A Travel Agent’s Guide to Asking for Referrals

May 21, 2024 | Grow a travel business, Marketing, Sales

Unlock the secrets of successful referral marketing in the travel industry with our comprehensive guide. We’re sharing practical tips, insightful anecdote, and actionable steps to harness the power of referrals.

Originally posted February 2021; updated May 2024


In today's dynamic travel industry, mastering the art of generating referrals is essential for sustainable success. The good news is that every client interaction is a unique opportunity to create a powerful marketing ally for your travel business. And, transforming satisfied travelers into enthusiastic brand ambassadors that are eager to send referrals is a great way to unlock a powerful marketing strategy.


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Value of a Referral

But before we dive into the how of generating referrals, let’s first get on the same page by understanding the value of a referral. Unlike typical leads, referrals come with a built-in layer of trust, making them highly valuable and more likely to convert. Imagine a friend recommending a travel agent; the endorsement carries weight and builds immediate confidence.

Research underscores this advantage, showing that referral leads tend to close three times faster than cold leads. By harnessing this power, travel businesses can not only increase their client base but also cultivate a loyal and satisfied customer community.

So without further ado, let’s get your referral machine working!


Setting the Referral Stage: Excellence in Service

Before you dive into creating your referral machine, it’s important to first make sure your service is truly exceptional – because consistent and outstanding service is the cornerstone of any successful referral program.

Here are three questions to help gauge where you’re at when it comes to providing an exceptional client experience:

  • Are you providing client care- specialty resources, gifts or videos- that wow’d your client?
  • Are you following up with genuine care after each vacation, ensuring every detail was perfect?
  • Are you addressing any concerns with a friendly and knowledgeable touch?
  • Are your clients so delighted with their experiences that they can't wait to share their stories with friends and family?

If you aren’t sure or have work to do in these areas, it’s important to first work on elevating your service. This can look like enhancing your communication, personalizing your offerings, and adding those special touches to surprise and delight your clients.

Above all else, remember that referrals thrive on trust and happiness—by perfecting your service, you create a welcoming community where joy and satisfaction lead to endless possibilities.


Crafting Your Referral Program

Now, let's get practical.

Implementing a robust referral program is not just beneficial; it's crucial for the growth of your travel business. If you aren’t sure where to start with creating a referral program, here are a few ideas:

  • Offer enticing incentives such as a $50 gift card or agency credit.
  • Create an exclusive Travel Rewards Club where referred clients gain access to early deals and priority booking.
  • Host a monthly Travel Voucher Raffle where both the referrer and the referred have the chance to win exciting travel vouchers or a gift.
  • Establish a formal Travel Ambassador Program where you turn your most loyal clients into official brand advocates with VIP treatment and exclusive perks.
  • Tie referrals to charitable donations to demonstrate your commitment to social responsibility while incentivizing referrals.

Regardless of the program that you choose, the goal is to foster continued loyalty and engagement with your community, so choose the option that makes the most sense for your brand and long-term goals.


How to Market Your Referral Program

Once you have your referral program created, don’t stop there! The equally important next step ensures that your clients know about the program and the benefits it offers.

Through effective marketing, you expand your business's reach, build trust with your clients, and drive growth. Referrals are like seeds; when nurtured through marketing efforts, they blossom into valuable connections.

Here are four ways to add your referral program into your marketing plan.

The Power of Follow-Up

Don't stop at the vacation's end. Follow-up calls or emails are golden opportunities to reinforce your referral program. Express gratitude for their support, and subtly remind them of the perks of referring friends and family.

Strategic Email Campaigns

In the cluttered world of inboxes, stand out with strategic email campaigns. Incorporate your referral program as a call to action. Remember, consistency is key. Remind, entice, and appreciate—your emails should do it all.

Surprise and Delight: Thank You Gifts

A little appreciation goes a long way. Surprise your loyal clients with thank you gifts—a token of gratitude for their ongoing support. It's a simple gesture that strengthens your relationship and encourages further referrals.



As we sign off for now, we hope you walk away with this: referrals are not just about asking, but rather, about nurturing relationships. They thrive on trust, satisfaction and reciprocity.

To all fellow travel enthusiasts, thank you for embarking on this journey with us. May your travel business flourish, and may the spirit of adventure guide you always. Until next time, safe travels and abundant blessings.


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How to Ask for Referrals as a Travel Agent | Wanderlust CEO | Cyndi Williams

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