QR codes for travel agents
You’ve probably seen a QR code, even if you have no idea what it is. QR codes are those funny looking square symbols that look like miniature examples of black and white “op art.” You’ve probably seen them in newspaper or magazine ads or on signs in malls. They are sort of like bar codes except that QR codes are designed to be read by cell phones and not check out scanners.
QR stands for “quick response” and as smart phones catch on in the United States (they’ve been around forever in Japan!) QR codes for travel agents are becoming more and more common.
So how do they work and why should you, a travel agent, be interested?
Okay, let’s answer the first part of that question first. If you have a “smart” phone, a cell phone like an iPhone or one of the many flavors of Android phone now flooding the market, you can download a free ”app” that will let your phone scan QR codes. I use QR Reader on my iPhone but there is also a version for the Android system.
Once the app is installed (it takes less than a minute), you can point the camera of your phone at a QR code and scan it. The reader app then decodes the information in the QR code and then does any of a number of things.
That’s the beauty of QR codes. Depending on how they are coded, they can do a number of different things. Most often, a QR code is used to send the person who has scanned it to a web page that they can view immediately on their smart phone. But a QR code can also be programmed to dial a number on the cell phone and put the user directly in touch with a merchant. Or it can load address and phone number information into the cell phone’s address book. Or do any of a number of cool things.
So why does this matter to travel agents?
QR codes are an extremely effective and low cost way to get your marketing message in front of potential clients. They are also undeniably “cool” and will quickly make you stand out in the crowd. Using QR codes is a great way to win share of mind with the technologically sophisticated client
Here are a just few ways that travel agents can use QR codes:
** Say you’re participating at a bridal show. Place a sign on your table with a QR code prominently displayed and harried brides-to-be can scan it a have your marketing message saved for future reference. I picked bridal shows for this example, because the target market here is almost by definition made up of “early adopters” who have smart phones loaded with all sorts of nifty apps. But you could do this in all sorts of settings.
** Place a QR code on the back of your business card that will take people directly to your web site. Or that will load your “vCard” (a sort of electronic business card) into their smart phone.
** If you have a storefront location (and a surprising number of people using the strategies taught in the Home-Based Travel Agent Success Course do), you can place a large QR code in your window that will take people to a web page promoting your latest cruise or other special offer. In fact, you could have several QR codes posted there, each pointing to a different promotion.
** If you advertise (something I don’t generally recommend because of the traditionally low return on investment), then by all means include a QR code in the ad. This way, people who would never think of clipping your ad or writing down your phone number from a newspaper ad can scan it with their QR reader and capture your info.
** Once you understand the power of QR codes and learn how to create them (it’s absurdly easy to do and requires absolutely zero techie skills), you can make extra money by providing QR codes to others. Anyone you meet in a lead swapping club, to cite just one example, should instantly recognize the value of QR codes. Realtors are especially good prospects, since a QR code on a For Sale sign that takes people to a virtual house tour on the Web is powerful marketing.
In fact, I will confess that I was seriously considering offering customized QR codes as a service to travel agents at HomeTravelAgency.com, charging a small fee for each code generated and delivered.
Instead I decided to simply let you know how to do it yourself. It’s cheap, it’s easy and, even if you use it only for your own marketing, the ROI calculation is a no-brainer.
So let me introduce you to “QR Champ.” It’s a membership web site that gives you access to the “QR Code Creator Tool” that lets you create unlimited QR codes, in a bunch of different “flavors.”
You’ll also get a PDF report that will tell you exactly how you can set up a sideline business to profit from QR codes, if that’s something you’d be interested in doing. Even if you’re not interested in doing that, the discussion will give you some inspiration for how to use QR codes in your own travel marketing business.
Here’s the link: http://bit.ly/pdyaKt
Just a word of warning, the web site is geared to people who want to make money selling QR codes and services to others and the PDF is a bit on the hype-y side, but the information is solid. I’m having great fun playing around with QR codes and I think you will, too.