The ultimate guide to creating valuable content for travel businesses in 2019

Travel and tourism is the worlds largest industry. It is needless to say that creating content that actually gets in front of your potential visitors is hard. It is probably harder to be visible in travel, than in most other sectors. If you actually get good reach with your content, it is also hard to make people remember your brand. 

With this I have warned everybody that thinks this marketing is easy. If you are not walking the extra mile, you probably should find other things to spend your time on.  It would be far more useful.

But, for the ones willing to make a real attempt, I have good news.

You don´t need to reach everybody, all the time. You can narrow down, and focus on your target audience. There are a lot of strategies to reach the ones that you are interested in reaching. The fact that internet is overcrowded with content doesn't mean it’s crowded with quality. Not crowded in every single niche either. You have great opportunities my friend.

 

Find your target audience and serve them

You should have a target audience. If you don´t have it yet. You must get one. Create personas, avatars or whatever you choose to call them. Analyze your existing customers and see what engage them. That should be an indicator.

If you run a small business it is likely that you have created something that you personally like and would use as a traveler. This makes marketing easier. You have a great example of your target audience right in front of you. Create content that give value to people like you.

In other words, write for your self!

There are many touchpoints and arenas to engage with your audience. And there are many pain-points that your business can help them overcome.

Try to think about content marketing in travel as an opportunity to build trust. Create moments they will remember and always create value for the adventurers, families or business travelers you want to serve. Always create value, make your content worth their time. Then they are more likely like you.

 
Are you targeting adventure lovers with a weakness for good wine? What are their pain points?  (I don’t mean hangover)

Are you targeting adventure lovers with a weakness for good wine? What are their pain points? (I don’t mean hangover)

 

Let's say you know your audience. You have a good idea of who you want to serve. Now, try to find out what are their pain points. What is the things they want to learn, see or hear? I can already reveal that posting some inspirational pictures of happy people in the sun will not get you there. It can be a part of your strategy, but no way this is is enough. Still posting inspirational pictures of happy people in the sun is what most travel companies do. Even in Norway!

This means two things:

  1. There is a lot of competition in the storytelling space of happy inspirational pictures.

  2. Most companies do not have a bigger plan. 

Great news. Quality and effort are still working. 

 
How about avoiding the cliches for a while? I guess she is smiling, but who doesn't in the happy travel photo world?

How about avoiding the cliches for a while? I guess she is smiling, but who doesn't in the happy travel photo world?

 

So, what is a good strategy then?

Some experts will tell you that people choose where they travel based on their interests and what they want to do, and that destination don't matter much anymore. They are wrong. The digital revolution have made the world flat in many ways, but for travel the location still matters most.

You can compete with activities, but if the destination is not attractive to the traveler it is really hard. You can be the best skiing guide in the world , but if you are guiding in an area that no-one is visiting for skiing you will have a challenge getting them there. 

What I mean here is that in the tourism business your marketing success depends on getting people out of their homes, and actually visit the physical place you try to sell. Unless that happens you have not created more travelers to your concept. 

Nothing is impossible. I have been skiing in Morocco, and was actually going for that reason. There are plenty of great examples on the opposite, but most travelers pick a destination before activities. You can change this with either a long haul strategy, and focused work over years, or a strike of genius and luck.

 

The long run works best. Content marketing is a marathon, not a sprint. If you manage to do this right you will generate traffic to your website for a long time. You should focus on giving people value and information. Increase their demand for the destination(s) you serve. I would recommend not focusing on your business or services. Make people like your brand, and like your destination. If you push products, it might help you with short time success, but it will not build your brand like great value.

Compared with other industries seasonality play a big role in travel. A ski resort has a very defined season, events have a more limited time range and so on. If you do your marketing around these, you have have to focus your efforts. Be strategic in figuring what time people are planning their trip. Be strategic when choosing channel.

What I mean is that you should build your brand slowly, but also try to target customers in the right time before the seasons.

 
Skiing in Morocco. A very small niche market.

Skiing in Morocco. A very small niche market.

 

The competition is hard on travel content. Who are you competing with?

Lets face it, the internet is filled with travel content. It appears that everybody like to write about travel. You have media, you have blogs, you have online travel agents, hotels, guesthouses, tour operators - both small and big and you have destination companies, rental car services, airlines and everybody involved in the tourism sector. But in addition banks, shops, insurance companies and actually everybody writes travel related content and share information. Especially everybody you know and their friends on social media.

It is hard for the reader to know who is trustworthy and not.

Because of this you really have to twist you brain and go further. You must try to create relevance  and stand out from the crowd.

What is unique in your destination? Really, what is unique? There are so many beautiful photos of beaches, sunsets, mountains and popular attractions both on websites and social channels, especially on social channels, that you can not divide one from another anymore. Ironically every marketer in the travel industry always say that "come here, we are different", but there are almost never anything in the content that actually show that they are different.

