Tag Archives: Developing a Travel Business

Getting Better Search Engine Rankings Via PR

Need more links to your travel business website?  Or Maybe you need to improve your search engine rank…Press Release websites are a must.  I’ve heard the importance of PR from Marketing companies and wil attempt to do this myself for iheartbackpackers.com.   Anyways, while researching the most effective way to do this I came across two excellent links:

http://nakedpr.com/2007/07/16/effective-free-press-release-distribution-in-5-easy-steps/

http://nakedpr.com/2007/07/29/big-list-of-free-press-release-distribution-sites/

The former is a how to guide and the latter is a list of free PR Submission sites.

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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

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.

So I have my tours designed. Now what?

 If you took my advice in an earlier article I wrote, you’d have a jump-start on your tour distribution via the Rezgo Connect feature.  By now you should have explored available suppliers and offered them a commission suitable to what your price points can handle and what the vendor is asking for.  Don’t get discouraged if no one has replied yet however.  The Rezgo Connect feature on Rezgo.com is in infant stages and will take time for more suppliers sign up.  So now what? 

Well, I know that in order to sell my tours I need to get them distributed to a wide audience.  So far, I have directly contacted the lovely staff at http://www.hostelworld.com to sell my tours through.  Being a backpacking tour company, this is a perfect site to sell my tours on.  Oh and not to mention that they have an affiliate network of 30 + sites (they say thirty but I’ve found my tours on way more than that!) that will post and sell my tours too!  Hostel world takes a nice 15% chunk for commission but that’s pretty much standard for my product.  I can expect to pay anywhere between 10-18% commission depending on the marketing channel and how competitive I want to be.  I suggest to do some research and try to find websites and companies that are suitable to distribute your product.

Another place I am distributing through is http://www.adventurelink.com.  Partnered with Vaxvacation Access, this website will make me accessible to 70,000 leisure travel associates on not only the adventurelink site but the Vax website as well.  Oh and not to mention that rumor has it adventurelink is in talks with a GDS…Don’t know what that is?  I’ll talk about that later. 

So okay great!  I now have a pretty good head start on my distribution!  But this wont be enough to pay the bills or fully book my tours.  Other measures must be taken: Direct Marketing, Viral Marketing, Social Networking, Other Distribution Channels, SEO for higher website rankings….basicaly the works!  Tune in for more articles to see my business grow.