Not sure how to market yourself as a travel agent? We’ve got eight solid tips, plus intel on how Fora can level up your marketing game through expert-led training and professional resources.
Want to upgrade your travel business? Apply to become a Fora Advisor today.
(Need to take a step back? Learn how to become a travel advisor.)
First, is it hard to get clients as a travel agent?
It can be at first, but once you establish your business, a domino effect occurs. Most travel agents — or travel advisors (we prefer the modern term) — start out by booking trips for friends, family and peers before slowly branching out with referrals. It takes time and patience, but with effort, your client base will grow.
(Want to learn more? Check out our guide to how travel agents get clients.)
How do travel agents typically market themselves?
Marketing yourself as a travel agent is pretty similar to how any independent professional — real estate agents, CPAs, insurance agents, etc. — markets themself.
A social media presence, email marketing & landing pages are incredibly beneficial
Social media accounts, email campaigns and landing pages (i.e., a website) are critical for any business that relies on generating leads online.
Social media con be a beast, and not everyone knows how to leverage it appropriately, nor how to produce engaging content. Moreover, plenty of travel agents market themselves on platforms without first building a suitable audience, or they invest way too much time into a platform that doesn’t match their particular niche.
Many people, particularly younger travel advisors, also mistake email marketing for an old-school method, missing out on a vital tool. The same can be said for websites. High-quality websites, even small sites that are more typical of travel advisors, can be costly to maintain and usually only generate leads after substantial investments in time and effort.
The most successful travel advisors tend to incorporate all three tools, but it’s a matter of working smarter, not harder. We’ll come back to this.
Successful travel agents invest in their interpersonal skills…
Of all the jobs in the travel industry, travel advisors probably need the best interpersonal skills, and not just in the ways you might assume.
Great communication skills and a friendly, accommodating demeanor are important, of course. But it’s also pertinent to be able to intuit what clients want. Not everyone understands the industry, and clients can’t always convey what they want out of their experience. It’s the reason Fora Advisors ask their clients about their previous trips to learn about what they did and didn’t like.
Likewise, the best travel advisors can read between the lines to make sure their clients are happy. This skill comes with practice.
…because the most important job of a travel agent is to help clients plan enjoyable trips
Few things are more annoying than a pushy salesperson who tries to upsell everything. It’s okay to suggest add-ons and extras when it makes sense, but the best travel advisors listen to their potential clients’ travel goals, expectations and special requests, then accommodate appropriately.
To be fair, this is getting past the marketing phase and into sales. But there’s something to be said for establishing a good reputation. People love to share positive and negative experiences — and word of mouth is a powerful tool in the travel industry.
How to market yourself as a travel agent: 8 ways to boost your career
Ready to improve how you market yourself as a travel agent? Read on.
1. Clearly convey the value of using your services vs. other platforms
Clarity is very important when it comes to travel planning. A lot of travelers go through online travel agencies like Expedia and Booking.com simply because they aren’t aware of the benefits of booking through a travel advisor.
For example, when a client books with Fora, they’re likely to pay the same amount as they would have if they had booked through an online travel agency. But they’re also going to get a much better experience, from VIP treatment to awesome travel perks like complimentary meals, property credits and so on (it varies by hotel and brand).
Conveying that value to a potential client can make a world of difference when it comes to converting the lead.
Want to offer A+ perks at the coolest hotels in the world? Sign up to become a Fora Advisor.
2. Don’t be afraid to book complicated or multi-destination trips
Complicated bookings can be intimidating, but they can also be a big draw for potential clients. Savvy travelers know that online travel agencies aren’t great for elaborate bookings, so they often choose to go through travel advisors instead.
These are often the most lucrative bookings, and if you can master the art of group bookings and multi-destination itineraries, it will dramatically boost your business (learn why group bookings are great).
Once again, clear communication is vital, as are patience and diligence.
Need more tips? Fora has dedicated courses on group bookings, plus a community of experts you can rely on for wisdom and advice.
3. If you have one, define your niche
An underrated point in learning how to market yourself as a travel agent: developing a niche, at least to start.
Marketing yourself as a generalist can be difficult simply because there are so many travel advisors that already do so. By focusing on a particular niche, you’re saying, “Hey, I’m really good at booking this type of travel,” and you may be more likely to find interested clients. If anything, it’s a good way to stand out.
As you book clients, you’ll have examples to show new leads who want similar experiences. Then over time, you can branch out, especially with repeat clients who want to try something new.
So what type of travel agent jobs and niches exist? All sorts. There are corporate travel agents, luxury travel agents…the list is nearly endless, and not limited to specific types of travel (e.g., corporate, leisure, etc.). You’ll find many travel advisors who book vacations in specific areas, like unique places to stay in Colorado or the best places to visit in Italy. It’s really up to you.
4. Practice & refine your first impression
Your first impression starts way before you ever speak with a client. Barring family, friends and coworkers, your potential clients are likely going to hear about you through impersonal means. This could be a referral from a peer, a social media post and so on.
Acing that first impression takes a lot of work (building a sales funnel is very helpful), but it will go a long way in ensuring your success. You want something that effectively answers the question, “Why should I book my travels with you?”
It’s not an easy feat, but this is something Fora can help you with. We offer plenty of training, resources and direct support to help you market yourself as a travel agent.
On a more general note, mastering your first personal impression can be the difference between a conversion and a lost lead. Beyond conveying information precisely, it’s important to be friendly, accommodating and perhaps most importantly, attentive.
