With the new year upon us, we’re bringing back some popular how-to tips to help you sell better and enhance your clients’ experience.
|Vice President—Content/Editorial Director, Ruthanne Terrero|
Have you recently looked with envy at your travel agent colleagues who have been interviewed in national newspapers and on TV for stories related to the industry? Perhaps it was the Costa Concordia incident or maybe it was just a fun spot on the “10 Most Romantic Places to Be on Valentine’s Day.” Admit it. You’ve sat there and stared at the TV and murmured, “I could do that.”
And you’re right. You can do that. Here are some tips on how to become the go-to person when the national and local media are looking for experts.
• Ensure that you are an expert. Check with your consortia to see if they have some set criteria for how you should respond to a request for commentary from the press, particularly for travel crises. They likely also have other tips on how to become media-friendly.
• If you have just come back from the Galapagos, polish up your trip report and send it to your neighborhood newspaper with fabulous photos of all the cute animals you saw. Call first to establish a relationship. Consider having a wine tasting with a liquor store and invite the community and local journalists in and give a little talk about your trip.
• Does your community have Patch.com? Operating under a national umbrella, these are hyper-local websites that push out daily e-mails with news about what’s happening on your Main Street. Volunteer to be the travel editor. Maureen Jones of All Horizons Travel, whose work is often highlighted in the pages of Travel Agent, is the travel writer for her local Patch site and has used it to further establish herself as an expert on travel in her Los Altos, CA, area.
• Be sure you’re always available to respond when the opportunity arises. Some radio and TV news shows will call ridiculously close-to-air time looking for expert commentary. Have your inner-news-expert personality at the ready and primed to shine even if you are up to your ears with trip planning. Be sure to have a nice blazer in your office in case you need to go on TV without much warning.
• Publicize all that you do. Have a section on your website that allows you to post video clips of you on TV or links to articles in which you’ve been quoted. Good to know: If you have been quoted in an article, you cannot simply copy and paste it on your site. That’s stealing. Instead, run a few lines of the article and then link back to the original site on which it appeared.
• How do you find contacts for national media? When you see a story on cnn.com or any other site, there is usually a hyperlink to the author’s e-mail. Write them a note, indicating you’ve read their travel article with interest and that you’d like to serve in the future as a source for trends or hot travel topics. Odds are they’ll be grateful to you for it.
• Getting on national TV is more difficult; you’ll likely need to hire a public relations firm to assist. Your consortia may have good connections already, so let them know you’re available to represent them on the air. I suggest you create some mock video clips of yourself being interviewed that are easily accessible on YouTube and your website so that your camera appeal will be readily apparent. Be sure the video looks professional; use a good HD camera and ensure your “studio” setting is clutter-free.
See you on the air! Let us know about your successes so we can share them with your colleagues.