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Group Travel Essentials: Promoting Your Trips

Group travel only works if people join your trips. For your travel program or tour business to succeed, you need effective ways of promoting your products to those most likely to buy them.

If you have a magnetic personality, selling trips may be easy for you. But if you’re not a born salesperson, figuring out how to fill your trips might be the most difficult part of your work in tourism.

Fortunately, there’s a wealth of tools and techniques available to help you effectively market and promote your travel opportunities. Taking advantage of them will help you spread the word about your trips in a way that is easy for you and helpful to the people you want to serve. So consider employing some of these strategies to get bigger groups, make more money or advance the mission of your organization.

Best Practice: Send a newsletter

Research has found that most people have to hear about a product or opportunity numerous times before they decide to buy it. If you operate more than one trip each year, you should start sending a scheduled, regular newsletter to your customers or members to remind them about travel opportunities. This can be a printed newsletter you send in the mail or a digital newsletter you send through a bulk email service. Either way, make sure to include details about upcoming trips, as well as photos and guest testimonials from past adventures.

Business Basic: Extend Personal Invitations

The business of travel is fundamentally personal, and your relationships may be your most valuable trip promotion asset. No matter what other marketing strategies you use, always start with inviting people to join you on a tour. This can happen in face-to-face conversations, phone calls, personalized text messages or individual emails. If your organization is small or young, your personal relationships will help you get things off the ground. So be intentional about reaching out to friends and group members to invite them on trips, and find ways to work your travel opportunities into other conversations as well.

Innovative Idea: Offer customer incentives

One of the best ways to fill your next trip is to convert guests from past tours into repeat customers. To do that, consider creating an incentive program that rewards people to taking multiple trips with you. This could be something simple, such as offering a $50 discount to someone who takes two trips in the same year, or a more elaborate loyalty program with a high-profile gift or event for your best customers. You could also offer similar incentives for people who bring friends or refer new customers.

Pro Tip: Automate your marketing

Sending regular emails and newsletters is an important part of a travel promotion strategy, but you can take things to the next level by automating your marketing. Email services like Mailchimp and Constant Contact give you the ability to set up automated emails — or even a series of emails — that trigger whenever you add someone to your mailing list. You can also set follow-up emails based on user actions. So if a customer opens or clicks on an email about one specific trip, you can have the system automatically send them a follow-up reminder about that trip a couple of weeks later.

Growth Opportunity: Try online advertising

If you run a for-profit professional tour company and want to grow your business, you need to look into online advertising. There are abundant options for online marketing, each with its own powerful features. If you already have a well-established mailing list, you can use Facebook ads to reinforce your marketing message for people already in your audience. Or try using Google or YouTube ads to target others in your community that are searching for travel topics. These services allow you to focus your marketing on the people most likely to respond to it.

Brian Jewell

Brian Jewell is the executive editor of The Group Travel Leader. In more than a decade of travel journalism he has visited 48 states and 25 foreign countries.