Ever mentally added a destination to your ‘must-visit’ list after seeing your friend’s holiday snaps on Instagram? Or been retargeted with scenes of distant getaways that make you long for your next adventure away? If you’ve been online in the last month, the chances are you have – so you’ll know first-hand just how evocative and persuasive travel content can really be.
Why care about content marketing?
Those of you with your finger on the pulse of marketing trends might be thinking ‘Content marketing? Didn’t we put that to bed ages ago?’
It’s true that content marketing – the practice of engaging audiences with content to promote your brand – got itself a bit of a bad name. However, that’s primarily because what brands actually ended up doing was not engaging audiences at all, by simply pushing reams and reams of content out with little consideration for whether anyone really wanted it.
Effective content marketing is all about igniting interest and providing genuine value, so your target audience will be inspired to make a purchase with you over your competitors. It’s a long game.
And when your source material can include vibrant restaurants, unique accommodation, jaw-dropping scenery, and, well, pretty much the entire world, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that travel brands are investing big in content.
Showcase your expertise
The concept of content marketing in the travel industry is hardly new. Booking.com has been doing it for some time with its ‘Unpacked’ travel articles , featuring categories dedicated to nature, family travel, food and more for maximum appeal.
On top of that, its business-focused travel/tech publication Click also offers insights on emerging trends.
When asked about the value of content marketing in an interview with the Digital Marketing World Forum, Click’s Editor in Chief Sade Laja said: “It’s an opportunity for you to showcase your expertise as a company, while also providing value to customers. In today’s environment of information overload, short-termism isn’t an option.”
She’s absolutely right. Short-term, flash sales are one thing – but what else can you do to keep your customers coming back? According to MDG Advertising, 49% of people look at travel content sites when planning trips. If you needed any more convincing, a report by Expedia indicates that ‘78% of travellers said informative content from destinations or travel brands can influence their decision-making process’.
So, while content marketing can be a rather labour-intensive exercise, there’s a good chance of it paying off if you’re in the business of promoting wanderlust.
Content marketing in the big leagues
The traditional written article is certainly one way of inspiring audiences – but there are plenty of big-name businesses levelling up on this approach.
Airbnb is taking big strides to appeal to its audience with content. Its magazine, intended for hosts to place in their rentable properties, not only includes the usual destination highlights, but uses insights from its own data to inform the content. For example, its Not Yet Trending feature ‘profiles a destination which has recently spiked in popularity’ on its website.
Not satisfied with its magazine alone, Airbnb is now also considering launching a TV show to persuade people to travel. While apparently still in the research phase, its leading policy and communications executive, Chris Lehane, explained: “The more we put content out there, the more you’re going to bring people to the platform.”
While I’d argue that statement isn’t strictly true (remember: your content must have value!), it certainly indicates Airbnb has a serious appreciation for the potential power of content.
Elsewhere, Ryanair has launched a podcast travel series as it looks to produce travel content for each destination it flies to. The budget airline has enlisted TV presenter Julia Bradbury for the podcast, which will focus on popular European cities in a bid to get customers to visit those destinations – flying Ryanair, of course.
Meanwhile, earlier this year Southwest Airlines put out a call for social influencers to become a #SouthwestStoryteller, creating travel content on its behalf – such is the perceived power of a well-written caption and travel photo.
By inspiring users to travel and establishing yourself as an authority, the hope is that they’ll then take the next step in booking with your platform or service. Of course, great content can help do both of those things – but ultimately, it’s only worth it if you create something your audience is actively interested in. Otherwise, you might find you’re just contributing to the noise.