Maintaining a social media presence is crucial to any business, but even moreso to the travel industry. Travel agencies have taken a hit in recent years with more customers turning to the Web to plan their own vacations.

For this reason, travel agencies have responded by becoming more specialized and serving as advisers rather than ticket agents. Social media is one of the best avenues for reaching customers and engaging them in the sales process.

Acting As Trusted Adviser

While it is true that people can find the information they need on their own on the Internet, there are some services that travel agencies provide that is unparalleled. Travel agents are experts in their field, and have often visited the destinations they sell. They are required to travel often, attending seminars at Walt Disney World or an inspection of a cruise ship.

Travel agents have the same information that is available online, but are able to translate it in a way that saves customers time and money. This is where social media comes in. The interactive nature of social media means that customers can ask direct questions of agents, something they won’t get on a website.

Facebook is the perfect example of this. A customer was searching for a cruise to Alaska in January. After searching online for days with no luck, she finally contacted a travel agent on Facebook. In just a few minutes, the agent informed her that cruises don’t sail to Alaska in winter. Promoting your agency as a trusted adviser on social media sites will boost sales and gain you new customers.

Lead Generation

There are tons of ways to generate new leads for your business online on social media sites. Travelers are everywhere, from families planning a family reunion to school groups, retirees, and bachelor parties. Simply putting the word out there to your networks and letting them come to you is a great way to generate new leads.

Some travel agencies take out ads on social media sites. The jury is out on the effectiveness of this method. People are typically sensitive to marketing and advertising techniques and have conditioned themselves to tune out ads. A soft sell is usually the best way to gain new business and generate new leads.

Customer Relationship Management

Customers want to know that they can reach out to you if they need to ask questions, get information or make changes. While they can call the airline to change a ticket or contact the cruise line, they enjoy the ability to reach a live person instantly who can handle their issue. Using social media sites to manage your relationships with your customers is an effective way to retain old business while generating new clients.

Let Your Customers Be Your Sales Force

People will generally let you sell to them if you are providing them with a service or information they need. If you create a post on a social media site that provides a list of the best attractions in Malaysia, they will likely read your information and share it with friends. These friends will then share it with others, and you have just created new interest in your services.

Sites like Pinterest that allow people to save and share interesting pictures from the Web are a lifesaver to travel agencies. Post a picture of a Disney cruise or a beach in St. Lucia and watch your customers share these pictures with everyone they know.

Social media can be a huge benefit to your travel agency. By using it effectively, you can enjoy new business and watch your agency grow.

This post was contributed by Joshua Turner. Joshua is a writer who creates informative articles in relation to business.