Chasing Rabbits

As the old saying goes, "if you chase two rabbits, you'll catch neither."  In your own travel business, it is truer than ever.

I think as business owners, sometimes we are tempted to speak to many types of audiences.  That comes from a scarcity mentality.  "My market is so few," we tell ourselves, "the it would be leaving money on the table to not target this other group over there!"

The problem with this, of course, is that while you're chasing after both rabbits, they've gotten away, and you'll go home with no rabbits.  Bummer.

So, sit down and think -- reeeeeeally think -- about who it is, exactly, your business is speaking to.  Give him or her a name, a personality, and then -- speak, write, and market directly to that fictional person. 

You'll find new clarity in how you approach your marketing communications, your social strategy, and even the copy on your website and the imagery you use to define your brand.

Cheers to your success!


Get Ready for Travel Agent Awareness Day


Photo courtesy of Thinkstock

Photo courtesy of Thinkstock

The organizer of the first Travel Agent Awareness Week this past fall is organizing a Travel Agent Awareness day to be held Feb. 1.

Leila Coe, organizer of the first campaign, is also behind the new initiative which will take a different approach from the last effort.

Coe, an independent contractor with World Class Travel in Gainesville, Fla., said the new campaign will be an effort for travel agents to seek out someoneto interview them—whether that’s a client, a friend or local or national media.

“We are hoping to appear on other people's blogs/social media as well as on our own. Time to spread the word a bit more,” said Coe.

The first Travel Agent Awareness Week, held from Nov. 1 to 7, was a “grass roots” campaign focused on a Facebook group Coe founded.

She enlisted agents and asked them to spread the word to others. All of the participating agents were asked to post on a different topic each day, including why they became agents, what they typically book, why use an agent, and the future of travel.

“The goal is to get the majority of those in the group to participate but it is up to each agent how they want to participate,” said Coe. An agent suggested to Coe the idea of having agents interviewed. “I thought it was a good idea. Something different than what we did before,” she added. 

Coe said about 500 agents took part in the November campaign. “The majority of them participated in some ways - whether it was just one post on Twitter or Facebook or, many did the daily topic postings,”  she said.

“Considering that I started the campaign a month prior, it has grown rapidly. We now have 800 members and counting,” she added.

Coe’s reasons for launching the initiative remain.

“I started the campaign as I was tired of reading articles about how we don't exist or explaining to people I meet that yes, I am a travel agent as most are so surprised that we still exist in today's world,” she said.

“I still think most don't understand why because you can do everything on the internet. So I wanted to change that perception and I can't do that alone so started the Facebook group which has grown fast,” she added. “I think most other agents have these same issues and it is time for us to do something about it instead of whining to each other.

“I just want to share with the public why we are here and why we do what we do; that we are not a computer but use real human intellect, emotion and common sense when putting together our clients trips. And that we care about our clients in ways that Orbitz never can.”

Coe plans to make the 2016 campaign a quarterly event consisting of February, May and August events plus theweek-long November campaign.

May's theme will be memes but the details have yet to be worked out for that or for August. Next November will once again be a week-long event featuring daily topics for agents to post about on Facebook, their own blogs or other social media platforms.

Coe also pointed out that Jacob Marek, founder of 45 Degrees Marketing and a member of the Facebook group, has put together a free press release template for any agent to use. They only have to edit the release, available here, with their own information. 

Marketing Minute, Episode 4: Millennials: Spoiled Brats or Your Best Customers?

In this week's episode of the Marketing Minute, I wanted to address the generation that everyone loves to hate: Millennials.  I hear so much misinformation from the media, and usually from people who aren't even of this age group, so I'm here to set the record straight!

Watch the video on why you should be targeting this age group, and why it is such a ripe opportunity for travel professionals:

What do you think? Leave a comment below. And be sure to subscribe to the Marketing Minute to have updates delivered to your inbox every Friday.

Marketing Minute, Episode 3: Consistency

Happy Holidays! This week's Marketing Minute is about consistency, one of the most important things in effective marketing communications, but one of the hardest things to hold ourselves accountable to when everything else at work pulls our attention.

