Sometimes, growth requires implementing new ideas.
Your travel program has a specific mission — to grow loyalty and engagement with your bank, alumni group or chamber of commerce — and the more travelers you reach, the more successful that mission will be. You might have a core group of travelers on whom you can count to join your trips each year, but the ongoing success of your program will require you to successfully recruit new travelers over time.
Flyers and newsletters might be your first option for publicizing your travel program’s offerings, but your marketing efforts shouldn’t stop there. If you’re looking for some novel ways to grow your group, try these five ideas. You’ll likely attract some new travelers who never would have joined you otherwise.
Relying on phone calls, newsletters and catalogs is a limited way of reaching travelers because each of these activities is time intensive, and your time is limited. Instead, try targeted, preplanned emails, which allow you to reach a wider audience at a lower cost and with less time investment. Using any one of numerous mass email services, you can set up campaigns that will send a series of messages to anyone on your list. Some of these offer powerful programs that allow you to target potential customers and send customized emails that change based on their behaviors — all automatically.
The people who already travel with you can be your greatest marketing force if you encourage them to bring their friends and family members on your trips. Offer incentives to your current members for recruiting new travelers. This can be simple things like Starbucks gift cards or more elaborate gestures such as room upgrades or other travel benefits. You could even offer a cash bonus or a referral fee. Also, consider an incentive program for frequent travelers: For example, people who travel with you four times get an upgrade, discount or special gift on their fifth trip.
Revamp Your Image
People’s perceptions of your travel program and the trips you take may be the biggest thing holding them back from joining your group. Potential travelers may perceive your trips as too expensive, too long, too boring, etc. Take a hard look at your itineraries, photos and marketing materials to make sure they’re not sending a message you don’t intend. If your group is perceived as old or boring, try to attract some younger travelers to your trips and assure them they will have a good time. And keep your travel club’s website and Facebook page fresh and updated.
You can often attract increased interest in a trip if you can enlist a high-profile, well-known personality from your organization or community to come on the trip with you. This could be the president of your bank, a well-loved professor from your university or even a media personality from your town. If you’re working with a tour operator or a hotelier that offers comps, you may be able to use one of your comps to host this person on the trip free of charge, which will go a long way toward convincing them to come with you.
Travel Near and Far
If you are locked in to doing specific kinds of trips — only day trips, only mystery tours, only international — you’re missing out on a lot of travelers who aren’t interested in those kinds of experiences. Try adding one or two different types of trips a year, and see if they attract different travelers. Don’t rule out certain destinations just because they would require flying, overnight stays or higher-than-normal prices. If you can offer interesting experiences over a range of tour types, you might convince new travelers to join you for an adventure.