FORT LAUDERDALE — Everyone knows the power of social media, but not every travel advisor knows how to wield it.
How to turn social media posts into bookings was the chief conversation among travel advisors at the Wednesday afternoon Think Tank session at CruiseWorld. The forum, a longtime tradition at CruiseWorld, puts conferencegoers together to speak directly to their peers and trade ideas, frustrations and solutions.
On the subject of social media, the crowd could hardly get enough as many traded their secrets. Moderators Mary Pat Sullivan and Joanie Ogg kicked off their heels — another Think Tank tradition — to hurry around the room with microphones so participants could share their stories.
One tip, several agents said, is to be authentic.
“I am never, ever sales-y,” said Julie Hollender, a travel advisor at Washington-based Cruises by Julie, who said she posts a “ridiculous” number of photos on her Facebook book page. Correspondingly, at least three-quarters of her business comes to her through her Facebook direct messages, she said.
Through her social media presence — where she tries to come off as the furthest thing from a salesperson — people she hasn’t talked to in decades slip into her DMs and ask her to book a trip for them, she said. It’s been so successful, she said, she’s booked trips for her exes — including their honeymoons.
When Dilworth Daley travels, he’ll post an album and label it “On Location” and include a picture of himself and the lodging he’s staying at, complete with an overview. Daley, the owner of Maryland-based Daley’s Destinations, said he gets a good reception from those posts, which he puts up immediately so that people can follow his journeys.
Agents shared other ideas, such as avoiding posts that are so “sales-y” that social media algorithms treat it as spam.
Instead, one agent suggested showing how-you-did-it posts for building a creative itinerary or showing the culture of your agency.
One participant said she focused on the social media platform that their clients are most likely to be using instead of jumping on the latest platform. Another said she tapped into that FOMO feeling of people missing out by continually posting. Still another pointed out each of those likes on a post is a potential lead worth following up on.
Of course, there’s no one way to be successful on social.
While some said being personal on posts can be helpful, Michael Trufant, a co-owner of CruiseTru Travel, said he keeps his personal story out of it. A former newsman, he said he uses three-minute YouTube videos to showcase his travels. If you’re doing a video on Half Moon Cay, Carnival Cruise Line’s private island, he said, show the island; don’t waste time telling your own story.
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