Wondering how to build a sales funnel as part of your travel advisor business? We have steps and tips for you, plus intel on how Fora helps travel advisors market their business at a professional level.
Interested in an awesome career in travel? Apply to become a Fora Advisor.
First, what is a sales funnel? Why is it important?
In the simplest definition, which is apt for our purpose, a sales funnel analyzes the journey a prospective client makes from the time they learn about your travel business to the time they book a trip with you, and ideally, refer more business to you.
So where does the “funnel” part come from? Here’s a simplified example (check out the steps below for the full lowdown).
Consider an upside-down triangle: many prospective clients go from the top of the funnel — perhaps they saw one of your Instagram posts or Fora guides — to mid-funnel, where some joined your email list. From here, an even smaller number of prospective clients engage with you directly, lose the “prospective” moniker and actually make a booking. The funnel allows you to track the client’s progress every step of the way.
Ideally, you’ll be able to see why some clients continued to the next step while others lost interest. But overall, placing this whole process under a microscope allows you to identify and rectify weaknesses, optimize strengths and spot new growth opportunities.
What’s the difference between a sales funnel and a marketing funnel?
Technically, at least as far as business students are concerned, a sales funnel begins at the end of a marketing funnel. The former measures the actual sales process while the latter measures how you acquire prospective clients in the first place.
Oftentimes, these two “funnels” are carried out by separate teams, sales and marketing. But since we’re talking solely about your travel business, where you’re filling both roles, we’re lumping the two terms together under the “sales funnel” banner for simplicity’s sake.
What’s the point of building a sales funnel? Do analytics really make a difference?
Like any marketing or sales job in the travel industry, or really any industry for that matter, analytics and tools like the sales funnel offer you the ability to improve your business (and increase your income) through quantifiable data. More to the point, you may find that some of your marketing strategies simply aren’t worth the investment, while others are more successful than you may have assumed otherwise.
By continuing to refine your marketing efforts over time, your business will become a well-oiled machine that balances time and effort with returns on investment.
(BTW: even if you’re running a travel side hustle, you can make use of these tools.)
How to build a sales funnel as a travel advisor: the 6 stages
Ready to learn how to build a sales funnel for your travel business? Read on.
Need a hand developing your marketing strategies? Sign up to become a Fora Advisor today.
1. Awareness: potential clients learn you exist
Clients can’t book with you if they don’t know what you offer. As such, the first step in how to build a sales funnel is telling the world you exist: awareness.
Creating awareness can take many forms, but in today’s digital marketing-driven world, a lot of your efforts are going to be internet- and content-creation-based. Social media is an obvious avenue, but more traditional methods can be just as effective.
(How do travel agents get clients, anyway? Our guide has tips.)
Boast a strong social media presence
Social media actually has two important uses. On one hand, it allows you to build a network of potential clients (and partners). And on the other, it allows you to share glimpses of what your clients could enjoy (i.e., vacations). In either case, social media allows you to engage with other people in a variety of ways, building awareness of your brand and what you offer. And considering most people have social accounts, the client pool is nearly unlimited.
Oh, and Fora Advisors have access to an incredible variety of social media templates, saving you time and adding a professional touch to your content.
Create a landing page with strong CTAs (and / or make use of a Fora profile)
Another, more traditional (but highly effective) method of creating awareness: building a landing page.
People constantly search Google for trip ideas, destination advice, hotels…you get the idea. A landing page, which is part of a website, sort of acts like a net, catching internet traffic and directing it toward your services with persuasive, though not forceful, calls to action (a.k.a. CTAs).
This is one of the major perks of becoming a Fora Advisor, by the way: we offer all our advisors the opportunity to create both a landing page for their services and travel guides that highlight specific destinations, hotels, trips and beyond.
There’s no cap to how many guides a Fora Advisor creates, either, and considering the costs of building, maintaining and optimizing a website for search engines, this is a fantastic value that’s included with the cost of membership (see our guide on how much it costs to become a travel agent with Fora, if you’re curious).
2. Interest: clients begin thinking about booking with you
The next step in how to build a sales funnel: generating interest. It’s not enough for clients to know who you are; they have to have a desire to use your services for you to be successful.
