After a two-year-long rollercoaster ride of closures, setbacks and travel restrictions, the tourism industry is returning to life at long last as hoteliers open their doors, countries reopen their borders and regular flight routes resume. Travel lovers who have patiently waited at home and possibly even saved money by not travelling are now desperate for an adventure. And travel writing can help you stand out in a sea of special offers, extra-low discounts and added benefits such as extra travel insurance.
It would be tempting to join the race to the bottom on price, hoping to fill up your bookings and have a bumper summer to compensate for the lost time. But that’s not a sustainable way to do business. You want to ensure your travel business stays for years, turning a profit and offering excellent service.
So, it’s time to go back to the drawing board and map out what you stand for. Then, you need to share those core messages with your target audience. With strong travel marketing based on quality content, you can cut through the noise and endless offers, create an emotional connection with your audience, and offer them a sustainable reason to travel with you.
Assessing the pandemic’s impact on travel
Out of all sectors, tourism took the biggest hit during the pandemic. An estimated $847-$1,175 billion was lost, placing companies in immense financial distress.
When countries were shutting down and going into lockdown, how was the industry meant to operate? Flights were cancelled, hotels locked their gates, and all restaurants and bars had to close their shutters. No one was travelling.
While tourist venues weren’t operating, many believed marketing efforts weren’t worth the investment, with little promise of immediate return. No one was looking to travel, and most of the world couldn’t go abroad. So, companies stopped investing in inbound marketing. This placed many travel businesses behind when tourist spots opened up again. Websites were out of date or even offline after being wholly abandoned.
In 2021, despite a large part of the world being open after vaccine roll-out schemes and intermittent lockdowns, international travel was still a staggering 72 per cent below 2019 pre-pandemic levels. As different countries recover at their speeds, 61 per cent of travel professionals expect the industry to rebound in 2022. However, 64 per cent of experts agree that travel won’t return to pre-pandemic levels anytime before 2024.
What does this mean for businesses in the travel sector? Well, it’s important to remember that it’s not only hotels and airlines that have suffered. In many countries, the travel industry plays an important role in the GDP, such as Thailand, where 6 per cent of the GDP comes from tourism. As this industry loses out, so does everyone else.
With a slight touch of fear still in the air and a long road to full recovery ahead, whether you’re a destination management company, a tourist board, an airline or a travel company, you need to provide a compelling reason for travellers to choose you.
Cutting through the chatter
Smart players realized early in the pandemic that travellers needed real-time information.
From the early days of cancellations to the many red lists, amber lists, and changing restrictions, it has been vital for travel companies to keep
Travellers are still nervous about going further afield. They’re unsure about requirements and more demanding of customer service and support. Nobody wants to end up stranded on the other side of the world without a help desk they can call – or one that won’t answer the phone.
You’ll also need to compete for those travellers’ attention. After two years of travel drought, now they’re overwhelmed. Should they make the next holiday the trip of a lifetime? Should they stay closer to home? Is it safe to cruise again? Are flights much more expensive? You need to put information out there that is as inspiring as it is informative to attract those travellers before they fall for the latest cut-price deal.
Great writing works wonders in making destinations stand out, and publishing a persuasive marketing campaign with strong travel content is not as hard as it sounds. You probably have all the information and ideas you need at your fingertips. You have to communicate effectively.
The value of content marketing
Content marketing has a high return on investment for businesses in any sector, not just travel. Begin with updated web content and search engine-optimised blog posts, add in some engaging social media campaigns plus targeted email marketing and, voila, you have a whole ecosystem of information that brings your clients directly to you.
In 2017, 74 per cent of companies found that their content marketing led to better-quality leads, whilst 62 per cent of marketers claim to produce at least one piece of content a day. Despite these statistics, according to keyword research platform SEMrush, only 57 per cent of companies has a content marketing strategy in place in 2022.
