Virtual Events for Client Attraction & Retention
By: Sandy Saburn, CTIE

Virtual events are everywhere right now. And they are a huge asset to a travel agent’s business because they serve two very important purposes: Client Attraction and Client Retention. I think all travel advisors should be using virtual events right now to remain connected to their audience. Here’s a look at how and why they work.

 

Client Attraction

Virtual events can get you in front of prospective clients easily and cheaply. It’s one of the best marketing tools available to you. It allows you to really connect with potential clients in a way that no other medium allows.

One of my top recommendations to new travel advisors applies just as well to those who have been in the business for years: don’t limit your business to your own backyard. In today’s digital world with ease of communication across the country, why would you only market yourself locally? A successful travel advisor is very clear about their specialty and I have never yet heard a successful travel advisor say their specialty is their own community. So, expand your territory! There are so many tools and resources available to you to reach people beyond your own community. Virtual events are a perfect tool for this! If your specialty is river cruising, what better thing to be doing right now than introducing people to what river cruising has to offer? You can host a series of virtual events for people who are interested in it but haven’t yet experienced it. Likewise, you can host virtual events for those who have done a river cruise and are trying to decide what to do next!

 

Client Retention

This is a hot topic right now in the travel industry. I have a prediction that I really hope isn’t going to come true. I am afraid that in a few months a lot of travel agents are going to be complaining about how many of their clients (including long-term clients) have rebooked but not with them. We are already hearing from vendor partners that direct bookings are up. And you know why? Your clients think you are out of business. If they haven’t heard from you, what else are they supposed to think? You may not have been in touch because you don’t have any promotions or deals to share with them, but that shouldn’t be the basis of your client communication anyway.

For more than three years I have been talking about the importance of a weekly email communication to send to your clients (we call it an ezine) and it has never been more important than it has in the past year. Our members have seen an incredible response to these communications. It’s not about trying to sell your clients something, it’s about inspiring, educating, and just staying in touch.

Virtual events can do these same three things (inspiring, educating, and staying in touch) even better. No, your clients can’t cruise right now, but they can indulge their love of cruising via virtual events. They can experience destinations virtually that will inspire them to travel later.

The key is to just get going! You don’t have to be some sort of tech wizard to make this happen. I would wager there isn’t one person watching this who has not been on a Zoom in the past year. If you have done that, you know how the tech works. It’s pretty easy to use and not expensive.

The good news is that your clients – and potential clients – are very receptive to attending virtual events. They love to travel and if they love you, they will show up and cheer you on. People are eager to sign up for these virtual events and get a little taste of vacation. We are all craving travel, right?

It’s also a great way to attract new clients too. Using the example earlier, if you are a river cruise specialist and you promote a virtual event where people can learn about it, you can reach new clients. Promote this via Facebook ads and you can build your client list.

I challenge you to make a list of three – just three – topics that you could talk about on a virtual event to reach new clients and re-engage your existing clients. If you are nervous about hosting, reach out to a few friends and do a test run. Then put it out there and inspire! You can do this!