Low Cost Ways To Market Yourself

It may sound counter-productive for someone who runs a marketing and design agency to be giving away trade secrets about low cost ways of promoting your business, but as an SME business ourselves we know how hungry the ‘marketing animal’ can be and also how sometimes the low cost, simple things can be very effective.

So here is a list of 14 ideas and tips for marketing your business. Even if you are doing some of these, hopefully there are some new ideas to try.

#1 Understand your target audience – this is one of the most important things you can do in terms of marketing and it costs nothing. You should have a clear idea of your target audience (or more likely audiences) and be able to describe them, understand their buying behaviour, preferences and prejudices. This then becomes the bedrock of your marketing – it defines what you should say, who you should say it and what offers of ‘hooks’ you should promote.

#2 Invest in the basics – logo, business card, web presence. Even before you have a website you can purchase your domain name and set up a professional email address. I cringe at the businesses who use businessname@hotmail.com it immediately screams ‘small time’ and that is not the way even the smallest of businesses should be viewed.

#3 Spend some time setting up free online listings – especially Google places, FreeIndex and any industry specific ones. Put in some searches yourself – often the directory sites feature high in the results – go and see if they offer a free or low cost listing service.  Continue reading.

Author: Shibam Sarbswa.  Article Source

ASTA Highlights 2014 Advocacy Successes

Just as travel agents are the best advocates for the traveling public, the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) is the ultimate advocate for the travel agent community. During the 1st half of 2014, ASTA had several successes in advocating on behalf of agencies across a number of federal and state policy debates.
“ASTA works tirelessly to protect the interests of its members and travel agents across the country before the U.S. Congress, the White House, federal agencies, all 50 state legislatures and even county and municipal governments,” said ASTA President and CEO Zane Kerby. “Thanks to the support of our members, we are able to leverage our unique strengths as an association – including grassroots advocacy, face-to-face lobbying before Members of Congress and regulators, and ASTAPAC – to ensure that the retail distribution channel remains strong and thriving for years to come.”

The highlights of ASTA’s advocacy work during the first half of 2014 include: 

Author: Jennifer Michels.  Article Source

ASTA 2014 Elections

Election Ballots have been emailed, be sure to have your voice heard and vote today! For details of the candidates go to http://www.asta.org/About/content.cfm?ItemNumber=9336&navItemNumber=9946.

Each year ASTA conducts national elections and chapter elections. Qualified voting members must be in good standing with ASTA and include Travel Agent members and the official representatives/selected voting managers of Premium Member companies.  In 2014, (11) At-Large National Directors to the Board of Directors will be elected.

How long is a term of office?

Each National Director is elected to a two-year term. This year, official duties will be assumed at the end of ASTA Global Convention held aboard the Norwegian Breakaway, September 13-21, 2014, and continues through ASTA’s fall show in 2016.

If you did not receive your ballot email elections@asta.org.

Google Analytics 101 – 6 Basic Things Marketers Need to Know

As a marketer do you know what’s driving leads/sales to your website? Are you truly getting more out of your website by optimizing it effectively for search engines? Or do you know how much traffic your site is getting? Today, many marketers struggle to measure and get meaningful data from their website. I find that many marketers I know say they know about Google analytics but don’t know how to use the tool.

If you don’t know much about Google analytics, it’s is a free site tracking tool that allows you to gather information on where customers are accessing your website from and how they interact with each page, in real time. Rather than guessing about what your website’s statistics are, you can sign up for a free account to monitor your progress and ratings. This allows marketers to monitor prospects and customers more closely, and build a plan around targeting them. Google analytics can identify the average time spent on your website, the percentage of visitors who are browsing for the first time, the traffic sources, time on your site and bounce rate to name a few.

A Google analytics account can be set up for anyone who has a website and would like an analysis of how their website is performing. I’ve outlined six ways to get started with Google Analytics and increase your website traffic.

1) Determine your traffic source– What traffic sources are driving visitors to your website? A traffic source determines where the traffic to your website is coming from. Traffic can come from search engines, other websites, paid ads, referrals or direct traffic (typing a URL). Utilize the Traffic Sources Overview section within Google analytics to evaluate and compare the effectiveness of your search, referral, direct and campaign traffic. This metric can help determine areas of your website that are most successful and which are not, and help you make decisions on where to focus your advertising and site-optimization efforts.

2)  Determine your content sources – Click here to read more.

Author: Laura DeSanctis.  Article Source

Airline Passenger Group calls on airlines to lose the asterisk

WASHINGTON – FlyersRights.org, the largest airline passenger advocacy organization, is calling on the House Members to debate H.R. 4156, the deceptively titled “Transparent Airfares Act of 2014″.

The bill is supported by the airline industry, that wants to put the asterisk back in airfares.

It would undo the Full Fare Advertising Rule ordered in 2012 by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). That rule requires airlines to advertise the full cost of a ticket, including taxes and fees levied by airport authorities and federal, state and local governments.

As it’s written, airlines would be allowed to report a base fare, then separately disclose the full cost of the ticket. For example, “Airfares From Only $1*.”

The president of the American Society of Travel Agents, Zane Kerby, said the bill “would allow airlines to deceive travelers about the actual cost of a flight.”

“The airlines challenged the rule in court and lost, then tried the United States Supreme Court, which refused to hear the case. Congress should stay its hand here,” Kerby said. “There is no evidence of consumer harm under the DOT rule, only benefits for the traveling public.”

Read full article.

Author: Vicky Karantzvelou.  Article Source

Webinar: Political Influence For Travel Agents

To many people, the term “PAC” conjures up images of smoke-filled rooms, suitcases full of cash and corrupt politicians. But the reality is more complicated. When it comes to influencing public policy, ASTA faces a choice – rely on the strength of our policy arguments, or supercharging that policy work by engaging in the political process.

