Millennials. The pesky texting-obsessed, always online, endlessly coddled generation … and the generation that’s increasingly likely to use a travel agent. According to a survey by MMGY Global, millennial families are driving travel, and a huge chunk are looking to turn to travel pros for planning. Yep — the much maligned millennials need your help! So, how can you get millennial travel clients?
Well, it starts with knowing what NOT to do. And boy, do I have a story for you.
It all started with a text from a friend …
The Midnight Text That Got My Attention
“Holy s*** so many travel agent websites suck.”
This is the text I got late Monday night from my friend, Jenny.
And BOY — did it get my attention. I spend a lot of my time talking about how important a savvy digital presence is for travel pros today. And here comes a perfect example of WHY sliding right into my messages.
Here’s what you need to know about Jenny:
- She and her husband want to go to Mexico, but not an all-inclusive, so they’re feeling a little bit lost about how to put the trip together. They’re also pressed for time.
- Jenny’s a millennial. So obviously, she’s going to turn to the internet to do her research on finding someone to help her.
- She’s willing to PAY someone for this help! She told me she’d happily pay $200-300 as a planning fee to work with an expert.
- With the amount of time she spent trying to track down a legit travel agent online, she could’ve planned the whole trip herself.
That’s a problem. And also a HUGE opportunity for savvy travel pros. So that’s what we’re going to talk about today.
But first: If you think of millennials as young ‘uns fresh out of college who are only interested in barebones backpacking through Europe or party cruises — here’s your wake up call:
The oldest millennials today are now 36 years old. A LOT of these folks have spouses, families, and disposable income.
Don’t dismiss them. You can’t afford to, as they’re only going to get older (and make more money to spend on travel).
So what made Jenny’s fruitless search for a decent travel agent so dang frustrating?
Let me count the ways (and what travel pros can take from this). I hopped on the phone with Jenny to get the story. Grab a big cup of joe, because this is going to take a minute:
How to Get Millennial Travel Clients: What Not to Do
“I clicked on maybe 20-30 websites … and spent only 20 seconds on each. If they were visually unappealing, I left pretty quickly.”
Tech savvy millennials WILL judge a book by its cover. Or at least a website. But it’s not really about looks, per se. Jenny said that when she came across clunky, ugly designs, she dismissed them because she assumed the agent who owned the website wasn’t tech savvy, and wouldn’t “get” someone like her.
The Lesson: Looks matter, folks. Online, you have one chance to impress — a chance that only lasts 20 seconds.
[Want to make sure your website is oh-so enticing to your ideal travel clients? CLICK HERE to get your Free Travel Agent Website Checklist1]
“I couldn’t find what I was looking for — navigation was so confusing.”
Ugh, this is so frustrating! Jenny was baffled by all the duplicate content on travel agent websites. Like — what’s the difference between “About Us” and “Why Choose Us”? Or why have tabs for both “Trips” and “Destinations”? Ain’t nobody got time for that (especially Jenny — which, again, is why she closed out after 20 seconds of this nonsense). Overall, she said it took her a ton of clicks to get to the information she wanted.
The Lesson: Don’t make your prospect work so hard! Your website should be easy to navigate and make logical sense. And make sure each page serves a distinct purpose.
“I tried Googling ‘travel agent,’ but not much came up!”
This really interested me — and it’s a good lesson in why you should always reflect how your prospect talks about you in your copy.
So, I know a lot of “travel agents” today have moved away from that label. They call themselves travel advisors, or travel consultants, or travel concierge. “Travel agent” sounds outdated, and like you’re just an order taker.
But guess what: A lot of folks today still know you as “travel agent” (yes, even millennials!). They’ve never heard of a “travel advisor” before. So when they’re searching for you online, they’re using the term “travel agent.” If you’re not also using that term, at least a little bit, on your website, you won’t be found. Jenny finally realized this and started searching for “travel concierge” — but only after getting beyond frustrated by Google results.
The Lesson: This is about more than the term “travel agent.” Always, always, ALWAYS think about how your ideal prospect talks, writes, and thinks. Then, reflect that back in your copy. I say it all the time, but I’ll say it again: Your website isn’t about you, it’s about your prospect. That’s why you’ve got to do a little spying and get in their heads.
“I wanted to know immediately: Did this person know Mexico? That was never clear.”
When you serve everybody, you appeal to nobody. Jenny found a lot of generic travel agent websites … but very few positioned themselves as an expert in Mexico. Jenny wanted to work with an expert (who doesn’t?) so the generic, general, fluffy copy she found instead was a major turn off.
The Lesson: Own your niche, y’all! If you specialize in Mexico vacations, shout it from the rooftops! Also — even if you don’t specialize in a destination, per se, a lot of people will still come to you with a destination in mind. They want to know that you can help them. If there are destinations you’re especially well versed in, make that clear on your website — even if it’s just briefly listing them out.
“Finally, I started searching for travel agents through directories. But … whenever I found a promising agent, more than half the time they didn’t have a website!”
Think that juicy bio you have up on a directory listing is enough to get you clients? Nuh uh. Think of a directory listing as an introduction — a perspective client is going to want to get to know you better after reading it. And the first step for most web surfers — especially millennials — is going to be to go check out your website. Jenny was beyond baffled that so many agents didn’t link to their websites at all.
The Lesson: It’s 2018. You NEED a website. Period.
You might be wondering … why didn’t Jenny just pick up the phone and call a travel agent? “There’s no universe in which I’d call you.” <– from the mouth of a millennial, folks. What you heard about us is true. Talking on the phone is scary. It sucks for those who like to operate old school, but it’s true.
So, consider this a wake up call. If you want to get clients — especially tech-savvy, culturally curious, upwardly mobile millennials — it’s time to develop a web presence built for the 21st century.
BTW, the problems above? They’re not only going to turn off millennials. They’ll turn off all web visitors. No matter who your ideal client is, if they’re using the web to learn more about you, all of the above applies.
I say all this lovingly. Because there are people out there who need you, who are CRAVING your expertise!
When you get serious about your travel agent marketing, you get found. By people who value what you do, and could really use your help.
Free Checklist — Make Your Travel Website a Millennial Magnet
Psst … need some help figuring out exactly how to ensure your travel agent website is attractive and easy to use for all web visitors? Download your own Travel Agency Website Checklist below!