Take a look at the Marketing Minute, and subscribe to get the videos delivered to your inbox every Friday!

I'll be taking next week off to see family, but I'll be back in 2016 with more Marketing Minutes. In the meantime, leave a comment below if there are any travel marketing questions you're struggling with, and I'll add it to my list of topics!

Copywriting: Your Words Matter

Last Friday’s Marketing Minute video was on copywriting, or essentially, the words we use to write, well, anything. The words on our website, social media, newsletters, etc. In the video, I touched briefly on 3 important aspects of good copywriting:

  1. Describing what it is that you’re trying to describe.

  2. Compelling people to action.

  3. Search Engine Optimization.

I didn’t have time in one minute to get too in-depth, so I’m diving a bit deeper here on the blog.

1. Descriptive writing. Especially in an industry as experiential as travel, it’s so important to use your words to show, not just tell. You have just a few seconds to grab your reader’s attention, so clearly and concisely state your business and expertise. You also want to write in a way that describes their travel experience. Go beyond simply saying “Check-in to X Hotel, in a King Room” and describe the property for the guest.

2. Calls-to-action. If you don’t tell people what to do, they won’t do it. So make it easy for them to know by telling them “click here,” read “this latest article,” or “subscribe for a special offer.” This certainly isn’t the poetic side of copywriting, but you’re not Shakespeare - you’re a business owner. Read a helpful go-list of CTA pointers. (See what I did there?).

3. Search Engine Optimization (SEO). If you’re not writing with SEO in mind, you’re not writing to be found on Google. SEO is an understandably closely-held secret by Google, but there are ways you need to be writing for the internet search crawlers to find your site. Google even has a great white paper on the subject. Look for a future Marketing Minute video/blog on this exact topic -- it’s so important and I want to tackle it in a future episode.

So, in summary, I try to write taking all three goals into consideration. I write, revise, write some more, and revise again. It’s the nature of copywriting. But as with most things, the more you do it, the better you become. Aim to write a weekly newsletter, or at least bi-weekly. Stay top of mind with daily social media posts. And get a steady stream of internet referrals by having SEO-driven content.


Home Office as a Lifestyle

As I sit here working late from my home office on a Sunday evening, as I know so many travel professionals do - I’m compelled to share my love of home offices and my quirky upbringing.

Office goals.

I was raised in an office. Growing up, my parents ran a thriving tax agency from our home in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.  During tax season, from January through April, we would have literally thousands of clients come through our doors.

As you entered the house, on your left was the “operations office,” (aka our dining room) where receptionists answered phones, scheduled appointments, transferred calls, and printed, filed, and mailed tax returns.  It was the nerve center of the whole operation, and my mom was the Office Manager, the Queen Bee.  

One of my fondest memories growing up was essentially being raised by my parents’ team - my “Big Sister” Jill, my pizza buddy Carolyn, my good-grade cheerleading from Sharon, and of course, my grandma, who put in more hours than anyone and played role of voluntary employee and happy-to-help-grandmother, oftentimes chauffeuring my brother to a sports practice or me to a music lesson (her salary: my dad paying for a family meal at a local restaurant every Saturday evening). There were many more employees, but some of these women were very much a part of my family, beyond just a group of people who got a paycheck from my parents. A strange, extended family for a couple of rambunctious kids like my brother and me, surely more than they bargained for.

The kitchen was more of a cafeteria-style breakroom, where everyone could take a lunch or dinner break; heat up their food, grab a bite, and take a break from work. To say the workday was hectic would be an understatement; we probably had 8 or so busy employees during peak season.

The living room was our “waiting room” where we had a TV playing the news, Wheel of Fortune, and some primetime sitcom probably. There were oftentimes a collection of bratty children causing mayhem in my would-be living space - an introverted child’s worst nightmare. I liked to keep to myself and play the piano and violin, so I would often keep to myself in the chilly family room that was “off limits” to clients, by way of French doors with sheer curtains. No soundproofing, either, so I often serenaded clients during their tax appointment. How pleasant for them to hear me butcher “Für Elise” 800 times in a row.

