6 Things to Focus on When building your Tourism Network

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It’s one of my goals for 2018: share more lessons from my experience here with Fire Starter Brands.

The lesson starts with a simple task… identify the 700 highest volume tour operators in North America for our quarterly direct mailing and ends with, “I wish we had done this sooner.” It also ends with a super helpful checklist. 

You may nod in agreement when I say that, if you’re like me, your job is significantly easier when all of the information you need is readily available, easy to access and most importantly, accurate. 

But I hit roadblocks when I just didn’t have all of the information I needed to best serve my clients. There were countless spreadsheets, membership directories, business cards, old contacts, dirty data and insufficient tools getting in the way.

So, in 2016 we put a stop to all the chaos. The secret: develop the systems to qualify and quantify lots and lots of information. Sounds complicated? It was. We did it all in-house with some pretty sophisticated support tools, a couple thousand hours of labor and some pretty hefty investments in our own infrastructure. 

Was it worth it? Absolutely! Today, as evidenced by our 24.95% operator email open rate, we have an incredible network of high volume travel buyers who want to hear from us and our travel industry partners. We have improved workflow, waste far less time sifting through records and have been able to deliver hyper targeted campaigns that get noticed.

Related: Explore Fire Starter Brands Network

Lucky for you, I’m sharing part of our DIY process. I’ve put together a list of six key areas we focus on when qualifying travel buyer accounts and you should too. This of it as a “my network” tune up.

Click on the image to see the checklist you can use to make sure your network is helping you sell better.

I’m curious about your thoughts! Let me know what improvements you’ve seen.


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Stephen Ekstrom is a well-recognized tourism marketing authority whose influence reaches over 500,000,000 travelers every year. He's been profiled by the New York Times and appeared on CBS, NBC and NY1. He is a trusted fixture in the travel trade and has served as a board member, expert panelist, committee chair, mentor and program facilitator. Fire Starter Brands, founded by Ekstrom in 2010, manages a network of nearly 5,500 opted-in global travel trade buyers, advising and assisting smart travel industry suppliers and destination marketers. Stephen currently lives in South Florida with his two dogs, Match & Rudy.