From broadcasting themed family dinners on Facebook to hosting virtual quizzes for customers, TTG’s latest Agent Matters panel heard how humanising your brand messages during the coronavirus crisis can make all the difference.
The panel agreed “authenticity” was key while keeping customers informed and engaged.
Midcounties Personal Travel Agents marketing and social media manager Kiri Dulay discussed a number of initiatives the company had created for agents, including virtual pub quizzes and a digital cartoon character called Tom the Traveller to educate kids.
One PTA quadrupled the reach of his page and boosted engagement on social media posts by 20% using Tom.
“It’s about having that touch point that shows their [agents’] caring side, but also keeps their business at the forefront of customers’ minds,” Dulay said.
Homeworking agent Kate Holroyd, founder of Strawberry Holidays, described her successes with a programme of online activities to build her audience.
“A big one for me has been showing up consistently to show we’re still here and we’re still helping,” she explained.
Her ideas range from creating Spotify playlists to immerse listeners in the sounds of a destination to daily videos – with Holroyd even enlisting her family to take part in a Greek dinner, which gained 300% more watches than usual videos. She has also managed to grow her mailing list by 13% in 30 days.
James Beagrie, managing director of Meon Valley Travel, said its non-product- related campaign around “50 years of matching holidays” had seen its email newsletter double its reach.
“The most important element is to keep it human,” he said. “It’s amazing how quickly you become irrelevant as soon as you’re trying to sell something to somebody who is not buying right now.”
However, Dulay said PTA was still putting out offers and had seen “a phenomenal week”, with new bookings up 22% – 53% through social media.
She advised agents to “run with it when you see pockets of opportunity” such as a turn in the weather.
A recent PTA survey of 1,580 customers on travel plans after lockdown saw 14% more interest in adventure and touring, with that data fed into its offers strategy. “Customers want to get away and have something to look forward to,” she said.
Although Meon has upped its engagement to a weekly newsletter, it is not pushing deals, but Beagrie commended the offers-driven approach.
“Bookings are starting to trickle in... [but] we’re still worried about alienating those who are not booking and making sure we’re coming across as being in the advice business. Those who want to engage with us [will book], but hats off to [PTA] for going for it.”
Asked how each business would invest in its marketing post-crisis, Holroyd said she would be focusing on a “precision approach” to make money go further, with targeting tools on Facebook and Google, as well as nurturing and re-engaging existing clients and seeking new ones.
Assessing customer trends post- coronavirus, Beagrie said he believed environmental issues would be a greater focus, Dulay hoped lockdown would “bring that wanderlust to life” and make consumers more adventurous, and Holroyd predicted an increase in multigenerational holidays.
“As travel agents, we’ve shown our worth – literally being there 24/7 – we can really use that and move that forward even more with customers,” she added.
Tune in to Agent Matters at 11am on Tuesdays on the TTG Facebook page.