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August 16, 2016 (Updated: January 24, 2023)
Thousands of travel bloggers around the world seek to share their stories and adventures. From an expat couple moving to Malaysia to a family saving for a Disney cruise, the travel industry has expanded to cover all demographics, budgets, and lifestyles. For companies, content marketing in the travel industry includes hundreds of influencers that can be at their fingertips — even if they’re 5,000 miles away.
However, even though travel blogs are easy to access doesn’t mean content marketing in the travel industry is easy. In order to succeed, marketers need to approach the industry with the same strategic analysis and planning as any other client, company, or industry. Discover some tips to improve your travel content and harness the power of travel influencers.
Image via Flickr by Nick Kenrick.
When launching a content strategy, a company builds personas. For the travel industry, you might be tempted to label your target audience “people who love to travel,” but that demographic is too broad and will limit your content outreach efforts. Instead, use the following criteria to determine who your audience is and what type of bloggers you want to reach:
All of these questions will help you paint an accurate picture of your customers and better target influencers. After all, you’ll find significant differences among a mommy blogger taking a road trip with her kids, a college student backpacking through Europe, and retirees exploring their health care options in Ecuador. These personas will let you create content that specifically targets their lifestyles, resulting in better marketing results.
Now that you have your personas, you can start identifying influencers who match your target audience. These influencers typically have a medium- to high-traffic blog and a large social media following of a few thousand Twitter and Facebook followers. While almost anyone can start a blog about travel, you want to find bloggers with a significant following to generate traffic back to your website.
Below are two lists of niche target audiences. While one or two blogs might overlap, two different sets of reasons exist for following these influencers:
The first blog targets retirees who are considering moving outside of the United States to retire. The second audience targets younger people and breaks out the types of blogs among long-term travel, expat life, and food travel.
Once you have your influencers, pair them with your product or service. Use the retiree bloggers to highlight international realtors or senior travel excursions; use your Australian bloggers to promote distinctive hotel stays and volunteer vacations.
While you might be able to convince bloggers to talk about your service or publish an article mentioning it, the true value of influencer marketing comes when your influencers become brand advocates. If they get to use your product and enjoy it, then they’ll continue to mention that product and use it long after the partnership ends.
Marriott offers a wonderful example. This company created separate pitches for multiple travel bloggers and invited them to spend a weekend enjoying everything Marriott has to offer. The mommy blogger enjoyed time at a resort split between kid’s activities and adult spa days, while the adventure blogger spent the afternoon golfing. Despite the product being the same, the influencers and their audiences had different features highlighted for them.
When you consider influencer marketing, quality trumps quantity. You want to have a few top influencers raving about your product or service instead of a few middle-of-the-road bloggers offering lukewarm mentions.
Some travel companies fail to understand the buying process of the customer and create an outreach strategy based on affiliate and conversion goals. This approach can be problematic when your product is something such as airfare or high-end vacations where travelers don’t have much room for impulse buying.
Unlike traditional marketing, where the customer might buy a pair of shoes or phone accessory on a whim, travel takes planning. While people in your audience might enjoy reading about the Maldives, they’re unlikely to buy a ticket immediately upon learning about them. To counter this situation, create a content strategy around long-term engagement that makes customers return when they’re ready to buy. Examples of this strategy include:
The couple planning their honeymoon isn’t ready to book a hotel yet, but if this couple finds enough information on visa applications, flight prices, and hotel options, they will share or bookmark that information to return when they are to make their reservation.
Understanding the customer journey is important for big-ticket items, and successful marketers will create content for all different steps on the purchase path. This approach also helps with scaling content. Your content strategy to reach customers in the awareness part of the funnel doesn’t have to be as involved — or expensive in Marriott’s case — as content created for the education and purchase steps.
By the time you have mapped out your travel content strategy, you should have audience personas, target influencers to reach them, and content plans for each step in the customer journey. This way, you will approach your influencers with a deep knowledge of their readership and concrete goals for what you plan to get out of those relationships. Thus, you’ll have an easier time of evaluating your campaign successes and improving your travel outreach strategy in the long run.
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