Suggested Learning

Going places with your travel service

Saam Ali relays some top tips on how you can get your travel service found online more easily.

As the government slowly but surely claws back money from Category M and tinkers with dispensing fees, pharmacy owners are now thinking about providing more services, both NHS and private, to compensate for this. One of those services that has become more popular over the past couple of years is a travel health service. However, pharmacy owners worry whether or not providing such a service will be profitable.

I won’t get into details about whether or not you should provide such a service, because that’s a separate topic. I’m working on the assumption that you have decided to provide a travel health service and it’s set up and ready to treat people. To ensure you maximise profitability, you need to maximise your marketing efforts. This will be one of the biggest factors for its success.

So, how do you maximise marketing? Well, there are three types of marketing that you have to consider, which are:

  • direct marketing
  • in-store marketing
  • inbound marketing.

Direct marketing is where you contact businesses and organisations that are affiliated with the audience you’re trying to reach to let them know you’re now offering the service. These could be the GP surgeries in the vicinity, travel agencies and even other pharmacies that don’t provide such a service. Think about how to approach these people and, for the travel agencies in particular, what kind of offer you can provide them to incentivise referrals.

In-store marketing is something you’ll be well aware of since this has been the traditional way we’ve marketed for years. Flyers, posters, leaflets and, of course, talking to customers in the store will all help
you get the word out.

The type of marketing that often gets overlooked is inbound marketing, since this mainly involves digital marketing. Why is this type of marketing important? Well, it helps your service “get found” by people already learning and shopping around for it online. Those who fail to conduct this type of marketing will be failing to maximise the potential footfall for their service and thus its profits. Therefore, as a digital marketer myself, let me give you some tips on what you can do to help your travel service get found online more easily.

Update your website effectively!

Having something on your website that says “Now providing a travel health service” in small letters under your services tab simply isn’t enough these days. Get your developer to plaster it all over your website and make it appear big and bold! You can even link this to an online booking calendar, which will no doubt secure more business since people prefer doing this rather than call these days. The more information you have on your site about your travel service, the better.

Write a blog post

This leads me onto blogging and its importance. If you want to ensure people find your service when they’re looking for it on Google, a highly optimised blog post written for targeted keywords will really help. Take a look at Dr Pharmacy’s Travel Health blog article [http://blog.drpharmacy. org.uk/travel-vaccination-clinic-luton/] that I wrote not too long ago, and which is now ranking on page one of Google for the search term “travel vaccination clinic Luton”. You can go one step further and get local bloggers or journalists to include your service in their articles. Maybe you could give them 10% off medicines for life if they do this for you?

Harness social media

I could go on for days about how you can
use social media to attract more business but I haven’t the space here, so I’ll just give you a few pointers:

  • Your Facebook Page is an excellent tool that can help you. Update your header, create a service tab, add a link into your bio, connect with the business pages around you and creating posts in local relevant groups are just some of this things you can do to get the word out. In fact, you can even create a group linked to your page specifically related to travel health in your city. The options are diverse and we haven’t even talked about paid marketing.
  • Instagram is another tool you can use. For example, for a whole month, you could focus on campaigning around your travel clinic to build brand awareness in the locality. Produce engaging images, tagging and hashtagging travel agencies in the area. You can even message directly.
  • Get customers to find you (instead of the other way around)
    We live in a digital era where we’re online for 12 hours of the day, or more. We’re addicted to social media and we always look for services to use via Google before we leave the house. Marketing digitally is simply capitalising on the behaviour of our patients and customers today.

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