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FORTUNE Small Business:

High-flying online marketing tips

Trying to compete with mega online travel sites? Instead, try working with them.

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(FORTUNE Small Business) -- Dear FSB: I just started a home-base travel agency and I was wondering: how can I get people to my site?

- Rosanne Jordan-Mayers, Bronx, N.Y.

Dear Rosanne: Jeff Glueck, chief marketing officer of Travelocity.com, admits that it's a tough game for smaller players in the travel industry. "The big online agencies spend over a billion dollars globally each year on marketing, and even more on developing booking technology, 24/7 customer service, and securing special deals."

With that said, you can still take advantage of the resources that the big guys have built. Glueck gives the example of Worldchoicetravel.com, a Travelocity-affiliated company that allows you to build your own private-label booking engine while still tapping into Travelocity technology and deals.

"Then when people want to book a flight without talking to you, or need a vacation package at midnight when you're not open, your site visitors can still access services," Glueck says.

You can also take the lead of many other small travel sites that have developed a niche specialty. "If you build your site with lots of unique content and information about a specialty topic, say birdwatching expeditions in Indonesia, it'll be easier to gain traffic through search portals," says Glueck.

Creative Director Nate Kresse of Stamm Business Technologies, an IT and new-media consulting firm in Milwaukee, says the quickest way to generate traffic to your site is via pay-per-click advertising. Use services such as Google (GOOG, Fortune 500) AdWords or Yahoo (YHOO, Fortune 500) Sponsored Search, which place your ads on their search engine result pages and charge you only when a user actually clicks on your ad and visits your site.  To top of page

Do you use the web to book your trips? Would you prefer to use a small travel agency than the larger players in the travel industry? Talk back here.

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