By Miles Morgan, owner of Miles Morgan Travel
If there’s one thing I hear constantly from colleagues in the travel industry, it’s “you need to be on Twitter” or “you need to be on Facebook”. Quite honestly, it is getting on my nerves.
I’m not using social media and have no plans to do so for a good while. Am I living in the dark ages? Scared to adopt new things? Certainly not. It is plain to me that at the moment our core customers do not use it.
How do I know? I ask them at our numerous local events. Do your own market research with your customers: ask them as you interact with them during the booking process.
It requires time and investment to do social media properly and at the moment I can do better things with both my time and marketing money to get new customers and keep our existing ones.
I find it astonishing that certain senior industry figures are out of a job because they do not use these new forms of marketing.
Surely, they are where they are because of their experience, knowledge and management ability and not because they use Twitter.
So why do travel businesses need to use social media?
The fact is, you only need to use it if it can help you communicate with your customers, or potential customers, and it is one of many marketing media you could be using to improve awareness and increase the profile of your company and brand.
There is still much to be achieved by using traditional advertising channels, but first decide what your customers are looking at and what they are listening to.
Social media may, or equally may not, be part of this crucial marketing mix.
The whole debate about social media reminds me of a few years ago when all travel agents became fixated with creating their own bookable websites.
Lemmings signed up as the media and ‘travel gurus’ told them they should, and waited.
Not surprisingly, nothing happened because it needed to be part of their overall business strategy.
With the web you need traffic to your site for it to work.
Sadly, lots of people lost out as they had given little or no thought to the key challenge of getting online traffic.
The high street travel agency has nothing to fear and should grab the opportunities that the current market presents with both hands.
Never in my time have I seen prime high street locations available on such great terms.
If your high street shop is doing well, look to move to a more prime spot in your town. You might find, like me, it will actually be cheaper.
Recessions generally present opportunities for the brave and the bold. All this talk about high rents pushing agents off the high street is rubbish; I have never negotiated such fantastic rates.
What landlords are looking for are businesses that are reliable and not liable to go bust.
They would rather work with companies they can trust, and charge them less rent, than charge more and then be faced with an empty shop in six months’ time.
You’ve heard it before and you’ll hear again, but the traditional high street shop is not dead. Far from it.
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