How Can Travel Agencies Expand Their Markets and Grow their Businesses?

As in any business owners journey, at some point, any travel company entrepreneur will see a need, urgency or opportunity to grow.

Given how massive the growing travel and tourism market is, and how new niches are popping up, why would you pass on the growth opportunity? Growth is natural and there are times when you need to let it happen fully. You were meant to improve, grow profits and become more of the business you intend to be.

And what is growth anyway? It’s new product packages, new partners, new staff talent, new software, new marketing approaches, and new geographic markets. And growth means improved value and enrichment for your customers.

And, since a whole host of newly capitalized startups are entering the picture, they add to the urgency of growth.

I likely will be pivotal in helping you grow, earn much more, and create amazing new experiences for customers, you and your staff. It could be a wonderful outcome.

Don’t Let Business Stagnate

Real Estate MarketingMany travel agency and tour company owners worry that they’re doing something wrong with their business, when in fact, competitors are silently swiping their customers away via better products and stronger digital marketing.

To be effective, digital marketing should reside on top of product/service or business innovation. “Here’s our stuff” marketing doesn’t work anymore.

Why Grow Now?

It might be for greater revenues, greater business efficiency, or might even be to survive against encroaching competition.  And travel firms might be insecure about their current source of leads, e.g., from a supplier/marketplace that might raise prices, reduce supply/access or even cut them out at any time.

“Growth solves (nearly) all problems” — Sam Altman, CEO of OpenAI.

Intrepid Travel Tours — Growing for Spectacular Revenue and Marketshare Gains

As an example of growth, let’s look at IntrepidTravel.com, a service many travel agencies use to provide tours for their customers.

IntrepidTravel, the tour marketplace is making growth moves. Their latest financials show a net profit of $21.8 million in 2023 – a $47.7 million turnaround from 2022, the best growth in the company’s history. Bookings grew 68%, revenue rose 113%, and 41% YoY growth in revenue and a $180 million boost in web bookings, while creating 10,000 more direct customers.

What’s driving their growth is complex, obviously a deliberate overall strategy of growth and acquisitions (check out their 2025 outlook pdf), but I’ve noticed more online travel agencies using them as a provider. Seems a simple way for travel companies to expand/enhance their own product offerings, even if the cost/commissions are high. Right now, travelers might not care.

Intrepid Travel.
Intrepid Travel. Image: OUR STRATEGY 2025 STRATEGY report.

And they appear to be providing more tours, customized tours, and elite-priced guided tours as well. That would indicate a product, innovation, retention, and partnership strategy base is behind it, and that’s opening up new possibilities and connections. Of course, those business development activities are contributing to a strong presence online. As this chart shows, their Google referrals have grown.

IntrepidTravel.com, organic search traffic.
IntrepidTravel.com, organic search traffic. Image: Spyfu.com

Threats to Your Business May Contain the Key to Growth

Threats are signal to guide your response.  They’re simply the voice of change from tech, entrepreneurs and international business.  Ecotourism, adventure travel, and senior’s travel are booming.  Times and markets change. With all the change in experiences, destinations, customers, and business processes, market niches are always open for domination. A defensive positioning strategy won’t work long.

Many new online travel businesses are forming due only to technology. New SaaS travel management software is providing tools for bookings, customer service, bookings, itinerary management, consulting, and marketing and leads.

Clarity TTS Travel SaaS Software
Clarity TTS Travel SaaS Software

And AI is entering the picture which your staff can leverage to add services and products and be more effective. AI-powered travel software is obviously a big opportunity. Exploring the latest travel management software is a wise investment of time.

Proactive Preparation for Healthy Growth

I hope you’re serious about moving forward with a growth plan. For most agencies like yours, marketing is the weakness. Great marketing can inspire your product development, partnerships, markets and reach.  It can help you really grasp what your brand truly is.  It can help you save your current clientele, and move forward to capture new customers.