Naturally, regardless of what you do, your sales funnel is going to lose some people after they become aware of you. However, analyzing and optimizing your sales funnel will, ideally, decrease the number of lost clients.
There are a lot of ways to create interest in your business. Here are a couple examples that build off the last section.
(Check out our tips for how to be a successful travel advisor.)
Run email campaigns to sustain interest
Websites, Fora profiles and most social media platforms offer opportunities to engage with your business beyond “liking,” “subscribing” or “following” a page. Setting up an email list remains an effective tool to A) remind your followers that you exist, and B) spur interest in your services.
Email campaigns can take many forms, from content that simply highlights destinations or your own travels, to discounts and offers. In either instance, Fora has a wealth of resources available, including email templates and how-to guides. Plus, Fora Advisors can reference our in-house community, Forum, for shareable deals and expertise.
Start a travel blog or write Fora guides
We’ve already touched on Fora guides, but it’s worth mentioning that they can generate interest on top of awareness (in many ways, the two stages go hand and hand).
If you decide to create your own website or use another platform, such as Medium, you can also start a travel blog. Whereas social media posts are typically short and concise, a blog allows you to dive deeply into topics that can generate business for you. Admittedly, blogs typically don’t have the same kind of reach as social media, but they are still a useful tool.
3. Consideration: clients consult with you for a specific trip
In the next step, interest turns to action. Your client is interested enough to spark a conversation, and it’s up to you to close the deal.
Just like the last step, far fewer people are likely to consider your services than have interest in them. The sales funnel can highlight why.
This is where to put your expertise & charm to work…
At this point, the ball’s in your court. Clients may come to you with specific questions or trip ideas. Your task is to convey the value of your services. Moreover, the best salespeople aren’t pushy. Rather, they listen and attempt to address their clients’ needs.
In the context of learning how to build a sales funnel, a little introspection is necessary here. You’re essentially grading yourself on how well you’re converting consideration into bookings.
…and leverage Fora’s community of travel experts
One of the great myths about becoming a travel advisor is that you need to know everything about travel. Perhaps at some agencies, this is true. But at Fora, our advisor community is built on cooperation.
If a client approaches you with a question or destination outside your wheelhouse, you can leverage Fora's collective knowledge, and post on our community app Forum, to glean insight and advice that will allow you to answer your client thoughtfully and thoroughly. It’s a massive advantage you won’t find many other places — and it can help your client to the next stage in the funnel.
4. Conversion: the client officially books a trip with you
You’ve done it. You’ve used your expertise and charm to close the deal, booking a trip for your client. You might assume this is the end of the sales funnel, but that’s not exactly true.
This also applies to crafting customized itineraries (i.e., travel planning)
A quick sidenote: conversion applies to any of the services you sell, including travel planning. But this also brings up an important aspect of measuring your sales funnel: which services and products are being converted.
Additionally, perhaps you’re conveying the value of hotel bookings, but you’re not explaining the perks of itinerary customization. Through analysis, you may find which piece of your process is lacking, and from here, figure out how to improve.
5. Retention: the client starts booking repeat trips with you
Upon a successful trip, your clients are likely to use your services again. This is where true success starts to take shape.
Generally speaking, this is the point where your sales funnel is really starting to narrow down to a trickle (compared to where it started). As usual, you can analyze the funnel to see exactly where people are falling off.
Nurture this relationship, because it could pay dividends down the road
Retention is essentially the process of maintaining interest, stage two in your sales funnel.
There are many ways to do this, both on a personal and impersonal level. The latter simply sees you continuing to post content on social media (or whichever method you used to generate awareness and interest). The former may have you check in on clients from time to time.
Sometimes dropping a simple “Hello! How are you?” is enough to rekindle consideration of another booking.
6. Advocacy: your client starts referring more clients to you
Advocacy is the final step in the sales funnel, and it’s arguably the most indicative of your success as a travel advisor. In addition to your established avenues of capturing interest, your existing clients are touting your services as well.
