Cruise Manager of the Year at the Clia Awards in 2016 so my first interview discussed why I’d won and what I liked and didn’t like about cruise, which was great exposure,” she says.
“Now I’m often called to discuss a topic that’s been in the media. I did one about how cruise ships are affecting the environment. The key is to turn the story into a positive.”
Adams would recommend the experience to others: “It worked for us. It’s free marketing and you can publicise the interview on social media, telling clients to tune in.”
Her top tip to fight nerves is preparation: “Research helps you feel in control and allows you to develop your answers to turn the talk back to your agency. Try to answer as if it’s just you and the presenter and don’t think of the wider audience.”
Claire Moore at Peakes Travel Elite in Shrewsbury has been a guest speaker on Radio Shropshire: “I once went on for a local news story about a woman who wasn’t allowed into Toulouse as her passport had expired.
"It was good for us as I said it wouldn’t have happened if she’d booked with an agent.”
Moore adds that it’s helped with brand perception: “Clients were impressed that we’d been invited on to the BBC. It raised our profile and brought us kudos.”
Tony Mann, director at Idle Travel, has a one-hour phone-in slot on Radio Leeds. He says: “I’ve been doing it for at least 10 years. I talk about travel in the news. It all started when an agent put me forward who was unable to do it.”
Mann confirms it’s been positive for the business: “It ensures a name for your agency and can bring you a wider demographic. The BBC has a massive reach – often TV picks up the story, so we’ve ended up on BBC Breakfast and ITV News.”
Shevaun Joy, owner at Destination, recently took up a 30-minute-long monthly slot on Drystone Radio. “I’ve been on the radio before to talk about travel issues, so one of the presenters got in touch to ask if I’d do a regular slot,” Joy explains.
“Last month I looked at peaks and bookings trends. As it’s commercial radio I can also include offers and promotions. The BBC wouldn’t allow that,” she adds.
While the chance to push offers is a plus, Joy says the show will also bring her agency credibility. “It’s about becoming the go-to person for travel advice. It pinpoints you as an expert.”