If you don’t have a content marketing strategy defined, you’ll fall behind your competitors. Content is king, particularly in the travel industry. Here’s why.
- Travel writing gets people thinking about travel before they decide to buy
When you release content that provides relevant information on the travel industry, people who may not have initially thought about a holiday may suddenly be urged to book a trip. This leads them to look into your content and purchase your product or service.
- Relevant content keeps your brand at the forefront of their minds
If a potential customer is looking for useful information about the best areas to visit post-pandemic, and they come across a blog post you’ve posted that tells them just that they have been exposed to your brand. By giving your audience the facts they’ve been searching for and something your competitors aren’t, you’re giving yourself an advantage. Your brand will stick in the readers’ minds for being helpful, and they will be more likely to return to make
- Written content can showcase credibility and authority
Quality written content effectively shows potential customers what they will get once they purchase your product or service. Case studies and testimonials show them what they could experience with your company and present you as trustworthy, a critical quality in the post-pandemic world.
Written content brings many benefits to your business and customers. It takes time to build up traffic to your website, so getting started promptly is important.
How to kickstart your travel marketing
To get ahead of the game and start building your marketing strategy as soon as possible, here are the best ways you can enhance your content:
- Reach your audience
There is no point in creating content your audience doesn’t want to read. Provide content they can relate to and which benefits them. Determine who your customers are, the topics that interest them, and the best social media platforms to reach them on. Younger people are likelier to be on Instagram than on Facebook, whereas business professionals can be found on platforms like LinkedIn.
You probably already have a good idea of your audience, but knowing what else they’re interested in or reading about can be challenging. Using Google Trends can help you analyse that. Other sources worth considering include the travel sections in newspapers and magazines, online forums and your sales team. They’ll know what questions customers normally ask and their common pain points.
- Choose the right keywords
Long-tail keywords are your golden ticket to getting noticed online. These are the longer search terms people use online, where there will be less competition and more chance of real potential guests finding your page. When investing in a keyword strategy, you want to avoid using common words like ‘resort’ because that’ll place you at the bottom of the pile. Instead, use phrases of three to five words, like ‘family resort near Malaga Spain’.
With the right choice of unique keywords, you will have less competition, and visitors to your site are more likely to search specifically for you. While long-tail keywords might encourage fewer visits, those who do land on your site will be closer to the point of purchase than other searchers just getting holiday inspiration. Long-tail keywords can be found using online tools, such as SEMrush, Google Trends, Wordtracker and Keywords Everywhere.
- Put yourself in your customer’s shoes
Focusing your content on your business can be tempting, but you need to think like your customer. Will they want to read a blog post boasting about what makes your brand great? Most likely, no. Instead, you want to present useful information that solves their problem. You want to answer their questions before your competitors do and get them onto your site.
Then, when you’ve got their attention, ensure your content focuses on benefits rather than features. We want to paint a picture of the perfect holiday and invite them into the experience; rather than listing the features, describe how they’ll make visitors feel.
- Create quality content
Good content is common, so you want to ensure yours is a cut above the rest. You can do this by ensuring everything you publish is accurate, relevant, in-depth and helpful. Take the time to edit and check for any errors carefully. This is critical if you want your audience to trust you.
If reading your content makes them want to pull out a red pen, they are unlikely to have faith in any other claims you make. This might seem dramatic, but a 2013 survey showed that 59 per cent of Brits wouldn’t buy from a company with visible errors in their web copy or marketing materials. We associate spelling mistakes and bad grammar with scams and dodgy businesses, so it’s best to triple-check.
The time to act is now.
The market is far from being back to normal, but people are travelling the world again. With the worst pandemic fading into the distance, the time is ripe for developing a content strategy that will help you go from empty resorts to being in your thoughts.
If you want to stay ahead of your competitors and generate more leads with an effective travel marketing strategy, Contese can help. We are travel writing experts with experience creating and executing effective travel content marketing strategies.
Get ahead of the game.