It’s not very often that small travel agencies have any kind of advantage over their much larger and better funded counterparts, but when it comes to Social Media they have a distinct advantage. Small agencies whether they have one employee or many tend to be better prepared to handle personal requests and offer one on one service. Large agencies, especially OTAs, are generally more focused on volume and, although many have excellent customer service, their smaller margins and focus on the bottom line mean that personal interaction in social media needs to have a clear and measurable ROI. Small agencies can use Social Media in the same way that many small businesses use networking events. I was reminded of this recently at a local chamber of commerce networking event when I made the correlation between the event to a social network. During the networking event, it is the individuals who make contact NOT the businesses. Although the individuals represent their businesses, it is the personal relationships that eventually lead to business relationships. In the case of Social Networks, it is the individual agents that can build the relationship with other users by becoming experts or goto resources for their particular niche markets.
If you are a small agency, consider developing a strategy for engaging with Social Media by first ensuring you have identified your niche, your ideal target customer profile, and the best social network. Not all social networks will apply, it is best to find ones that will be the best fit for you and your business. I recommend taking a look at the Social Networking God : 350+ Social Networking Sites, you’re bound to find something that matches and remember that you don’t need to join a travel social network site. Look for a site that matches an interest that ties into travel for example wine, culinary, art, or culture.