The appointments and tax preps themselves actually took place in our formal living room, immediately to the right of the front door. I think there were 3 desks in there, if I recall. The “Printing Center” (a coat closet with christmas light back-lighting, 2 or 3 printers, and several boxes of paper reams). The upstairs bedrooms and bathrooms, however, were strictly off-limits and for my parents, brother, and me only. My 144 square feet of respite.

It’s so funny to think how it grew from just a few clients a year in the early 90s to a business that was big enough to eventually outgrow the house and move half of it to an offsite office downtown. The office ladies were always at our house, though - that never changed. At the time, I did not enjoy growing up in an office, but I think it actually shaped me as an adult, and I look back fondly on that strange living environment.

Marketing Minute, Episode 2: Copywriting

Thanks for watching the Marketing Minute, one minute of useful marketing advice for your travel business. For this episode I want to talk about copywriting; in other words, the writing we use on our websites, social media, brochures, newsletters, or anything else with requires we put pen to paper (or computer).

It's no longer about just writing nice words. You've got to write in a way to boost your Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and also in a way that compels people to action. It's a big responsibility.

Watch the one-minute video for some details: 

Newsletters: Beyond the Basics

I chose newsletters for my first blog post/Marketing Minute video series (one minute of useful marketing advice for your travel business) because I think it’s one of the things that so many agencies struggle with.  Whether the challenge is in finding unique content, writing in a compelling way, or simply getting it out on a regular schedule (I recommend weekly or bi-weekly; monthly at bare minimum).

I think it’s pretty common knowledge what to include in your newsletter:

  • Destination information that positions yourself as a travel expert

  • New itineraries or special offers

  • Unique ideas or insider tips that your clients wouldn’t otherwise know about

But I find that a lot of people struggle with finding the right words to get their message across.  In an industry as tactile and experiential as the travel industry, I challenge ourselves to improve our marketing communications by painting the picture for our clients.

In this week’s Marketing Minute video, I also wanted to elaborate a bit on the calls-to-action and tracking of your newsletters.

This week's edition of the 45 Degrees "Marketing Minute," where I give tips on improving your newsletters.

You need to be including some sort of call-to-action, something that you have people actually do. “Click here” or “watch this” are examples of calls-to-action.  Give your readers something to really sink their teeth into; give them a reason to trust that it’ll be worth their time to check it out.

Tracking is also a really important thing you need to do with your newsletters.  You want to look at things like times that people are reading your emails, whether they are opening them up on desktop computers or their mobile devices, and how your newsletter actually appears on different mobile devices (known as “responsive” design).  Other important stats to know include open rates, click-through rates, campaign tags (meant to differentiate between different newsletters), and a few others.  MailChimp, Google Analytics, and other methods provide a pretty seamless overview of the stats.

So, that’s the first blog post and Marketing Minute -- I’ll be keeping both the blog and videos in-sync with each other going forward, using this blog to elaborate a bit on points I didn't have time to address in the Marketing Minute.

If you have any topics you’d like me to address in future blog posts, leave a comment here or send an email to  Maybe there’s something you’ve been struggling with or a question you might not know the answer to.

And to plug my own services, I am offering five new clients 25% off all marketing services as I build the portfolio, and I do still have two spots available.  If you’re considering revamping your newsletters or are simply curious about how I could help, I hope you get in touch (you can email or call me at 305.517.7800).

Until next week…


Marketing Minute, Episode 1: Newsletters

Welcome to the Marketing Minute, where I provide you with one minute of useful marketing advice for your travel business!  

To give you some background, this will be a weekly series, published on Fridays.  They are intended to give you a nugget of advice that you can implement right away to help improve your business.  I encourage a dialogue, so feel free to leave a comment or send me an email!

So here's your first Marketing Minute, where I talk about an important topic that can be a cornerstone of your marketing efforts: newsletters!  Enjoy, my friends:

Also, if there's a topic that is challenging you or keeping you up at night, leave a comment or get in touch, and I'll be sure to add it into a future episode!