With a global pandemic raging and leisure travel essentially halted, many travel advisors have been left to wonder what, if anything, they should be posting on social media.
Last week, a virtual panel during the Global Institute for Travel Entrepreneurs' (GIFTE) Travel Entrepreneurship Week discussed just that -- and was loud and clear. Advisors should be posting to social media, but with an appropriate tone befitting the current state of the world.
The panel was moderated by Vanessa McGovern, the GIFTE's executive vice president of strategic partnerships and business development. It featured three travel advisors, all part of the GIFTE's sister company, host agency Gifted Travel Network: Erica Carr, founder of Bookitbox Travel in Gainesville, Ga.; John Rees, owner of J5 Travel in Mooresville, N.C.; and Jen Campbell Boles, owner of Explore More Family Travel in Cornelius, N.C.
Clockwise from top left, Vanessa McGovern, Erica Carr, John Rees and Jen Campbell Boles participating in a discussing during Travel Entrepreneurship Week.
As to whether or not advisors should post to social media now, the resounding answer was yes.
"More than anything right now, you just have to be present," Carr said.
That way, clients (and prospects) know an agency is still working and in business.
Rees said J5 Travel is posting more than ever.
"But," he cautioned, "you have to strike a really careful balance."
That means striking a tone that recognizes current events. For instance, Rees said, he might post about an Indian dinner he made at home-- it references travel, but also recognizes that many are still under some form of stay-at-home orders.
Boles has spent the pandemic posting older travel photos, sharing where she has been to stay top-of-mind among clients.
Right now, McGovern said, social media should not be about selling, but more about establishing a presence and letting clients know an agency is still there.
"Social media is not about selling," Carr added. Instead, she said, it is about building likeability and trust.
The panel identified three main types of posts: personal, inspirational and posts highlighting an advisors' status as an expert in travel.
"You want to keep it personal so they can connect, [and it builds trust]," McGovern said. "You want to be inspirational so we can anchor in on that shared common passion of travel. And you want to be an expert, and you want to be posting conversations, topics, nuggets, tips and advice to deepen your expert status as a travel advisor."
Boles has been incorporating personal elements into her business page on Facebook by posting about her sons, who will turn 7 soon. Her specialty is family travel, meaning her children are a big part of what she does, making it a natural choice to include them in social media posts.
Rees has pivoted his social media strategy, posting inspirational videos on Facebook, YouTube and Instagram TV. The series of videos is titled "Where Are We?" Each is set up as a video quiz showcasing clues superimposed over photos of a destination, before eventually revealing the destination.
He posts three of the videos each week. In addition to providing engaging content for clients and prospects, Rees said creating the videos has given him something to focus on during the lull in travel.
As far as posts highlighting an agent's expertise, Carr suggested updates on travel. Clients are wondering when they can get traveling again, and posting about that is a good way to serve their audience.