Hospo and travel industries: Practical tips and awesome brand inspiration to drive your content marketing
Content marketing and the travel and hospitality industries go together like cheese and vegemite. No – just me? Fine, they go together like fish and chips. Better?
Whatever your culinary preference, businesses in these industries have a lot of potential to leverage content marketing. Why is that, you ask? Essentially, they have what we marketers call a ‘sexy’ product.
Firstly, they have the undeniable advantage of powerful imagery. Pristine bed sheets with fluffy towels folded on top, Insta-worthy culinary dishes and couples smiling and laughing as they clink champagne flutes in front of a glistening beach sunset. What’s not to love?
Secondly, they can offer a vast well of information around their services. Consumers looking for travel or dining destinations love to do their research. They look up reviews, ask questions on Google and search for photos. People want to know as much as they can before they make a decision, such as what gluten free dishes are available, what is the best time of year to visit a destination, or what kind of views are available from the hotel.
This is where your content marketing comes in – you can jump in first and provide the answers they want, which puts your hotel/restaurant/tourism attraction at the forefront of their mind.
Traditional forms of marketing such as print or TV ads tend to be very costly and require large scale production. Providing regular content on your blog and social pages is a much easier and cost-effective way of getting your audience’s attention, plus you’re giving them something they already want.
Now that you know the ‘why’, here’s the ‘how’.
1. Be prepared
Find your inner girl/boy scout and be prepared. Don’t just start writing about any random topic and pushing that content out – understand your audience’s intent first. Find out what information your customers are looking for, where they are looking for it and how best to deliver it to them.
Google Trends, BuzzSumo and Ask the Public are great starting points for your research. Google Trends will measure the interest your chosen topic has had over a specified time, looking at specific sub-regions and related queries. This sort of data can help identify whether your content needs to be geographically targeted, or if it performs better at certain times.
This example looks at the web interest for ‘Waiheke’, filtered down to the travel category within the past 90 days from New Zealand users. We can see from the graph that interest spiked around October 22 . Given that October 24 was a public holiday in New Zealand, we can assume that a large number of users were searching for last-minute travel, accommodation or activities on Waiheke. This can inform future content production as you now know that it would be a good strategy to publish content around public holidays to capture this interest.
Ask the Public also looks at web queries but will provide lists of the top queries surrounding that topic, narrowed down by the country users belong to. This sort of data can show you exactly what your audience is searching for, and what questions they want answered. Create some content that provides answers for their questions and improve your chances of getting in front of them during their research. Easy peasy!
BuzzSumo focusses on the highest performing content across social media sites. This is also a helpful tool for searching specific topics as it will help you understand what social media users find most interesting. You may want to make your search term a bit more specific here as there are fewer filters than on Google Trends. Results will display the number of shares on each social platform for the most popular articles, providing more insights into what content your audience finds interesting.
So, when should you publish your content? The ideal moment to capture your audience’s attention is when their initial desire is sparked and they first begin their research. Put another way, you need to get in at the top of the sales funnel to be considered at a later stage when they are ready to purchase. It’s important to find out when this first moment of interest occurs for your audience.
For example, research by Hotels.com found that 74% of mobile bookings are for same day check-ins, which means a great deal of people browsing for accommodation are making spontaneous decisions. If your business provides accommodation you might want to capitalise on this by offering last minute deals on your social media pages or publishing an article about how best to prepare for a spontaneous holiday.
If you don’t get in front of your consumers at the early stages of their research, it is likely they won’t factor your brand into their decision-making later down the line.
Now that you’ve researched your audience’s interest and intent, the next step is to create and document a well-thought-out content strategy.
This strategy should outline the kind of content to create, the channels you want to distribute it through, and the goals you want to achieve.
Use the information you have gathered from your research phase and create some content that answers your audience’s questions. Recognise that your key strength is having an exciting and desirable product. This gives you a lot of options for creating great content!
Those images we were talking about earlier would be great for photo-sharing sites like Instagram or Pinterest. Make the most out of the scenery around you or the menu items that your restaurant serves and show them off to your audience.
Create some video blogs that provide virtual tours for your audience, to play on their emotions and make them feel like they’re there. Go behind the scenes to the kitchen and show customers how you create some of your most mouth-watering dishes. Write some articles about the local area for people visiting from out of town, and give insider tips for the best things to see and do.
Ultimately you want to get people through the door, so as well as providing interesting content you should optimise for local SEO as well. Make sure that consumers can easily find you if they are nearby!
3. Keep informed
Make sure you’re keeping up with what’s going on in your space so you can piggyback trends and stay relevant.
If you’re aware of what’s popular or what’s going on in your community you can use this to create or promote your content. When Pokemon GO was first released it became massively popular, and a lot of brands leveraged this phenomenon to get in front of their audience. Some restaurants created themed food and drinks to jump on the trend, and others were buying ‘lures’ to attract customers (as well as Pokemon).
Uber keeps on top of major events happening in the cities it operates in order to offer its passengers discounts or even free rides for travelling to and from the event.
It’s important to keep track of what your competition is doing as well, or any developments in tech or products that could affect your business.
For instance, Google has announced some changes recently that will likely affect the tourism industry. Google Trips, a travel planning app, lets users save destinations and accommodation into the app to be used offline. It will also suggest places to visit or stay based on the user’s location and their preferences, using Google Maps. If your site is mobile-friendly and optimised for local SEO, you have an opportunity to be seen by your audience through this app. If it isn’t, well… you miss out.
Google Flights was updated to include notifications for flight fare changes and hotel pricing. Users can choose to monitor certain flight routes or prices of hotels at their destination, and Google will notify them when there is a change. They’ll also be notified when savings are available to loyalty members of a hotel, which could encourage more people to join loyalty programs. Without local SEO, however, the chances of being seen in the first page of options are slim.
4. Be inspired!
Content marketing is not just all about words on a page. Let your creativity shine through and think out of the box when it comes to creating and communicating with your audience. Don’t be afraid to spice things up and make your content interesting!
Here are some cool examples from big brands in the travel and hospitality industries to provide inspiration and get your creative juices flowing.
Airbnb has a great blog full of interesting information, but its ‘neighbourhood guides’ are a real stand out. Aside from being super practical and helpful, they provide a real ‘locals’ insight into the destinations.
The site has a range of video blogs that introduce hosts and their backstories. It’s just as interesting and really humanises the brand. Plus it ties in the down-to-earth feeling that all their content has.
Air New Zealand’s social media interaction is always on point. They inject a little bit of fun and humour into their content, and their audience loves them for it. Through this they’ve developed a strong personality for their brand that people can relate to.
And saving the best for last, here’s Hostelworld’s award winning video ‘In Da Hostel’. Enjoy!