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Tapping into socials to gain customer loyalty

Andy Stark, managing director of the Global Travel Group, encourages agents to utilise social media & strengthen their online presence in order to build customer loyalty.

Blimey, it's mid-September already – where has the year gone? It won’t be long until we’re all rooting around in the loft looking for the Christmas decorations.

It’s a consequence of getting older that time seems to pass quicker. Another thing about getting older, if you’re anything like me, is that you continue to be amazed by the pace of technological developments.

Now that summer has officially ended, I’m guessing that the majority of readers will have enjoyed a holiday of some sort. In fact, I know that to be the case, because the team at Global Travel Group regularly show me great examples of envy-inducing social media posts that our retailers are producing.

I certainly can’t claim to be an expert in the social media field. I think I’ve mentioned before how I’m always looking to up my game in this area, though I have to admit that I’m still a bit befuddled by some of the jargon and qualifications needed to be a bonafide influencer.

Luckily, there are lots of incredibly talented people at Global Travel Group who do know what they are talking about – and are busy handing out advice and helping members when needed.

There can be no doubt how beneficial social channels can be. In fact, having a solid presence online is a vital part of the marketing mix for retailers.

To really reap the rewards it is an important skill to master and one that does require your own investment of time and engagement. Often, stores set up a Facebook page and use it simply to post deals, thinking this will prompt an influx of enquiries.

While one or two bookings may come your way with this passive approach, the lack of engagement really is the antithesis of ‘social’. The great examples I get to see are the stores that have developed a personality online. Instagram is a great place to post aspirational pictures – even better if these shots are from the shop’s own staff, on their holidays or from fam trips. Holidaying like a travel agent is a much more compelling offer for clients. Agents who engage with their followers to ensure that social activity is a two-way conversation, and not just a mouthpiece to push offers, always yield the best results.

The big social channels are also brilliant tools to use when it comes to reaching out. Savvy advertising, the so-called ‘micro-targeting’, can get your message delivered to exactly the people you want to attract, whether that’s by age, location, interests or social status and pay dividends in terms of building that all-important customer loyalty. The age-old pre- and post communications sent to customers wishing them a great holiday and then welcoming them home after the trip can work just as well via an app or email. Similarly, quick online polls asking your database for their feedback on destinations provides you with data to use within your marketing. Being able to confidently claim that 75% of those surveyed recommend a trip to Spain as being good value can only strengthen the social post highlighting the latest deals you want to sell.

Right now, in the slightly quieter booking period before peaks, I’d urge everyone to reappraise their social activity.

Booking patterns this year have been unpredictable – perhaps down to Brexit uncertainty – but what we do know is that luxury, cruise and long-haul is still pretty buoyant. Attracting this business in as many ways as possible makes sense since it is where agents can do best financially and show off the benefit of their knowledge, creating a virtuous circle that brings in more bookings further down the line.

With luck, you’ll be so busy you won’t know where the next year has gone too.


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