5. If you haven’t, get active on social media: maintain consistency & add variety
Having a presence on social media is highly valuable. It’s a great, low-cost (or free) tool that can expose your business to leads via complex algorithms.
That said, crafting quality content is easier said than done. Billions of people use social media. Chances are, someone out there is producing more and better content already. But that doesn’t mean you can’t carve out a market share.
This is where consistency and variety come into play. The former ensures that you’re posting and engaging with your audience regularly through comments, direct messages…you get the idea. The latter simply means keeping your content fresh. If you’re always posting about the exact same stuff and using the same photos, people will quickly lose interest — this doesn't mean you can’t post related content, though, especially if you’re sticking to a niche.
Fora can help here, too. For one, we offer loads of professional templates that up your presentation. We also offer training and support, all of which are included in Fora's membership.
6. Run email campaigns with compelling content
Don’t underestimate the value of an email newsletter. Crafting weekly or monthly emails can be a fantastic way to engage your audience and cultivate leads. Email platforms like Mailchimp offer tons of analytical tools that you can use to refine your strategy, too. As always, Fora provides templates, how-to’s and more.
Want unwavering support for your travel business? Apply to become a Fora Advisor.
7. Start a referral program with cool perks or rewards
People love to share their travel experiences with their friends and family. Starting a referral program once you have a few clients is a great way to market yourself as a travel agent.
For instance, you could waive or discount planning fees — not travel agent commissions (these are usually governed by supplier and host agency agreements) — for any clients that send new leads your way.
8. Invest in paid advertising (if you have your own website)
If you have your own website, pay-per-click advertising may make sense. Platforms like Google Ads allow you to target specific groups that may be more likely to engage with your website.
Basically, you bid on specific keywords — think boutique hotels in New Orleans or things to do in Porto, Portugal — and Google shows your website, usually with corresponding content, near the top of the search results. From there, potential clients are more likely to click on your website. The downside is that this type of advertising gets expensive.
Alternatively, search engine optimization (SEO) is a highly effective method of boosting website leads that may require less investment if you implement changes yourself. However, this requires considerable effort and time to see viable results.
Of course, if you become a Fora Advisor, you get a customizable landing page that’s already optimized for search engines. It’s an incredible value that offsets the price of a membership by itself — but we’ll come back to this later. (We'll also advise you on SEO, so you can optimize your content to attract client leads.)
How much does it cost to become a travel agent, anyway? Our guide has answers.
Fora makes marketing yourself as a travel agent much easier
Want to know the best way to market yourself as a travel agent? Join Fora. We invest heavily in our travel advisors by providing high-tech marketing tools, expert-led training and community-based support.
Here are a few ways we help.
Create a Fora profile — or travel agent bio — that captures who you are and your services
Your Fora profile is both a landing page and your opportunity to exhibit who you are and the services you provide in a professional manner. It can connect to your own personal website (boosting your SEO) and social media accounts, and provides an easy way for potential clients to contact you.
Best of all, you don’t have to maintain your profile yourself — you choose all the content, but our in-house web-development team handles all the technical aspects so you can focus on other areas of your travel business.
Sidenote: many Fora Advisors choose to forgo building and maintaining a personal website, and solely rely on their Fora profile, reducing their monthly expenses.
Write travel guides to further boost your online presence
Fora profiles aren’t the only way we facilitate your online presence. Fora Advisors can also write guides about, well, anything travel related. These guides are displayed on both the advisor’s profile and Google, and feature additional CTAs (calls-to-action) that further promote your business.
Prior to publishing, the structure and content of your guide are then passed through our web team to ensure they are optimized for search engines. Even better, we consistently produce in-house content that links to advisor guides, further boosting your guide and profile’s placement on Google.
Fora provides pro-quality templates for emails & social media
Landing pages aren’t the only way Fora helps travel advisors. We also provide high-quality templates for social media posts and emails. Moreover, we curate license-free photos for you to incorporate into your content (this alone can save you so much time on marketing yourself as a travel agent).
Our in-house training & community will teach you all you need to know
Unlike traditional travel agencies, which often pit travel agents against one another in competitive environments, Fora has built a cooperative and inclusive online community that our remote travel advisors can tap into for advice, deals and support.
With us, you don’t need to be an expert on all things travel because you can lean on your fellow Fora Advisors to fill in any knowledge gaps.
Better yet, as part of our membership, Fora Advisors can opt into ongoing travel agent training and travel agent certification programs that cover everything from how to book hotels to how to market your travel business like a pro. All courses are taught by established experts, and can be completed at your own pace.
Finally, consider calling yourself a “travel advisor” instead
To this point, we’ve been using “travel agent” and “travel advisor” interchangeably, purely for simplicity’s sake.
This may sound a little nit-picky, but one of the best ways to market yourself as a travel agent is to drop the “agent” in favor of the modern term. Why? There’s a strange psychology to it.
When people think of travel agents, they tend to drum up thoughts of an aging industry that was nearly fully automated by price-gouging online travel agencies. In committing to the travel advisor title, you’re committing to the reinvention of the profession. It’s a subtle difference, but one we think matters.
(Want more tips for how to be a successful travel advisor? See our guide.)
Want to learn how to market yourself as a travel agent? Ask Fora
Ready to learn how to market yourself as a travel agent — or travel advisor? Upgrade your travel business and sign up to become a Fora Advisor today.
Want to check out more travel advisor resources first? Here are a few more guides: