Frédéric Gonzalo is a conference speaker and strategic consultant with more than 20 years of experience in communications and tourism marketing.
The digital communication tools available today are often the same, regardless of the type of industry in which we operate. But when it comes to selling travel, and more specifically selling the concept of destination weddings, are there any tools for agents that are particularly effective?
Here are four that I consider to be essential.
1) Sending newsletters
The fact that I mention newsletters first is no coincidence. It is without a doubt the most traditional means of communication, and even the oldest – but also the most effective. It has often been said that it costs 5-10 times less to maintain a relationship with a current customer than to find a new one. Retention and customer loyalty pay off! You still need a database to send communications, promotional offers, and articles about new trends in honeymoon travel, destination weddings, or vow renewals.
This is one of the main advantages of being part of a network like Ensemble, TravelSavers, Virtuoso, and others. Often, these companies provide a template and system for sending newsletters that you only have to adapt according to your target audience, before proceeding to make a relevant, tailormade and timely delivery.
It’s true that organic posts no longer perform as well as they used to on the most popular social network in the world. And yes, there are certainly issues with the amount of data that we share on it, as we saw this spring with the Cambridge Analytica saga. But Facebook is still the platform of choice for more than two billion users, including 1.3 billion people who use it on a daily basis.
Here, we can share testimonials from newlyweds returning from a dream trip, and answer common questions about preparation, insurance needs, choice of caterer, and other important options offered by some companies – including cruise lines.
In short, Facebook is the platform that’s best for sharing promotions and exclusive offers, but where you’ll also want to encourage followers to do business with you – for the skills, credibility, and expertise that are reflected in your various posts.
TIP: Use a varied mix of content including links to interesting articles, ‘did you know’ pictures, testimonials, videos, questions, contests and more.
Although it’s the most renowned platform for visual content, Instagram is not necessarily the type of social media that will immediately lead to a spike in phone calls to your agency. However, it is the preferred medium for storytelling – about your customers’ experiences and the destinations, hotels, and suppliers you work with.
There are more than 800 million active users on this platform, which is now owned by Facebook, and it’s the perfect place to follow celebrities, influencers, and business pages. Did you know that more than 30 per cent of users have purchased a product or service that they first saw on Instagram? The trick here will be to monitor the hashtags that are most relevant to your niche or area of interest. By doing this, you’ll be able to find images or videos that you can interact with or share on Instagram, Facebook or even in a newsletter – always giving credit to the source, of course.
Take for example the hashtag #destinationwedding, which has been used in more than 3.5 million posts. We can discover photographers, suppliers, and influencers – or even potential customers – who follow this type of content or use this hashtag (or a similar one).
Finally – it’s impossible to overstate the importance of video when it comes to promoting romantic getaways. If pictures say a thousand words, then a video is worth a million thanks to sound, narration, and movement of images – all elements that appeal to emotions, one of the most important factors in this business.
Video content can, of course, be spread via a YouTube channel, but why not integrate it into all your platforms? You can broadcast live on Facebook and embed videos on your website or in a newsletter, on Instagram, Pinterest and more.
TIP: Don’t forget to add subtitles to your videos. More than 85 per cent of the videos watched on Facebook are viewed without sound. It is therefore imperative to have explanatory text to support the images – without negatively affecting the finished product.
BONUS: Virtual reality
One final element to consider is one that’s becoming more and more popular: virtual reality, or V.R. Opting for a destination wedding is usually a big decision, with a lot of financial and emotional factors to take into consideration. Your customers want to make sure they’re making the right choice, especially if it’s not possible to visit the site before reaching a decision.
For this reason, more and more hotel and cruise providers are now offering the opportunity for prospective guests to take a virtual tour of locations and properties in order to let them make an informed decision. Marriott, for instance, has offered this technology since 2014 as a means of helping lovebirds find their ideal destination.
With numerous tools at your disposal, your challenge now is to choose the most relevant ones to reach your target audience and build a strategy based on the goals you want to achieve.