How to Get Clients as a Travel Agent: Fora's Top 3 Tips

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Fora Author Fora Travel

The Modern Travel Agency

Fora Travel

    You’ve taken the plunge: you’ve decided to transform your passion for travel into a new career as a travel advisor. Now what?

    As you dive in and begin to build your business in the travel industry, one of the first things that will come to mind is how to get clients as a travel agent. It’s one of the most commonly asked questions in the industry, and for good reason. Attracting and maintaining a client base is what allows travel agents to pursue their passion, after all.

    Especially when you're just getting started as a new travel agent, attracting potential customers and getting new clients as a travel agent can feel like a daunting task. We get it. So, we've outlined three secrets to get clients as a travel agent, plus some easy action steps to get started.

    (If you're just getting started, learn more about how to become a travel agent.)

    Tip #1: Start with friends & family

    As a new travel advisor, it's totally okay to start building your book of business with your friends and family. In fact, we recommend it. It's a lot easier to make your first booking for your sister-in-law, for example, than for a stranger from the internet.

    Your first few bookings are an exercise in building confidence. If you're working with someone you know really well, it will be easier to provide customized recommendations and get in the swing of it. Remember, booking travel for someone means you are taking their payment information and making decisions that will impact their vacation. Working with someone you know well will make this process easier!

    Tell your immediate family, friends, colleagues all about the travel services you can offer... Most everyone starts out by booking travel and planning itineraries for people they know.

    One tip is to educate your network about the value of a travel advisor. Let them know that you can help them unlock perks at great hotels around the world, and collaborate with them to plan the best travel experiences. Many people don’t realize that travel advisors can offer a lot of value to their trip planning, so look at this is an educational opportunity to show them how you can support them.

    Take action: Getting started can be as easy as an announcement on social media. Pick your favorite platform and do a quick post on your new business. Chances are, you know someone in your network who is planning travel.

    At Fora, we have customizable social media templates that you can use to easily promote your travel advisor business.

    Also, don't underestimate conversations in real life to build your customer base. Give your mom a call, bring it up at a networking event, send your bestie a text... You get the drill! If you don’t get a client in your first round of outreach, don’t stress. Remember it’s all about reaching someone when they are planning a trip, so don’t be afraid of sending a follow-up.

    Tip #2: Use the power of word of mouth

    Word of mouth is your best friend. Once you’ve booked a trip for your first client, the world opens up. Every client is another node in your network, further expanding your web of contacts. 

    After a client returns from a trip, ask them to spread the word. Your clients are your biggest cheerleaders, and word-of-mouth marketing is incredibly powerful.

    Perhaps a client's sister is looking to plan a bachelorette trip to Cancún, or another client's best friend wants to plan a mini-moon with their new spouse. A good tip is that friend groups often run in crowds. For example, if you have a bride planning a destination wedding, chances are she knows other people who are engaged. If you don't tell your current clients that you're building your business, they won't know that you're looking to expand to new clientele.

    If you want to take word of mouth referrals to the next level, you might consider incentives for your clients, like a contest or reward for the most referrals. But don’t let the complexities of launching a referral program stop you from getting started. Remember, it’s better to start small and build over time.

    For many of our advisors, all it took was one client — one initial booking — before their business really started to take off. That first client referred them to someone else, who then referred them to someone else, and so on. Never estimate the power of word of mouth.

    Take action: Make a list of your favorite clients, and send them a quick email. Tell them thank you for being a valuable client, and let them know you're looking for more clients like them. Most clients are very happy to help a small business like yours thrive!

    You can also ask clients for testimonials. Positive reviews are a great marketing asset to incorporate into social media posts, your website and beyond.

    Another easy action you can take is to add it to your email signature. Include a quick line like, "Know someone else who is planning travel? Send them my way to help support my small business." Not everyone will know you are comfortable with them sharing your email unless you tell them.

    Tip #3: Make a marketing plan

    It's worth noting that there are some travel advisors who rely solely on their personal network and word of mouth to build their entire travel advisor business. Remember, you don’t have to be an influencer or have a huge online presence to be a successful travel agent. You don't have to have a robust digital marketing plan if you have a current clientele that supports your sales goals.

    If you do decide you want to dive into digital marketing, there's plenty of opportunity here. Whether you want to dabble in social media platforms or send email campaigns, there's a little something for everyone. Our advice? Start small, and build up over time. Marketing can be very time-intensive and you'll want to test different strategies to see what works for you (and also what you enjoy doing the most!).

    At Fora, we have robust marketing resources for you. If you're new to marketing yourself, don't stress – we have a training program for that. We also have a lot of templates and tools for you to get started, ranging from a dedicated profile page to content creation tools, social media templates and more. We also teach advanced tactics like SEO (search engine optimization).

    When you’re thinking about your marketing efforts, it’s good practice to think about a niche. Do you want to book Disney trips, or are you more interested in spotlighting other partnerships? Is luxury travel your thing or is boutique more your style? Knowing exactly what you want to book is a great starting point for building a consistent and cohesive marketing plan.

    Take action: Research different types of marketing verticals and choose one you want to try. Many start with social media – if you're already active on Instagram or LinkedIn, for example, that's a great place to start.

    Another idea that we've seen a lot of success with our Fora Advisors is through email marketing. With email campaigns, your marketing lands directly in a client’s inbox (which is often easier than trying to figure out the ever-changing algorithms on social media).

    Get more of our tips on how to market your travel business like a pro.

    More resources to grow your travel advisor business

    Building your book of business is an ongoing process as a travel advisor. We've got some additional resources to make sure you're set up for success.

    Training opportunities

    When you're learning how to become an independent travel agent, make sure to participate in training programs that help you build the skills and confidence you need to be successful.

    A lot of travel advisors were not in the digital marketing space before they launched their career, and making marketing strategies can feel overwhelming. Training programs can be invaluable to help you learn the ropes of how to market yourself.

    At Fora, we offer a self-paced, online training program where you'll learn best practices alongside peers. You'll be able to choose the marketing lessons you're most interested in, and then we have weekly office hours and webinars where you can connect directly with marketing experts and ask questions.

    It’s important to look at training opportunities in real life as well. Conferences and trade shows are a great place to network with other travel professionals. We have in-person opportunities like Live Forum so that our Fora Advisors can level up their travel planning businesses.

    Whether you're entirely new to the world of travel advising or are an industry expert, there's something for you here. We're all about helping our advisors succeed and create a fun, thriving and fulfilling travel business they love.

    Client Lead Program (eligible for Pro Fora Advisors)

    The tips we've shared are all proven ways to build a thriving book of business. But as a bonus — the icing on the cake, if you will — Fora also offers a unique Client Lead Program.

    Once you hit Pro status with Fora (which is based on training and milestone-based requirements), you'll be eligible for our Client Lead Program.

    What is a lead program, exactly? It is a lead generation program for gaining new clients. At Fora, we receives numerous inquiries from potential clients interested in planning a trip. We sort through these inquiries and share the ones that are most likely to materialize with our Pro Fora Advisors.

    Ready to start a fun and flexible new career? Apply to become a Fora Advisor today.

    Are you the go-to person for travel tips?

    Transform your passion for travel into your dream job. We'll set you up with everything you need to succeed as a travel advisor. From training to top-notch tech, marketing assets, community, commission tracking & payments (and more), we've got you.

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