Written By: Tom Ogg
Finding, romancing and working with group leaders can be challenging if you have not narrowed your UVP to a very specific niche. But, once focused it can be fairly easy to reach out to quality potential group leaders. In fact, if you possess the requisite level of expertise in your niche you will probably already know a good number of potential group leaders.
It is important to remember that entering into a relationship with a group leader is likely going to last for years. For this reason, your marketing should be focused on evolving a relationship rather than simply selling a group departure. There is a ton of information on relationship marketing so we won’t go down that path.
What is important is to understand the nature of the relationship between you and your group leaders and to focus on that during all of your marketing activities. Building strong relationships is what marketing to group leaders is all about. So with that in mind, here are some ways to market to potential group leaders.
Personal Sales Calls: Without question, personal sales calls are the most effective way to reach out to potential group leaders. No matter where your potential group leaders can be found, the best way to approach them is one on one face time.
The trick is to make an appointment asking for 10-minutes of the potential new group leader’s time and then deliver a professional presentation in no more than 10-minutes. And, you should be qualifying the prospect just as much as he or she is qualifying you. Look for the synergy that would indicate that working with this group leader is consistent with your operating process.
Seminars: Seminars are an equally effective way to recruit group leaders. There are a number of ways to get in front of a crowd of people interested in travel, but the best is to become an instructor for one of the seminar companies such as The Learning Annex, The Learning Tree and so on. They pay you to do a class for them and they also fill the room for you. You simply tell your story in a generic way and then follow up with students that you might be interested in working with.
Another variation is to simply do your own seminar that is advertised in the local community that you are fishing for potential group leaders. Book a last minute meeting room at a discount and then post an ad in the local newspaper to attract interested parties. Ads reading “Free Trip to Hawaii Find out How” will always draw people to the event.
Travel Shows: Another great way to feed a seminar is by participating in travel shows with a booth. You can meet a good number of people and quickly qualify them as potential group leaders. However, it is almost impossible to convert a travel show attendee into a group leader at the show itself because of the pace of the show. It is best to then invite them to a seminar so they can learn all of the details.
Social Media: Just about everyone is using Facebook and Facebook Groups offers the opportunity to form a group for group leaders and communicate with them there. Your niche groups should also have their own unique page where your Group Leader can communicate with group members before the travel event.
Also, take a lot of photos of your group members and be sure to tag them when you post them on your FB page. This will help your organic visitor counts.
You should video each movement that you operate and put them on your YouTube.com channel. Use group members full names in the “Keyword” section when you are uploading the video and always use a customized title frame that carries a sales message. Something like “Travel to Hawaii Free” will motivate people to watch your videos.
Website: Your website should be focused solely on your niche travel groups and should include detailed information about who you are and why people should sign up as group leaders with you. All of your videoed group movements should be there and also be very compelling. Testimonials should also be an important part of your website.
Your website should be simple and to the point. If you do not use FaceBook groups as a meeting place for each individual group then you should provide a community on your site. However, the nature of groups on FaceBook will add new prospects that may see their friends that are group members.
Email Marketing: Email marketing should be a major part of your marketing campaign. Be sure to use a commercial level email server such as mail chimp, constant contact or any other service that is CANSPAM compliant.
There are several sources of email lists that you can use and offering free vacations is always of interest to recipients. Also, don’t miss the opportunity to embed video or animated graphics in your email to boost their effectiveness. Always use permission based marketing and avoid spamming anyone.
Niche Associations and Organizations: Every niche has an association or organization that may sponsor trade shows, sell advertising in their correspondence, offer banner advertising on their website and may also offer email distribution to their membership. This is a great way to reach your specific market niche to find group leaders.
As an example, if you are taking plumeria collection tours to Thailand then the American Plumeria Society would be an excellent place to start. Surf Tours to Indonesia? Then try the Action Sports Shows, Action Expo or Extreme Sports.
Books and Magazines: It seems that every specific niche now has multiple magazines, both print and digital. These publications can be an excellent way to reach potential group leaders.
Also, consider writing a book like “Collection Plumeria in Thailand” or “Surfing Indonesia”. You can sell them on amazon.com or give them away in your social media, website or anywhere else. The book would naturally present you as the authority on the topic and also make the opportunity to become a group leader.
Connecting With the Group Leader Market
Premier Travel Media focuses on the Group Leader market. They offer numerous digital, prints and e-marketing opportunities to reach group travel organizers. This includes traditional advertising in their magazines, e-mail marketing, customized websites, print and digital products.
You can review PTM’s reach by reviewing the number of group leaders that read their publications and subscribe to their digital content.
Leisure Group Travel, which is available in print, as well as digital editions. It is distributed to over 80,000 group leaders and their newsletter has over 10,000 registered group leaders.
Sports Planning Guide, focuses on sporting event planners. It is distributed to over 85,000 readers and the Sports Planning Guide is subscribe by over 8,000.
Reunion Workbook, is for those planning reunions. With a distribution of over 30,000 and over 6,000 newsletter subscribers this publication has a razor sharp focus.
Student Travel Planning Guide, is for those planning student travel and is distributed to over 84,000 student travel planners and over 20,000 e-newsletter subscribers.
Religious Travel Planning Guide, enjoys of 97,000 subscribers with over 30,000 e-newsletter subscribers.
For more information and to research their advertising opportunities visit http://ptmgroups.com
Group Tour Media is another media company that produces magazines, e-content and other digital advertising opportunities. The magazines that they produce are Group Tour Magazine, Student Group Tour Magazine and also has separate sections for culinary, Gaming and heritage editions.
For more information contact https://grouptour.com
Group Leisure & Travel Magazine is based in the U.K., but if you are offering inbound tours to the U.S. this is a perfect venue to reach group travel leaders.
For more information visit http://www.groupleisureandtravel.com
Group Travel Leader produces four separate magazine all focused on group leaders. Group Travel Leader is distributed to over 20,000 in print and also has over 36,000 subscribers to its digital publication. Select Traveler focuses on bank, alumni and chamber travel planners and reaches over 5,000 top-tier decision makers for affluent groups. Going on Faith magazine is distributed to over 7,000 qualified travel planners for churches and religious organizations. Finally, Small Market Meetings is distributed to over 10,000 meeting planners monthly.
For more information visit http://grouptravelleader.com
Group Travel Trade Shows
Group Travel Talks Puts on “Travel Talks” trade shows throughout the entire year nationwide. In addition to “Travel Talks” they also operate a number of niche travel conferences such as the African American Travel Conference (AATC), the Agritourism World Summit and so on.