One thing about hiring me whether for content development, PPC, SEO, or social media promotion, is that it’s an inexpensive opportunity to explore a multitude of products/strategies/tactics.  When I grew Delta Hotel’s traffic from 1.2 million per year to 2.5 million, it made their PPC spend more effective, captured more emails, and gave them feedback on many things they were doing in marketing. Big picture value they didn’t expect.

Ways to Grow Your Travel Company

  1. new types of services
  2. new geographic markets
  3. new branded travel experiences
  4. increased engagement with current customers
  5. improve marketing — tv, youtube, downloadable brochures, influencer connections
  6. improve your content marketing
  7. advertise more
  8. build partnerships
  9. drop unprofitable products/services
  10. try a new travel marketings software platform
  11. specialize in profitable niches (adventure, eco, and wine tours)
  12. focus more on your unique niche
  13. expand your agency/tour company to new locations/cities

Top Travel Business Growth Strategies

Let’s review growth strategies created by Entrepreneur Magazine as an initial guide. These can help you visualize a path ahead and make it easier to make good decisions.  You’ll likely employ each of them in a sophisticated approach that helps you become a market leader.

Market Penetration Strategy: growing sales of your current products/services within your current customer base.
Product Development: creating or offering new innovative travel products/subscriptions to build a more impressive brand and give current customers something new to try.
Market Expansion: You could explore new markets or target new customer segments and niches thus growing and diversifying your customer base and reduce the risk of dependency on one market.
Strategic Partnerships: Explore and Capture Whatever Works: If you’re practical, you might like the idea of us exploring several unique/diverse opportunities, a customized approach to let us find something in the marketplace that builds leads for your travel agency, destination, software company, or tour company. Real success is never simple as in these single strategies. Instead, a unique combination that works for you is likely better.
Customer Retention: Personalized communications and service packages, focus on customer service, and a brand image of continuous value grows customers confidence and optimism about their connection with you.
Pricing Strategy: Developing a pricing strategy that lets customers access better value will help. With their increased expenditure, they receive a menu of added value features and benefits. This could be done to help differentiate your service packages and your brand and help ward off competitor’s offerings and encroachment.
Digital Marketing: The ultimate medium to grow exposure, market awareness, engagement, customer loyalty, impact, and sales touchpoints. All the other growth strategies need digital marketing tactics to be successful. It’s the swiss army knife of growth tools. A multi-digital-channel approach can help achieve the reach, frequency, and impact you need.
Employee Development: After you’ve identified the right growth strategy, you can work to train and boost the skills and capabilities of your staff. Certainly, with new travel management software tools arriving, talented staff become more capable of helping prospects, closing leads, and providing better service to customers.
Customer Feedback: Tapping your current base for insights on satisfaction and areas of improvement can help guide growth plans and product development.
Continuous Innovation: Adapting and optimizing your travel business processes, product marketing, and business model helps you to keep ahead of the wolf pack and perhaps set you apart as the market leader.

Many Pieces of a Giant Travel & Tourism Market Available to You

As you saw, Intrepid Travel Tours innovated and grew in 2023. They jumped on the trend of tour travel and solidified their current customer base while growing out many new ways.

The truth for your small travel business is that a much larger market is available whenever you feel like accessing it. Whether you’re a SaaS travel management software developer, tour operator, travel agency, hotel or resort, or travel destination, a growth strategy seems natural and wise.

The solution involves building small, unthreatening successes that build confidence and mastery. By using digital marketing strategies to their fullest, you will capture wins, grow sales, run experiments and gain valuable insight.

Hopefully, the strategies discussed peak your curiosity about improving. At the very least, you’ll earn much more revenue while keeping your marketshare and customer base.

If you’re needing help with cost effective digital marketing, please speak with Gord at 416 998 6246.

See more on the 2024 Travel & Tourism Market outlook, increasing bookings, building trust with travelers, creating great travel experiences, and optimizing customers’ path to purchase.