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Harr Travel has been around for nearly 40 years, but it was not until recently that YouTube has propelled the agency to new heights. Under the leadership of CEO Danny Genung, what started as a proof of concept — a cruise ship tour video showcasing the new Norwegian Joy — last April has soared into a channel that has seen around 50 million minutes of view time since December.
Ship cabin tours and full ship tours have been popular, but question and answer sessions conducted during the COVID-19 pandemic have made all the difference with the agency’s YouTube audience.
“We started doing livestreams, and that vastly increased our business because what we figured out is people just don’t understand what’s happening,” Genung said. “Explaining what we (as travel advisors) do, and what our daily issues and frustrations are, really resonated with people, and they’ve come in record numbers because people don’t want to book direct anymore. They don’t want to book through an OTA.”
Genung launched livestreams this April, explaining everything from how to use future cruise credits to how clients can get their money back. A recent video addresses inquiries about Cruise Lines International Association, answering what the organization is and how it can cancel sailings.
Many other videos serve as helpful case studies that illustrate the purpose of travel advisors.
“For the first time, people really want to know what we do,” he said. “This is what I did today, and this is how it impacted my customers. And this is what we did on their behalf, so they didn’t have to.”
And the results are telling. Back in December, Harr Travel’s business consisted of about 95% from its existing database and 5% from YouTube. By May, the complete opposite was true with the bulk of new customers coming from the social media channel. It all has converted into the most sales the agency has ever seen.
“April was our best month in business in the history of the company, and we almost doubled it in May,” he said.
April was our best month in business in the history of the company, and we almost doubled it in May.
Also greatly contributing to the agency’s successful YouTube videos is the upbeat personality of the friendly on-screen host. Genung was a middle school teacher for 10 years and has also worked as a tour guide in destinations such as Amsterdam and Austria. So, his vast knowledge is effortlessly conveyed to anyone who tunes in. Most viewers have already cruised before, but might be interested in trying a new cruise line or ship, and they are booking despite the pandemic.
“The very positive thing for us is all of these new customers — they’re booking knowing what’s happening in the world today,” he said. “They really want to cruise. They come to us very educated because they have spent already four to five hours with us on our YouTube channel on average. And what they really want is that last step.”
Harr Travel’s videos have led to opportunities for Genung to collaborate with other agencies by sharing them for training purposes.
The DetailsHarr Travelwww.harrtravel.com