5 Smart Ways to Leverage Returnee Experiences to Accomplish Travel Program Marketing Goals

After months of preparation, endless Facebook check ins, and multiple Instagram posts—it’s finally time for your students to come home. Those heavy sighs of relief you’re hearing are really just from parents all around the world who are rejoicing (since they probably didn’t have to pull a Liam Neeson from Taken while their child was abroad).

Now that your students have returned, take advantage of their fresh global perspective and worldly enthusiasm! Use these five cool tips so that your students (and organization) can live well, prosper, and continue the adventure! Here’s how to effectively use returnee experiences to accomplish your marketing goals.

5 genius strategies

1. $tack up those reviews

GoAbroad.com Travel Program Reviews
Encourage past participants to share the good word of your programs through reviews on GoAbroad

Now that your student is settling back into the real world, this is the perfect time to get some priceless feedback. Reviews about the program are crazy important and are what essentially will bring in new potential customers to your program.

Send those reviews over to GoAbroad so we can publish them on our site. First, or find your program name / custom URL to send to students here: https://www.goabroad.com/reviews/write. Check out some tips below on how to get these reviews!

  • Email blast—send weekly emails to remind students (just be careful to not spam with too many reminders).
  • Give an incentive—tread this idea lightly and make sure that incentives are for all good and bad reviews. Maybe offer an exclusive link to an online Ebook?
  • Phone calls—If your staff has some extra downtime, have them make a call to some returnees so they can give a reminder!

Students trust advice from third parties a lot more since they tend to be more unbiased. This will improve your recruiting strategies moving forward, allowing you to fully use returnee experiences to accomplish your marketing goals!

2. Stars in the making—Source interviews 📽

Lights, camera, action! Collecting stories is the way to go in the international education industry. You can encourage either written or video interviews from your returnees. However, just a heads up! Visual content is dominating the field since visual elements are making stories easier to remember. Visual stories are easier for your audience to grasp and are more likely to be shared with others.

Programs need to have some fresh tales to succeed. By encouraging interviews, you’re giving the opportunity for your returnee to give an in-depth review of their experience, while also creating more authentic resources for new potential students/program participants. News Feeds today are filled with viral videos, meme images, popular Instagram photos, and soon to be your returnees’ interview videos!

Want to get your name even MORE exposure à la your alumni? Have them fill out a GoAbroad interview, too!

3. Photo contests FTW 📷

Photo contests are a tried and true method for connecting with returnee students, as almost everyone loves being featured. There’s a place reserved in our hearts for the special feeling we get when receive recognition or shoutouts. By holding a photo contest, not only will you be engaging with your users— but you’ll also get enough content to build your media library for future posts (#winning) . Below are some tips for running photo contests:

  • Encourage your returnees to submit their best program abroad pictures either through email or post submission
  • Use a featured hashtag to encourage users to post (it may end up going viral)
  • Base photo contests determined by votes (ex: likes on FB)
  • Make sure the reward correlates with your brand (ex: travel survival kit)
  • Read up on some more tips on how to run savage* photo contests
Host a digital photo contest to keep the spirit of study abroad, like ISA

*Psst! This is gen-y (your target market) speak for awesome.

4. Have them represent 😎

Global ambassadors, say what?? There’s nothing like an awesome job title to make someone feel some type of way. Traveling abroad is life-changing and will definitely change your returnees’ mindsets. They will be itching for a way to continue the adventure and will not want to get off of the “high” that comes with traveling abroad. This is the perfect time to have them represent your organization on their campus (or a different campus). Ask your best returnees to become global ambassadors so they can passionately share their travel experience with potential students on different campuses. Below are some tips for your ambassador program:

  • Send some swag so they can represent your brand! A T-shirt, bumper sticker, sunglasses, backpack, etc can go a pretty long with with your ambassador
  • Provide the right resources! Pamphlets, booklets, videos, etc will give your ambassador the right guidance to representing your organization right
  • Create a “team-member” page for them on your website! A URL can do wonders—give them something they can brag to their friends & families about (and even share on their own social media pages)
  • Offer incentives for every potential client they bring! People love to be rewarded (even if it’s just with praise or even a recommendation letter). Even $50 a pop would improve your turnout by concretely incentivizing your ambassadorial team.
API Global Leadership Academy
We <3 API Study Abroad’s returnee program called the “Global Leadership Academy”

5. Help them with their returnee process✨

Don’t forget that at the end of the day, coming home after a travel experience can be really hard for your returnee. Relay important information by sending out newsletters or creating videos/articles. Here are some tips you can share with them so that they can beat reverse culture-shock and come out on top. 🙌🏽

  • Encourage them to celebrate their big return. A student’s grand return is always filled with mix emotions—excitement, sadness, hesitation, and probably hunger! However, hugging loved ones after a time apart is always the best feeling ever. So the best way to acknowledge the big return is to celebrate! They can have a welcome back party with friends. Or maybe go their your favorite restaurant or bar? Catching up and feelin’ the love is always great when coming home.
  • Remind them to update their resumes & make them shine. Travel experience is a major resume booster! Give them tips on how to word or lay out their experience on resumes and Linkedin. Professional help is always a plus and you can be THAT provider that cares about your students even after they’ve returned. Share this great article that includes three tips to adding study abroad to your resume.
  • Encourage them to utilize campus resources. It can be hard coming home and returning to day-to-day life. Many universities offer free services for those who need help adjusting back into college life. Remind students that there are lots of people (and ears!) out there; students can go in and talk to counselors that will help them listen and help with the process.

Returnees are a gold mine for your marketing team

Using these tips will help you improve the return process and engage with your students more. It’s important to care before, during, and especially after a program ends in order to build the best brand name and loyalty! After all, returnee students are the best resources your organization can use to to build your program into an empire. 👑

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