From professional athlete to travel entrepreneur: What I've learned

Building a travel business is hard, right? There isn’t some clear  blueprint of success that you  start following that is going to lead you to the business of your dreams overnight.  

I wish.

But what I have learned is that discipline and determination will get you quite far.  This is true in my travel business, and it was true in my career as a professional athlete as well. In fact, I believe that it is the recipe to success with pretty much anything in life.

You might not know that I was a professional athlete for 10 years in the sport of track and field. It’s part of my story that might not seem to have anything to do with being a travel agent. But in a recent article published by Travel Market Report, you can see how my first career has everything to do with how I approach my current one. 

At the end of the day, it’s mindset. And that mindset is the same whether you are running in circles and jumping in sandpits, or figuring out how to create a brand, market yourself, and build a thriving travel business.

I have a goal for my travel business. And with that goal comes a game plan. Goals are simply dreams with timelines, and that is why I can approach being a business owner the same way I approach being an international track star. 

So, my question to you is what is your goal?

After you answer that, it’s time to come up with a game plan. 

It’s no secret that social media is a big part of my game plan. It’s a place and a platform where I share and inspire, and I do this as part of a strategy. I know that it helps me attract the right type of clients, and showcases who I am and how I can help them travel better. 

I’ve created resources for an overall social media plan, an entire month of Facebook posting, an entire Instagram strategy that creates business, and a plan to take people from social media to your email list

These resources are really just me sharing everything I’ve learned up to this point on how to use digital media strategies to help me reach my goal. I share what I know in hopes that it helps you achieve your goals as well. 

I am not trying to be average in this industry. And my guess is that you aren't either. If social media is an area you can improve in, I hope these resources help move your business forward.

6 tips for getting your content seen on Facebook

Trying to understand how to get your content shown on your Facebook business page can be frustrating to say the least. Not to mention that pesky little algorithm that is constantly changing.

Well, I have found a few different ways that help your posts get seen by more of your followers. Don’t get me wrong — organic reach on Facebook (what is shown without paying to promote it), is becoming more and more difficult. But the following tips DO help.

6 Tips for getting your content seen on Facebook

1. Do It Yourself

Upload posts directly to the platform instead of having auto-sharing set up or using a social media scheduling tool. Facebook rewards this and will show the content to more of your followers.

 

2.When You Post Matters

 

The time of day, and the day itself are both things to consider when you are posting. Each audience is different, so take a look at your own insights to have Facebook tell you when the majority of your fans are online.

How to see when your audience is online

-Go to your insights tab at the top of your page

-Click on the Posts tab on the left sidebar

-Click on “When your fans are online” at the top of the page

-Make notes :)

 

3. What You Post Matters

 

Stick to questions, images, and videos. These are the things that get the most engagement on Facebook. And, when you do post a question it’s best to still include an image.

 

4. Short but Sweet

 

Facebook posts that are 50 characters or less get the most engagement.

 

5. High Quality Click Through

 

Facebook has found that users like clicking through to articles between 1000 and 3000 words. So, it will show your blogs to more people if you try and keep them under 3000 words.

 

6. YouTube No, Instagram Yes

Videos do really well with the Facebook algorithm, but Facebook is very particular about how you use video on it’s platform. If you are uploading to Facebook directly, that’s great. Facebook will reward a shared video from Instagram (because it now owns Instagram!) But when it's a YouTube video, don't try to embed to Facebook— you’ll be penalized for that.

 


I hope these tips help.  If the actual content of what to post is what is stressing you out, you might be interested in the 31 days of Facebook posts I created. That’s a month worth of post ideas ready and waiting!

 

Travel Agents: Do you know who you are posting for?

Using our social media platforms for our travel business looks a lot different than using our platforms for just ourselves.  No longer is Facebook just about sharing silly cat memes. While I do believe it’s important to incorporate who we are and show up authentically as ourselves in our business accounts, we must remember this one crucial point…

Your social media account is about them, not you.

And if it truly is about them, then the thing we must be really clear about is who they are. Once we know who they are, it will be easier to understand what it is they want from us, and we can think about what we are posting from their point of view.

It’s easy to think our work is over once we have decided on a niche. Say you are a romance specialist and decide that your target market is brides looking to go on tropical honeymoons. If that is where you stop, the type of content you put out on social media and how you share information still might fall a bit flat.

I’m going to suggest you to take it a step further — actually I’m going to ask that you get extreme with it. 

Tell me the one person you are posting for. Tell me who your ideal client is.

People often balk at this idea for many reasons. For starters, it seems difficult. How are you supposed to know all this information about a made up person? 

And then we think to ourselves that we have the ability to serve a larger audience than just this one type of person. There are more people we are overlooking if we just focus on the one.

