5 mistakes travel marketers can't afford to make in 2016

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With content marketing it can sometimes feel like a race to keep up with the latest trends and techniques, but for those who manage it the pay-off is worth it. The internet can be brilliant for travel companies to get their message across, engage their audience and eventually sell their product. But just when you think you’ve nailed it the goal posts change and a new approach is needed.

Many of the following techniques worked a little while ago, but not so much anymore. See if you are still following any of these practices and if you are, what can be done to rectify the situation and get your content marketing back on form.

Letting traffic come to you

While it used to be enough to write a good piece of content, share it on social media and wait for the magic to happen, things aren’t quite as simple these days. In reality, it is worth putting a bit of your budget towards boosting posts on social to ensure they’re getting out there and ending up in front of the people you want to see them.

Otherwise your great content isn’t even given a fighting chance in the congested world of social media and this platform should be an important part of your strategy. After all, this is where many people get inspiration for their travels and post about them during and after they return from their trip. It is also a recreational space where potential customers are often open to persuasion.

Targeting travellers, all the travellers

It’s important to have a clear idea of who you are trying to attract online before you start, so you can tailor content to suit their needs. Those who don’t do this may find they get lots of traffic that isn’t useful to them and a high bounce rate, coupled with few conversions. There’s so much competition in the online travel world, so work out a niche for yourself and serve that audience well.

Create a good customer experience by knowing your audience and their online habits, as well as their needs. This is easier said than done, but using data and social listening will help to provide an insight into this area and offer a clear way forward. (Need help creating personas? Download out guide here)

Having a shiny website that isn’t optimised for mobile

Travel content can be useful at many different times – prior to travel, during and even after – but the nature of it means it should be available on mobile devices. This means that it should be optimised to view on all forms of gadgetry, but it is possible to go even further.

Articles with useful information on the road can be set to download with the ability to work offline. These are invaluable for customers once they are abroad and/or out of signal range and are the equivalent of having the traditional guidebook with them, but without the bulk.

Writing nice guides about destinations

There is a lot of content on the internet about travelling and I mean a lot. This means that creating articles and blog posts on topics that have become ubiquitous won’t allow your brand to stand out from the crowd. This is easily applied to destination guides, as there is hardly a location on the planet that hasn’t had a guide or two or 12 or 12,000 written about it.

Instead, pieces need to stand out and attract the audience for a different reason. 

This is easier said than done as it sometimes feels like everything has already been said and done. A good idea is to think about what you want to say to your audience and turn it on its head.

If I want to say “Come on safari to Tanzania” your audience is likely to have seen that message a hundred times or more. They will be familiar with the reasons and therefore somewhat immune to them.

Instead you could write an article entitle “5 reasons a trip to Tanzania is a bad idea”. Those scratching their heads as to why this would work may require further explanation.

In your supposedly negative article about seeing wildlife in East Africa, you can actually highlight the benefits in a tongue-in-cheek manner. Reasons never to visit this part of the world may include the disappointment of not enjoying sundown without the howls of hyenas in the background when you return home.

Unlike the overtly sensational clickbait headlines that people have become accustomed to, this technique feels less like it’s trying to trap the reader. It’s more clever and the title really does connect with the content of the article. This approach also appeals to a sense of humour among readers, which helps a travel brand to come across as less stuffy.

Using stock images

The previous technique can be backed up well with images that really highlight the beauty of the African sky and the white of the sand in Zanzibar. Of course pictures are very important when it comes to travel marketing and sourcing high quality ones can be a struggle. This is where stock photos have stepped in in the past and plugged a hole, but they’re just not cutting it any more.

Just as travel content has become ubiquitous, photos have become too and it’s very easy for companies to end up using the same images as their competitors. This means that instead of setting them apart, these pictures are drawing more similarities and making it harder for a potential customer to choose a holiday provider, airline or tour company.

Custom imagery is therefore very important in the modern travel marketing world, with plenty of options to overcome the problem. These include commissioning photos of destinations, using techniques to make stock images seem different, such as creating collages or before and after photos that can be slid from one to the other. This is worth the extra effort as there’s nothing worse than rolling out a campaign featuring a great picture only to find a competitor using the same one a little down the line. Here are some great resources on going beyond stock photos.

 

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