You may have heard it said that people buy from who they know, like and trust. It’s the golden rule of sales. Even back in the day when I went door to door selling Thin Mints in my little brown dress and my bright yellow necker, I knew that if I took the time to show Mrs. Morris my loose tooth, it usually meant a sale.
And studies have shown that all things being equal, people will always buy from someone they know, like and trust. Even when all things aren’t equal.
So the question then becomes, when selling travel, how do you create trust, likeability and familiarity with strangers?
Because let’s face it, booking friends and family is not always what it’s cracked up to be.
You could join your neighbourhood chamber of commerce. You could start attending every Pampered Chef and Fantasia home party in your community. You could hang out in Facebook groups and build your likeability quotient over time by injecting yourself thoughtfully into the conversation. In fact, you should do all of those things…but that’s only a partial piece of the equation.
The two things that every travel advisor needs to have and do in order to build a successful travel business are:
- An email list
- Communicate to that list faithfully, every dang week.
Email marketing is essential to most businesses, but within the travel sector, it is critical. Selling travel is a very relationship-centric business. Unlike real estate, where you may sell one or two houses for a client in their lifetime, travel is something most people do multiple times a year. A good travel agent is like a good hairstylist. Once people find one, they don’t want to leave.
And another benefit…
You may meet someone at a party. You tell them you are a travel agent and you click, but at that exact moment, they aren’t in the market to purchase a holiday. But they may be in three months. Adding them to your email list and communicating with them on a weekly basis will keep you top-of-mind when they finally are ready to travel.
When you reach out every week to your email subscribers, offering value and letting them get to know you a little bit more, you’ll begin to form a deeper, more trusting relationship with them. Offering value can look like sharing travel trends, destination insider tips, breaking news on visa requirements – anything that shows your authority on the topic of travel.
Once someone agrees to be on your email list, you have crossed into the land of Know, Like and Trust and the relationship continues to build with every quality email you send. Your email list is yours and nobody, not even Zuckerberg can take it away from you.
But building a quality email list isn’t easy.
Remember back in the 90s when we were all a bit like perky Meg Ryan swooning every time her AOL account announced she’d got mail. Now we are loathed to hand over our email address to just anyone. Our email addresses have become as sacred as our phone numbers and the passcodes to our front door lock!
For tips on how to write a good email once you get an email address, visit, How to Write a Good Blog Versus a Good Email.
So how do you get someone to give you their email address?
Enter….the Lead Magnet
A lead magnet, or what some refer to as an irresistible offer, is something that you give, typically for free, in exchange for an email address. It’s a way that you can demonstrate value to a potential client in advance – it’s like the hot guy who buys you a drink on Friday night. It’s the foot in the door — the crack in the pavement.
A good-quality, well-placed lead magnet has the ability to work for you 24/7. It’s on your business card. It’s in your email signature. It’s in your social media bio and most importantly…it’s above the fold on your website.
What makes a good lead magnet?
A good lead magnet is something that answers a pressing question or concern for a client and does so in an immediate way. It needs to be something worth having.
A list of Dos and Don’ts for creating one
Do – Make sure it’s something that isn’t easily Googlealbe.
Don’t – Make it too long. It should be easy to consume in one sitting
Do – Make it something that a client might think, “Geeeeish, I’d have paid for this, it’s so good.”
Do – Consider what your client needs to know now, not sometime in the future.
Do – Test drive it first. Offer it to friends and family who are in your target audience and see if it flies.
Don’t – Offer discounts as lead magnets – I hate discounts. Just hate ‘em. (unless I’m on the receiving end of one) And offering discounts as a lead magnet tends to attract the budget shopper, tire kickers that may end up being time wasters.
Do – Make sure your lead magnet is aligned with the type of travel you sell. No point in getting people on your email list who will never buy from you. Let’s say you specialize in selling travel to the LGBTQ community, you’ll want to choose something that resonates with that market.
Do – Give them a quick win. Ideally, something that they think…glad I know this now
Don’t – Worry about giving away too much for free. Step-by-step guides on how to plan a trip demonstrate that you know what you are talking about and most people really and truly can’t be bothered to DIY things anyway.
Do – Spend the time to create a quality lead magnet. It will set the tone for the type of travel advisor you are. Be sure it’s free of spelling and grammatical errors and if design is not your thing, consider outsourcing that part.
And three big DON’Ts that are so big they deserve a category to themselves…
Don’t – Think “Sign up for my newsletter” is a lead magnet, it’s not.
“I want more email,” said nobody ever. It’s simply not enticing enough.
Don’t – Make the mistake of thinking “book a consult” is a lead magnet, it’s not. Yes, you need a place for people to book a consult front and centre on your website, but it’s too far along in the booking process. The client has already decided to book with you if they are scheduling a consultation. It’s a wonderful thing for sure… just not a lead magnet.
Don’t – Assume email marketing is dead. While it’s true that nobody wakes up anxious to check their email inbox, we’ve come to accept that it’s a part of our lives. Email marketing is still the most cost-effective and targeted way to reach your audience.
How to brainstorm good lead magnet ideas
Why, I’m glad you asked. Because I’ve done the heavy lifting for you.
I came up with a lead magnet on lead magnets. Brilliant!
Except I couldn’t call it that because not a ton of advisors know what a lead magnet is or think it’s important enough to be worth their efforts.
So instead I called it the 5-Step No-Fail Strategy to Attract More Leads to Your Travel Business.
Waaaaaaaay catchier. And yes, your lead magnet will need a catchy title too. This 5-Step guide will walk you through what you need to know to get a successful lead magnet up and running. It includes tips on where to store it and how to deliver it so you can start collecting email addresses today. (Quick win)
And it offers up 48 sample lead magnet ideas that could be perfect for your travel business or at least will get your wheels turning and spark your creativity.
What to do if you have a stale contact list
Most of us have some stale contacts on our list. People you’ve met or even booked over the years with whom you’ve never kept in touch. You shouldn’t just plop them on your list.
- They’ve probably forgotten who you are, and they’ll unsubscribe anyway.
- They haven’t given you permission to email them. There are now email anti-spam laws to protect consumers. You don’t want to run the risk of infringing those.
A better suggestion would be to reach out to them individually and offer up your new lead magnet as a peace offering for ghosting them. It’s the least you can do. 😉 You’ll jog their memory and who knows… they may even visit your website to get reacquainted and be inspired to travel again.
What to do with your lead magnet once you have one
The short answer…promote the crap out of it. Put it everywhere. Put it on your business card, your social media bio, in your email signature, on your website, flyers for distribution in your community – and if you are going to spend money on Facebook ads…promoting your lead magnet should be the first thing you do – just be sure you’ve tested it first.
You’ll know you have a winner if you have people sharing it for you.
Speaking of which…do you know someone who needs more leads in their travel business? Let them know about my 5-Step handy guide that will walk them through the entire lead magnet creation process.