Decisions are being made every day in Washington, D.C. and in state legislatures that will have an immediate and tangible impact on ASTA members’ bottom lines and the way they run their businesses. Join Eben Peck, ASTA’s Vice President for Government Affairs, to learn about why and how ASTA has chosen to engage in politics through ASTAPAC, and why we as an industry are better off for it.

Hear directly from ASTA headquarters and ask questions like:
• What is a PAC?
• Why does ASTA have one?
• What does having a PAC get us?
• Who can donate?
• What does ASTA do with the money?
• How can you motivate fellow members to support your chapter’s fundraising efforts?

Register for Our Webinar
Tuesday, July 29, 2014
2:00 PM – 3:00 PM EDT

YPS Of The Year Award – Nomination Deadline Fast Approaching







Nomination Deadline Soon Approaching!

Nominations are now being accepted for selection as the 2014 ASTA Young Professional of the Year.  This year’s award will be presented at the general session of the ASTA Global Convention aboard the Norweigan Breakaway.  This award will be presented to a young travel professional that has made great strides and contributions to the travel industry since entering the business.

Candidates for the Young Professional Award must meet the following eligibility requirements in order to be nominated:

  •     The individual must be 40 years of age or under.
  •     The individual must have been a participant of the ASTA Young Professional Society (YPS)              for a minimum of one year.
  •     The individual must have a current ASTA membership.

Click here to nominate an eligible YPS member!

Nominations will be accepted through July 11, 2014.  Self nominations will not be accepted, and supporting information may be requested from nominators.

Power your business at ASTA’s 2014 Global Convention.  YPS invites you to join us in September and benefit from a dynamic program featuring travel industry innovation and technology designed to move your business forward.

  •     Attend the YPS Summit
  •     Honor the Young Professional of the Year
  •     Party Aboard the Norweigan Breakaway!
  •     Connect with YPS Friends Old and New

Save 10 Hours of Work On Your Blog Each Month with These 6 Tips

Managing a blog (especially a company blog) can be extremely tedious and time consuming. One of the most time consuming efforts is often deciding about what to write. I’ve started and built several successful blogs and know first hand how difficult it is to write effectively. In today’s competitive environment companies and bloggers don’t have the luxury of publishing anything they want. Success, now, comes to those who create strategic, meaningful content pieces that target specific groups. Here are some creative ways to build a solid foundation and truly determine where to focus your writing efforts.

Set defined and specific goals

This is the most important step when deciding what to write. Your goals should dictate and direct every action you take in your content production efforts. In my article “The Definitive Guide to Building Your Company’s Blog” I discuss key strategies to defining content goals. There are dozens upon dozens of different metrics you can use to track and measure your success. I strongly recommend outlining monthly benchmarks and goals before actually producing any content.
Dive into analytics

Google analytics is a great place to find more than just inspiration for content. Traffic patterns, keywords, and landing pages can all aid in crafting the right content strategy for any site. I often visit Google analytics > Behavior > Site content > Landing pages to discover which blog articles, within the top 25 or 50 landing pages, are performing best. I collect each blog landing page title, traffic amount, and bounce rate to determine which pages performed the best during a 30 and 60 day period. I then look at content patterns to see why certain articles performed better than others. I ask myself some of the following questions:

Author: Bryan Lovgren.  Article Source

Webinar: DOT’s Consumer Protection Proposal

On July 10, ASTA will host a webinar on a comprehensive package of new consumer protections for air travelers, as proposed by the U.S. Department of Transportation last month. In this 118-page document, three-plus years in the making, DOT proposes to require airlines to provide agents with real-time usable information about core ancillary services and related fees. And, while not specifically proposed at this stage, DOT has left the door open to possibly allowing travel agents to actually sell these ancillary services and a ticket in a single interaction.

Beyond ancillary fees, DOT requested comments on a vast array of issues involving the operations of travel agencies, including some proposals that appear to unnecessarily intrude into agency operations without likely material benefit to consumers.  Comments on the proposal are due August 21.

Please join Paul Ruden, ASTA’s Senior Vice President, Legal and Industry Affairs, for an interactive webinar on July 10 to walk through the many issues raised by DOT and to help us craft our response to this historic proposal.

Title:  DOT’s Consumer Protection Proposal – What It Means for Your Business

Date:  Thursday, July 10, 2014

Time:  2:00 PM – 3:00 PM EDT

After registering you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the Webinar.

This is an ASTA Member Only Webinar
Non-Members can register for $199 by clicking here.

Meet Evan McEligott: From Airport to Agency

After studying travel at college in his native Ireland, Evan McElligott spent years learning the minutiae of the travel business at Dublin Airport.

He moved around the facility, working in positions across check-in desks, reservation desks and other operational positions.

“It was constant moving and ghosting,” he said of his time in operations and customer service at the airport.

After years of interacting with travelers and helping to solve their travel woes, his interest in the travel agency business was piqued. A podcast detailing the world of the home-based travel agent also spurred his interest.

McElligott decided to open an agency in the U.S. with the goal of sending travelers on bespoke group tours to Ireland. In 2006 he launched Longer Vacations in Portland, Maine.

Life-changing vacations
“I want my clients to experience something different every day,” said McElligott, who partnered with the Irish American Association of Maine to find potential clients.

He also puts together trips to his other favorite international destinations: New Zealand, Australia and Southeast Asia.

McElligott’s group tours include golf trips, walking tours, photography tours and other small group programs. He relishes bringing Americans to small Irish communities and having the two groups interact in authentic ways.

“There’s a huge jump between a great vacation and a life-changing vacation,” said McElligott. “For me, it is all about experiencing the local culture.”  Read full article.

Author: Andrew Sheivachman.  Article Source

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