Keys to Affordable but Strong Travel Marketing

Your travel agency, tour company, or travel management software won’t market itself. Instead, you’re going to need some creative ideas (like Red Cows) to grab the attention of travelers.

Build your value proposition with some great promotional messages.  Create and brilliant content and publish it via affordable yet powerful online channels so you can learn faster what works and what doesn’t.

Don’t be intimidated. You can market your software, agency or tour company effectively with a versatile independent specialist.  Add a little from a graphic and web designer and perhaps a video producer. They’re not full-time staffers, yet complete key niche parts of your marketing project.

Outsourcing to one travel marketing provider who offers content creation, advanced SEO, social media, PPC campaigns, and KPI/lead generation analytics can save you a lot of money. It really does cut time waste too, when too many marketers are brought into your project, all of whom may not be resonating to your objectives.

So let’s chat about a simplified, easy-to-understand approach that respects your marketing and promotion budget.

Simplicity and Focus: Your marketing strategy can be simple too and you get your budget focused as much as possible. The more money you put to lead generation the better. You can focus on audience targeting and utilizing the core FREE and accessible channels to capture leads — that means Google, Bing, YouTube, and Facebook.

Travel Meta Search Engines

The key reason you need to market your business well is because your market is competitive. There are the big travel market platforms such as Expedia, GAdventures or TravelPerk that have the power and money to control a massive chunk of your target market. Carving out a niche and building on it is how all of them got started.

Just a quick note about the big travel portals is that your tour or agency can be exposed in their search results. From keywords to descriptions, categories to photos, it’s a chance to get your brand exposed to a lot of travelers. You can create a place listing on TripAdvisor for example which will then expose your company. Participating in their forums is another way to gain visibility to searchers. It’s good to partner up with other companies who enjoy good exposure on these portals.

TripAdvisor travel tour search.
TripAdvisor travel tour search. Screenshot courtesy of
Switzerland tour search.
Switzerland tour search. Screenshot courtesy of

Exposing Content and Brand Messaging for Top of Mind Awareness

However, this isn’t really about competing even if you do have to create a better offer to travelers (or travel businesses). It’s about establishing a brand so unique and desirable, they can’t won’t it anywhere else. Your marketing should expose that uniqueness and build impact so that customers forget the competition. Making them forget the competition is where real success is.

Make them love you so much, they will only want to do business with you


Too many companies aren’t marketed and promoted confidently, and it’s that confidence that prospective travelers see. If you’re not marketing and promoting well, customers don’t receive a strong, sincere message that you willl deliver on your promise. How the promise is expressed and presented is just as important as the value proposition itself.

Word of Mouth Not that Reliable

And word-of-mouth marketing doesn’t work well at all anymore. It’s because travelers have different needs, and online, on Google, they can search for specific experiences, services or products that are just right for them. They’re particular. And fortunately, sites such as Expedia and are mass self-help portals that don’t have that full trip management power. Their weakness, your advantage.

While word-of-mouth recommendations are nice to have, travelers also may not trust the recommendation, because recommendations are often given before someone really knows the company well, such as when a company asks them to share it on FB or via email. These can be annoying.

Distrust and uncertainty is one reason why travelers stick to a well-known travel agency or with Expedia,,, or TravelPerk. There’s safety and comfort in these solutions, and often they get the best prices. Similarly, consider your price and whether you offer the same value as the market leaders. Price can be a lead killer (shown by bounces on your price page).

They’re Looking for Something More Personally Relevant

But travelers know there is the possibility that something better like your agency, your trip management software or your tour company might be available.  Since you know all of this already, you’re likely hoping for an affordable, foolproof strategy to get reach, make impact and draw new customer leads.

I’ve laid out an overall strategy in the travel business marketing post.  And in this post, let’s take a quick look at the components of a comprehensive travel marketing strategy.  Depending on your budget, you have a range of opportunities to compete. What really determines your success is how significant and specific your product/service value proposition is.

Next, it’s on to targeting the right audience via the right channels with the right content and messaging. If you already know specifically who your initial ideal audience is and have some data insights, that can help a lot. You may want to have a marketing consultant conduct a marketing opportunity and SEO audit to generate more insight into opportunities.

Build Your Customer Profile

Knowing your ideal demographic profile is helpful. If you don’t have any data, running a Google Ads campaign with their demographic insights is a good way to go. You’ll need to make a good offer, perhaps something useful and free to capture emails and customer info.

You need to know who is responding to your targeted ads. Ads should be well-targeted, because visits from general travelers to your website and landing pages doesn’t provide the specific feedback you need. You’ll be watching which ads work best to create leads, which landing pages are most engaged with, and how many of those filled out a form, subscribed, or contacted you via phone.

I like phone calls. They’re immediate, direct, and personal, thus giving prospects fast, reassurance that they’re not wasting their time, and it keeps them from going to a competitor. Don’t let them go to a competitor, because they’ll forget you.

Be the Only One They Will Ever Want

The marketing plan is to make your brand/product/service the only one for them. Letting them go to your competitor erodes your message, offer, and impact. Make impact and get them to call right away. It’s another signal to the prospect that you’re responsive and serious about serving them.

To increase target marketing effectiveness, consider:

  • by selected regions
  • by traveler budget expectations (price points)
  • by style of travel
  • by demographics
  • by segments such as family/single tours
  • by travel agency specialization
  • by unique travel destinations
  • by unique travel experiences

Consider competitor’s weaknesses and value propositions too. It’s the context for what you can offer.

How Do Travellers Search?

From a channel perspective, how will they arrive at your site?

  • Google search
  • Facebook
  • Linkedin
  • Twitter/X
  • Instagram
  • VRBO/Airbnb
  • YouTube

There definitely are lead opportunities with advanced SEO, however you do have to respect the opportunity and the challenge of performing well on this high-traffic channel. SEO will be your top lead generator if you invest sufficiently in it.

Building Compelling Content

Of course, a content plan from photos to blogs to landing pages to ads and YouTube videos are integral to showcasing your agency, tour company, or travel management software. Your branded content helps your Google rankings, Facebook engagement and YouTube leads. There are plenty of designers and video production providers who might be ideal and affordable.

At the end of your travel marketing effort is a significant growth in exposure and market share. If there’s ever been a time when a small travel startup can make it, it’s now. Be relaxed, creative, and bold and opportunity will pop up all over the place!

Are you a travel management software company? See more on your competitors and how you might position your firm to win leads and market share.

If it’s time to begin building your brand visibility and new revenue streams, then I’m looking forward to speaking with you.  Contact me at 416 998 6246.

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