Of course you should communicate that "everyone" can visit your destination or company. You don´t want to exclude potential customers. But if you want to stand out and get competitive advantage you should target a niche and really focus on the things that are unique and give value to your niche. As example if you´re targeting hikers you could pinpoint specific trails, accommodations maybe, gear tips and other relevant info for them. 

 
Mountainlovers are a fine target audience, often sharing, and very positive. It might be hard to stand out, but they are faithful fans when you get them to like you.

Mountainlovers are a fine target audience, often sharing, and very positive. It might be hard to stand out, but they are faithful fans when you get them to like you.

 

What is the impact of technology?

We are living in a time where technology make a huge impact. Brands can and should be more personal in their communication. You should talk directly in real time to clients and answer every question real quickly. AI and machine learning is changing a lot and also give you opportunities, blockchain and cryptocurrency is maybe the biggest leap in personalization ever, the user data generated from this can help you to deliver perfectly fitted experiences and messages.

Customer reviews can be a game changer for your company. One single bad review might ruin you whole operation if you are not good at answering. But it also have the potential to become the winner in your business.

If you are on a social channel you should use it, and you should always reply your clients. Always. If you are good in one channel, but poor at another it might leave a negative impression. Go all in or go home. Poorly handled customer service speaks louder than large amounts of great content.

 

Is the competition to hard in travel and tourism or do you have opportunities?

Of course you have a chance. New companies enter the market all the time. There has never been a time where you more easily can reach a targeted and global audience. The reach of Google, Facebook, Youtube and the internet itself is endless. You can sit in a cave and reach out to the world. Imagine that!

If you manage to produce relevant and useful content for your audience in a way that make their life a little bit better and easier, you have a great advantage. Most content out there is shit.

Since you are writing about travel you have the opportunity to reach a clients feelings and emotions, not only practical things. Travel is about dreaming and exploring, it is about creating experiences and memories. If you can make your audience get a little bit of that feeling and start their fantasy when they are at home behind their computers, there is a good chance they will appreciate you and your brand.

 
You need to create content that puts their heart on fire

You need to create content that puts their heart on fire

 

 Here are some practical ideas:

Create a strategy for your content and for the different channels

Without a strategy you really don't have much of a chance. Plan your style, your focus area and what you want to achieve. Adjust when you see what works, and remember this needs your attention over a long period of time. If you are consistent and make great quality you will see your efforts succeed.

Find the reason why people travel and build the content around that.

What inspire people to travel, what is the reason they are visiting you? Find out. Talk to you previous clients and find their inspiration. People usually not book a hotel room to motivate themselves to travel, when they book the room it is because they will be traveling. Try to aim their motivation and create the content experience around that. If it is a business trip, have that in mind while creating content, if the motivation is a passion for adventure you should serve this passion in your content. If you manage this, you are closer to earning a loyal audience that can help you grow.

 

Inspiration and incentives.

Why do people read travel content? What do they get from it. The customer journey in travel is made of 5 steps. Dreaming, planning, booking, experiencing and sharing.  The biggest consumption of travel content happens in the dreaming and planning stage. Not all, but most. This means travelers want their travel content to inform them, inspire them and entertain them while they are dreaming about a new trip, or while they are connecting the dots and planning and booking their vacation. If you can earn attention by sharing inspirational ideas, fun experiences, and useful content, you are better fit to have the travelers attention when they are booking their trip.

 

Spread the content in several channels

Tell the world you have produced new content,. Tell them you have something on your mind. Spread it and do what you can to get inbound links to the content. Remember that links need to be deserved. Do not get tempted to buy links from companies. These are in a shady business. If you get punished by Google you are in trouble. Different channels also mean different approaches. A lot of people publish in the same way in Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc. This is a bad strategy. The followers have different expectations to different medias. Often you have the same followers in the different channels also. They will get to much of you, and engage less. Try to be unique, and think about how to serve your audience.

 

Make it more easy for the traveler

A smooth planning process is what most people love, help them navigate in the jungle of activities, help them consider by posting opinions, help them compare. You will be a winner if you are the one making their life easier.

 

Involve the community in the destination you promote!

Share stories of daily life, happy moments, real people, facilities, surroundings and everything that can match your profile and strategy. This can really help you build trust and you have a big and untapped bucket of unique stories that will help your business stand out. 

 

Design content for interaction

Use a language and style that invite people to take part in the dialogue. If you can get your audience to give feedback, share and engage in your content you have a winning formula.

 

Never focus on Search engines and SEO when you write.

Those days are gone. Search engines are getting smarter nowadays. Focus on creating value and good quality. Then you will win. But it takes time.