The travel sector is a highly competitive industry, bustling with well-established players dominating the market. The looming presence of travel giants such as Expedia and Booking.com means it can be tough for smaller travel agencies to gain visibility and attract new leads. However, with the right techniques and strategies, it's entirely possible to grow a successful travel agency business and carve out a niche in the market by establishing yourself as the go-to travel agency for specific types of holidays or destinations.
Growing a successful travel agency business requires significant amounts of time, effort and investment along the way. From researching the best keywords to building the perfect booking system, it's important to invest in the tools and resources which will help you stand out in a crowded market.
In this blog, we'll explore some key strategies and techniques for developing a competitive travel brand and attracting more leads.
Ready for take off? Let’s go!
How to grow your travel agency business in 5 simple steps
Adido is a digital marketing agency that specialises in partnering with travel agency owners to help them grow their business. With 20 years’ experience under our belts, we’ve identified five actions that you can take to entice more customers to your brand.
Choose a niche for your travel agency
There’s no doubt that the last few years have not only seen a shift in how people search and book holidays but have also highlighted a growing trend in more original, off the beaten track travel experiences. A 2022 report from Global Data identified a hunger for niche vacations and adventures, particularly among Gen Z and Millennial travellers (referred to in the report as Generation Hashtag) who, after two years of disrupted travel due to Covid19, are craving more nuanced and personalised travel opportunities to satisfy their wanderlust.
Choosing a niche for your travel agency is key to standing out in a crowded market. Take for example solo travel, which has seen an upward trajectory in popularity over the past decade. The graph from Google Trends below demonstrates its steady ascent (the only dip coming in 2020/21 as a result of global lockdown).
To put that growth into perspective, in 2013 the keyword solo travel had 880 monthly searches online. Fast forward ten years and search volume for the same term has leapt to 2,900.
Tapping into niches such as this is a savvy move for any travel business, and the ability to offer tailored, often highly complex, travel itineraries to an increasingly demanding customer base is where small, independent travel agencies have a golden opportunity to shine (thus validating that service fee).
Boost your travel agency marketing activities
Turbocharge your marketing with a blend of paid, SEO and social media, all of which can boost visibility online, maximising lead generation potential.
- Paid – PPC advertising can help travel agencies promote highly targeted destination, package or service adverts to a specific demographic, while also increasing brand awareness among a wider audience.
- SEO – a good travel SEO strategy maximises visibility through keyword research, well-written content and website technical optimisations. It can help travel agencies reach a wider audience, targeting key stages of the consumer's online booking journey.
- Social media – promoting your travel agency through social media allows you to showcase your unique experiences and destinations on sites such as Instagram, Facebook and TikTok, and whet the appetite of potential clients through inspirational images, videos or statuses to spark conversation and motivate potential clients to follow you.
Additionally, measuring the marketing activity you undertake now will be critical for making better decisions in the future. Using a tool like GA4 can help to identify which channels lead to sales currently, as well as highlighting those that help to influence purchases over time.
Prepare to invest in your travel agency website
In today's digital age, having a great website is essential for any travel agency looking to attract customers and stay competitive. But building it from scratch can be a significant project where meticulous planning is a necessity, starting with in depth keyword research to help guide your website sitemap.
Then there’s the challenge of finding the right hosting platform – get it wrong and you’ll most likely end up with a poor set up that could hamper page speed, potentially jeopardising overall rankings and harming conversion rates (no one likes a slow loading website do they? See how yours compares to other travel websites in our article How fast are travel websites).
Similarly, a bad booking system can have dire consequences for any travel company, so consider utilising third party plugins which cater specifically to travel businesses (e.g. WP Travel Engine or Travelpayouts). Alternatively, you may prefer to enlist the support of a specialist travel web design agency who can build you a bespoke booking system which will not only be optimised specifically for your brand, but will most likely save you a lot of time and money in the long run.
Prepare to invest in yourself
Other than reviews, one of the biggest signals of trust you can put out there are any related awards and accolades your business has achieved. In a saturated market, having qualifications, experience and even industry awards displayed on your site will help grab people’s attention (even if your fee is a tad higher!).
From large prestigious awards such as the World Travel Awards and British Travel Awards to smaller, more niche accolades including the World Cruise Awards or Gay Travel Awards, every gong to your name presents an opportunity to catapult your agency to another level, encouraging authoritative bodies to link back to your site (and subsequently boosting your E-E-A-T cred in the process!). Similarly, joining recognised travel organisations like ABTA or ITT, or getting mentioned in travel press like TTG, Travel Weekly and others can also help to build credibility with search engines as well as users.
Become renowned for customer service
Many people save up for years to be able to afford their dream holiday. They’re putting their hard-earned cash in your hands, so ensuring your customer service is of the highest level is not only desirable - it’s essential.
Great service can be demonstrated through social proofing - a concept where people look to the actions and behaviours of others to guide their own decisions, e.g., through reviews, ratings and endorsements from other travellers, which can increase trust and confidence, ultimately leading to more bookings.
Third party review sites such as Feefo and Tripadvisor help provide transparency, while promptly responding to online reviews – both good and bad – demonstrates a brand’s commitment to providing a positive and proactive customer experience, something your audience (and Google) will appreciate. The example below from Feefo offers a prime example of how it should be done.
Growing your travel agency business (and leads) requires a holistic approach
In conclusion, for your travel agency to not only grow, but thrive in an ultra-competitive, ever-evolving sector, you will need to establish a comprehensive approach that addresses all aspects of the customer journey, from carving out a niche to following up on post-trip feedback.
By adopting a holistic strategy, your business can create a consistent and cohesive brand message that resonates with customers and encourages customer loyalty and advocacy, further driving business growth now and in the future.