Tag Archives: backpacking

Create a Social Network for your Travel Company

 In my last post I wrote about how utilizing social networks like meetup.com, twitter.com, and facebook.com is a necessity not only for sales and brand awareness but also for valuable links that can boost your website rankings.  I discussed in an earlier post how meetup.com was a valuable tool because I can target an audience who specifically is interested in my travel products by creating a local community of backpackers.  Now what I’d like to do is combine these two tools by creating my own social networking site!

There are two important parts of getting visitors on my website:  Having them stay there for a period of time and repeat visits.  By offering tools on my website like a social networking site, I can guarantee these two important aspects of brand exposure and awareness.  There are many different sites out there that will allow you to create your own social network.  Here are a few:

http://www.ning.com  (free)

http://www.socialgo.com  (free)

http://www.socialengine.net  (free, updgrades cost money but are relatively cheap.  Fully customizable but difficult to use if you’re not computer savy)

If you would like to visit the http://www.iheartbackpackers.com  Social network that I created using ning.com please visit  Wanderlust!  – http://iheartbackpackers.ning.com

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Meetup.com – A great travel industry marketing tool.

So I have my tours designed, my website is up, and I’ve begun to distribute my tours online.  My company is starting to come along but it wont be successful unless I can start selling and be profitable.  Unfortunately, just distributing my tours wont be enough.  This is where the two dreaded words business come in (at least I’m scared to death of them) : Direct Marketing.

A few years ago I had a job in a multi-level direct marketing company.  It was a door to door gig selling hurricane impact windows, kitchen refacing, and texture coating exterior paint.  The experience of having 100 doors slammed in my face every day, the occasional naked weirdo opening the door, and even dogs unleashed on me for three months pretty much put me off from the whole go out and get a sale routine for a long time.  However, now that I have my own business, I have a renewed interest in direct sales.  The product I’m selling now, tour packages for 18 – 30 yr. olds, would be more of a college sales gig though.  The question here is, “How do I begin to maximize my time and sales potential with direct marketing?”

Before I start going out to college campuses I’m going to sign up for http://www.meetup.com.  It is a great solution that, in the past, has yielded me incredible results!  Meetup.com is a website that facilitates people who are interested in a topic (kayaking, tarot cards, vintage cars…) to meet up with a group of people in an area who are also interested in this topic.  For $20 dollars a month (or less if you buy three or six months at a time) you can create your own group and target people who have a genuine interest in what you do!

Last night I signed up for my account (3 months = 45$).  I named my meet up group after my business- I Heart Backpackers and tagged it with keywords for what my group was about i.e. backpacking, backpackers, travel, adventure.  Now, what I want to achieve is not only a meetup group to directly pitch my product but to form a community of backpacking travelers to build a customer base and product recognition.  I have designated my community to be for backpackers wanting to share stories, find a buddy to travel with, discuss future travel plans, and play some fun travel games.  Once I have a community going I can offer group trip hosted my the meetup group.

Some features I really enjoy about meetup.com:  The ability to market to people who want to join a group about a certain topic.  Meetup has email lists and forums and will contact members interested in your group for you every time you post a new event.  You can post your event easily on craigslist and it allows integration with Facebook.  Meetup has free printable marketing materials geared specifically for your meetup group.  Has a database of free locations that can be used for your meetup

With my keywords set and two events posted, Meetup will be e-mailing approx. 2,600 people in my area who have specified that they want to attend backpacking related groups.  I need to remember though that the key to making my meetup groups a success is to consistently host meetings and to create a community for my members.

http://www.meetup.com/IHeartBackpackers/   is the address to my meetup group.  If you are curious to how this works please see for yourself.  As I’ve said, in the past this has been an incredible channel for marketing and sales.  I wouldn’t skip this tool if I were you!  Tune in next week as I post an update on the progress of my meetup group.

Hello blog readers, travel startups, and backpackers!

Welcome to the I Heart Backpackers Blog.  This blog has been started for a number of reasons.  First off, it is meant to promote and chronicle the progress of my backpacking travel business http://www.Iheartbackpackers.com .  Second, good advice for beginning and  marketing a travel company is hard to come by these days… especially when on a budget.  This blog is meant as a forum for those who may have suggestions and wish to help with the development of this company as well as for those who are struggling with their own travel related business and in need of some inspiration.  Third, for backpackers of course!  I will be posting helpful backpack travel related links and articles that can assist travelers on their journey worldwide.  Fourth, but not least, articles I’ve written on my travels and traveling in general.

I hope, although covering a wide variety of topics and interests, that some may appreciate and find this journal useful.  And if not, I know I’ll still reap the benefits of archiving my journey of self discovery and the world.  Enjoy!