Holiday Brokers is preparing for the demise of email marketing by setting up a blog and using social networking sites to communicate with its travel agent partners.
The bed bank, part of On Holiday Group, expects sites such as Facebook and Twitter to become a more accepted part of business life.
Its new social media platforms will be run via plug-ins from a new Holiday Brokers blog, built in WordPress, that will look to better present the “personality” of the supplier to agents.
Articles written by members of the Holiday Brokers team will feature on the blog, as well as special offers and competitions.
Among the first articles to be uploaded are one about nudist beaches and another explaining why Holiday Brokers is “going social”, written by sales director Brian Young.
Young said sending mass-marketing emails to travel agents was now “out of date”.
“We think open rates are dying because it’s not a medium that travel agents are in to,” he said.
“For us social media works better because instead of sending one email to one call centre of one shop it allows us to communicate with everyone in that organisation.”
Peter Davies, national sales manager, said: “This will serve as a bit of a green light to companies not currently embracing social media.”
Holiday Brokers plans to launch a marketing campaign to encourage agents to sign up to its Facebook and Twitter pages and spread the word among their online “friends”.
It believes even if agents are blocked from using such sites at work many will be able to interact on their phones and that soon agency bosses will see the advantage of social networking.
Agency managers and “stakeholders” will also be encouraged to support the move.
“Companies commercially are starting to embrace Facebook. We wanted to get the team involved to build that rapport with travel agents,” Young added.
“Our job is to sell this into the travel agents and say to the key stakeholders what the benefits it can bring to them.
“It’s not all about competitions and quizzes; there is going to be quality content on there that’s going to help in the sales process.”
Young said the innovation would also help in the future during crises like this year’s ash cloud airspace closure, allowing communication in “real time” to all agents.
As well as blog posts the new blog page features news feeds from trade sites including travelweekly.co.uk and RSS feeds, as well as social media ‘like’ buttons and streaming feeds.