This is essentially free advertising, and it dramatically increases the value of respective clients. As such, ensuring these clients’ loyalty can go a long way in maintaining your business.
Identify points of weakness to optimize your travel sales funnel
Now that we’ve addressed the stages of how to build a sales funnel, here are a few tips for getting the most use out of it.
Analytics software can be helpful
Analytics software tends to be the best way to measure your sales funnel. Unfortunately, there’s not really one catch-all program. But there are options at most stages of the funnel.
Professional social media accounts typically offer a suite of tools that allow you to isolate trends in your followers’ engagement. Email tools, like Mailchimp, offer similar tools. And Google Analytics can measure your traffic if you build a website.
Gather data (ethically) and understand your customers
Many analytics tools aggregate data and form insights into which groups of people are interacting best with your various marketing strategies. This is advanced stuff, and deciphering this data can be fairly difficult. However, it can help you generate specific strategies for varying aspects of your business.
For instance, you may find that some sects of your followers are particularly interested in luxury travel, while another group is especially captivated by Disney vacations. In both cases, you can craft more content in those spaces to drive conversions.
Just keep in mind that privacy is a factor to consider, and how you collect data is just as important as how you put it to use.
Create measurable goals
Our final tip for how to build a sales funnel: create goals. It might sound overly simple, but having a goal can focus your efforts and, in turn, lead to further success.
For example, maybe you discover that many of your clients just happen to have jobs where they travel. You could experiment with corporate travel content to see if that drives conversions over a set period.
Important metrics to consider (& how Fora helps)
If you’re completely new to marketing, some of the terms we’ve used in this guide on how to build a sales funnel may feel a little foreign. We’ve taken the liberty to clearly define these terms and explain just how Fora can help you regarding each.
Love the idea of a helpful host agency? Become a Fora Advisor.
Leads are potential clients. Fora helps travel advisors generate leads through Fora profiles, travel guide opportunities, in-house SEO efforts and a variety of email and social media templates. (Also read more about our signature client lead program.)
A conversion rate offers a quantifiable figure that contrasts how many leads fall out of your sales funnel with how many either move on to the next stage or close the deal.
Acquisition costs represent how much you spend to acquire a lead and / or a conversion. They’re particularly useful in helping you decide which strategies to use and which to abandon within a set budget.
Becoming a Fora travel advisor can be especially beneficial with acquisition costs because our membership includes so many benefits. Building and maintaining a website alone often costs more than our annual or monthly membership fee, for example. Now consider the costs of designing social media and email templates, maintaining a website and even marketing courses. The membership fee covers, at a better value, all of these, lowering your overall acquisition costs.
Customer lifetime value
A customer’s lifetime value refers to the total income you’ve received from them across all transactions and referrals.
(Wondering how much travel agents make? Check out our guide.)
A client who has only booked a single weekend trip with you probably isn’t as valuable as a client who has booked dozens of trips and referred other clients to you. Sidenote: this isn’t always the case — a single resort buyout, for instance, can offer an astonishing commission (and we can help facilitate that type of advanced booking).
Within a travel context: should you measure a B2B sales funnel differently from a B2C sales funnel?
Corporate travel agents tend to operate in a B2B (a.k.a. business-to-business) world, while leisure travel agents work within a B2C (or business-to-consumer) world. While you certainly can measure your sales funnel differently depending on which realm you’re specializing in, the core principles remain largely the same.
(Curious about other travel agent jobs? Our guide covers all the different niches an advisor can adopt.)
What else does Fora do to help travel advisors with marketing?
There are a lot of awesome reasons to become a Fora Advisor, but the unwavering support we offer is definitely near the top. Our marketing team exists to help our advisors find success. For transparency’s sake, their success drives our success as a brand — it’s a cooperative effort (which isn’t something you’ll find across all travel agencies).
Additionally, a Fora membership includes expert-led travel agent training on beginner and more advanced marketing principles.
Learn how to build a sales funnel & more with Fora
Want hands-on assistance while you learn how to build a sales funnel for your travel business? Apply to become a Fora Advisor. We’re here to help!
Alternatively, feel free to check out more travel advisor resources below: