I've often thought that Realtors and travel agents have parallel challenges. The need to constantly prospect for new customers in order to keep a healthy flow of business going is certainly similar. Additionally, virtually everyone is a potential client, although it's wise to hunt out people who have money to spend rather than those who don't. And, in the end, travel agents and real estate agents are playing the role of matchmaker by establishing the right person with the right vacation, or dream home.
So I read with interest recently an article in USA Today on how realtors, in an effort to drum up new customers, are turning to the 20-something market. They feel this demographic can potentially make up for some of the business that has fallen off in the current economic downturn wrought largely by the national mortgage crisis.
Marketing to this Gen-Y age group has its challenges, however, according to the article's author, Stephanie Armour. Not only are they not all necessarily loaded with money at this point in their lives, they also don't respond to traditional print advertising.
What do they respond to? You guessed it. Homes posted on YouTube. Profiles on Facebook. Blogs. All of those catchphrases you've been hearing so much about over the past few years. When you think about it, some of these digital venues make a great deal of sense for travel agents. Using YouTube, you not only can tout your services in your own words, you can show videos of the great places you've visited. Face it, you know your potential clients are on the Internet—why not make it easy for them to find you?
The Age Factor
Another interesting—and somewhat less surprising—fact is that Gen-Yers also respond to real estate agents of their own age. This means that you, as travel agency owners, should team up with someone in the 20-something age bracket who can help you build this portion of the market. If you are home-based, this may mean hiring someone part time who can help you plan events that will attract a younger clientele. Perhaps they can help you determine which resorts and cruise lines appeal to their peers, then you can do the leg work by contacting these suppliers to request assistance in cooperatively hosting an event. Don't forget to have your Gen-Y assistant invite their friends and be sure they get the word out electronically; this young set is especially good at viral marketing, which tends to be free.
Sometimes, the key to success is simply being smart enough to surround yourself with those who can help you in your efforts to increase your business. Don't be afraid to learn from the younger generation; they may learn something from you in return.