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Place an advertisement and bring in business. That used to be the tried-and-true way of getting customers in the door, but times, they have a-changed. If you're not staying up on the competition, you risk being left in the dust.
In her 10 years of doing business, Marianne DeIulio, an independent consultant with Just Travelin', has tried to drum up business via a lot of different methods. She's tried online advertising, Facebook paid ads, donating so her business name would be on the back of her kids' baseball uniforms ad leaving flyers and business cards around town.
"But lately the way I have been getting so many referrals is by joining a local Facebook group in my town and monitoring for posts about vacations and needs for travel agents," said DeIulio. "I have many friends and clients in this group. They are quite active and are constantly mentioning my name or website when someone makes a post. Sometimes I will comment and sometimes I simply say, 'thank you for the referral.'
Her last eight references who have called her came from this Facebook group. "It costs nothing but time and it has definitely been working in my favor," she said.
At the height of the phenomenon of the film "Frozen," Greg Antonelle, managing director of MickeyTravels, LLC jumped on board and partnered with a princess party company.
"They had women dress as princesses from 'Frozen' and other Disney movies," said Antonelle. "We would attend these meet & greets and set up a table with Disney-related items and promotional items for Disney vacations. We had them provide email addresses to enter for a chance to win Disney-related items too. We secured hundreds, if not thousands, of email addresses of families with young children who are Disney fans. The benefit lasted long after each event was over."
A few years ago, Samarah Meil was asked to do a career day at a middle school. "I gave each kid who came by my table a packet of information for family travel and received several bookings from it once the kids showed their parents the information," said Meil of Amarillo Travel Network. "I did not expect that to happen, I just wanted to show kids that travel professionals were still around and explain why using a travel agent would be beneficial, but in the end it paid off very well."
Margie Lenau once partnered with a financial planner, who happened to be her brother-in-law, and had one event at a local airport.
"My Universal Resorts BDM helped me and the airport serve refreshments," explained Lenau, a Travel Consultant and Owner of Wonderland Family Vacations. "We viewed a video, gave away prizes, and had a Q&A. Another event was in a professional's office conference room and we discussed theme parks with his invited guests. This event brought in a lot of multi-generational bookings, with one group who still travels as a group that is getting larger and larger.
Later, she partnered with a Quiz Company and did an after-hours event during their local Comic Con. "that was quite interesting," she said. "I gave away prizes and an idea sheet with family travel options. These are people with families that I would probably never have reached otherwise. I mean, when will you ever be able to discuss travel options with Maleficent or Batman?"
Lisa Iannucci has written many travel articles for national magazines and newspapers. Over the years, her travel articles have...
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