I started our travel design firm about 10 years ago, after having spent many years already entrenched in the travel industry as a travel writer and editor. My first clients were those who saw my articles in magazines or newspapers. These pieces were often written in the first person, revealing my own taste and perspective on travel. Readers would contact me and say, “I want to do the trip you did with your daughter,” or “that trip you took with your husband.”
From there, our agency grew and today, most of the clients who come to us are interested in traveling to the same destinations or doing the same types of trips I take.
That being the case, I came to realize that the best marketing for our agency was to continue just being me. With the help of social media, it was easy to turn my own travels into marketing campaigns. Because we specialize in luxury adventure travel, when I go any place, I am modeling what we sell, and that ranges from choosing a cool local fish restaurant in Lima to hiking in the Al-Hajar mountains of Oman.
I am forever seeing the fruit of these efforts. For example, last spring, two women came to me wanting to try via ferrata, the popular mountain climbing activity where climbers are safely secured to cables. They had seen my posts about having first done it in Austria with my then 14-year-old daughter. They told me they were inspired by seeing the photos in articles I posted on our site and promoted via social media.
It’s important to understand that the key to selling travel that reflects your style is fully committing to a style. You can be an influencer but you cannot be all things to all people. The sooner you embrace this, the better.
Easier said than done. By having a single-focus brand, you may find yourself having to turn away potential clients. Fortunately, this doesn’t mean you have to turn them away completely if you build a network among like-minded entrepreneurs.
For example, at Farewell Travels, we know we aren’t cruise ship experts. That said, we have an excellent network of agents we work with (including our own independent contractors) who have expertise in areas we don’t specialize in (including cruise ship travel). So for individuals who come to us asking to plan cruise ship vacations, we can easily refer them to our trusted associates. It’s a win-win-win for all. The client gets the help he/she is seeking. Our associate gets the sale and we get a percentage of the commission based on our agreements/contracts with them.
Best of all, this allows us to focus 100 percent on the travel style we specialize in. It’s our passion and enthusiasm, after all, that attracts and keeps our clients coming back and referring us to friends, family and others in their communities.
Susan Farewell is the owner of Farewell Travels LLC (FarewellTravels.com), a travel design firm based in Westport, CT. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @FarewellTravels.