Any tool or resource designed to grow a travel agent’s business and drive bookings will make anyone sit up and take notice, especially now. Ones that are free to use are even more likely to take off. BranchUp, an easy-to-use Facebook marketing tool, is making a big push in the Canadian market ahead of the anticipated return of global travel, and is being backed by a well-known and experienced name in the travel industry: Michael Drever, founder and former CEO of Expedia CruiseShipCenters. In this week’s Take Five, we sit down with Drever to discuss the power of travel marketing and how agents can utilize Facebook’s immense reach – for free.
- Can you tell us a little about BranchUp – how does it work and who does it cater to?
How much time do I have? Officially BranchUp started in Vancouver in 2015. Over the last few years, we have worked diligently to get to the stage where we can launch on a much larger scale. We create a mix of editorial content and special offers that are posted daily to travel advisors’
Facebook Business pages. These posts help advisors save valuable time and avoid spending countless hours sourcing relevant content to share on their page with clients and followers.
Advisors can edit the posts to include their wording or recommendations to ensure they are relevant to their specific business. When a friend or follower clicks on a post, it leads to a dynamic, co-branded landing page featuring the supplier offer and travel advisor’s contact information. The friend or follower then engages directly with the travel advisor to learn more. The program is free and offers an easy, simple solution for advisors looking at new and high-powered opportunities to engage with their network. We are currently working with a combination of thousands of Canadian and U.S. advisors.
- What can you tell us about your suppliers?
We currently work with multiple suppliers in Canada and the U.S., including Royal Caribbean, Collette Tours, American Queen Steamboat Company, even ACTA. In today’s global market, everyone is selling everywhere; there are no borders for digital marketing. The great news is that all of the partners we currently work with recognize the inherent value which professional travel advisors bring to their overall distribution strategy. So much so that they are investing in our program to help drive sales to advisors ensuring they are kept as part of the sales process from start to finish, at no cost.
- How specifically can BranchUp help agents during this particularly challenging time to grow their business?
Emerging successfully from the pandemic will take innovation, experience, hard work, and a strong network of loyal clients and friends. The BranchUp Social Media platform is just one step toward the future of travel marketing. Travel advisors will have their very own free social media marketing platform with their favourite suppliers, driving leads to their inbox for free. It’s also hassle-free, without taking any time away from what they do best, selling travel.
- Why is Facebook such an important tool, particularly for travel agents? And what advice do you have for those who aren’t particularly tech-savvy?
Facebook has become an integral part of daily life for people around the world. It is estimated that 89% of Canadians engage with Facebook daily. Not embracing Facebook or any other social media technology platform, for that matter, as a component of one’s marketing strategy would be a mistake. It would be the equivalent of ignoring the fax machine or email when they first became relevant.
Everything is done for the advisor if that’s what they want. No skills required! The BranchUp platform provides advisors with the ability to engage with it, customize or leave it to run. BranchUp is the only turnkey marketing tool of its kind. It has been developed specifically for travel advisors in French, English and Spanish – on a complimentary basis.
- What’s your strategy for the Canadian market? And how do you plan on reaching and engaging with more Canadian agents?
We have embarked on a strategic marketing and advertising initiative in Canada with the leading media trade outlets. There will be a series of educational webinars coming where advisors can engage with us, ask questions and learn more about the program. We have undertaken a large-scale roll-out and focused on editorial engagement, with more news coming in the weeks ahead. Travel agents will likely see a series of digital display ads on various trade media sites as part of their daily routine, encouraging them to sign up with us for free. We have a strategic alliance with ACTA, which has included BranchUp as a must-have tool in the travel kit. Participating suppliers’ BDMs send out invitations to advisors notifying them about the program and encouraging them to sign up and join our very effective BranchUp platform.
I have spent my career developing innovative ways to assist advisors in driving sales and their brand. BranchUp is by far the best tool so far.
For more information go to https://branchup.com/.