We’re already a few weeks into the new year, which means now is the time to get serious and build your travel marketing plan. Marketing is the lifeblood of your business, and without a good marketing plan, your business could suffer. Keep reading to find out what you should be thinking about and planning to achieve success in your business this year.
1. Decide what and how you want to market
When you’re new to travel marketing, it’s not a stretch to say that it can be scary and overwhelming. As a business owner, you have to put time and energy into your marketing strategies in order to get sales. If you fall behind on marketing, your leads will slow down as a result.
Take every piece of your marketing and business into consideration when working through this phase. Think about what you sell and what you tend to book. By getting that information on paper first, you’ll also find what you shouldn’t be wasting your energy on. For example, if you don’t sell Europe travel, don’t market those travel destinations. People will inquire about what you market, so don’t market something you’re not passionate about.
You don’t have to promote the entire world, in fact, you shouldn’t! Market the destinations you love and your clients will notice. It can be beneficial to niche in specific destinations. You can always add more later!
Something else to keep in mind as you plan your travel marketing is to think about when busy seasons are for the types of travel and destinations that you specialize in. Consider when peak travel seasons are for your areas of specialty, and market for it in advance. You’ll typically want to start marketing for peak season anywhere from 3 to 12 months in advance based on the popularity of your specific destination.
Do you have a backup plan?
Something we’ve added to our marketing strategies in recent years is having a backup plan. When you specialize in just one or two destinations, your business is put at risk.
Let’s think back to the beginning of the pandemic. Many of our friends and peers in the travel industry found themself hit the hardest and had to find a way to pivot their businesses due to only specializing in cruises or international travel.
If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s to expect the unexpected. Another thing to consider is that not every destination can be marketed year-round, as some are seasonal. With that said, we recommend adding another specialty or two to your niche to not only protect yourself and your business but to create more offerings for your travelers as well.
Our 3-Step Marketing Formula
To start your travel marketing plan, we recommend using our 3-Step Marketing Formula: Plan, Create Schedule. This is the foundational formula we teach as part of our Careers on Vacation program, and we even offer a free resource here through Wanderlust CEO to learn more about it.
Start with a Plan
To have a successful travel marketing plan, you first have to, well, plan.
Get out your calendar and start brainstorming what months and seasons you want to market each specific destination. Understanding seasonality and the ebbs and flows of the year will help you get clear about when to promote the destinations you sell and where you need to work on building redundancies.
If you specialize in Alaskan Cruises, to best prepare for peak season, you’ll want to start marketing back in November and December to guarantee there will still be space available and deals available for your travelers. Some destinations, like Alaska, may only be marketed a few months out of the year, while destinations like Disney can be marketed year-round. So be sure to work that into your plan as well.
You’ll also want to honor the season that you’re in.
For example, let’s say you sell Disney travel. When it comes to the different seasons and holidays, you may want to be celebrating the holiday events at Disney, by sharing photos of that specific season – which is totally fine! However, keep in mind that you’ll also want to remind people to book trips for spring break and the months ahead as well.
On our website, you can find wonderful done-for-you content marketing bundles. Every quarter, we release seasonal bundles that help you with this exact aspect of marketing.
Create your Content
Once you have your plan in mind, the next step is to create your marketing pieces. But to do that successfully, you’ll first want to decide what channels you want to market on.
A marketing channel is a place where you market. Whether it be social media, direct mail, SEO, or Google Ads, consider which options are the best for you. You can always shift and scale to more platforms as your business grows.
As you consider the channels your promoting on, think about the type of content you’ll have to create. Are you creating social media posts or print ads? Email automation or Facebook posts?
The Creation Phase can make you feel stuck, so give yourself some grace. As you create your marketing plan, your skills will grow over time. The only way to get good at it is to start and keep at it. If you’re really stuck, our shop has wonderful, customizable templates including everything from photos, direct mail postcard templates, captions, email templates, and other marketing pieces for specific destinations to make this part of marketing even easier.
Schedule your Content
It is imperative that you do your marketing ahead of time. We recommend that you go through the process of planning and scheduling your marketing content every quarter. When you start getting leads and bookings, you won’t have time to work on the marketing, but you’ll thank definitely yourself for having it all prescheduled.
Many online platforms allow you to preschedule your content or have third-party apps that work to do the same. So there’s no excuse, get everything done and scheduled, and automated in advance!
Marketing is a beast, but if you remember these fundamentals, you’ll be ready to take on all that this year has to offer.
If you want to take your business to next level consider reaching out to us at Careers on Vacation. In the program, we help you out with these exact skills and have tools to help you craft marketing pieces and gain confidence in your marketing skills.