It stands to reason that few other industries place as much emphasis on the “customer journey” as Travel and Leisure.

Even, and arguably more so, during the economic recession, this has been one of the most vibrant sectors when it comes to online content, and necessarily so – with so many operators and destinations available competition is intense, and curating valuable content is a tried-and-trusted approached to getting the edge.

At a recent ABTA meeting, the chairman of the Thomas Cook digital advisory board claimed that attracting people to visit websites is not the biggest issue facing brands – converting them into customers once they’ve arrived is. He cited an average transactional rate of just 3%. This view was echoed by Google, which pointed out that the buying process for holidays is among the most elongated, since they can be such emotional experiences.

How to improve conversion rates? The first thing to recognise is that with people now accessing content across multiple platforms and devices, brands need to ensure what they’re producing is finding their customers in the right place at the right time.

British Airways offers a superb example of a brand fully embracing the multi-channel approach, and assembling high-quality content to fit. In 2013 BA had a good night at the Content Marketing Association Awards, with their High Life Magazine picking up gongs for best Content and best Editor, and organisers applauding members for their “innovative multi-platform work.” Not bad for a magazine that started out forty years ago stuffed into the seat pocket. The site features destination insights and inspiration, sprinkled with competitions, news and, of course, the superb imagery that is the grail of all travel content.

Here’s what made British Airways stand out in the marketplace last year.

Man Vs Plane – A short clip that went viral over summer 2013, this video of South African rugby player Bryan Habana racing a new BA A380 in a 200m sprint has now chalked up over 2 million views on YouTube. A simple concept, with nothing dramatically new in either the idea or the execution (in fact it’s a nice companion piece to Habana’s earlier race against a cheetah), but it shows BA’s sense of humour, positions their product front-and-centre, and above all is eminently shareable content.

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#LookUp – If you were in Piccadilly Circus at the end of 2013 then there’s a good chance you’ll have noticed one of the airline’s cutting-edge digital advertising billboards. Triggered by the approach of BA flights, they displayed an emotive clip alongside information about that exact flight’s route and technical specs. Amazingly the billboards also checked weather forecasts ahead of launching the adverts, in case the skies were overcast and the planes not visible to people on the ground. What’s great about this? It’s an expert piece of attention-seeking, using groundbreaking technology to stop people in their tracks. It also shows an urge to go out and find people rather than waiting for them to come looking instead.

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Yourope – #LookUp is actually part of a wider BA campaign called Yourope, which utilizes a variety of social media platforms to good effect. Aimed predominantly at American travellers, it operated as an interactive “Choose your own European adventure” story, with YouTube videos offering different takes on popular destinations such as Barcelona, Paris and Rome. Complemented by snapshots of resorts on Pinterest and Vine, what made this campaign such a hit was that people could upload their own creations, adding authenticity and forging a stronger relationship between brand and customer.
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All the signs are that quality content and multi-channel promotion will continue to hold sway over the next 12 months, and that the travel industry as a whole has still got a lot of work to do. British Airways, however, are bringing their A-game and flying the flag for content.

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Marketing Week
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Content Marketing Association
High Life