But I believe the opposite is true.

Your message becomes so much stronger and your social media efforts are far more effective when you do this. People will begin to really connect with your message because it seems like you are speaking directly to them.

I’ve included a detailed list of questions you need to answer about your ideal client in my Social Media Plan, because I truly believe it is a crucial first step to strategically understanding what you are going to post and why you are going to post it. 

Once you have outlined who this person is, I want to give you 3 ways to uncover important information relating to your ideal client that is going to help you better understand who they are and how you can best connect with them on social media. 

Some might call this stalking… but I prefer to label it research

3 ways to uncover information relating to your ideal client

1. Follow your ideal client: You need to find them online and follow them: See what they are posting about, keep up with who they engage with, know what other types of pages and accounts they follow, and begin to understand what things matter to them. If your ideal client does Whole 30, you’ll certainly know about it. If they go crazy over the newest jogging stroller, you’re aware. This is your best information source.

2. Follow people in your industry you look up to that serve your ideal client: This is the best way to get inspired ideas for content, in my opinion. Start to take notice of the posts that get the most engagement. See what kinds of images they share that work. Notice what they do well, and then take inspired action. We don’t need to invent the wheel each and every post. 

3. Follow other brands and people unrelated to travel that your ideal client follows: There are many brands out there that serve our people. And they do it well. Understanding who you’re ideal ideal client is and what they relate to, what motivates them, what matters to them, etc. is far deeper than where they want to go on vacation next, or what their favorite hotel chain is. Why are they a fan of Toms shoes? How come they are such a die hard Stephen Curry fan? There is a goldmine of information here.

 

The point is to understand this ideal client, and then begin to post things on social media so that they find you, are attracted to what you are sharing, and begin following you. But before that happens, you go out and find them.

If you are ready to begin implementing an effective social media strategy that gives you a step-by-step plan to getting more engagement on social media, check this Social Media Plan out. I believe you will find it extremely helpful.

What type of posts should travel agents be posting on social media

If I were to ask you what types of things you post about on social media, what would you say? Do you have a clear understanding of what types of posts you should be creating, and if in fact these posts are helping your social media efforts?

My advice? Approach your social media posting as if you were at a cocktail party. 

Think about it... if I was at a cocktail party I’d tell people who I was, I'd tell them about my business, and then we would probably find a few things we had in common we could continue discussing that would be of interest to the both of us. This could be hobbies, shared interests, the best new restaurant in town, etc. 

They might ask about my favorite destination (because doesn’t everyone always ask that?!), and their ears would perk up if I shared anything they thought might be helpful to them. People always pay attention when it benefits them.

The conversation would continue because we're talking about things that are of interest to them, and it’s a conversation they find valuable. 

Social media is a conversation.

Unfortunately there aren’t any cocktails involved. These conversations though are happening online through photos, videos, captions and the like, and the idea is the same. Social media is most successful when you realize what people are actually on the platforms for, and you begin to create and share content that furthers the conversation you are having with your followers. 

The posts that further the conversation and develop that know, like, trust factor? I call those strategic posts. In boxer terms those would be consider your jabs. 

Your right hook comes when you have obvious marketing posts. You ask for the business. You give away a freebie in exchange for an email address. You point them to your blog and ask them to engage with you off of the platform. These right hooks are most effective when they aren't the thing you are serving up post after post.

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If you find yourself struggling with what your strategic posts should be, here are some general themes and ideas to get your wheels turning. Remember: These are small snippets of information, but if people find it valuable they will pay attention!

  • Personal travel experiences
  • Behind the scenes of your business
  • Inspirational posts
  • Introduction to who you are
  • Hobbies and interests
  • Your “why”- Share the passion for why you do what you do

Don’t be afraid to throw in the personal.  So many times we focus on travel-related stuff, but the truth is, people are doing business with US because of US. They are choosing to do business with you the person, so it makes sense you begin to share a little bit of who you are. When you do talk about business related things, have it be the things they are going to find valuable, and not just the posts where you get them to try and do something or simply tell them about your services. Here are some examples:

  • Travel Tips
  • Packing advice
  • Destination info related to your niche
  • Upcoming client travel
  • Testimonials (that do a good job of highlighting what you do)
  • Your travel expertise

What are you sharing that is GIVING insight, information, and entertainment to your audience? Most of us have a hard time figuring out what that should be. I encourage you to think about your client. Really hone in on what they are struggling with, what they are worried about, what their pain points are in life right now and how you can help! 

These posting strategies help you social media accounts be an effective marketing tool for your travel business. Now we just need to have people following us so they can see all the awesome, helpful info we are putting out, right?  Feel free to grab my free guide that shares 15 ways to get more social media followers.