According to Google’s 2014 Traveller’s Road to Decision research, 65% of travellers research online before deciding where or how to go on their holidays. What this means for travel brands is that it’s important – nay, imperative – to make their online content as informative, inspiring and influential as possible, so that when those potential travellers are ready to book, they’ll know exactly who they want to spend their money with.

Whether you’re marketing to gap-year travellers, summer sun worshippers or retirement-age cruise lovers, these tips from our Content Marketing Executive, Vicky Cawthorne, will help you to create compelling online content that will have your readers reaching for their passports. Please proceed to your gates for boarding…

Use evocative language to paint a postcard-perfect picture…

In a few seconds, close your eyes. Imagine that you’re laying back on a comfortable sun lounger, with the sun’s heat warming you all the way from your cheeks to your toes. Your fingertips brush against the soft sand beside you and your lungs fill with the salty sea air as you inhale relaxation, and exhale all of your worries.

Now open your eyes. You’re back in the room, but where were you just a second ago?

Hopefully you took a trip to a far-flung idyllic beach, and that’s exactly where you want your customers to see themselves too. Content that uses evocative language paired with vibrant imagery conjures a powerful picture of a destination in your readers’ imaginations, and makes them aspire to be there – with a little help from you, of course.

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This is something that luxury and boutique hotel experts Mr & Mrs Smith do brilliantly on their blog, appealing directly to the interests of their target demographic who are looking for escapes with that certain je nai sais quoi. But it’s not only big-budget travellers who find vivid vernacular appealing – just use the tone that’s appropriate for your particular audience.

Ensure that your content is SEO friendly

Google’s research found that most people’s holiday hunt starts with Search. 60% of travellers reported that they turn to a search engine to begin the trip shopping and booking process, rather than going directly to a brand’s website or app, and the names of particular locations or destinations are what they’ll type in first.

So, make sure your content is optimised accordingly. Carry out keyword research to find out which main keywords to include in your content, as well as long-tail keywords that will bring in good quality traffic from aspiring travellers with a specific type of trip or activity in mind.

Share your exclusive knowledge and insider tips

Whether it’s a hidden restaurant, a little-known rooftop bar or a clandestine beach cove, all travellers want to feel like they’re discovering something new or exotic because let’s be honest, it comes with enormous bragging rights to their friends and family members. That’s why much of your travel blog content should focus on revealing ‘secret knowledge’ to your readers, like the Quintessentially Travel blog article below, that will enhance their trips, as well as the quality and authority of your blog content.

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The sharing of your exclusive knowledge should also mean creating content for travellers that’s just plain helpful.

Using Buzzsumo, a fantastic content marketing tool that analyses the success of online content, I discovered that travel industry-focused ‘How To’ articles are incredibly popular with articles of this type receiving an average of 60 social shares each. Facebook is the most popular network on which to share these articles, but it’s also interesting to consider that ‘How To’ articles are the most popular type of content overall on LinkedIn – that’s a statistic to keep in mind if your travel brand has a B2B focus.

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(Source: Buzzsumo)

From ‘How to Find the Most Delicious Asparagus in Alsace’ to ‘How to Pack Light for a Weekend Trip’, you’ll never run out of opportunities to share your insider knowledge as a leading travel brand. Even better, make your ‘How To’ content more dynamic in the form of a video. Here’s a great example by Intrepid Travel:

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Bring your online content to life through video

If you’re only focusing on text-based content across your online marketing strategy, you’re missing the boat: Google’s research showed that 66% of people watch travel-focused video content when they’re thinking about taking a trip and looking for inspiration.

 

On top of that, 61% of holidaymakers engage with video content when they’re trying to choose where to go, as seeing destinations brought to life always beats 2D images on a website or in a brochure. More than half of those surveyed go to specific travel brands for their online content too, so if you want to become a go-to brand for inspiring videos that get people off their sofas and onto a plane, it’s time to make like adventure travel company Intrepid Travel and add high quality videos to your content schedule.

 

Encourage and facilitate user-generated content

Some of your finest marketing could happen with you barely having to lift a finger. As EngageSciences have pointed out, holidaymakers are your best content marketers because they’re sharing their trips online more than ever before, using a cornucopia of social networks and apps that enable them to be ‘always-connected travellers’ – well, as much as their roaming plans or WiFi capabilities will allow. Whether or not this is mildly irritating to their friends is not for us to debate, but for travel brands, user-generated content (UGC) is a content goldmine.

The photos, videos, opinions and general knowledge that travellers share during and after their trips can be harnessed by brands to create fabulous content, that captures the imaginations of your target audience because they’re the very people who helped to create it. According to an Ipsos survey, 50% of Millennials (aged 18-36) trust and remember UGC above all other media, and Nielsen’s Trust in Advertising Survey 2013 revealed that a whopping 68% of people trust opinions posted online by other customers who they do not know.

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So whether it’s through a holiday snap sharing competition (such as the one above, ran monthly by Intrepid), blog articles illustrated with images collected from your brand’s Instagram hashtag, or holiday reviews on your website, TripAdvisor or Yelp, you should welcome and encourage UGC because. That’s marketing worth NOT paying for.

Time the social sharing of your content right

If you share your blog content across your social accounts – which you absolutely should, if you don’t already – then pay attention to the timing of your posts to ensure the best possible response.

For sharing on Facebook, the best time to post is on a Wednesday after 3pm. That’s when the ‘hump-day slump’ takes place, as workers’ attention spans are waning and they take to Facebook for a little emotional boost. On Twitter, the optimum time to post is lunchtimes between Monday-Thursday, as people trawl their timelines while they eat. And if you really want to get down to specifics, you can discover the optimum time to post on social for your brand by using Facebook analytics information and third party tools, such as Followerwonk.

Travel industry brands should capitalise on this by scheduling escapism-focused social posts for the peak times, when they’ll be lapped up by wanderlusting readers. Don’t forget to include a fabulous photo with your update: Facebook posts with images generate 53% more likes and 104% more comments, whereas tweets with images result in 36% more clicks, a 41% increase in retweets, and a 48% boost in favourites.
Of course, this article is by no means exhaustive, but by following these tips you should help your travel brand’s content marketing take to the skies.

Now, where did we put our sunglasses?