19 Jan How to Transform your Travel Content Marketing
The phrase ‘content is king’ has been thrown around with reckless abandon by marketers in recent years. However, when it comes to travel content marketing, it has never rung truer.
Digital content has been jostling with traditional advertising for position within the buying process.
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As we speak, it has already laid claim to that coveted top spot, with the majority of travellers making use of different websites to inform their decision during the travel purchase journey – digging up information about a destination, reading reviews or making that travel booking online.
Crunching the Numbers
The online travel industry is being forecasted to grow to a whopping 762 billion U.S. dollars by 2019, according to Statista.
The Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) published a report in August 2016 which found that 76% of Internet users in the UK had made holiday bookings online in the past 12 months.
Across the pond in the U.S., eMarketer puts the figure of travel bookers who use online platforms to make bookings at 52%, with 70% of Americans reading online reviews before they spend money. And online reviews site TripAdvisor conducted a survey that established guests pondering on making a hotel reservation read up to 12 reviews before making the booking.
Internet marketer Blue Magnet Interactive says the average traveller browses more than 20 different travel websites prior to making a booking, with 62% of leisure travellers using the web to research their trip.
Guests pondering on making a hotel reservation read up to 12 reviews before making the booking.
To put things into perspective, this essentially means digital platforms have become a key part of the travel buying process. A vital cog. Not just in terms of people jumping online to look for ideas and reading content, but more about seeking information to help them make more informed decisions in relation to their next trip.
With the figures projected to grow, content marketing in the travel industry has never been so important. And by content, we don’t mean display banners on a crowded media page. Rather, information-based content that helps travellers plan for the perfect trip at a cost-effective price.
If you are in the travel industry, content marketing is not an option but a must if you want to succeed. And how you approach it is what matters.
Here are 7 tips to help you leverage your travel content.
#1 Mix it Up
During the last decade or so, content has evolved a great deal and is no longer just about web copy. In addition to web content, blog posts, newsletters and emails, other forms of content have grown in stature today – reviews, travel videos, photography, social media; podcasting even.
To get the most out of your travel content, consider spreading it out across these different mediums. But do not misinterpret this to mean you should be present in every single one of them, no. Learn what works best in your case based on your offering, and focus your marketing efforts there.
Take advantage of those platforms where your audience congregates the most – Instagram, YouTube, review websites…the onus is on you to find which and leverage it.
#2 Avoid Overly Promotional Content
Often the case, someone who has made the decision to go online to look at the various travel options is in either one of five travel stages, according to Google:
In four of these stages, the person has already made up the decision to travel and is shopping for information such as where s/he will go, when they will go, how they will get there and who will get their money.
Armed with such information, you need to be smart in your content marketing and offer your readers value. This means you should avoid promotional content at every turn – ‘Great New Holiday Offers!’ or ‘Book Now and Save $100!!’ and so on – which only serve to disengage the consumer, and thus decreased sales.
#3 Embrace User-Generated Content
Still sticking to the above five stages, if you look at the last two, they are about travellers already on their holiday. With the multiple platforms available to share one’s travel experiences today, it is paramount to make them readily available for your audience to use, either to consume others’ experiences or share their own.
Because it’s what people want.
According to Blue Magnet, 49% of leisure travellers love reading about the online experiences of others, not to mention their opinions, reviews etc.
For this reason, make it easy for your audience to share their experiences. Hashtags, online polls, anything. Offer them incentives if you can. Tap the powers of travellers and social media influencers.
Ultimately, this can become a powerful source of user-generated content for you.
#4 Don’t be Selective in your Feedback
The beauty of content marketing is that you are exposed to instant feedback from your consumers, whether negative or positive. And as you too well know, negative comments are inevitable, especially when on social media where you don’t have the luxury of moderating what users say as you do on your blog section.
It is tempting to give a cold shoulder to negative comments, and as much as this may sound like the magic wand to fend off criticism, in reality, you are better off facing it head on. Not by berating them, but by responding to it as reasonably as you can.
Not that we needed the input of a survey to reinforce the importance of this, but now that it’s here, why not…
Hotelmarketing.com carried out a survey that showed 87% of users viewed hotels that addressed bad reviews appropriately in a more positive light. Not only that, 62% of users said they are more likely to make a booking if they see a response by the hotel management.
Keeping it cordial and owning up to mistakes is the trick, as 70% said they are less likely to book in a hotel if the response to a bad review was aggressive/defensive.
#5 It doesn’t have to be Costly
Effective travel content marketing doesn’t need to be an expensive affair. Not only do you have multiple affordable options to produce content, such as a content creation agencies, but the nature of the travel industry means you will rarely be short of good material to share with your audience.
There is an endless stream of great topics to create evergreen content from – how to’s, list posts, best of posts, upcoming holidays, hotel spotlights, expert interviews, company news, life lessons, photo slideshows you name it.
The upside is that travel is a topic that piques the interest of many, so you will likely find a lot of your content being a hit.
The key to getting it right is figuring out where your talents lie and the type of content your audience is into. If you love writing, blogging can be an appealing proposition. If you are into photography, snapping away at various attractions and sharing with your fans on Instagram or through a photo blog can keep them engaged and wanting more.
Poll your current customers. Read studies. Look at what the competition is doing and establish what works and what doesn’t.
#6 Learn from the Market Leaders
Similarly, you might not have the budget of some of the big brands out there, but they can be a valuable learning avenue for you.
Look at what they are doing and see what works for them – and what doesn’t. Then apply the lessons learnt on your marketing efforts.
#7 Quality Trumps over Quantity all Day
Lastly, there is that small matter of quality. Successful content marketing is made up of quality content, no two ways about it. It is better to produce five comprehensive and high-quality travel guides than having 100 that don’t make much sense.
This is bound to reflect well on your brand. Even better, it is likely to result in higher conversion rates for you, be it bookings or whatever else you’re into.
Make it a point of publishing regular and engaging blog posts. Offer your consumers in-depth travel guides. Aim for good reviews through and through, and always respond appropriately to the negative criticism. Make your presence felt on social media in a good way without deluging your followers with updates or sales propositions. And victory shall be yours.
By applying these ideas and keeping an active focus on both the experience and your consumers, your travel content marketing efforts are likely to produce important payoffs.
We can help with your travel content. With dozens of expert travel content creators, we’re able to provide excellent travel articles, blog posts, guides, web copy and more. We’re real travellers with a passion for travel. We’ve lived our words! Get in touch to discuss your next travel content strategy with us.