If you’re a travel agent and your local store marketing efforts amount to flyers and a few ads in your local rag, it may be time to bring some new ideas in to lift your game.
After all, it’s highly likely you’re already engaging your local community everywhere you go, including outside of business hours so why not take it to the next level.
A friendly wave at the supermarket checkout from Joan – a sunburnt customer recently returned from Bali purchasing some Aloe Vera, a big hello at the gym from a sweaty Tony – training hard and about to take off to New York to run the Marathon or a quick chat at the café with your favourite ocean going couple, Alan and Joyce who’ve just notched up another round the world cruise and can’t wait to tell you about it.
Many people would argue that just being visible in the community is the best form of local store marketing going.
And they’d be right. Word of mouth and brand ‘you’ truly are the golden fleeces of any businesses customer retention, irrespective of what any marketer might tell you.
To many marketers though, they’re often ignored as they’re just not that sexy.
So I’m going to float 5 ideas with you that expand on this notion and could bring you some more presence in your market and in turn some more business. If you’re already doing any of them that’s fantastic and I’d really love to hear about them.
1) Your store as a space for good
Think about how many hours a week your store is closed. Quite a few I’m guessing.
Then think about all of the clubs and hobbies your community operates. It’s probably a sizeable number and will undoubtedly be a number that includes a high percentage of people that travel, and often.
What if you opened up your store in the downtime to community clubs to use as a regular meeting place? From the bird-spotting club to a movie group, travel writers society, photo club or even the local Scuba diving association. Maybe it’s a mens group, mums and bubs or the local hiking group. Space permitting what about a yoga group? Or language classes? They all need a space to meet.
Crazy? Well not really. If fitness brand Lulelemon can do it with free yoga classes why can’t you? Aside from the community goodwill and service you’d be doing, imagine the potential bookings, local buzz and referrals you’d receive? All from minimal output and financial outgoing.
Just a leap of faith and desire to give something back.
2) Your suitcase is your roaming billboard
I’ve been trying to spruik this one for years to clients as to me it’s a no brainer.
When people travel they generally tend to take in all that’s going on around them and for some reason unbeknownst to man, are particularly drawn to other peoples suitcases.
Think then for a second about your last baggage carousel experience after landing. People crowded inside the yellow line with their trolleys, fiercly protecting their space and desperately searching and scanning every piece of luggage going around as if they were looking for a lost child in a crowd.
Heaven forbid they should miss their bag and it end up going around again.
If your case is branded up with your store you’ve just gained a captive audience who’ve noticed you. An audience that perhaps wouldn’t have given you a second glance in the local rag. But here they’ll study and read every single letter and probably even remember you too.
I use this idea myself (see photo above) and also take a shot of my case to post on social media every time I travel anywhere. People really like it. It’s a bit like the travelling gnome, except on four wheels.
Sometimes I even let it go round the carousel a few times when I’m at events because I know people I want to see it will be watching. And they always do, often remarking when I see them. “I saw your case on the carousel” – “Ahh I say. That’s great”.
3) Be the community meeting point
Similar to point 1, if you think about your store as a community meeting point, it could become a real place of interest for everyone.
Nike for example use their stores as meeting points for free running clubs they set up themselves in which their staff participate in too.
It’s really simple. Runners meet on a regular basis outside the store at a designated time to go on a jog together, meet likeminded people and well, just have fun. Rebel Sport doesn’t do that.
The staff were going running anyway so some bright spark decided it’d be a good idea to invite customers. And look what happened. It’s now a worldwide movement. It’s genius.
Often customers even go into the Nike store and buy their new runners and gear too. Why wouldn’t they? They run with the shop assistants and already like them.
People coming to your store on a regular basis puts you top of mind.
What could you make your store the community meeting point for? A club for cyclists? Runners? Photographers? Snorkellers? Basically any activity that involves people needing a place to meet or an actual group itself!
4) Partner with experiences that inspire travel
What goes hand in hand with travel? And what experiences bring the idea of travel to life?
Food and cultural Restaurants or take aways (ie Asian), Retail stores that sell travel goods or books, language schools, yoga (Think India), dance classes (think Tango or Salsa), movie cinemas or themed cafes for example.
How can you partner with these businesses for a win/win? Maybe you can hold exclusive ‘taste’ or cooking class nights at the local Vietnamese restaurant with a supplier to bring the sensation of Asia to the community and educate and sell them a deal in the process. Do it on a Monday night for example, when they are quiet or possibly even usually closed.
Or how about a free Tango class or demonstration for your customers who’ve expressed an interest in South America? They’d love that and what better way to get them excited about actually going there.
The people you’ll partner with travel too and may even have a group of their own they’d like to book through you. Maybe you can display a local stores’ luggage range (space permitting) in return for brand exposure in their store and a referral every time they sell a suitcase. All of these ideas benefit everyone and cost virtually nothing.
Bit by bit you are taking market share and building loyalty without spending anything, just your time and your will to give back.
5) Celebrate local heroes
Remember when one of your customers went on an adventure and did something really amazing? I’m sure it happens every day. You’re in the business of selling dreams after all.
Adventures like going to the Rio Carnival aged 86? Hiking the Himalayas aged 60? Or taking off to backpack around Cambodia with two kids under the age of 12.
That’s something worth celebrating.
Just the same as schools post messages like the above on their signs for everyone in the community to see, your store window could be the same.
What if you turned your deal flyers into updates on who’s travelled where (with their permission of course) or your facebook page with their holiday snaps and a shoutout to them just for being awesome.
Your celebrating their travels shows the community that A) you care about the people in it and B) that they can go and experience similar experiences if people like them have. Which of course means more business for you.
There’s an audience waiting out there for you to show them that you really are the travel guru when it comes to the world and that you are a business who really does care about your community and the people in it.
All you have to do is be the catalyst and the rest will take of itself.
Have you tried any of these ideas? What ideas have you done that have worked?
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